I have always maintained a small social circle, but after moving to my current home it has been especially small. It can be hard to make new friends as an adult. Since becoming a parent, I have felt a strong need to connect with other parents, both for myself and for my children. I have sought out connections through La Leche League meetings, Facebook groups, and swim lessons. I have met some wonderful people, but one thing that was still lacking was a strong community of like-minded parents with whom I could connect.
One of the interesting things I learned after becoming a mother was that breastfeeding seems to overlap with a lot of other “natural” interests, such as alternative medicine and being opposed to vaccination. I have a strong interest in breastfeeding, and it has become a very important part of parenting for me, but I do not share the disregard for or animosity towards science that many of these other overlapping positions espouse. Yes, I nurse my children because it is natural. But I also nurse them because of the wealth of scientific evidence that indicates breastfeeding is best for my baby and for me. I also vaccinate my children because the evidence is clear that it is one of the best things I can do for them and for our community. As a parent, it is important for me to make choices supported by the available evidence. I think of this as evidence-based parenting, and Parenting Science provides a good description of what that means.
If someone believed my parenting was wrong, and they expected me to change my ways, they needed to present me with a rational case, persuade me with logic, data, and, if possible, compelling tests of competing hypotheses. Likewise, if I had questions, I wanted to do the same. …
What everybody had in common was an interest in testing ideas in a rigorous way. They weren’t going impose a new sleep practice or change their approach to discipline based on somebody else’s opinion. They wanted to weigh the evidence and make an informed decision.
As hard as it is to make friends, it can be even harder to find friends who share specific interests, like a love of science. Especially when it can be hard to politely assess someone’s thoughts about science when you’ve just met. And thus, the Central Illinois Evidence-Based Parenting group was born.
I don’t think I am the only person in Central Illinois who is looking for a parenting community and a few play dates with other parents who love evidence and data. If you prefer to approach parenting in a mindful, rational way and appreciate the difference between science and pseudoscience, this may be a group for you, too.