Sunday, January 17, 2010

Play nice...


Opinions. Everyone’s got them. This week Jen over at Sprite’s Keeper has us spinning them.

Opinions are a substantial staple of an English classroom and literature discussion. I ask my students three things.

One. Support your opinions. Be prepared to defend your opinions.

Two. Be respectful of others’ opinions. We call it discussion for a reason. Debate is something else, and even then it is not OK to say “that’s so gay.”

Three. Have an open mind. “Have an open mind” is actually in the ground rules for class discussion, listed in each sub section for a total of four times. I work on widening their perspectives all year long and I feel very fortunate to be able to teach To Kill a Mockingbird in 10th grade, as Atticus is the definitive example of being able to “step into someone else’s skin.” Those moments when I see that little light bulb go on over a teen’s head and, even if they don’t agree with someone else’s opinion, at least they understand where it comes from - those moments make the rest (like crap pay turned crappier with 17 furlough days this year) mostly worth it.

In my personal life, opinions have often been a source of angst. I come from a very opinionated family who are mostly better talkers than listeners. Growing up, everyone was intense about getting their opinions on the table and chopping off the heads (talking louder, interrupting, and making fun) of those who disagreed. A sensitive child, a middle child, I learned to keep my opinions to myself and tuned out the world around me.

Playing ostrich rarely works out. The issues one is meant to deal with seem to come back around and bite you in the ass. And so it is that in my later adult life I have come face to face with my problem of dealing with other people’s unasked for and unsavory opinions.

In my circle of friends most of us did not marry nor have children until our later twenties or our thirties. We spent most of our twenties whopping it up and bonding. We had a lot of fun.

Then, as we all became mothers, I noticed a couple of my friends were extremely opinionated in how other people raised their children. They had no problem telling me what was wrong with my kids and how they thought hubs and I should be dealing with it.

It leaves me speechless when one of my friends offers unasked for advice and gives not so nice opinions about my children or how we raise them.

I find myself avoiding them.

But. Lately. I have a fantasy. Of flinging the poo right back in the other direction like a monkey in a zoo.

If I ever get the nerve, I’ll let you know how it all works out.

For more spins on opinions, head on over to Sprite's Keeper.

52 comments:

Cristin said...

I hate confrontation and debate, so when people voice their (wrong) opinions, it is Ostrich time for me.

Love the poo flinging monkey bit...

;)

Kristan said...

Funny, I just got into a heated discussion with a friend about this yesterday. No one resorted to "that's so gay," but still. :P And you know, we're just talking about clothing and music preferences. I can't even imagine what it would be like with parenting... o_O

Life is good! said...

i learned to quit judging other parents when my children turned into teenagers. i also realize those that offer unwanted advice probably can't fix their own problems so they try to put their nose in others. flinging poo just gets every one stinky! enjoyed your post today! have a great one!!!

sherri said...

parental advice is rarely helpful, good, warranted or desired. Fling that poo and get back to us, I'd love to hear about that.

otin said...

I have always had the ability to step back and see things from different perspectives. Although I tend to have my own strong opinions, I can usually understand where another persons mind set comes from. I may disagree with their position, but try never to condemn them for it!

Fragrant Liar said...

I love a good discussion and even debate, but I always want to see it respectfully done, and I never want to hear, "That is so gay." It's a really stupid thing to say when they just disagree, and I'm offended for gay people when I hear it.

I hope you get the opportunity to fling the monkey poo back at the monkeys who give unsolicited and unwanted advice. Be brave, Pseudo. People like that aren't looking in the mirror enough.

yorksnbeans said...

I learned awhile back that not many people care for others opinions even when they ask for them. Most people just want you to agree with their opinion. If someone actually listens to my opinion (now, only when asked) I almost drop dead from shock.

And, I too, am dumbfounded when people have absolutely no problem being rude with their opinions. I wonder how they can have any friends. If I ever acted like that, I'd be dropped like a hot potato!

Jan said...

The Young One will be reading To Kill A Mockingbird sometime this second semester in English and I can't wait.

I was also a quiet kid in a loud family of opinionated people (my mother being the Queen of Opinionated People), and it took me years to overcome that. But for people who give unwanted criticism of how I raise my children, I mostly ignore them. Getting snotty back accomplishes nothing but dragging you down to their level. If I say anything at all, it's something calm and cool like, "You know, I've been doing this a long time, and no one is in jail yet."

TechnoBabe said...

Hubby and I recently checked the movie To Kill A Mockingbird out of the library. It was so much fun to watch the old movie after not seeing it in a long time. What a great dad figure in that movie!
I married young and had my children young and didn't think there was any other way to do it. My older daughter chose to wait a little to start a family but the younger one started young like I did. My son has yet to have children. They each have different opinions on when to have children, how to raise them, and they are different from my opinions. So I know what you mean about each of us having the right to our own opinions, and to respect that right in each other. Good post.

only a movie said...

I have really strong opinions about judgy people. I have especially strong opinions when people are judgy about parenting.
I may start saying swears when those opinions come from people who have no children of their own or those who have not a clue what they are weighing in on. :-)

Great spin.
Good luck w/ the poo flinging.

Brian Miller said...

opinions are not bad, as long as you realise it is an opinion. it can be shared, but dont expect everyone to accept them.

blueviolet said...

I had this one friend when the kids were in high school who would not be friends with most people because she did not agree with their philosophy on how they raised their children. She thought her children were the only children of God apparently.

Anyhow, her oldest was arrested, kicked off the football team, thrown out of school, and lost his license for drinking? And her other daughter is one of the worst drinkers/partiers in college but her mother thinks she's never touched the stuff?

She needs to start sniffing her own ass because it stinks.

Joanie M said...

I hate confrontation and I'm such a wimp that I usually keep my mouth shut. I have been known to speak up for myself from time to time though!

Beth said...

Oh, I know how you feel about confrontation. I'd rather avoid it. How I ended up in the job I'm in, I'll never know.

My family sounds a lot like you. I used to tell my friends that my family spars while we eat dinner. It can still be that way - but now I see the humor in the situation.

I had a lot of people give unsolicited advice when my kids were little. I probably should have flung some poo... Let me know how that works out for you.

Kathryn Magendie said...

When visiting my son and DIL with their first baby (my little GD), I fought the urge to give advice unless asked -well, unless I felt there was already a discussion where we were talking about babies and sleepind and feeding and what to do when they're crying, etc....

Now I have an image of monkey's flinging poo around *laugh*

Surfie said...

Definitley fling some poo back on them! They may not even realize how rude and hurtful they are being if nobody has ever said anything. The true challenge is to find a way to stand up to those people, put them firmly in their place, and yet do so without being rude and hurtful yourself. I look forward to hearing how you handle the next confrontation! Good luck!

lakeviewer said...

Oh, they are not worth your energy! Let them be as wrong as they want. One day, they'll get their comeuppance.

Joanna Jenkins said...

"To Kill A mocking Bird" is a fave of mine.... And my nieces too. She's loves it so much that if her baby is a boy she's going to name it Atticus.

I'm cheering you on for speaking up. Let us know how it goes.

xo

Sprite's Keeper said...

Oh, to fling the poo! Then you would know who got their nasty words tossed right back at them just by looking!
I have family members who are a little out there with their opinions and I have learned to take their ideals with a grain of salt, but I prefer a lower sodium diet, so I tend not to get involved in too many deep conversations with them. Great Spin, Pseudo! You're linked!

Heather said...

I wish I could be in your classroom, to see kids "get it".

Eternally Distracted said...

I hate confrontation but am definitely a poo flinger when it comes to unwanted opinions from others...

Loved this post - so true

My name is PJ. said...

Unsolicited advice has strained many a relationship and threatened the total existence of others.

But Pseudo (may I call you Pseudo?),never think you won't do it, say,when your child has children of his/her own. It may only be once and you may be wishing you could jam the words back down your throat as they spew forth...but I'm just betting it will happen.

People mean well. They're just stupid. Really.

starrlife said...

Your family sounds just like mine- except I am the oldest. My poor husband doesn't know what to make of us sometimes (or me either). However- we do not fling poo.... yet. I have been learning non-judgementalism since I was a wee lass and I have lots of opinions but try not to share them as thought they are the gospel! Good post there Pseudo!

Gaston Studio said...

Came from an opinionated family myself and I can usually hold my own with any one of them... but I learned a long time ago that it's a waste of time and breathe to try and change someone else's opinion so I just smile and tell them I'll give their opinion some thought.

When someone offers an unsolicited opinion about how I raise my children, I'd have to nod, smile and tell them "thanks"... after I fling the poo.

mo.stoneskin said...

I naturally try to play ostrich, which is not a good thing. Comes from my side of the family. My wife's side of the family is the type that us ostriches fear most. I'm learning!

Kathy said...

Nothing like a good debate to get the blood flowing :)

There are so many times I wish I could fling poo, it's not funny.

Amy said...

I think on Saturday. I posted something up for you. Two Awards. I hope you got them.

This post got me thinking about friends also. I have had it on my mind. It just seems like they are there and then gone and you do not know why. Then I tear myself up wondering what I did. I have a great husband and he tells me that is was the holidays and that is why things went weird. I am like okay but you should be the same person all of the time. Not saying you can't have a bad day and want to fling poop like a monkey but still. It gets old and I am not is high school any more.

Have a great week. Sorry so deep..

kyooty said...

If no one voices their opinion, no one hears it.

Jack said...

Love love love "To Kill A Mockingbird"!

Everyone has their own way of parenting. I only give advice when asked, and even then it's with careful consideration.

arlee bird said...

I really enjoy a good debate or a discussion involving the exchange of ideas and opinions. That's one of the things I seek and enjoy about blogging.
Lee
http://tossingitout.blogspot.com/

Mama Badger said...

I have a family like yours, but I can hold my own usually.

I try to only give an opinion when asked, or if I support the person. Otherwise, just shut up. There is no nice way to tell someone you think they're wrong, expecially when it comes to parenting.

Pseudo, I think you need to fling some poo. I feel like we've heard about these "friends" before on you blog.

ds said...

Less ostrich than turtle ("I am in my shell now and will not come out. Go Away!").
But oh, there are times when I would love to fling some poo; my luck it would be into a headwind...

Atticus is the bomb!

Wild Child said...

Parenthood is fraught with opinions. I try to stay away from giving unwanted advice, or I say, this is what I did, if you think it might help. I was a working mom who nursed her kids and was not ever going to tell anyone what to do, because so many hurt feelings came from the working/not working, or the nursing/not nursing (or pumping and feeding instead of nursing). I saw it on support groups and other areas. I never liked the La Leche League group I was in, because I felt looked down on for not subscribing to all their beliefs (bed sharing, stay at home mom, etc). I was just looking for nursing advice. Ended up going to a nursing group supported by the hospital. That was much better. Anyway, it is always good for the opinion giver to look at themselves first before making sweeping generalizations.

sitting on the mood swing at the playground said...

I have a couple of friends who LOVE to give child advice to me. I've yet to ask them for it. Next time I'm going to think of your poo flinging fantasy...no matter what they say I'll smile with that thought in my head.

lisleman said...

#2 and #3 are so important - we could probably have world peace with those two.
Regarding the poo throwing - there's that saying of what goes around comes around - except I wouldn't want it to be poo.

Lisa @ Boondock Ramblings said...

Ah opinions...yes, my family is full of them as well and likes everyone to hear them, without tolerating anyone else's. I've experienced it awesome. I've also experienced a little unsolicited advice from friend's, but not a lot, thank goodness!

Jeanie said...

You know the old saying. "Opinions are like a&*holes, everyone has one." Because someone expresses an opinion it doesn't mean we are required to heed it, especially when it comes to how we are raising our children. It has been my experience that the more opinionated someone is about childrearing the less sense they make.

lisa said...

It's just that, an opinion. Many times, people say things to make themselves feel better.

When in the mood, take a big giant handful and....sling!

Melissa B. said...

I applaud teachers who allow their students to "discuss." Some say they do, but end up lecturing or telling the kiddos what they need to know for the test. And that doesn't do anyone any good at all, does it? PS: Mr. Fairway & I totally wasted our 20s, too!

Nubian said...

One of the many great words of wisdom from my mother was "Be careful what you say about another persons child when your corn is still green."

Mrsbear said...

I avoid confrontation too for the most part. And I'm terrible at supporting my opinions verbally, I always do better on paper. Although occasionally I do fling the poo back. I have become very careful who I share with though, just because some people tend not to temper their advice or opinions with tact, compassion, or perspective.

Yaya said...

Could you give my mother in law your lesson on opinions??

Maureen@IslandRoar said...

Your post didn't show up in my reader, but luckily I clicked over. Hope I haven't missed more...

Great Spin; it's hard to state your opinion when people aren't listening, but instead, waiting to pounce with their own words.
Sounds like those friends of yours are insecure about their own parenting; one would have to be to preach to someone else that way.
Let us know if you fling that poo!

thelocalsloveit said...

You pretty much summed it up for me. I'm an ostrich. But I too would love the confidence to start flinging poo.

thelocalsloveit said...

You pretty much summed it up for me. I'm an ostrich. But I too would love the confidence to start flinging poo.

Smart Mouth Broad said...

Most of the time I find myself envious of your close (relationship and proximity)but when you write about this "stuff" it makes me think of the cobb salad luncheon in Julie and Julia.

I can't wait to hear what happens when you get the nerve to say your piece.

Duchess said...

I think those kids are lucky to have you as a teacher and leading their discussions... As for unwanted parenting advice, I really like Jan's comeback that no one is in jail yet.

Casey said...

I used to avoid confrontation but I think I'm losing my filter as I get older and it might get me in trouble.

Your judgy friends sound horrible. I remember you saying about the time one of them yelled at your son... not acceptable.

I recently ditched a friend because she told me that I should take Graham to a therapist about his "behavior". You know, because he acts like every other three year old out there. This was coming from a mom who gives her kids whatever they want, all the time, just to shut them up. So to see Graham throw a tantrum and get disciplined because I told him "no" baffled her. Bitch.

Patty O. said...

Oh, I can relate to this post on so many levels. I am a high school english teacher (taking time off to be home with the kids) and my students would get so annoyed when I pestered them with questions to get them thinking.

I also have the same problem with standing up for myself. I am working on it, but it is so difficult. I wonder why it is so easy for some people to be opinionated to the point of rudeness, yet I worry about hurting their feelings.

Stacy (the Random Cool Chick) said...

I tend to avoid confrontation, too. But man, the idea of flinging poo at an opinionated someone sounds like so much fun! :)

Mom Taxi Julie said...

I'm always right!

Just kidding ;o)

Liz said...

Ooh, I was really hoping for some opinions on how other people raise their kids, I had a feeling it was going to be good...oh well, maybe a future post!