Thursday, July 01, 2010

Sitting in Judgement.

I don't agree with the choices all of my friends make.
I don't agree with all of the choices my family members make.
My friends and family don't agree with all the choices I make.

I do, however, respect that we all make the best choices we can for our families with the information, limitations, and past experiences we have.

Sometimes the choices are trivial things.  Like choosing whether to put shoes on your crawler or not.  Sometimes they're silly, like whether it's okay to dress your children one way or another. Perhaps I like a mohawk on a baby, perhaps, that offends you.  Perhaps you like pink on girls, perhaps I like it on boys.  My sister-in-law disapproves of baby leggings.

Sometimes the choices are less trivial. Where your children sleep. What kind of diapers they wear, whether or not your ten year old can have a cell phone.  Sometimes they're where your child is allowed to play and with how much supervision.  Maybe I helicopter and you free range.  Perhaps we both doubt the longterm safety of each option.

Perhaps we disagree on bigger issues.  Sometimes the choices are between things like breastfeeding or formula feeding. Whether or not to circumcise.  The sorts of things we might feel deeply and passionately about.  Spanking or redirecting.

It's okay for us to debate these things.  Having thoughtful discourse about our differences is something we should welcome.  We should embrace the chance to better explain why we feel the way we do, and still feel comfortable agreeing or disagreeing with our friends.

We don't have to agree on everything to be friends or to be friendly.

Sometimes we disagree on issues so big we don't like to talk about them.  Issues like termination.  I might feel one way, you might feel another.  I like to think that we all agree that every termination is a tragedy, but maybe we don't.

Again, I hope that we are all capable of having our opinions, having our reasons, voicing them and discussing them rationally without damaging our friendships. However, no matter what our opinions are, there is no excuse, in any disagreement, particularly in the most extreme of choices, to shame a woman for making a choice with which you disagree.

Using the tragedies of others to highlight your own politics or religion, at their expense, is not being a friend, even if you dress it up like "compassionate advice."   We can support each other, even if we don't agree, because we are friends, because we are women, because we are human.

Before you find yourself sitting in judgement from the comfort of your desk chair over the choices with which you disagree, take a moment to remember that we should all treat each other with compassion.  I'm not perfect, you're not perfect, and maybe if we all are a little kinder to one another we can keep being friends, even when we disagree.

4 reflections:

Danielle said...

Well said. I think discourse is so very important.

That being said, I have a very hard time respecting and being compassionate towards some parenting choices, specifically those that harm children. Spanking, circumcision, extreme cry-it-out. How can you show compassion for choices that, I believe, do not show compassion for the child? Just thinking out loud.

Slee said...

I agree, Danielle. It is hard, but I think that through more compassionate dialog, one is more likely to influence than through accusatory language. For instance, if I am talking to my friend who plans to circumcise her second son and I refer to it as child-abuse or mutilation, I've just guaranteed that she's not listening any more. Discourse is vital, but if it's accusatory, it will never get any of us anywhere.
A parent made to feel guilt is, in my experience, more likely to demonize the "opposition" ideas. So while it is hard to sometimes have compassion for what someone is doing, perhaps compassion for their reasons, respect for the fact that they're doing the best, and kindness in trying to illustrate our point would be good.

crunchymommysomeday said...

"Using the tragedies of others to highlight your own politics or religion, at their expense, is not being a friend, even if you dress it up like "compassionate advice." We can support each other, even if we don't agree, because we are friends, because we are women, because we are human."

Love this So. Freaking. Much. I wrote a similar post on this topic yesterday, but yours is much kinder (less ranty and more logical too!), and I love your examples of disagreements. Great post!

-Faedra
@Faedras_Mask

existere said...

I agree wholeheartedly. Shaming other women says a lot more about the 'shamer' than the 'shamee.'