Wednesday, December 19, 2012

On having opinions

I have lots of opinions about things. I always have. I don’t care for the word ‘opinionated’ – it suggests having opinions is a bad thing. And it’s not. Having an opinion or a position on a certain topic is important. Especially if that opinion is well thought through and not just something you heard once and sounded like something that you should think.

There are things I feel really strongly about. Fairness. Equality. Human rights. The environment. I am the type of person that likes to take action.  As a child I had regular correspondence with the Prime Minister; ‘What are you going to do about the starving children in Ethiopia?’ I wrote. And while I waited for a reply I send my pocket money to Oxfam.

During my career I had lots of opinions too. It was my job to have opinions, to listen, to advise. I sat in my office and dished out my opinions to anyone foolish enough to cross the threshold. To be honest, I was mostly winging it.

When I became a mother I developed very strong opinions about certain parenting styles. I subscribed to Facebook pages that promoted the ideas I favored. I joined in with discussions. I tsked and tutted when I read posts from mothers who chose different paths. I judged them.  I often thought of joining the debate and typed furiously, something always stopped me pressing that send button.

When I left the corporate world I left all my skills and experience behind me. For a while my life revolved around my newborn baby, every waking moment was consumed with the little soul I had brought into the world. And so I accumulated knowledge in a new field – motherhood.

When friends had babies I tried to keep my opinions to myself, but often found myself making reference to things I’d read. I expect I was fairly annoying (to be really honest, I probably still am), but in a funny way I felt that my parenting opinions were all I had to offer.

Sometimes other mothers share their opinions with me. And that’s ok. But I’m not especially receptive when those opinions are about my children and the way I do things.

“You should…bla bla bla” or  “You shouldn’t…bla bla bla”

People can be fiercely defensive of their opinions. Sometimes this means doing everything possible to recruit others to the same line of thinking. Sometimes it means critisising the alternative point of view. Sadly, for some this means attacking those who chose a different path with vicious and highly personal comments.

That’s all well and good when we’re talking about issues of global importance. But the personal decisions women around the world are making about their own children is really nothing to get worked up about.

As the years have gone by and my children have grown I have learned to keep my opinions to myself and accept that the way other people bring up their children has bugger all to do with me.

I have realised that motherhood is a learning curve, and no matter which path we take we’re all going to be wrestling with a limb flailing, tantrum throwing toddler sooner or later.

Let’s talk about the different approaches to parenting. Let’s debate. Let’s listen to each other. And, at the end of the day, unless someone asks you for it, keep your views to yourself.




10 comments:

  1. My Dad calls me 'opinionated' and it actually hurts. Thoughts, beliefs, opinions....they are what make you who you are. Not everyone is going to think the same way and that should be accepted and respected.

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    1. The world would be pretty boring if we all shared the same views! For me the key thing is respect xx

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  2. I have strong opinions too Catherine, but I think some of them are less than well thought through! I mean well though. One of my very strong opinions happens to be that I don't give two hoots what kind of parenting style you adopt, if you love your kid, treat them with love, feed them, clothe them and get them an education then everything else is not my business.

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    1. Yes, I'm with you - I'll be honest and say it took me a while to get it tough.

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  3. I'm pretty opinionated, and am slowly learning to make sure that I have my facts before sharing something on social media. I think a lot of people have lost what it really means to debate. If I don't agree with you, it's not because I am 'attacking' you. I talk about the facts. I don't say you are stupid or whatever for thinking what you do. I say what I think, believe and leave it at that. I try not to engage in online debates too much anymore. They make me stabby lol.

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    1. It was a thread on a breastfeeding page that sparked this whole post. Sometimes I get cross with myself for reading the comments, it would be better for ny blood pressure if I didn't, that's for sure!

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  4. wow Catherine - that's a strong opinion in itself. I don't subscribe to opinions and hate judgement from others. I think the last time i saw red was when someone told me feeding oj to my daughter was bad ... and i thought keep your opinions to yaself @&&^%^. What i do subscribe to however is respect, difference and inspiration. If ideas are delivered to me with a sense of beauty, integrity and connection I don't mind at all, in fact I tend to enjoy it. x

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    1. Absolutely! I think the bottom line has got to be respect. Also, being able to share your views without trying to 'recruit', which is what I see a lot off. xx

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  5. I don't think I'm opinionated enough really. I'm a fence sitter and endlessly nice and polite to people who wouldn't like me if even if I gave them a ferrari.

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  6. Fantastic Post, so well written. I love the it when the people without children give their opinion on how to raise your child and what is best for them.

    Also sending you a request to visit the following post as I have tagged you for a 2012 list - http://blog-jacana.blogspot.com.au/2012/12/12-things-for-2012.html

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