Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Opinionated or Boorish?

Ever been in a group of people and discovered that one person over-rules everyone's opinions? This has happened frequently to me of late. Many of my friends are passionate about their beliefs and decisions. As an opinionated person, I understand strong views. Where is the line between a conversation about different viewpoints and a lecture by someone who believes that any other outlook is WRONG.

Many choices that families and individuals make about how they will live their lives, raise their children, spend their money are not necessarily right or wrong. They are a matter of opinion and priorities. I choose to breast feed almost all of my children for their first year. I believe that breast milk provides optimum nutrition for infants. My oldest and youngest children were strictly bottle fed. Our family situation didn't fit with breast feeding. I HAD to return to work three days after our oldest was born. We had mountains of medical bills to pay and my husband didn't earn enough to cover our living expenses and the thousands of dollars in medical expenses. I had been on bed-rest for over 3 months when our youngest was born by c-section. Physically, I wasn't up to breast feeding and returning to the running of our home.

A friend recently spent over an hour telling me what I should have done so that I could have breast fed Allie. I explained the reasons for my decision, which frankly was NONE of her business. My explanation wasn't acceptable. My friend implied that Allie will be scarred for the rest of her life. The bottom line is that Allie is 6, nothing can change her feeding experience. Eventually, I walked away from my friend, leaving her angry because she hadn't changed my mind. At my age, we won't be having any more children, so does it really matter?

Two weeks ago, I ended up in an email discussion with someone, who felt that my choice to allow my daughter to attend her prom was wrong. The discussion was somewhat heated and the person emailing me used a lot of statements beginning with the phrase "When I have children old enough to attend prom, we....." This person is entitled to his thoughts about prom and appropriate teen behaviors. It's quite easy to make hard and fast rules about how you will handle things before you need to make any decisions.

It's great to think and plan how you would like to raise your children, but until you have traveled that path, they are thoughts that have never been put into practice. After we had our first child, I couldn't understand all the loud, whiny children who wouldn't listen to their elders. Then, we had Katie. My opinion changed and I mentally apologized to all those mother's who I thought were not doing things right. All my ideas were based on my very limited experience.

No one is an expert on everything. Simply having a strong belief on how things should be done, doesn't mean that everyone needs to know your feelings on everything! That's my opinion.


Barb the Evil Genius said...

I'm amazed that you let your friend go on for an hour! What it took me a long time to learn is that you don't owe anyone any explanations. Unless you're doing something illegal or immoral, it's nobody else's business.

I admit I am very adamant when it comes to politics. In this case, it is because it will directly affect my family and myself if the things that are predicted, happen. I get, well, like a mama grizzly.

Melrose said...

Very very well said. My first was born at home after my sister had her 4th at home and had an amazing experience. She and I kind of got on the band wagon so to speak and it quickly became the ONLY way...that coupled with breastfeeding, etc. Well, fast forward a few kids and she and I have both had very dangerous, life threatening births, mine at home, hers in the hospital. She not only had to have a hospital birth and a complete hysterectomy because of the complications but she did not breastfeed due to all the problems. Lesson learned. It reminds me of a quote from the end of the movie "Cheaper by the Dozen" : "In the beginning we had a few kids and a lot of theories on raising we have a lot of kids and no theories." amen! :)