But first, some sanity:
It's great to try to move our lives in the direction of ecological righteousness, but it's also true that every human activity has environmental impact -- especially the activities of that fraction of the human population rich enough to have diapers of any kind. From the earth's point of view it's not all that important which kind of diapers you use. The important decision was having the baby.
I think that trying to silence women by saying 'Don't have opinions because other women might feel upset,' is unfeminist. When did women become such sensitive flowers that an opinion from someone with a different point of view was enough to reduce them to quivering balls of inferiority complex? The world changes through us having visions - different visions - of how to make the world a better place. Then we have discussions (or arguments about it), then if we are so inclined, we become activists about it. For example, in my opinion, same sex parents should be legally recognised. It's not just about "what's right for us" - I want the whole of Queensland legislation to change to accept this! I'm not a breastfeeding or natural birth activist, but yay for those that are.
I think that it is important for women, for mothers, to have opinions and be proud of them. We are doing an important job. The way we bring up our children determines the sort of people they will become, and the sort of society we are creating in the future.
So think about how you are parenting, do the research, decide what you want to do, and have the guts to stand up for it.
I think using cloth nappies is better - for the environment, for my pocket, and because it looks better.
I think extended breastfeeding is better.
I think keeping my children out of childcare as long as possible is better.
I think immunising is better.
I think co-sleeping is better - for attachment, for preventing SIDS, for maintaining breastmilk supplies and because it is yummy.
I think gentle parenting (no corporal punishment or emotional abuse) is better.
I don't just think these things are better for my children, I think they are better generally. If everyone used cloth nappies, imagine the reduction in waste (with the caveat of the quote above). I think there should be paid maternity leave for the first year of a child's life so all children could have a parent at home full time. I think immunising works because whole communities participate in it. I think we are still suffering from the clever post-war era marketing ploys of the formula manufacturers (scientific=better!) so that our own mothers have very little breastfeeding wisdom to pass on. If all children were brought up gently and with positive messages, I think there would be less bullying, depression, teen suicide, drug addiction and so on.
These are my beliefs and I feel okay about having them.
Also, there are things I think are better that I don't do.
I think being a vegetarian is better for the planet - meat is very resource intensive.
I think it is better for children to watch no TV in the early years.
I think natural childbirth is better than a caesarean.
For various reasons, I don't do these. But if I'm with someone who does, I don't fall into a heap complaining about how they are so smug and superior. I've made my decisions and I'm okay with that.
I hear working mums complain that stay-at-home mums "make" them feel guilty, and I hear stay-at-home mums complain that they get no respect and they have sacrificed so much. I choose to be a stay-at-home mum and I'm happy with that - proud of it even. I think it is better. But if I chose to work, I would do so because I thought that was better - better financially, better for my sanity, or better as a role model for my children as a woman who is concerned with more than the domestic sphere.
I think that if you have low self esteem before you have a baby, you will have low self esteem after you have a baby, and other people holding back their opinions won't save you. If you feel guilty about something, you'll feel guilty - other people's words or actions might trigger guilty thoughts, but you've got to have something to feel guilty about in the first place.
I also think that me saying, 'This society would be in better shape if everyone used cloth nappies,' is no different to my readers saying, 'This society would be in better shape if everyone kept their opinions to themselves.' We want everyone to live the way we think is best. Religious nuts do it, greenies do it, you do it.
Let's all have opinions and be proud of them!