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Dear Families, You Belong | My Stand for Social Justice

The moral rubber hit the road for me in a new way this past week.

From my little corner of the world, and from my unique angle as a parent educator and pediatric sleep specialist, I was faced with the choice to stay quiet (to stay complicit) or to speak up.

I am choosing the latter. This is an open letter to families.

If you have the time, please read on. I believe that this is an important conversation to be in constantly, especially right now where the tendency is to rest on our laurels with a new administration in office. In fact, there is work to be done. And the work starts with me being honest and speaking up and then staying involved and engaged in this work as a constant in my life—personally and professionally. Disclaimer: I am not an expert. I am only speaking my truth. I have a community of professionals to thank (see below) and a declaration to make about what I stand for.

Recently, it has been discovered that a prominent sleep consultant, Cara Dumpalin, founder of Taking Cara Babies sleep program, has been donating to and supporting the campaign of the former president Donald J. Trump since 2016. Her husband, a pediatrician, has also given money to the Trump campaign, which can also be seen in the FEC records.

One could summarize that a self-proclaimed “parent advocate” has knowingly contributed to the efforts of a presidency that was based on blatant acts of exclusivity, misogyny, bigotry, and racist policies aimed to separate families and encourage hate groups and violence towards black and brown people. This recent information has caused much of the parenting community to question whether her character and values are in alignment with her vocation to help families, and to ask: “How can she and her pediatrician hubby support Trump, who locks up/separates kids & families!?”

On a personal level, this recent news has me deeply disturbed. I do of course believe that everyone has a right to free speech and a right to support whomever they choose. It is the lack of alignment between her professional declarations and her personal affiliations that disturbs me.

My stance on the TakingCaraBabies program has always been that if it supports families in finding balance and rest, I am in full support. I worked with many families over the years who had taken Ms. Dumpalin’s online courses only to find that they were not as tailored as they had hoped for, and so they had sought out a more customized approach with me. I was always happy to support.

I am an avid believer in there being enough work to go around and that choosing abundance always feels better than choosing fear or lack. Between 2015 to the present, this belief was tested because, as a practitioner, I watched my client base drop significantly once the Takingcarababies (TCB) program became widely-advertised. It was akin to big box stores, backed by wealth, taking out the “Mom and Pop” shops in town— although for me it’s just ”Mom shop” since I’m a self-employed single mother.

This stung a little because I have dedicated 10+ years to this field, and while I am not a nurse nor do I have a pediatrician as a husband, I DO come to this work with the skill, empathy, care, and concern that each family deserves, my masters is in Psychology and 20+ years in the child development field.

In 2010, when the profession of “Sleep Consultant” was relatively new, Dr. Angelique Millette trained me as her first practitioner and took great care to include the components of cultural background, pregnancy and birth stories, and parent/couple well-being as crucial to consider when creating a family’s sleep plan. This was not a one-size-fits-all approach, nor was it as simple as using an acronym like E-A-S-Y to help your baby along. As a result of this evidence-based, multidimensional approach to sleep, in my work with families, I am guided by what was unspoken and unseen—the message behind the words that a depleted mother speaks, how the birth might be impacting her bond with her baby, how the process to conceive might be impacting a couple’s decision to sleep train, and how internet overwhelm might be leading to self-blame or self-judgment for a parent.  The plan for sleep training is a byproduct of the deeper conversations I have with families. No sleep plan works effectively until the fears get spoken, until the parents feel aligned, until the baby is ready.

As a practitioner, I have tried to stay as neutral as I can when interacting with families. This includes being politically neutral. But what this past year has taught me is that my silence does not aid humanity in moving forward towards equality and fair treatment of all humans regardless of their sexual orientation, gender expression, country of origin, and race. The stakes are too high; we need to break out of this cycle.

 

In hearing the news of TCB supporting the Trump campaign, a common response I have gotten is “Who cares?” (pun intended? Not sure…)   

Others state: “What’s the big deal? She gets to choose where she puts her money.” Again, I can see why one might say this. However, using the assumption that where you put your money, what policies you support reveal what you value, this brings into question the conversation about business practices and personal values. I am of the belief that they should align. It is a matter of integrity--which is defined as alignment in thought and action. So, yes, everyone gets to have freedom of choice for who they support and vote for, however, the news of her supporting former President Trump sends a message to BIPOC, to families with same sex parents, to transgender parents, and to immigrant families alike that while her professional tagline revolves around “supporting families”, her values align with that of only certain families that fit into the mold of white, non-immigrant, heterosexual families.

It’s simple. I do not value a business model rooted in hypocrisy.

This is where I am faced with a choice: Stay quiet or speak up.  I am aware that I may lose clients, I may face disagreement and that this may not be a sound business practice, but as a feminist and activist and lover of love, I am aware that my silence is my complicity. 

If I do not speak up now, when will I?

My own stance is simple: each human and each family deserves to belong, to be listened to and heard, to be valued for their uniqueness. Each human and baby deserves to belong in their family, their relationships, their home, their country, and their world. My job, as I see it, is to gently guide parents back to their innate wisdom and intuition, educate parents about baby sleep, and offer options for creating a sleep plan. With integrity. Without judgment. With care and concern.

It is my strong belief that inclusivity and equality are foundations to strive for. I value the richness that arises from diversity of thought, background, and lifestyle.

I welcome and respect individual variation in regard to ethnicity, race, age, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, relationship style, national origin, religion, ability, and socioeconomic background.

 

Humbled. Grateful. Inspired.

Having a mass-marketed sleep program (TCB) introduced nationwide impacted my Pediatric Sleep practice to say the least. But (!) the Bay Area community continued to support my work and I continue to love and support the families that I have the joy of teaching classes to and working with privately. Thank you to Natural Resources for always supporting women educators and birth workers. Thank you to Pomegranate Center for weaving the work of anti-racism into the fabric of motherhood. Thank you to Erin Bremond of Project Elevate and the Lotus Method for inviting me to speak and contribute to the efforts of Black Mamas Matter Alliance program. Thank you to all of the parents I have had the honor of working with—I am well aware that you could have chosen a big box program, but instead chose me.

May we all know our belonging.

May we all welcome differences and question what may divide us.

May we all find our truth and then declare it.


 

All are welcome here doormat image courtesy of