I often think about what Dr. Greene says in his White Out campaign. Educating and/or learning about toxic chemicals (or unhealthy food) is not about placing guilt on parents, or on myself for the choices made. It’s not about perfection or some litmus test for being a good parent or a green parent or anything like that. It’s about knowing better so you can do better.
This point was driven home last year when one of my best friends had a baby. This baby was her 3rd child. When she went into labor her 2 older boys came to my house to stay with me. Her husband and I were on the phone frequently as we coordinated school drop-offs. The morning after the baby was born my friend’s husband called me in a panic. He was freaking out because he had realized right as the nurse was about to wash his new son’s head for the first time that the product they were using probably contained Sodium Laurel Sulfate, which can damage developing eyes, and other chemicals he didn’t want to expose this brand new life to. They had just replaced all of their personal care products with organic ones but hadn’t thought about packing anything in the hospital bag. He was feeling a mixture of emotions, from anger to guilt. I was too. I felt guilty for it not occurring to me to remind my friend to bring their own baby products. I felt like I should have known better. This is my job, my business.
While talking to my friend I really had to put it into perspective – for both of us. I needed to calm him down and reassure him that he/the hospital had not just forever damaged their son. Yes, I was horrified at the thought of a brand new baby being exposed to the nasty chemicals that, unfortunately, are in the products that so many hospitals use. But, I reassured him that his son would be fine. This was just 1 bath. He probably wouldn’t get another bath at the hospital and at home they were already well-stocked with safer products. “He will be fine,” I assured him, while secretly wondering. I reminded him he’s a great Dad, and it’s ok.
We all make the best decisions we can at the moment. As parents, we spend way too much time beating ourselves up for not making the “right” decision. We don’t give ourselves enough credit for making the best decision we could at the moment. We aren’t forgiving enough or gentle enough with ourselves. It’s much more productive to focus on the future, and think about doing better from this day forward. We can’t change the past. But we can change the decisions we make in the future.
For me, that means getting involved in my local Birth Network so I can talk with natural birth professionals to educate them so they, in turn, can educate their clients. To remind them that when they are giving their clients lists of things to take to the hospital, be sure to tell them pack baby products with ingredients they are comfortable with, and to write in their birth plans that these are the only products to be used on their baby.
If the new parents are not buying products that are 3rd-party certified, like certified organic, it’s about reminding them to make the decision about what product to use early enough in their pregnancy to give them time to research ingredients and make sure they are comfortable with what’s in the one they’ve chosen. And, it’s not about telling them to use the product I would use. It’s about helping them understand the risks and benefits of different ingredients and helping them make the best decision for their family.
So, repeat after me….”I am a great parent, I will stop beating myself up and when I know better, I do better.” Good. That’s all you can ask of yourself.