I have discovered women can be a powerful source of inspiration, guidance and support. I am touched by the stories I stumble across everyday in this online world of ours. That’s why it hurts me so much when I see this community resorting to criticizing, comparing, and name-calling.
As parents we try to raise our kids to be accepting of the differences of others, to understand that not all families consist of the same makeup or circumstances that we may presently be in. We teach our kids to listen and offer constructive criticism, to stand-up for what they believe in without being condescending or insensitive to the feelings of others. A persuasive argument with thought and manner is much better received than a commanding ‘because I said so’.
We teach our kids these skills to be better leaders and communicators and inspire good in the future. We teach them all of this yet sometimes as parents we forget to be examples of these things ourselves. This seems to be what has transpired online over the last few days.
Lack of understanding and criticism isn’t new when it comes to issues surrounding parenting and family life. Sadly, it probably will continue to be part of our future. Home school versus public school. Breast fed versus bottle fed. Stay-at-home versus working. Meaty diet versus vegetarian. We’ve seen many debates, discussions, and dialog around these causes. Some parents are more passionate than others about certain topics yet we all feel we’re doing what’s best for our kids.
Criticizing a corporation’s behaviour or business practices is fine, that’s how answers are discovered and change happens, but it can be done with out criticizing each other.
I Don’t Work for Toothpaste.
It’s not my place to criticize the books you choose to read or the clothes you dress your children in. Why should your blog be any different? Some bloggers choose to write about products. They want to try new things and share their thoughts on them. They want to run giveaways to increase readership and thank fans. Does it matter that they do this for free, in exchange for trying a product? Does it matter if they do this for a fee? No, it’s not my blog.
I don’t care if someone wants to write a review for toothpaste after being sent a sample. That’s not ‘working for toothpaste’, that’s writing a review based on a product. I don’t think all brand/blogger relationships have to have a fee attached to them. Where EverythingMom has voiced concern is when brands take advantage of bloggers, asking them to handle interviews, attend presentations, brainstorm ideas, and generally work for the brand without being compensated appropriately. This role takes a huge responsibility and we believe it is worth more than an exchange of product, but again, it is up to each individual to make that determination.
Screw Off Jerk.
Have you ever heard your kids arguing with each other, trying to explain the merits of Spongebob over My Little Pony, only to hear nasty insults tossed out in frustration? Nothing derails a conversation more quickly than name-calling, bad language, or personal attacks. As parents we try to teach this to our kids. We tell them to stick to the facts, listen to both sides, and keep an open mind, but never resort to name calling (or hitting). This is a lesson we should remind ourselves as adults, not only as an example to those around us but just because it makes sense.
I understand where the reaction comes from. When we feel attacked we tend to jump into defensive mode, letting our emotions take over our thinking, and then the words fly. We usually regret it after the fact but not many of us want to retract what we’ve said as it might be perceived as a sign of weakness or that we’re agreeing with the opposing view. Some topics will always be hot issues with certain people, like whether you choose to breastfeed your kids versus bottle feeding them or whether you think smartphones are a productive tool versus a product made on the backs of cheap labor. Everyone has a right to their opinion and sharing that opinion. Sometimes your views might be called out, whether you are sharing them of your own free will or you have been paid to. You should have the conviction to stand behind them, even if someone disagrees with you, but also be open to what the other sides has to say. As soon as you resort to name-calling, exaggerated truths, or personal attacks, you loose all credibility in your argument. The focus in now on the nasty comment versus the point you intended to make.
I Care Too Much About My Family’s Health [To Use What You Use, Do What You Do, Believe What You Believe]
When you believe in something with great conviction, your passion can come through loud. You have the ability to catch the attention of those on the fence, those open to hearing other points of view. Use your passion to get others excited and ask questions. The more people behind a movement, the bigger the impact. You want to make change, criticize the company but not the people.
Yes, I own many electronic devices that I’m pretty sure were made using cheap labour. Yes, my kids are wearing clothes from countries that more than likely endorse unfair labour practices. Yes, I have products in my home that probably aren’t the best for the environment. Does this make me less of a human being, one who doesn’t care about her family? I don’t think so. Do I want to change some of these things? Sure. I’m always looking for alternatives with less health risks, a smaller environmental impact, or a greater benefit to the world around me. I don’t think I’m the only parent who feels this way. But implying I don’t care doesn’t help anyone.
When a parent admits to using harsh products, when she opens up and shares a truth, don’t dismiss her with the comment that ‘I would never use that because I care more about my family’s health’. Just like bad language can quickly terminate an open dialog, pointing fingers, criticizing, and comparing can do the same thing just a quickly. Here was a lost opportunity to encourage a parent for the effort she is making, offer suggestions on how to increase that effort, share knowledge on how she’s not alone in making the transition. If the response is to go cold turkey, it’s no wonder more people tune out the voice of change.
Every parent feels they are doing the best they can for their family, based on their knowledge, their beliefs, their location, and their economic status. It is ignorant for the rest of us to assume we understand someone else’s situation. Don’t expect people to live without electricity to save the world just because you do and have done it for years. You can help to educate individuals and that can be done without resorting to ‘I am better and know more therefore you should listen to me’.
There will always be differences of opinion, new research, a new spin, or a hidden agenda. Opening up and being truthful, admitting we don’t understand or didn’t know better, realizing we made a poor judgment call or assumption is the first step toward a meaningful dialog. But if we’re going to continue to point fingers, criticize and compare ourselves to each other, and resort to name calling, we’ll always have closed ears and minds and hearts.
As parents, as mothers, we’re criticized enough in the media, by big business, even by ourselves; let’s not add to this wave of negativity. Be honest. Be open. Be understanding. Be respectful. If we are all of these things we might just learn something new and we would certainly be a stronger force.
This isn’t about believing one side is wrong and the other is right. There will always be sides and that is fine but what we need to do is change how we support our sides. Stand behind your conviction, continue to speak your mind, but do it out of respect to those around you, even if they don’t believe what you stand for. You may never win someone over with your argument but if you can get him or her to listen and be open, you are much further ahead.