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Should We Avoid Talking About It Because It's Uncomfortable?

Can we talk about it?

Last night, Nichole wrote a very brave post, “One Parenting Choice I Just Cannot Understand.”  And I understand why she wrote it and where she’s coming from — yeah, I’ve wondered the same thing she has, and I admit that there are cases where I just don’t get it.

Some people do not seem very comfortable reading posts like this, though.  It’s admittedly uncomfortable to ask questions like this, questions which may make some moms feel judged or upset, even if that’s not the intention of asking.  Some moms would prefer not to take the risk to ask at all, because they don’t want to deal with the messier parts of things.  They just want to feel happiness and support.

And while I don’t disagree at all that moms need more happiness and support (definitely), does that mean that we should never talk about certain topics, just because they’re uncomfortable?

Take my “friends” (i.e. readers) who visit from the blog Hurt by Homebirth.  Obviously I’m a big supporter of home birth; I’m planning my second one.  The stories shared on that blog are all of babies who died during a home birth (at least the ones I’ve read).  Is that uncomfortable?  Sure it is.  But realistically…does it happen, and should we talk about it?  Yes…it’s part of the discussion too.

Once I did ask my friends why they didn’t breastfeed, for those whom that was the case.  I simply said, “I’m honestly curious what happened and why you made that choice.”  We actually had a really nice discussion and came away with more mutual respect for each other, because we were open and honest.  We didn’t avoid the subject, we talked it out!  I think it’s a lot easier to respect another mother when you do know why she made the choice that she did, and see that she’s doing what she truly believes is best.  It’s harder when you have to just assume that another mother is doing her best (even though it’s almost always the case), and sometimes you can find yourself trapped in the snares of judgment as you try to figure out what her reasons may have been.  Wouldn’t it be better to just ask?

Like it or not, there are a lot of hot button issues out there.  Hey, I’ve raised my share of them!  These issues just remain polarized and fraught with difficulty when we don’t talk about them, though.  Misinformation flies around and people throw accusations out and it becomes “us vs. them.”  I do hate reading many debates because a lot of people don’t approach it rationally and there’s frankly so much misinformation on both sides that the whole thing is a lost cause.

I remember reading some article about doctors making lots of medical mistakes.  Okay, I could read that, from my perspective (someone who prefers to avoid doctors in general) and say, “Of course, this totally confirms my position.”  But let’s be realistic.  Doctors are under tremendous pressure from patients (who may make requests they shouldn’t, such as for a particular prescription), insurance companies, the practice they belong to, long hours, and so on.  It’s not easy, and there are always mitigating factors.  It doesn’t excuse all the medical mistakes, but we don’t need to turn it into a bashing session either.

Can we do the same thing with parenting issues?  Can we ask questions, or do we need to avoid hot topics?  Can we say the following:

  • “That is a different choice than mine; can you tell me why you chose that?”
  • “I’d honestly like to understand the ways in which we are different.”
  • “I understand how that works for you, and I appreciate you explaining it to me.”
  • “I’m glad we can mutually respect our differences.”

Truthfully, the friends whom I can talk to this way — where we can really talk about the ways we are different — are the ones I am closest too.  We don’t avoid topics just because they are different or uncomfortable, and so we come to understand each other and have mutual respect.  Isn’t that really what discussion is for?

What do you think?  Should we avoid uncomfortable topics…or talk about them openly?

Top image by tedsblog

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