The Alpha Parent logic fail

Blank Reflective Yellow  Sign

Allison Dixley, the self-proclaimed Alpha Parent, is the perfect foil. She’s my go-to source for sanctimony, viciousness, and misinformation on breastfeeding and formula feeding. Now I find out that she is also clueless.

Her most recent post, Embarrassing Tricks of the Mommy Wars, is a delicious illustration of her utter lack of insight. It’s supposed to be an analysis of the faulty logic that opponents use against her, but, instead, it is a shining example of her faulty logic.

Allison writes:

Let’s take a look at the 15 most common badly-thought-out tactics that mothers resort to in their fight for maternal supremacy.

Her cluelessness occurs on three levels. First, Allison fails to appreciate that she routinely uses many of the tactics she despises as illogical. Second, she clearly does not understand specific logical fallacies. Third, many of her examples are not illogical at all. She simply tars them as such in an effort to avoid answering them.

Here are the highlights of Allison’s list, with my comments:

1. The Ad Hominem:

Attacking the character of the person with whom you are arguing rather than finding fault with his or her argument is a technique of rhetoric. As a debating strategy it is an epic fail because discrediting the source of the argument usually leaves the argument itself intact.

That’s rich coming from the woman who routinely refers to formula feeders as selfish cheaters.

2. Anecdotes

The temptation to over-generalize on the basis of a potentially misleading particular experience seems to be irresistible in the Mommy Wars.

I laughed out loud at this one. Every week Allison features “Triumphant Tuesday,” the story of a woman who overcame a specific breastfeeding challenge, aka an anecdote.

3. The correlation =/= causation safety net

If all else fails, recite the mantra “correlation does not mean causation”.

Earth to Allison: Correlation does NOT equal causation. That’s not a logical fallacy; that’s fact.

5. It’s not child abuse

That’s not a logical fallacy; that’s yet another fact. Formula feeding is NOT child abuse.

7. and 8. are “missing the point” the point and irrelevance. Too bad the examples Allison offers fail to illustrate either missing the point or irrelevance.

10. The schoolyard comparison

The Schoolyard Comparison involves the rhetorical question: “In a class of 30 kids, can you tell who was formula fed and who was breast fed?” To which the answer is – of course you can’t bloody can’t. That’s what scientific studies are for.

No, that’s what scientific studies can do when the differences are tiny and not necessarily clinically relevant. It is perfectly reasonable to question the supposed superiority of breastfeeding by asking if it has any real world advantages. If there are no advantages, or the advantages are so trivial that you have to do a scientific study to establish them, you can’t really make the case that breastfeeding is superior.

12. Prove it

Prove it’, also known as ‘proof by ignorance’ or ‘OMG SAUCE’, is an informal fallacy in which lack of known evidence against a belief is taken as an indication that it is true.

Allison gets this precisely backwards. The argument from ignorance is NOT an absence of evidence. The argument from ignorance is the fallacy that demands proving the negative.

In order to make a claim, you MUST prove it. Otherwise it is nothing more than your opinion.

13. Shifting the goal posts and 14. Zigzagging

Once again, the examples that Allison cites, aren’t illustrative of either shifting the goal posts or zigzagging

At the end of the list, I was left with several impressions.

First, Allison doesn’t understand logic. She routinely labels valid arguments as fallacies, and misunderstands specific logical fallacies.

Second, Allison thinks that shouting “logical fallacy” relieves her of the twin responsibilities of proving her allegation that a claim is a logical fallacy, and of addressing facts that aren’t fallacies at all.

Allison’s ultimate problem is that she has no scientific evidence to support the grossly inflated benefits of breastfeeding and the grossly inflated risks of formula feeding that she espouses. Her list is one long excuse for why she believes she doesn’t need to present scientific evidence for her claims.

That’s her biggest mistake of all.

  • Mac Sherbert

    Just to show that the Alpha Parent does not speak for all Moms…http://herscoop.com/posts/empowering-photo-series/

  • GiddyUpGo123

    I’m just gonna start making shit up, like really epic crunchy shit to
    post on MDC. Like, my kid wears diapers that are actually *made* out of
    kale and I gave birth naturally to triplets in the treetops with a tribe of chimpanzees, just like our ancestors, and I grew an extra breast so I could nurse all of them at the same time, because my body was designed to naturally provide as much milk as my babies need.

    • GuestB

      Oooh I want to do that, too! Really have some fun with it. I think my specialty will be Family Cloth.

      • Zornorph

        No, wipe your @ss with leaves for a true all-natural experience.

        • Mishimoo

          Poison Ivy ones, to prevent chafing and nappy rash. (Since water has memory and the more you dilute a substance, the stronger it is; shouldn’t they work as a good preventative?)

        • J.

          Nah, LICK it, just like my cat does!

      • Guest

        Dear MDC Mommas! I am pregnant with my first child, who will be born
        vaginally at home with the help of my two awesome midwives, Bobo and
        Bubbles. My question is for all those mommas who handmake their natural,
        organic baby apparel. I am trying to knit cloth diapers out of kale but
        am having a difficult time getting the fibers to bind together. I tried
        vaginal knitting but that just makes them turn to mush. Should I wait
        until I can use preserved fluid from my magical bag of waters or should I
        just give up and make leather diaper covers from tanned placenta
        material? Has anyone ever tried to knit baby clothes from, say, spinach?

        • Young CC Prof

          The trick is, you need to find a type of kale called dinosaur kale. It has longer and stronger fibers. So, you separate the fibers in the veins and use those to lead the spinning process.

          • auntbea

            It’s obviously the better kale. The dinosaurs ate that kale for millenia and looked how well they turned out!

        • wookie130

          A reasonable alternative to the kale, would be just to hand-weave a unicorn mane. Kale works really well as an absorbant insert you can use in the unicorn mane pocket cover for the diaper. I hope this helps.

    • Sue

      You GO, momma!

    • auntbea

      Oooh, ooh, I wanna see screencaps!

  • stenvenywrites

    “Contrariwise, if it was so, it might be; and if it were so, it would be; but as it isn’t, it ain’t. That’s logic.” AP is Tweedledee; who’s Tweedledum?

  • antigone23

    Allison – the only person who cares about “maternal supremacy” is YOU. Those of us who oppose your narrow, hateful viewpoints just want to raise our kids according to the best of our abilities without having busybodies like yourself insulting us all the time.

    • OttawaAlison

      I bowed out of competitive mothering and just parent. I don’t analyze other people’s parenting. Life is busy enough.

    • KarenJJ

      Ironic discussing “maternal supremacy” when you’ve called yourself “The Alpha Parent”.

      • Squillo

        Which is why I really believe it’s all a giant, well-done Poe.

  • mydoppleganger

    OT: Overheard advice to a hopeful Mom who wants vaginal birth after 2sections:”I would prefer you not go to the hospital until the baby is actually crowning.” Said by a vaginal birth enthusiast.

    • jenny

      WTF.

    • Young CC Prof

      Just as a basic practical question: How does one GET to the hospital in the second stage of labor? Or get anywhere at all?

      • Trixie

        Very painfully and dangerously. I was so scared of being so far into labor that I wouldn’t be able to sit with my seatbelt on in the car.

        • Mishimoo

          Same! Timing wasn’t a good indicator of progression for me, so I always went as soon as I had to start concentrating to deal with the contractions.

        • Jennifer2

          But on TV sitcoms the panicked dad and nearly crowning mom always get to the hospital just fine.

      • jenny

        I’m pretty sure you don’t. “Show up pushing” is some of the dumbest advice I have ever heard.

      • schnitzelbank

        It’s so easy, when you’re “only 5 minutes away.” O.o

    • Dr Kitty

      “I would prefer” ….well then…that is exactly the advice to follow….

      They CANNOT force you to have a RCS against your will. They can try to persuade and convince you, but they can’t force you.
      You don’t have to turn up pushing, you just have to keep saying “no”, because they can’t throw a labouring woman out on the street.

      • Siri

        That’s what I can never understand – how can US hospitals not ‘allow’ VBAC? Short of forcibly sedating women and taking them to theatre?

        • Karen in SC

          Some smaller hospitals don’t have anesthesiology on call after hours, and you never know when a TOL for a VBAC can turn into an emergency c-section. It’s a resource issue, not a judgement call.

          • Trixie

            I don’t think I’d want to have my baby in a hospital where there wasn’t always anesthesia on call, regardless of VBAC.

          • Karen in SC

            My city is big enough for two hospitals, but if you are have an emergency need for an orthopedic surgeon and the surgeon on call has already been called and is with another patient in the operating room — you get to go by helicopter to a big city hospital!!

            I found that out when my son was in need, and in a lot of pain. Luckily he was stable and given morphine while we waited. There are other ortho’s in town but I guess they can’t be called in.

            Resource issues exist in more than OB.

          • Siri

            But if you arrive in established labour and refuse a section, what can they do? (Not saying that’s a good thing to do, just wondering what would actually happen).

          • Karen in SC

            Document, document, document!!

            Otherwise, ambulance or helicopter to a hospital with the right resources.

    • yentavegan

      This and more. to “achieve ” my VBAC
      I was advised to labor at home for as long as possible. I was advised to eat throughout labor while home and to be sure to tell the hospital staff that I had eaten a big meal. I was advised to refuse electric fetal heart monitoring, I was advised to refuse an IV, I was advised to refuse internal exams, refuse to lie down and refuse pain relief of any kind. I was advised to resist pushing unless overwhelmed with the urge. I did all this and more. Those of you who have read my past posts know that for then ext baby my doctor REFUSED me.

    • Squillo

      Right. Because it’s all about what the advisor prefers. This is the same advice my cousin’s wife got from her doula, leading to an ambulance ride during pushing and giving birth just inside the ED doors.

      She got “her” VBAC, but was not at all happy with her birth experience, which entailed a terrifying, painful ambulance ride and having her baby in front of a roomful of strangers. She is rather thankful, however, that it did not involve a uterine rupture outside the hospital.

  • sarahh.rosanne@gmail.com

    Would it be a logical fallacy to assume that that TAP is probably no picnic to have as a mommy? I feel sorry for her children. That is judgmental, I know, but how sad to grow up with such a toxic value system and vicious perception of other human beings. I’m just going to take a moment to succumb to my own sense of sanctimony before I go back to being a slummy mummy or whatever she calls it when you value your family’s individual needs.

    • mydoppleganger

      Ha, there is this Mom group out in the area that has nightmarish high standards. Caught with a soda? Kicked out. Formula? You are finished. Don’t drive a Prius? Don’t bother. I ran into the group at a park and the older kids were such bullies *as well as the Moms who eyed my soda cup like it was a federal offense.*One of the fresher Moms was actually nice and wanted to wave to queen bee to get her attention about getting me in the group. Needless to say, my 3 year old daughter and I ran to the car. She led the way! I literally *peeled out* in fear.:)

      • The Bofa on the Sofa

        I ran into the group at a park

        Both members?

      • sarahh.rosanne@gmail.com

        I am enjoying a soda right now (as I feed my son, gasp, a 50/50 concoction of formula and breastmilk laced with the soda I drank yesterday), as I ride to hell in my little handbasket :)

        • Young CC Prof

          Oh, my baby loves the 50/50! We called it “daddy’s secret recipe,” because that particular supplementing technique was daddy’s idea.

        • notahomebirthlactivist

          I did that combo with my son a lot. I read on Kellymom the other day you aren’t supposed to, but I have no idea why?? anyone? Oh well he seems to have survived the experience completely fine. and there I go, using anecdotes lol.. alpha mum would hate me.

          • Trixie

            Just because the storage rules are different for breast milk and formula. So if the baby doesn’t finish the bottle, you can’t stick it in the fridge and use it for the next feeding like you could if it was only breast milk. So you might end up having to dump some milk you worked hard to pump.

          • sarahh.rosanne@gmail.com

            And when the baby doesn’t finish the bottle in a timely manner, you sob woefully as you pour the 30 ml of breastmilk that it literally took an hour to pump down the sink. But then you smile inside because Allison Dixley thinks you are cheating, and this pleases you on some intrinsic level.

          • Joy_F

            Or you could just use smaller bottles – I just use 4oz bottles most of the time to avoid wasting any formula! That stuff is expensive!

          • Joy_F

            Dilutes the virgin gut. So says Kelly Mom. So I guess if that is important to you, don’t do it. If you are normal like the rest of us (I do it too) who cares?

          • Jennifer2

            I think it comes down to you end up wasting breastmilk if you mix, for example, 2 oz of breastmilk and 2 oz of formula and then baby ends up only drinking 3 oz total.

      • Siri

        Did you try telling them it was expressed breastmilk in your cup?

  • mydoppleganger

    I am starting to think all these Alpha Parents really DON’T want folks to succeed “as well as they have” in any arena. After all, what if someone has a better, more epic home birth? I wonder how many mothering dot com women secretly crave to see their forum friends mildly fail, or at least not be as amazing. Just an impression I get from some of the most passionate Alpha Parents so devoted to sharing the truth with us dull folk.

    • GuestB

      That is such a good point. It’s not “if you’re parenting differently than I am, you are not as good of a parent”, it’s really “no matter what you do you will never be as amazing a parent as I am”. Even when they find like minded people, they are still somehow just that much more awesome than the next guy.

      • mydoppleganger

        I’ve steered clear from posting on those forums as the second you detour from said script you get jumped on. Case in point: if you have your baby in a hospital you are still not up to standard. The only way to get by is creating a victim situation or some Hercules worthy story of putting doctors in their place, usually with snappy comments and lawsuit threats. I have had trouble reading breastfeeding advice that has been straight up and not damaged with santimommy mentality as well.

    • The Bofa on the Sofa

      It’s taking “living vicariously through your kids” to a whole new level.

    • Zornorph

      I think the only way you could beat the woman who crapped out her baby on the rocks by the side of the rainforest stream would be to have one in space. Advantage: In space, no one can hear you scream for an epidural. Disadvantage: No gravity to help bring the baby out when you squat.

      • Joy_F

        First baby born on Mars…..all natural? How would anything about that be natural? I bet they would figure out a way!

        • Zornorph

          That baby would be a stranger in a strange land.

          • theNormalDistribution

            With so much to grok, so little to grok from.

      • Siri

        Behold, the magical, mystical Floating Placenta! Cor, imagine the mess..

  • Antigonos CNM

    “tactics that mothers resort to in their fight for maternal supremacy.”

    Maternal SUPREMACY? What in Heaven’s name is that and why, assuming someone can explain it to me, should a mother want it?

    • The Computer Ate My Nym

      I’m not sure, but I keep envisioning something with an arena, swords, dirty diapers, and two mothers entering but only one leaving…possibly after dancing on the body of her rival and yelling, “My MATERNAL SUPREMACY has defeated you and now I will use your tonsils for a teething toy.” But that can’t be right.

      • araikwao

        I’m sure those diapers are organic bamboo, and there could be some mama cloth involved too. All of the above must occur with the babies worn in tie-dyed locally produced hemp ring-slings. Kale smoothies provided afterwards for re-energising, cleansing and immune system boosting.

        • The Computer Ate My Nym

          The swords are hand forged from meteorite derived iron and scabbards knitted from vagina based wool…

          • sarahh.rosanne@gmail.com

            That is going to be my next Etsy venture.

          • Siri

            You know, of course, that the word for vagina is the same as the word for scabbard in many languages.. making your suggestion even more eerily appropriate.

          • Amy M

            So would the words for “sword” and “penis” be synonymous in those same languages then?

          • Siri

            You’d think so, wouldn’t you? But no, the word penis is apparently derived from the word for tail. Here, Sir Hubert, do please feel free to pop your tail in my scabbard!

        • Mishimoo

          Oh goodness, that reminds me of the crunchy mum I ran into while wearing *gasps* a crotch-dangler! (Actually, it’s a Snugli that supports his hips and back really well) She was busy glaring at me and snarking about me to her poor kids, who cheered when she announced in a smug tone: “Darlings! I found the KALE!!”

          • Siri

            Lolol. You should have asked her to direct you to the poptart aisle! Then added that your kids love them for dinner with fries.

    • http://shameonbetterbirth.wordpress.com/ Shameon Betterbirth

      I’m pretty sure maternal supremacy is “not feeling like total shit about yourself as a parent”. The bar is pretty low for women and self esteem. : /

  • Zornorph

    I actually believe TAP is simply trolling on a grand scale. That doesn’t excuse her being so nasty, but I think she goes out of her way to find the most offensive ways to make her arguments.
    btw, her attempt at starting a forum of like-minded people has failed. The last post was on December 28th of last year. I posted myself there now and then just for a lark, but there are not enough judgey beyotches to make a go of it, it seems.

    • Mel

      The failure of the forum makes me trust human-kind a bit more! :-)

    • http://shameonbetterbirth.wordpress.com/ Shameon Betterbirth

      Hmm maybe. Getting things wrong on purpose is a classic way to troll. Its either that or she is very, very stupid.

    • Elle

      I would like to think so, but her facebook page still has over 37,000 likes. I’m sure some of those are just gawkers, but not all of them.

    • Meerkat

      Her blog is so freakin’ boring, I wonder who reads it.

  • http://Www.awaitingjuno.blogspot.com/ Mrs. W

    TAP crosses a decency line on a regular basis – she does not understand how to prove her points in meaningful and ethical ways, in short she does not fight fair. This is not a woman who plays by the rules of logical engagement – she believes in using the “low blows” – the personal attacks, appeals to the absurd, and a lack of empathy/compassion. She’s not a person I’d want in my organization in any capacity, simply because she lacks the basic leadership skills that allow one to function effectively in an organization. She’s a mommy gang thug.

    • Siri

      Exactly. She believes the end justifies the means, except that the end isn’t some worthy cause like combating polio or rescuing abused children, it’s getting every mother to breastfeed or die trying. Hardly worth the amount of bullying she indulges in. Makes me think she’s chosen a good niche for herself; no chance of working her way out of a job. So her little Sadist’s Corner is safe forever.

  • Mel

    Kinda OT
    : http://www.thealphaparent.com/search/label/Questionable%20parenting
    On her blog, you can post an emblem to proclaim if you’re an Real Alpha, Complacent Alpha, blah blah blah.

    Look closely at the pictures:
    Bona Fide Alpha Mom: Blonde mom and kid.
    Complacent Alpha: Blonde mom and kid
    Parent-centric: Blonde mom, one blonde baby, one tan skinned dark haired baby.
    Slummy: Blonde mom in relaxed clothing, blonde kid with sideways hat, the only African kid in the whole set.

    So, obviously, if you like rap, comfortable clothing and/or have skin darker than Nordic blonde, you automatically default to Slummy Mom. Or do non-European folks not understand breast-feeding? Or are we just fricking racist?

    • PrimaryCareDoc

      Oh, that post is just awful!

      The best part is how someone calls her out on having a black baby in the “slummy mummy” category, and she defends it by saying that was the only way to pictorially represent having different fathers for the kids. Her comment actually made it seem even worse than it already was!

      • Mel

        Oh, God. I didn’t read the comments.

        Here’s her reply in all of it’s glory.

        “re: the black baby, I think it’s purpose in the picture is to suggest that the babies have different fathers, rather than being some sort of racist statement. It’s an easy way to indicate varying paternity. I’m not sure how else this concept could be shown pictorially.”

        If she really wanted to avoid race, she could have made them all white. Or all black. Or wearing shirts that slut-shame their mom.

        Notice that the woman is usually raring to tear into other becomes a meek little mouse when she needs to displace the blame “I think it’s purpose….” Does she remove the pictures? Nah. Do the 10 seconds of photo editing needed to make a new slummy mommy replete with middle-class clothing and white babies? Nope.

        • Antigonos CNM

          And she misuses an apostrophe. Yes, I know it’s a low blow, but I am an Apostrophe Nazi.

          • An Actual Attorney

            Careful, Antigonos. Isn’t it about to be a crime to say that about yourself?

        • Monica

          Oh so that’s it, everyone who has white children and dark skinned children must have different fathers for each? I’ll admit there’s really no mistaking my kids are siblings and there’s not a wide range of skin tone amongst them, but I do have a few who are fairer skinned like their mom and a few who tan rather nicely unlike their mom and like their dad. All from the same father thank you very much. More continued ignorance from Ms. Dixley I think in how genetics actually work. Maybe she could have portrayed that with multiple fathers in the picture. Might have come off a little better than going with the ignorant assumption that if your children don’t all look exactly alike with white skin and blonde hair that they don’t all have the same father. Maybe we should show this to TFB and see what she has to say to TAP about that ;).

          • Siri

            And does it really matter if someone (it happens to men too, amazingly) has children by different partners? I remember a colleague remarking of a client with five children, ‘And by how many fathers?’. I smiled sweetly and reminded her that I have five kids by three fathers, and I’m pretty darn proud of every one of them. She backtracked beautifully, mumbling that of course, that’s different. Why, because I’m middle class? White? With white husbands? I pay tax? If I don’t use those excuses (I don’t need any), I don’t need them used on my behalf.

          • Dr Kitty

            There is ONLY reason to ask a patient if her current pregnancy is fathered by the same man as her older children is when you are risk assessing for pre-e (because first pregnancies, and first pregnancies with new partners are higher risk for Pre-eclampsia).

            Otherwise, I don’t really need to know.

            There are, BTW, perfectly polite ways of asking.
            “Second pregnancies can be a bit less stressful once you know what to expect, how does your partner feel this time around? is a good opener.

          • Siri

            Haha, my current husband is much taller and broader than my ex, and during my homebirth I started panicking about shoulder dystocia, especially when the birth took much longer than my fourth and I had a persistent cervical lip. I begged to be transferred to hospital for a c/s, and by 5am my midwives had had enough and called an ambulance.

            I recall the on-call reg standing in the doorway (he was a Sikh, and I remember wondering about infection control in amongst the pain); he took one look, pulled a face of utter disgust (You got me up for a multip in 2nd stage demanding a section?!) and turned on his heel. Baby was born a couple of minutes later.

        • LadyLuck777

          Wait, so aside from the blatant racism, is she shaming any mommy who has children by multiple people? So if you are divorced or widowed you can’t have any more children either or you are automatically a Slummy Mummy?

          *eyeroll*

          • LibrarianSarah

            Racism, classism, and slut shaming it’s the fucked up trifecta!

      • auntbea

        Or she could have adopted. I hate those lazy mothers who adopt!

    • ngozi

      I have been black/African American for over 35 years. Nothing surprises me now.

    • Guest

      Well I’m screwed. I’m brunette with a blonde daughter and unless I’m in a suit for work, you’ll only see me in sweats and baggy t-shirts, all 7 months pregnant of me. I don’t even make her list!

      • Young CC Prof

        I’m going to take my biracial kid and hang out with my friend who has one white kid and one biracial kid. And I’m going to wear sweats, because my pre-baby actual pants don’t fit and I hate my maternity pants. And we’ll bring bottles. Can I have all the negative points now? : )

    • Life Tip

      If you manage to get past the (horrifying and glaring) racism and read the post, the “answers” to the quiz are ridiculous. The D answers get you the “slummy mummy” title, including planning on formula feeding and your child rides to school in the back of a police car. Because those are about the same?

    • Jessica

      Is that what she means by Maternal Supremacy? XD

  • Mel

    Ad hominem attacks connect to arguments about the person that are unrelated to the topic at hand.
    Example:
    Person A: I think we need to work on eating more healthy food.
    Person B: Why should we listen to you? You’re fat and have ugly hair.

    When you pontificate about how to raise other peoples’ children, you leave yourself wide open to attacks about how you present said information.
    Example: Her blog post of parent types gives four types – Bona Fide Alpha Parent; Complacent Alpha Parent; Relaxed Parent-centric and Slummy Mommy. My first response was “Whoa! Whole new level of bitchy.”

  • Mel

    TAP uses the strawman fallacy to prove “#5 – “It’s not child abuse” by fixing formula in with apparently evil practices.

    Examples include: “Formula is not poison”, “It won’t kill him”, “A light smack on the hand is different from a beating”, “Better to circumcise now than later when he’ll remember it”, and so on.

    Also, in Michigan, by law, none of the things listed in that statement are child abuse unless “It won’t kill him” is a covert mention of beatings, sexual abuse or neglect of some kind.

  • GiddyUpGo123

    Thanks for taking on the latest TAP BS Amy. I was reading that post last night and wishing I had time to go through her whole blog and find quotes from her or her followers that she could use as examples for her ridiculous list. My first thought when I read that post was “I wish Dr. Amy would comment on this one …”

  • Guest

    What I wonder is how the “Mommy Wars” started in the first place. I’ve been hearing about them for a while, but it’s not something I run into in my daily life, just on the internet.
    So if you are a mom who’s contributing to the “war”, STOP!! It’s not a competition or a race! It’s about raising a healthy, well adjusted child. That’s what I want my legacy to be. How I get there, that’s up to me, not to someone who mistakenly feels that she needs to compete with me for who’s the better mom.

    • http://Www.awaitingjuno.blogspot.com/ Mrs. W

      I find myself in a battle on a regular basis – but have generally taken a “defence only” position. I don’t need anyone to mirror my choices – I simply need respect for the choice and it seems at times like that is asking too much. So I’ll admit, I partake, but simply out of neccessity – the defence of a valid choice, and I aim to do so in a manner that is the “high road”. I’d like to think what I do is more akin to preventing the bullies from completely overtaking the school yard…

      • Guest

        I don’t consider defending yourself to be contributing. At least I wouldn’t take it that way. But then, I wouldn’t force you to defend your parenting choices…unless you’re actually abusing your kid in my presence. But that’s completely different.

    • guest

      My experience has been the same: there’s no shortage of judgments on the internet, but in real life people are very understanding and non-judgmental, friends and strangers alike. I guess the difference is that people can get away with being jerks on the internet but don’t want you to associate them with those attitudes and behaviors in person.

  • Courtney84

    Totally OT, but what’s the deal with fermented foods? How safe is home fermenting? Is this some new tenant of natural parenting/living? I’ve got an acquaintance who’s all jazzed about going to a fermented foods workshop taught by a home birth midwife. They’re learning to make kombucha, kefir, and a bunch of other stuff I guess. Why?

    • Trixie

      Fermentation is a hobby of mine :-)

      If you follow basic food safety guidelines and recipes that use USDA approved methods, it’s pretty safe. Most stuff that can grow in fermented vegetables could ruin the flavor, but won’t hurt you. Same with fermenting your own alcohol and vinegars. The higher risk items are kombucha (alcohol content doesn’t get high enough to kill the bad stuff) and dairy fermentation (starting with pasteurized milk and proper sanitation is key).

      I’d drink just about any homebrew or eat just about anyone’s sauerkraut, but I wouldn’t take kefir from just anyone.

      ETA: I wouldn’t trust a homebirth midwife to teach me any of those things.

      • Dr Kitty

        I wouldn’t take anyone’s kombucha or kefir either, but that’s just because, personally, I think they taste vile.

        Homemade sauerkraut or Japanese style pickles…I’d be all over that though.

      • Courtney84

        Howl likely do we think it is someone can teach this for $5 a person in one evening and have the students actually be knowledgable in safe fermenting? Is it pretty easy and strait forward, or is this midwife likely clueless to risks?

        • Trixie

          Eh, it depends. Like, you can ferment your own apple cider vinegar by pretty much taking a gallon preservative-free cider, taking the cap off, putting a cheesecloth over it, and letting it sit on your counter for a few weeks. Now, it wouldn’t necessarily hit uniform pickling strength, so it would be dangerous to use it in canning, but it’s very unlikely that anything bad could survive the alcoholic and then acetic fermentation.
          Sauerkraut or pickles, as long as you follow the recipe and use enough salt, the worst that will happen is that if you do it wrong you’ll end up with a horribly slimy mold on top that will spoil the taste. It’ll smell so bad that you won’t eat it, but even if you did, it wouldn’t kill you or anything.
          Now, kombucha can cause food poisoning. I personally wouldn’t trust that one. And if this is the kind of midwife I’m thinking, then she’s probably recommending raw milk, and there’s never a safe way to ferment raw milk.
          For anyone who’s interested in vegetable pickling (both fermented and vinegar pickles), this is my favorite book: http://www.amazon.com/The-Joy-Pickling-Flavor-Packed-Vegetables/dp/B00B9ZC68E

    • Mel

      I ferment foods at home. We live about 20 minutes into the middle of nowhere and it can be hard to get some foods.

      Safety depends on what you’re making, how you’re making it and how closely you monitor things like salinity and pH. Use fresh food, use good quality salts/vinegar, be scrupulous about cleanliness and follow the recipe exactly. By fresh food, you want the best veggies your garden/store produces. No blemishes since those can be spots where mold or bacteria have started. Don’t use unpasteurized milk – the bacteria in that milk has a head start and can create a toxic cheese.

      • Trixie

        With regard to blemishes, especially on cabbage, I’ve never had any trouble just cutting off bad spots. If your salt content is high enough and you can keep your fermentation anaerobic, you won’t have issues.

        • Mel

          That’s true. As I’ve become more experienced, I am more willing to chance an occasional sketchy piece of produce simply because I know what the expected outcome should look like. Talking to a beginner, though, I’d want to be sure they’re starting with excellent to good produce, not marginal produce.

    • Mel

      Well, if I was teaching a class on fermenting foods, it would be to earn more money on the side. I have no problem with that since many people would like to learn, but it’s not healthier per say, just different.

      • Trixie

        Historically, it was important for health, in that it allowed you to eat vegetables in the winter. Also, I think something about fermenting cabbage frees up more vitamin C, and at one time sauerkraut was a way to fight scurvy aboard ships. And to the degree that “probiotics” might be good for you, you’re probably more likely to be getting them from fermented food than from buying pills at the store where most of the cultures are actually dead. But I don’t think fermented food in our modern era is essential to health or anything.

    • AlisonCummins

      It’s a way of preserving food without electricity. It’s low-cost and flavourful and if you have these skills you can live off the grid — or at least, less-dependently on the grid. Storing one’s own food is useful if access to other people’s storage (retail stores) is expensive or erratic. (For instance, if roads are not always open, if you don’t always have access to a car or if gas is just too expensive.)

      If you think that as the prices of fossil fuels rise that industrial and post-industrial economies will take a hit, affecting the maintenance of infrastructure (roads, utility grids); that food and power will become more expensive; that work will become less available… then you are motivated to learn ways of doing things that will make you less affected by these changes.

      If you think that technology will find a solution, then fermentation doesn’t matter to you.

      • Trixie

        I’m not particularly pessimistic about the future, I just enjoy it preserving my own food because it’s a fun hobby.

        There definitely is a confluence of hipster fermentation trends and the home birth crowd — see, “I Can Pickle That” from Portlandia.

        But I’m pretty sure this midwife is going to tell her class that fermented foods can actually prevent ailments, such as Group B Strep or thrush in breastfeeding moms or even gestational diabetes. And of course, it won’t.

        • The Bofa on the Sofa

          Trixie nails it. This MW isn’t teaching fermenting because it’s a fun hobby, etc, she is pitching woo. And not in a good way.

    • Rochester mama

      I love kefir, and wish it wasn’t caught up in the woo crowd. It’s just like yogurt but different cultures and thinner and you drink it. It’s been popular in Eastern Europe forever and I fell in love with it when I lived in Hungary for six months in college in the late 90s. If made correctly it will have a slight alcohol content and was a great “hair of the dog” morning after drink that the Hungarian students I lived with swore by.

      • Courtney84

        I like kefir, too! I just buy it instead of make it!

    • R T

      I make my own Kefir, kraut and fermented lemons from my lemon tree for Moroccan dishes! It’s so good! There’s a fermenter’s club where I live and they have workshops regularly! It’s a fun hobby and as safe as any food prep done correctly! I mean the whole point in fermenting things is to activate preservative organic acids so the food doesn’t spoil. There is a risk of botulism if its done incorrectly i.e. using plastic containers or containers that aren’t airtight and having an unsanitary preparation space. I think with any canned or fermented food you’re taking a risk eating it made by someone else. Even buying it in a grocery store off the shelf doesn’t mean it can’t be contaminated! When my neighbors bring me jam or tomato sauce they made I do wonder if they processed it correctly! Haven’t gotten sick from my neighbors amazing fig jam yet *fingers crossed*!

      • Trixie

        Fermenting in a plastic bucket or something that isn’t airtight won’t cause botulism. Botulism is mostly a risk with incorrect acidity and/or canning low acid foods without a pressure canner.

      • Young CC Prof

        Jam is pretty safe just due to the sugar content. And it was presumably canned immediately after boiling. Boiling jam is really really REALLY hot, so while it is possible to screw up, safe jam doesn’t require, like, sterile-surgical technique. The process is robust against small errors.

        • Trixie

          While the sugar content prevents some spoilage, it doesn’t prevent botulism. There are some fruits you have to add additional acid to in order to achieve a safe acidity level.

        • Amy M

          I made jam once, and it was so good it was all eaten within a week, so probably not enough time for botulism. (I also gave a lot of it away.)

          • Siri

            Yum – what flavour did you make? In Norway every garden has fruit trees and berry bushes, but few people bother these days. My mum used to knock on doors and offer jam in return for being allowed to help herself to fruit, and every autumn she’d stock our larder with plum and cherry jam, redcurrant and apple jelly, and bottles of blackcurrant cordial.

  • OttawaAlison

    She’s definitely known for contorting logic to fit her own agenda.

    Allison – you’re reading this I know. We have a few things in common, we both have the same name spelt differently, we’re both British (I’m a dual British/Canadian citizen, I grew up in Canada though, but do have a red passport that says I’m British), we both have blond hair (not sure on your eye colour, but I have blue eyes).But when it comes to your blog/facebook statuses and memes – I just want to ask why? What is this axe you have to grind against women for whatever reason who formula feed? I can understand that you may be coming from the stance that you believe that there is no excuse for women to formula feed and that formula feeding is extremely detrimental to children (I try hard to understand where people with different People are coming from). However, could you perhaps understand that others who have read the same literature as you may have come to a different conclusion, have you ever tried seeing things from perhaps the formula feeding mother’s point of view? We could probably go back and forth and accuse each other of cherry picking data, inflating claims, and just being ignorant of the “truth”, but honestly what on earth is that going to achieve. I don’t understand why you not only set yourself as the epitome of good parenting and why women who formula feed are lesser. I don’t know if this helps you get satisfaction. I am willing to give you some benefit of the doubt that you believe that cutting down women who formula feed is for the greater good of all babies (for others reading this, I don’t believe that formula feeding is detrimental unless there are contraindications like allergies), but is it just that?

    I’m a woman who breastfed for 3.5 months and was absolutely determined to do so and was made to feel like a complete failure for having to supplement after my daughter was losing weight after 2 weeks (it’s tough seeing pictures of her and seeing loose skin on her while I steadfastly tried to exclusively breastfeed). I then learned that the reason why my breasts didn’t do what they were supposed to do (grow during pregnancy, were always spaced far apart, didn’t get the big visible blue veins) was due to a condition called breast hypoplasia. Yet you dismissively call anyone like me who is okay with the fact they have used formula as “defensive formula feeders’. The okayness I feel now about formula feeding was a process and took me a few years to feel okay about it, long after I stopped formula feeding.

    There are a number of reasons why I feel now that people should do what they feel best in their situation be it formula feed, exclusively breastfeed or a combo (still not a fan of using homemade formulas or milk sharing sites, but those are my own biases). It’s been 7.5 years since I have had my first and only child (I’m hoping for a second ), the infant feeding aspect is long ago in the past and the way I have parented has evolved over the years. One thing that I feel confident in is that good parenting is not just based on how you feed you kid for the first year or 2.

    I really want to understand what you’re trying to achieve because your methods seem to be more about making a few people feel good by reducing a huge swath of mothers into being lesser than you. I’m trying to understand where you’re coming from in that regard, but I just don’t get it.

    • Tim

      Her motive is money, it’s really simple. She makes money off her blog, and saying outlandish, audacious, demeaning crap guarantees a firestorm of hits from both haters and defenders. Being a firebrand creates controversy, controversy creates traffic, and traffic creates money.
      Follow the money!

      • OttawaAlison

        I’m glad Dr. A gave her overview here so I do not have to click her page. I still just don’t understand doing what she does even if she gets money for clicks. I’d hope she’d at least believe what she is saying, even if I vehemently disagree with her views and her delivery.

      • http://Www.awaitingjuno.blogspot.com/ Mrs. W

        I’m not sure it is. I could be wrong – but I do not think there’s an excess of money in blogging. I think she does it for the personal satisfaction she gets from having followers – and pissing others off.

        • Guest

          I believe that usually the only money that comes with blogging comes from advertising you are paid to put on your blog. Links to different products and services usually. Unless you are paid by a company to do it as social media advertising. From what I know from my husband’s ad work, you do get paid more if you get more hits on your site though.

          • Certified Hamster Midwife

            There are other ways to make money: paid guest columns for newspapers/websites, speaking engagements, and the sweet nectar that so many mommy bloggers crave: free stuff to “review.” Or at least casually mention.

            I do wonder whether she’s angling for a book deal and media tour making her Britain’s/infancy’s answer to the Tiger Mom.

            I don’t know what her traffic is like, but my adblocker says that there are five ads on the front page of TAP. By contrast, there are two on the front page of this site, and additional ads served up by Disqus on each post page.

          • Certified Hamster Midwife

            Those huge square ads between posts aren’t very common on blogs – I wonder how much they bring in.

        • Tim

          I’m not saying it will make her rich, but look at it this way – if your only talent in life is being judgy and mean to others, why not make it into a job? Heaven knows she can’t go out and work, because that would make her a “slummy mummy” , so she needs to put her talent to use at home. Not that being a judgy obnoxious pos has a lot of marketplace value anyway, so what other job could she do.

  • The Bofa on the Sofa

    Let’s take a look at the 15 most common badly-thought-out tactics that mothers resort to in their fight for maternal supremacy.

    Can I just point out that the whole post is based on a false premise?

    WHO, aside from morons like her, are worried about “maternal supremacy”?

    Jeez, most of the parents I talk to are talking about figuring out how to make things work for them in their own circumstances, and couldn’t give a crap less about whether that makes them “supreme.”

  • areawomanpdx

    Lol. Another ignorant google-educated mommy blogging to share her ignorance with the rest of us. She googled logical fallacies and wrote a blog post, but doesn’t have the brain power to understand and interpret what she was reading. How cute.

    • Box of Salt

      I find it ironic that her title for the post includes the word “Embarrassing.”

  • http://kumquatwriter.wordpress.com/ Kumquatwriter

    Man I am sick of all these Regina George wannabes telling women (me) how baaaaaad we are.

  • Lisa Murakami

    Yep. The irony is that with every post, TAP only further convinces readers that she is anything but an “alpha” parent, since the character you model for your children is of utmost importance in parenting.

    • GiddyUpGo123

      That’s exactly what I was thinking this morning! Does she at least wait until her kids aren’t around before she starts bullying and harassing moms who are bottle feeding or pushing their kids around in strollers? I don’t know about you but I teach my kids that they should stay away from bullies and thugs. I can’t imagine what I would say to them if I actually was one.