It’s easy to upset people when writing for a mom’s blog. We talk about mommy wars and how we all want to lift each other up rather than tear each other down, and then someone goes and gets their panties in a bunch about extended rear facing car seats and the internet goes wild!!
Here’s the thing, it is perfectly okay to have strong feelings about anything you want to have strong feelings about, but how you deliver your dissenting opinion matters.
Check this out: Say that someone writes a post on their choice to formula feed their baby. Maybe they have inverted nipples, maybe they are on a medication that inhibits milk production or maybe they just don’t like the idea of feeding a baby with their boobs. You read this and you think, “boy, those don’t seem like good reasons not to breastfeed. Doesn’t that writer know that breast is best?” Chances are that yes, they have heard that expression before and since they wrote an entire blog post on why they have chosen to formula feed, my guess is that they are at least somewhat educated on the topic.
But, you feel strongly. You feel compelled to say something and to let your strong feelings be known. That’s okay. You have a right to put your opinions out there. Let’s talk about your response.
You can say the following: “Formula is the worst! I think it’s wrong to deprive your baby of the essential nutrients that they need to form the building blocks to brain development. Research shows that your baby will be less attached to you and will probably grow up a drug addict thanks to your poor parenting choices. Shame on you.” (This is mommy war material!)
Or you can say: “Interesting choice. I don’t think I’d make that choice. From the research I did, I feel strongly that breastfeeding my baby is important, and I worked really hard to get through the obstacles I had while trying to breastfeed my infant.”
Let’s talk about the differences between these two statements. Statement number one is blaming, negative and is only being used to make someone feel bad. Statement two talks about your own values and why you made the choice you did, but not in a jerky way.
I think we all want to raise kind, compassionate kids who stand up for themselves. Kids who aren’t bullies. Who aren’t mean. Who don’t make people feel bad about themselves. Who are accepting of differences. Why don’t we start demonstrating those values too? If you are parenting a school-age kid, you have probably heard the acronym THINK. This is a great acronym that we should all be utilizing in our daily lives, but especially on the internets where we think we are untouchable and anonymous.
Before you comment, THINK. Do you like the Mommy Wars?
Would you say this to your sister? Would you say it to your friend? To your daughter? If you answered NO to any of these questions, maybe you shouldn’t write it on the internet. Remember that there are human beings behind these words and photos. And although writers know when they put their feelings out there, there is a risk involved, it still can hurt to be attacked and condemned.
Compassion goes a long way.
When I write, I’m always thinking about other people’s reactions. I don’t want to hurt people with my words. I also have very strong opinions that I feel like people should know. Sometimes people don’t agree with my opinions. I’m okay putting myself out there and I always try to state my opinions in a respectful way. When I disagree with people, I try to think about what specifically I disagree with. There are times, when I have read something I disagree with, but when I really start to think about it, my opinion changes. And isn’t that the primary purpose of sharing our opinions? So that we all have the opportunity to look at an issue in a new light?
I use a few common principles when expressing my opinions:
Don’t disparage any group of disenfranchised or marginalized people.
Use “I” statements. I can’t assume how YOU feel, but I can tell you how I feel and what I think.
Speak from the heart, but use your head.
Proofread before you press return. I don’t even make a comment without proofreading. When you read things back to yourself, it’s easier to hear how it may sound to others.
I know I don’t need to beat a dead horse here. You all are smart, confident, well-read people who can understand the damage done in the tap, tap, tap of the keys. We live in a world where the media seems to highlight hate more than love. I’d like to change that paradigm.