June 13, 2008

In Which I Disagree, but I Hesitate to Say So

I'm torn.

This morning I read a blog post that really bothered me. To paraphrase (in the most kickin' run-on sentence evah), the blog post asked whether and how you should intervene when you (in your obviously superior wisdom and intellect) see other parents, who love their kids more than anything and who are doing their best, make mistakes (which, in your obviously superior wisdom and intellect, are painfully obvious to you) with their kids; mistakes that, according to this blog post, are not illegal but are screwing up these (otherwise loving) parents' kids for EVER.

Here's what I think about it: Not everybody is going to agree with how everyone else is raising their kids. I'm sure that there are people out there who are ready to point fingers and scream "foul!" at even the most perfect of parents. My point is that maybe what looks like bad parenting to you works for them in their unique situation. I don't think, as long as these are loving parents who are not abusing their children, any of us (because nobody's perfect, after all) are in any position to judge. So I guess my answer to her question is that I don't think we should intervene. I think we should mind our own business and continue to do the best we can, within our own unique, imperfect parenting situations.

So why am I torn?

I'm torn because I can't decide whether or not I should voice my opinion. I hesitate to comment when I disagree with someone. This is weird because, in real life, I rarely hesitate to voice my opinion, especially if it's different. I'm not trying to be oppositional, I just think a variety of views keeps things interesting. So why hesitate online? I guess I'm worried about opening the proverbial can of worms. I don't want to be that mean commenter that nobody likes. I also don't want to make anyone angry. So I read the post this morning, hesitated about commenting, came here and wrote out the issue, decided to share it with you... Then I decided that if I was writing about someone else's blog post I'd better comment on it at their blog as well. So I commented. (Okay, I have my can of worms right here, just hand me the can opener.) When I read the other comments at the blog I felt better about the whole issue. People are commenting in an insightful way, open discussion is going down. And it's good. So yeah. I guess it's okay to comment when I disagree.

So, what do you think...
About whether or not we should intervene when we notice other parents struggling?
And about commenting on blog posts that you disagree with? Yes, or no?



Gerbil said...

Its a fine line, sometimes. I do wonder what behaviors constitute violence in the kids... and since I am a gamer, I have to admit that letting a little kid play an M rated game makes me a tad uneasy.

But does that make them bad parents? no. On the other hand, if she knows them well, there may be other details she didn't share. No way to know.

I've spent many many days working out behavioral kinks related to 'forbidden' activities when my older kids were little. Their dad wanted to be the 'cool' parent, after all. It would have been easier if we didn't have that struggle, especially on Monday and Tuesdays after visits... but we survived it.

scrappysue said...

commenting on a blog where you disagree with their post? if you are regular part of their 'blog family' then probably yes, but if you have surfed in and out, never to surf in again, then probably leave them to it.

in real life? the messenger always, i repeat, ALWAYS gets shot.

feel bad for the kids. make imploring eye contact, go home and hug your kids, vow to never make the same mistakes you just saw.

my 2cents worth - thanks for asking!

Don Mills Diva said...

It IS a fine line, but mostly I think you should let loving parents find their own way.

As for blog comments it depends on the tone of the post. If it's someone I like and they are just expressing an opinion, I will usually just keep quiet. If someone is really going on and on I will say something.

I once left a negative comment on a blog where the writer worked in an insurance office and wrote a whole post on what an idiot this person was for calling in and questioning why their premiums had gone up so much. I could just picture how rude she was to the customer it really pissed me off. All her regular readers jumped on me but I didn't care - I've never read her again anyway...

Crochet Diva said...

I read the blog post you are referring to. I think she was asking for opinions, so I think it is perfectly fine to completely voice your true opinion. In all honesty, opposing views are what make blogging such a powerful thing... Bloggers change the world these days. If everyone played nice, and just agreed with everyone else, or kept their mouth shut, that would not be possible. People getting riled up and discussing opposing views, in my opinion, is part of what blogging is all about. I think this blogger was asking people to discuss this issue, no matter what their opinion. :) Oh, and in all actuality, the people who open the can of worms, and are not afraid to voice (Or type, in this case) their opinions, are the ones who are probably the most admired... Strange, but true. :) If you feel strongly about something, then I say voice it! :)

THE MOM BOMB said...

I almost always stay neutral on blogs. I find the anonymity of the Internet makes it all too easy for people to be rude if they disagree with you, in contrast to the playground, where they have to see you again the next day.

As for commenting on another's parenting - that's very tough. Usually I keep my mouth shut, but if it really bothers me, I might couch it as a question rather than a critique, like, "Your two year old doesn't get tired with an eleven PM bedtime?"

Mad said...

The best way to deal with dissent is to do so respectfully and articulately at the home base of the post. That way, the person who wrote the post is on top of all the discussion. In my experience, Andrea is always open to fair and rational discussion.

There have been a couple of times when people have disagreed with me but rather than commenting at my place, they wrote their own posts in which my ideas were summarized inadequately. Before I knew it, there was a whole host of people who disagreed with me without ever having read me or even coming by to say hello or voice their dissent to my face. Those times felt yucky and I became defensive.

So, ya, my assvice: always disagree at the source and if you do write a post as a response instead of a comment, inform the original blogger respectfully at their place that that is what you've done.

Sass E-mum said...

Well, I'm always interested to hear what you have to say.

Different opinions are good. But tone of (written) voice can be harder to judge. At least try and comment when the topic is still fresh.

Waiting for a post to be a few days old is not so great. I think I've demonstrated the point right here, right now.

Reluctant Housewife said...

Yes, I agree with just about everything you've all said.

Sass, your comments are never old.

Mad, you make a very valid point. I commented at the post as well as writing here. I didn't, however, let her know I'd written about it at my blog. This post is more about my indecision to comment than about what she did or didn't say... I'm not intending to send haters her way... In fact, I'd hate to do that. Thanks for the advice.

Mom Bomb, I usually aim for neutral as well. I just get itchy when I feel like people are coming down hard on parents. I'm sensitive about it, I guess... to the point where I'm probably largely overreacting... which probably means I shouldn't comment, right? But, on the other hand, I think discussion is part of what keeps this blog thing interesting and dissenting opinions, expressed in a non-aggressive way, are a good thing. But, I'm careful because I'd never want to outright bash someone.

Thanks, everyone, for sharing your ideas.

andrea said...

I wasn't sure if I should comment or not, but I wanted to let you know that in the days of technorati and sitemeter, a post with a link back is not invisible.

And hopefully you can tell that I don't have a problem with respectful disagreement.

But I'll admit that I'm a little bothered by the "superior insight and intellect" bit. I know I'm not a perfect parent, I know none of us are perfect parents, but I do think that I can tell the difference between a parent who's trying hard to do what works for the kid and a parent who is doing what works (ie is easiest for them) and it clearly is not working for the kid.

I'll be a bit more personal here since it's not on my blog so I don't have to worry about the exposure factor--I grew up in a very, very dysfunctional family that involved no abuse obvious to observers (though there was plenty of emotional abuse behind closed doors), yet there were many times when my parents would do something critical or cruel to me in front of other people, who would then not intervene. I figure they probably thought my parents were doing what "worked" for us. But it didn't "work." It left damage. Adn I worry, sometimes, that in our need to support the parents we are letting them damage their children, and the children will grow up as I did--wondering why no one ever said anything, why no one ever tried to help them. I think I'd rather step on the parent's toes.

And let me be quite clear in saying that I KNOW my parents loved me, I KNOW they did their best.

thank you for voicing your disagreement on my blog, though. Mad's right. Finding disagreements voiced through blog posts without comments or emails does feel a bit squicky.

Reluctant Housewife said...

Hi Andrea,

I did comment on your post as well... I wasn't trying to be invisible to you.

I'm sorry if I didn't handle things the best way. My post wasn't really meant to be a slam against you, but a comment on my discomfort in disagreeing with other people at their blogs. To tell you the truth, I think I'm touchy about this type of thing and I tend to overreact on the negative side of things. So yeah... Sorry. Mad is right and I should have gone back to your blog and let you know I wrote about you at mine.

Thanks for commenting.