Thursday, September 3, 2009

Be True

I have a problem. Well, I have lots, but I'm thinking on how my desire for harmony leads me to betray myself sometimes. This is nice at times, especially in short term interactions, like the grocery line. I can nod and smile and let most things slide right off my back. I do not have to let everyone know how dumb they are or how right I am.

It gets trickier when I am dealing with people I want to call friends. And the parenting spot is the one I find trickiest. I can be completely honest about my political views or thoughts on abortion or beliefs around god, but I might not admit that I let my kids eat dirt, discuss poop, and climb on top of swingsets. The first three or thirty times I am parenting around someone I am not comfortable with, I am extremely likely to follow their lead.

They tell their children, "Put on a hat, here's some sunscreen, stay out of trees, put down the stick, be nice..." Suddenly, I hear myself repeating these things I do not believe, or quietly whispering that my children should stay out of the trees to make this person comfortable.

I do believe in the comfort of others, but I think it can go too far. If I really believe sunscreen is bunk, then I can just not use it without talking about it. I think tree climbing is good; I understand why someone might not allow it, and I am happy to discuss it or suggest other activities, but I've decided my children can definitely climb the trees around our house. I have more important things to teach than the evils of poop talk or playing with sticks. I feel the rule of non combatants is much more important than whether or not it is ever okay to brandish a stick. Also, the fact that rules change based on venue is a frequent speech, and I also think more important than, "Be nice, be nice, be nice...."

There is some line between respecting what I believe and respecting the beliefs of others. When I can make my choice on my own without making it about all those other people, then I can be confident I am making my own mistakes. I can also discuss my choices without judging a different choice. When I get defensive and feel a need to convert others, then I open myself up for conversion and judgment. When I start chanting another mother's parenting speeches, I'm going to lose my way pretty quickly, as I won't be able to convince my children when I am not even convinced.

Sure, people probably judge me even when I am calm and sure of the mistake I'm making, but it's like that tree falling in the forest. I'll just have to hope none of my children are in it.

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