Finding a thick skin

When I first started writing my blog, the only people reading it were my close friends and family. As I gained traction in writing, I also slowly gained followers – more friends, friends of friends and absolute strangers. I love writing about my adventures in parenting and sharing my insights and vulnerabilities through my posts. And I love hearing people’s reactions – positive and negative – to what I write about. My blog is a wonderful outlet, and a great way for me to capture today’s moments that will become tomorrow’s memories.
mama and girls
So, each time Kveller picks up one of my pieces and publishes it on a national platform, I feel giddy with excitement that something I wrote is getting shared with a much broader audience. They’ve published pieces I’ve written ranging from kugel to missing my oldest’s dance recital. It’s a very empowering feeling.

Then, last week Kveller published a piece I was particularly proud of – a diatribe on our family’s rules which stemmed from an argument with my 4 year old about having to wear socks. The piece is playful and ends with a lists of 16 family rules – some of which are serious and others that make me giggle from the broken record I’ve become saying them. And this piece, more than any other that I’ve written, elicited a lot of commentary from a broad audience on Kveller’s website and Facebook page.

Two rules, in particular, struck a chord with the Kveller readership – leave a house that has a gun in it and kiss your grandparents hello and goodbye. Who knew that these would cause such a stir? That by writing that my kids should leave a home with a gun in it, I wasn’t properly educating them about gun safety? And that by telling my children to kiss their elder relatives as a sign of respect, I was exposing them to a future of abuse and body confusion?

I understand the arguments the readers were making and I appreciate that people took the time to read my post and share their opinions. I welcome feedback and comments – it’s fun to see how my writing impacts and influences others. But some of the comments on my last post made broad judgements about my parenting and ventured to say that I was wrong for having some of the rules that we do. While one reader said that each family’s rules are unique to them, other readers said things like I’ll make my kids a doormat by encouraging them to be nice to everyone or that I should never ever tell my kids to kiss a relative. By making such strong statements in response to the rules in our family, I can’t help but think about the litany of arguments, judgements and lines in the sand we draw in these ever present mommy wars.

mama and babeBreastfeeding. Bottle feeding. Formula. Breast milk. Pacifier. Thumb sucking. Attachment parenting. Cry it out. Organic food. Non gmo food. Regular ol’ food. Extracurricular activities to provide structure. No extracurricular activities to provide freedom. Stay at home mom. Professional mom. The list goes on and on. We all have such strong ideas, ideals, and approaches to parenting. We can read books about it. We can quote studies. We can wing it. We can do our absolute best and still feel like it’s not enough. And, although we are our own harshest critics, the commentary on my latest post reminds me that we can be each other’s harshest critics too. Instead of drawing a line in the sand of what we believe to be the right thing, why not open a dialogue in which we each speak out own truths while accepting those may not be the same truths for somebody else? I’m not upset or offended by the comments readers made, but am more so inspired by what the readers could have said.

We all know that raising kids takes a village, and in my experience that’s absolutely true. But the definition of village is loose and long, extending from our inner circle to the adult who attempts to discipline our kids on the playground. We need to find a way to lift each other up and support each other as we forge our own path, whether or not it’s the one we would take ourselves.

7 thoughts on “Finding a thick skin

  1. Just saw your post via your hubby’s FB page (I used to work with him at LoyaltyLab). Let me first start by saying that I love that you’ve decided to get your voice heard by the masses. There’s nothing more empowering than to be able to share your unique POV in this journey of mommy/woman/wife-hood. Kuddos to you for getting the visibility you have garnered thus far! That’s awesome! And lastly, I’m so sorry to hear that you’ve had some negative reaction to your recent post about family rules. In particular, it’s saddening to see you be judged by those who just project their own issues onto something as loving as “kiss your relatives hello/goodbye”. I can only assume some of the issues plaguing that individual’s heart…so sad. But exactly to your point–there’s no universal right vs wrong. It’s all about what’s right for the individual. Sure–there are your standard moral codes (like, it probably wouldn’t be such a great idea to go postal on people and cause others harm because you’re having a bad day…in fact, that in itself isn’t right-action for self because it’s simply avoids handling their issue in a healthy manner). But the “right” that you speak of is one that I think causes so much confusion. People are so quick to impose their point of you just to get some form of validation that whatever it is they’re doing is good enough. I love that your posts are all about your POV and the reader can decide to take or leave it–it all depends on how they resonate with your underlying message. So cheers to you for giving people permission to live their truth. Anyway…without rambling, I will leave this post with one final note: keep writing from your heart. You’re truly an inspiration. And just from the limited time I worked with Jason and the chance I’ve had to hear some of the family stories, it sounds like whatever you guys have going on over there is just simply perfect :). Enjoy the lovely weekend! – Andrea

  2. I’m sorry that your perfectly reasonable rules were triggers for some but on a positive note I think controversy could be a good thing…if your blog is provocative and making people think that perhaps gives it a kind of traction and gravitas!

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