I read a beautiful mom's beautiful blog post yesterday. She spoke movingly about her eldest child's recent wedding and how proud she is of her lovely family. She also discussed how, over the years, many people have been critical of her for the lifestyle she has chosen -- that of a devoutly Catholic homeschooling, homemaking mom. She told of the conclusion she has come to -- that she is no longer going to let the naysayers get to her. She has decided that listening to and getting upset by the negative voices is a waste of her time and energy.
"Kudos!" I thought. And then I was going to comment on her blog post, telling her how much I was moved by it and how happy I was for her that she has decided not to let the meanies get her down. And I found that she had closed the comments -- not allowing anybody to say anything to her about that particular post.
And I sort of snickered. I mean, I guess that's one way to handle it. You can't let people's negative comments and opinions affect you if you just don't allow them to say anything to you. Right?
Now, don't get me wrong. I, too, am a very sensitive person. I like people to be happy with me and say nice things to me. I don't like bullies -- cyber or otherwise. I sometimes get teary if I feel unjustly criticized.
But, this is the thing. This lady is a fairly high-profile blogger. She seems to be willing to put herself and her family "out there" on pretty much a daily basis. I have recently been doing that, too. And I figure that if you are going to do that -- if you are going to posit your thoughts and opinions on religion, politics, friendship, education, marriage, family life, etc. on a public blog, then you need to allow other people to speak to you. Even if they don't agree with you. Even if they think you are downright wrong about stuff. Otherwise, it isn't really fair. You get to say your side -- quite confidently -- but, you accuse others of being hurtful if they disagree with you. It's almost like saying, "My way or the highway." It's like saying that you aren't willing to consider that you might possibly be even a little bit wrong in any of your choices. This strikes me as maybe a little bit prideful.
Now, I'm not saying we have to put up with people who are being purposefully rude. Comments that are just nasty should be deleted -- unceremoniously and without tears. Some people who travel the world of cyberspace are simply looking to be mean. They are not interested in any real exchange of ideas. But, we should work on not letting those people get to us. Their opinions about us don't matter, because they aren't looking to have an intelligent discussion. They are just looking to make us cry. And, if we cry, we let them win. And they are not worth the price of the kleenex we blow our noses on.
But, if reasonable people disagree with us about things -- even if they are a bit vociferous about it -- they can be worth listening to. As I was raising my kids, I made certain choices and judgements about what would be best for them. I was pretty confident in those choices and judgements. And, as I look back with hindsight now, I can see that I was very wrong at times. Even as I was feeling quite righteous. And there were people who did try to talk to me, who disagreed with me. In my zealous self-confidence, though, I ignored them -- to the detriment of myself, my husband, my kids, and my family life.
Just because we feel passionately about our ideas does not guarantee that we are correct in our conclusions. So, if you are raising kids, I would encourage you to listen to the voices of others, voices that might differ from your own. Yes, in the end, your choices are yours to make. But, other people might have more insight than we want to give them credit for, even if they might strike us as unfairly critical in their tone. Most of us, after all, don't really consider how we are going to come across when we give an opinion. That doesn't mean those opinions aren't worthwhile.
And if someone really has a hard time with people who post contrarian comments on her blog, maybe a nice diary of the old-fashioned book variety would be a wise investment.