Rejecting Alicia Silverstone’s Kind, or Real Help for Moms

I am sick and tired of tools that work for some, that maybe ought to be shared, turning into Movements, and I’m rejecting Alicia Silverston’s Kind Movement for this reason. I don’t care how much of it is helpful, or good for the planet. I care that what works for her gets a label and (yet another) call for change to the way that we live. For the sake of the children, of course. My Facebook page blew up a little, about ten days ago, when I re-posted this:

In Alicia Silverstone’s new book “The Kind Mama”, she writes, “… though it’s less common among kind mamas, some women experience the blues after giving birth.” Kind and gentle mothers don’t get PPD like cruel and heartless ones do, dontcha know …

Could we all swear a solemn oath to stop following parenting advice from uninformed celebrities henceforth and forevermore?” (part of an original Facebook post by Katherine Stone)

The debate on my timeline was a healthy one, but I choose to reject Alicia Silverston’s Kind movement entirely, because this kind of statement from someone who is not a doctor or scientist does not fly with me. Really, though, what happened out of the public eye is what inspired this post.

I realized that I hadn’t heard from a friend with a new baby in awhile, so I checked in on her. I’m grateful to her for being honest with me–it had taken her awhile to bond with her new baby, she didn’t think she had experienced depression, but understands the phrase “baby blues” now, and empathizes with mothers who do suffer from PPD. She was feeling better in her third month of motherhood, for a few reasons, including more sleep, a more interactive infant, and space to herself. Her child sleeps well in a crib in another room, and she sleeps better this way, too. Why that should matter to anyone outside their family, I have no idea. Alicia cares, though. Cosleeping is the Kind way.

I remember reading something about mood, oxytocin (a “feel good” hormone) and cosleeping, but there are and must be exceptions. Read my friend’s words, and tell me that this person is not thoughtful and taking good care of herself and her family; she says that moving the baby out of her and her husband’s bedroom was “pivotal in getting more sleep and feeling worthy of having my own space.” 

Feeling worthy of having her own space.

Real help means saying, “Yes! Whatever makes you feel worthy, Mama! Because you ARE!” We don’t need another movement with more prescriptive advice about the Best Way to Mother. I know that Alicia Silverstone wants the “Kind” in her “movement” to mean more than the word usually does in conversation, and that she touches on aspects of self care, the environment. I don’t care. My blood boils every time I think about her words, because it smacks of the kind of self care that is really supposed to be selfless. It’s NOT self care if we are taking care of ourselves in order to be better citizens, wives, mothers, caretakers of the planet. No.

We practice self care because we are WORTHY of self care. We are kind to ourselves, whatever that may mean, because we deserve kindness from everyone.

I want my child, and my friend’s child, and all children, to learn to be kind to others, and I hope very much that they learn from our example. But there is a long and dark history behind teaching women to care for ourselves so that we may better serve others. I reject anything with that flavor to it. Had she framed her ideas the way Mayim Bialik did with her book, Beyond The Sling, I might be receptive; Bialik states her intention early in her book to simply share how some aspects of Attachment Parenting work for her family, and her hope that this helps other families picture how AP might work for them. She doesn’t push for any universal movement. She shares ideas. If it’s not advice, then it’s harder to feel shame for not living it. New parents do not need new excuses to feel shame. It’s already everywhere. Let’s just pool our ideas, and not tell each other how to live, can we?

We need real support. We are worthy of care. The end.

alicia-silverstone-kind-mama with text

13 Comments

  1. Mamma Pea said:

    When I saw the headline of your post, I originally thought it was going to be about how she doesn’t vaccinate her kid, because those are the debates I keep seeing. I *almost* didn’t click it lol

    I haven’t read her book yet, but after reading that snippet, kind of don’t want to. Only unkind mothers get PPD? How messed up is that? Really what that’s implying is that it’s a mindset ::cough:: Tom Cruse ::cough:: and has nothing to do with hormones. That you can control it….Huh.

    Do only unkind *people* get regular depression?

    May 5, 2014
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  2. Mamma Pea said:

    I just posted the same quote in a group. Someone suggested that maybe it was taken out of context? Maybe she was being facetious? The “dontcha know” does kind of line up with that.

    I haven’t read the book, I don’t know.

    Just another perspective.

    May 5, 2014
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    • Oh, yes. That was at the center of the argument on my own Facebook page. Two things. 1) The “dontcha know” is actually Katherine Stone commenting on Alicia Silverstone. Thanks for catching that! I need to put in a quotation mark that somehow got deleted. But the point is that she’s an actress, not a doctor or scientist, and she has no business commenting on what may or may not cause any mental health issue of any kind. Why include anything like that? If I were her editor, I would suggest rephrasing. “Kind mamas may benefit from scientifically documented boosts in mood during the postpartum period, such as lots of skin-to-skin time, oxytocin released by breastfeeding, and more.” That’s just off the top of my head. Not after months of editing and proofs! No excuse any supporter of her movement has swayed me, yet, but I’m all for debate!

      May 5, 2014
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      • Mamma Pea said:

        Like I said, I haven’t read the book. Not sure if you have :) Apparently she was saying that a healthy diet would help. “It’s hard to imagine, but sometimes the afterglow of birth isn’t so easy. Though it’s less common among kind mamas, some women experience the blues after giving birth. Keeping a clean, balanced diet is critical…. Definitely steer clear of processed sugar, which makes us feel unbalanced. To help alleviate the major emotional shift that happens postpartum , look to foods like burdock root, tofu, and tempeh.” This is coming from someone that read the book. So I’m not sure.

        But I do agree, she’s not a doctor or a scientist. I also feel that people shouldn’t get their information from celebrities. ;)

        May 5, 2014
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        • Anne-Marie said:

          See, this is exactly why I haven’t read her books; I’ve read reviews (often how I decides whether or not to read something) that point out stuff like “eat tofu and tempeh” and I just fundamentally disagree. My own whole foods based diet (soy and gluten are out) has put me, personally, more IN balance, hormonally and in my moods. So ok, I’m with her on processed sugar, but my periods became bearable when I cut out soy and gluten, and that makes #2 & #3 on her list. It’s just not going to work for enough people to make it into a movement.

          Aside from all that, I object to the lack of science in all this. The nutritionists, functional medicine practitioners, people with, you know, training–they all say much more intelligent things about mood and, well, food.

          May 5, 2014
          Reply
          • veganmama81 said:

            If you had actually read her book, you would have seen that she bases her guidance (it’s not medical advice nor does she claim it to be – she knows she isn’t a professional) on information from scientists including nutritionists, OBs, etc. But then again, you would know this if you had read her. you make assumptions about what she’s saying based on what other people say. That’s like a bad game of telephone. The misquoting you do above demonstrates this. Katherine whatever heard (or read…not sure she has even read the book) one thing. You read Katherine and make an assumption about the original message based on what Katherine said. Nevermind if Katherine is TOTALLY misinterpreting the original message. Nevermind if that leads you to make false assumptions. You just jump on the bandwagon and reject everything because it doesn’t fit with a little of what works for YOU. Clearly you do not stand for every mother everywhere either, yet you write as if every mother every where should listen and agree with you. Everyone should reject her because you think a..b…c… but how you eat and how you live doesn’t work for everyone. It’s hypocritical really.

            May 6, 2014
  3. veganmama81 said:

    I take issue with what you say, but then again, you’ll probably just say, “I don’t care.” I suppose that’s your perogative. Have you even READ any of Silverstone’s books? either of them? Or do you just enjoy taking her quotes out of context from another person’s blog? Your quote above seriously misquotes the book. You make it sound like Alicia said the quote above. She didn’t. Not even remotely. That is bad writing. By saying YOU DON’T CARE you are dismissing her. It’s rude. Period. It’s rude to write a post like this without actually understanding the philosophy behind the kind life, the kind diet, and the recommendations of a better way of living that’s better for one’s health and the planet. It’s not about shame. It is not a “this works for some so it HAS to work for all” kind of world out there. Alicia doesn’t say it is. You think she says this, but then again, I don’t think you’ve actually read what she has said first hand. If you had, you would have seen she even makes a 3 step approach to the kind life/diet itself. Did you miss that? Did you miss that you can be KIND to yourself by SELF CARE. That SELF CARE leads to care for the earth? That caring for the earth leads to caring for ourselves? Try reading her books before rejecting it out of hand.

    May 5, 2014
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    • Anne-Marie said:

      First, a clarification: I don’t care about the context or her other ideas, because she lost all credibility with me when she made a flippant remark about mental health. She has been a celebrity long enough to know that something like that would make it into the media (and it did) and that lots of moms who weren’t reading her blog or books would read that (and they did). The remark, whatever its intentions, plays right into old stigma about mental illness: if you lived better, you would feel better. There is some science about mood and diet and exercise, but what makes her qualified to comment on any of it? And where’s her citation? I reject anything that implies a mother could have prevented a mood dip or disorder during the postpartum period–it’s shaming.

      Second, I am actually aware of all the points you bring up, but no, I have not read and will not read her books. I have read enough reviews and interviews to know that I’m simply not interested in her point of view. My own experience with nutritionists and other holistic practitioners, including some serious work I am doing right now with my diet, directly contradicts what Silverstone says. I am dismissing her as someone passing herself off as qualified when she is not. Many of recommendations are not better for my health or the planet, according to very smart people with many more hours of actual experience treating patients and studying the planet. The United States is now 60th in the world in global maternal health rankings (see Every Mother Counts). I reject her as irrelevant to addressing the problems that contribute to that number. I choose, instead, to support Postpartum Progress, and individual mothers in my work as a HypnoBirthing instructor and doula.

      Finally, I wish you could see how problematic it is to say “self care leads to ___” insert anything. I reject that, too. Self care because: self care. The end. Because we are worthy. Not for anyone or anything else. I am too tired of hearing how good it is for someone or something if moms are healthier. Start with moms. Respect the reality of maternal health in this country. Then, I might listen.

      May 5, 2014
      Reply
      • Laurie Miles said:

        Amen. Thank you for speaking up about this and about “shaming” in general.

        May 6, 2014
        Reply
      • Tina said:

        Very well said Anne-Marie!!!!!

        May 7, 2014
        Reply
  4. Caitlin said:

    I loved this post. I was a cosleeping parent once upon a time, not in an advocacy sort of way, but in a ‘she still won’t sleep elsewhere and I need her to sleep so I can sleep’ kind of way. Yet, when I give birth again (while being married to my soul mate) I’m going to want my own bed bad, stat. How can a parent expect to maintain full intimacy with their partner if the bed stops being their sanctuary, indefinitely?

    May 6, 2014
    Reply
    • Anne-Marie said:

      Well, we are indefinite cosleepers, because the child just will not sleep elsewhere, and I will not do battle every night. I also just freaking love the snuggles. (I also hate being kicked in the face, but you win some and lose some.) Let me just say that it requires a little creativity, but the intimacy exists within the relationship, not within the bed. I don’t think we’ve lost anything; in fact, I would say that there’s a bit more equal division of labor when we’re cosleeping, and both of us see the toddler squirming and how much I struggle with it.

      Cosleeping, extended breastfeeding, healthy foods, babywearing–these are all things I practice. I simply don’t think I’m able to judge whether it will work for anyone else.

      May 6, 2014
      Reply
  5. H. Terea Lewis said:

    We practice self care because we are WORTHY of self care. Agreed!

    June 18, 2014
    Reply

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