In your circle of family and friends, you may do things a little differently -- for example, you may breastfeed until your children are in preschool, or you may be the lone formula feeder. Here are a few tips to keep the dialogue open and hostilities at bay when parenting choices come up.

Are you the first in your family to breastfeed, or does your baby sleep in a crib when all of your friends co-sleep? Are you feeling a little like the odd-mama out? Here are a few ways to parent how you prefer without filling your get-togethers with drama.

Prepare

Be prepared to back up your decisions if you anticipate any polite inquisitiveness or downright confrontation. This can be as simple as a practiced retort: "This is how we choose to do it in our family!" (With a smile.) Or you may feel inclined to recite a few facts to explain why it's good for your child to still be nursing at age 3.

Relax

If you're confident in the way you parent, relax around friends and family. Even if you've had lively debates in the past amongst your companions, focus your time together on food, fun and family, instead of worrying that someone is going to bug you about not feeding your baby solid foods yet.

Educate

Some friends and family members may be genuinely interested why you made your choices. For example, you might be able to make cloth diapering seem super cute, easy and accessible, and your cousin may start buying her stash based on your recommendations.

Keep an open mind

Just as you won't want your friends judging you, don't judge their parenting choices either. Keep in mind that every parent does what they feel is best for their children and most don't want to debate why they circumcise their son or why they never bothered buying a crib.

Even though we seek out friends who are of a similar mind-set, there are times that we all don't make the same parenting choices. And we don't pick our family members, but we love them anyway. While some choices can be super controversial, you can still establish great relationships and even celebrate your differences.

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