Friday, May 13, 2011

Civil Dialogue and Validation

My Serious MomSense column has officially been picked up for Motherhood Matters, a new feature on KSL.com.  I've been publishing monthly up to this point but will be stepping it up for Motherhood Matters to a weekly column.  

This is great!!  It's also super scary and somewhat time-consuming. I spend inordinate amounts of time trying to get a column "just right."  Which will never happen, but I try.  I've come to the conclusion that sleep is overrated.

After so much work writing a column, I'm curious/nervous/excited to hear feedback. The KSL website encourages comments with this statement:  ksl.com comment boards are a forum for thoughtful commentary intended to enlighten your fellow readers with additional insight or counterpoints.

And so it was with great interest that I read the first comment on my latest column, "Mother's Day not a good time to overanalyze."  This is what it said:

I get that the tone of this article is humor, but if you need validation for a life decision that you made, maybe you made the wrong decision.

I get tired of hearing Mothers complain about all the hard work they do. Sorry, I really don't have much sympathy. You choose to do what you are doing, especially if you have 5 kids. Live with your choices and quit complaining. You don't appreciate the way your kids treat you? Maybe they don't appreciate the way YOU treat THEM.

One last thing...Happy Mother's Day!

Someday soon, I will explain why the assumptions so carefully laid out by this reader in no way reflect who I am or how I feel about being a mom.  But that's a different post.

For now, I'll just say that this was not an easy comment to read.  It felt mean-spirited, hurtful and didn't necessarily even speak to what my column was about.  

I understand that humor can be tricky and that everyone approaches life with different perspectives.  But it has been my experience that approaching such differences with civility yields much better results.

I need to let it go.  My article was a reminder not to judge my success as a mother based solely on Mother's Day experiences - just like I shouldn't judge my worth as a writer based solely on one person's remarks.  Validation comes in many forms and from many sources.

I understood all this intellectually and yet it stung.  To make me feel better, my 15-yr-old daughter said,  "That person just sits around all day making mean comments [she had seen that this reader topped the list of frequent comment-makers on ksl].  Plus, all of the other comments defended you.  Way to go, Mom!"

My husband reminded me of a saying his late father often said:  

"No one ever raised a statue to a critic."

My new goal is to be more aware of what I say and how those words might be interpreted by other people.  Especially my kids.

Here's to civil dialogue.

2 comments:

  1. Sorry you got a flaming comment. Having spent years dealing with public school officials/special ed personel/scout leaders/church leaders & teachers, I can empathize with the need to be aware of of "how those words" that I must speak "might be interpreted". I agree that in life, we need to communicate without intentionally offending or wounding others. On the flip-side, we should be careful not to take offense from someone else's personal experiences. Don't project your feelings onto someone else. The only One can read your heart will do so with the utmost tenderness & understanding. Thank goodness!!

    ReplyDelete
  2. ... & CONGRATS for being picked up by KSL! Them's smart peoples over there in Salt Lake! Glad you're now "local"!

    ReplyDelete