I write about parenting on the Internet, so I am all too aware of what topics tend to get people all riled up. Birth choices, breastfeeding, homeschooling, and discipline are all pretty big triggers for discussion, and we know here at the ‘Derby that if we post anything on any of these topics, it’s likely to draw tons of comments and hits (that and anything about celebrities — but that’s another post).
Few things are more personal than our parenting, so things can get heated when we discuss these issues, even with very close friends or family. And if you’re unfortunate enough to have “true believers” in your circle who think their choice is the only possible one, it can be enough to make you clam up and never ask for help or input.
Which is why I think this piece on the PBS Parents Supersisters blog ought to be handed out at every new parent’s group, school, daycare, church, and what the hey, let’s even say Trader Joe’s — wherever parents gather. It’s a really smart piece on how to work together without judgement when you’re talking about an issue with your kid. The best idea, I thought, was to notice your own emotions when a topic comes up. If you find yourself getting worked up well out of proportion to the discussion, it’s likely a difficult issue for you and you might hear judgement or nastiness when none is present. She used the example of other parents giving advice about birth, which happens to be a hot button issue for me too. I had a super scary experience with my first and ended up having an emergency c-section which probably saved her, so whenever I hear or read people treating c-section births as some kind of a bad outcome I find my temper rising more than it ought.
All in all, this is a wonderful article for those of us who deal with, well, other people, at all, online or in the real world. Treating each other with a good bit of gentleness and empathy might just make the world a more pleasant place to be. And who knows, you might learn something useful from that militant breastfeeder or spanking advocate.