Motivation Monday – Disagreement

Today’s quotes obtained from Book of Famous Quotes.

If you have learned how to disagree without being disagreeable, then you have discovered the secrete of getting along — whether it be business, family relations, or life itself.
Bernard Meltzer

When you run into someone who is disagreeable to others, you may be sure he is uncomfortable with himself; the amount of pain we inflict upon others is directly proportional to the amount we feel within us.
Sidney J. Harris

Boxing gloves

Image via Wikipedia

I understand that many times people do not have the same opinions that I do.   I recognize that opinions are difficult to express constructively, especially in writing.  Writing often lacks “tone”, which can make words appear to mean one thing when they are actually supposed to convey a totally different meaning.   I spend a lot of time reading and re-reading posts on several of the blogs I follow, just to make sure that I am not misunderstanding what people are saying.   I then hesitate, many times,  to make comments, for fear that what I am trying to convey will be lost or misinterpreted.

This month  is “National Adoption Awareness Month”.   As I understand it, the month was originally set aside to make the public aware of the many children whose first parents’ rights have been terminated and are in need of a stable,  permanent family life.  It has now taken on a life of its own and is used to advocate and glorify all adoption.   I am going to go out on a limb here and say that adoption can be a wonderful thing.   It can be a blessing for everyone involved.  That is not saying that adoption is not painful.  It is.  It is based on loss.  The loss of the very first relationship a human knows – the mother/child relationship.  Sometimes it is also created through the loss caused by infertility on the part of the adoptive parents.  For every family affected by adoption there is a different story.

Many of the blogs that I read are adoption related.  I read them for support – to hear that other people are going through some of the same things that I am going through.  I read them for education – how other families are coping with certain issues, how adult adoptees feel, how first mothers feel.  I read them just for the joy of reading about children.  But this month makes me tired.  This seems to be the month where everyone weighs in with their opinion of adoption.  But they don’t just weigh in, they attack.  They attack like bullies on the school playground.  Their very important messages get lost in the dust of name calling, accusations, and prejudices.  I have found even the most even toned blogs become rancid during this month.  It is not that I don’t think each person is entitled to their opinion.  It is how that opinion is presented.   These opinions do not foster dialogue, they do not provoke thought.  In fact, the people who write don’t even have the common decency to own their own opinions.  They state their opinions as fact.   And while the writers have knowledge about their personal stories, they don’t have any knowledge of my story, or of my daughters’ stories.  Yet they appear to  feel they have the right to speak for or make judgments on  everyone.  And for that reason, I pity them.  I used to try to understand.  But I can’t even do that anymore.  I pity them that they seem to carry so much pain that they can’t see anything else but their hurt.  I pity them that they present themselves as having been so stunted in their emotional growth that they can’t begin to constructively work towards change.  So many of them  scream and drown each other out, they don’t or can’t hear the whispers of those who want to create lasting change in the adoption system.

So here are my guidelines for blogging – they are the same rules my husband and I have used for 20 years to communicate.

  • Use “I” statements and be responsible for your own opinions and feelings.
  • Don’t drag up things from the past.  Talk about the present issue.
  • Don’t make generalizations – speak only about that which you have personal knowledge.
  • Don’t put words in someone’s mouth, and don’t assume what the other person is feeling/thinking.
  • Refrain from name calling of any type.
  • Stop talking long enough to listen.
  • Listen twice – once with your head and once with your heart.
  • Take a deep breath before starting to speak.  If unable to speak softly and gently take another breath.  Continue breathing until the words can whispered.  Volume does not improve the listener’s comprehension.
  • Remember that once the words are spoken/written, they are forever.
  • Choose battles wisely.
  • Remember that saying “I’m sorry” or “You are right” is a sign of strength, not of weakness.  Humbly accepting those words is as difficult as saying them.
  • Agreeing to disagree is not losing, it is acknowledging another person’s uniqueness and is an opportunity for honest dialogue without the competition of “winning”.

 

In this world of  “rights” and “freedom of speech”  it seems our society has forgotten how to be nice and play fair.   We have become a group of people who believe our individual rights take precedence over that of anyone else.  We no longer look for the common good.  What I see are people saying or doing “something for the good of others” as an excuse to say or do hurtful things.   What would happen if  everyone took a minute and thought about  what they would feel if what they wrote was directed back at themselves?  Somehow I think the blogosphere might be a little kinder, with a lot less garbage floating around in it.

 

 

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11 responses to “Motivation Monday – Disagreement

  1. You are so right!! I don’t follow a lot of the adoption blogs that you do, but I am in total agreement with you that people don’t have any sense of control over projecting their feelings upon others–no matter how hurtful. I find that with the kids I teach… they have no “sensor” on what they say and never stop to think how their words are going to be perceived by the other person.

    I have had people project their hurtful opinions on me in person though. I find that, for me, it’s even harder to deal with someone in person because I don’t know how to respond when taken off guard. My first reaction is “get out of the situation as quickly as possible!!”

    So, I am going to make sure that I sensor what I say to others and make sure that my words will not be taken the wrong way or offensively!!

    Thanks for this great post!
    Love ya!
    “One of the 5”

    • Shar – you are “one of the 5” in a lot of different ways, and I am SOOOO glad you are!

  2. Like Shari, I’ve had hurtful things projected on me as well. The fact that I don’t have any children and being forty is a major issue even in today’s society. I do think that some people are missing that compassion gene and they talk without any sense of understanding. I had one person say that I was being selfish for not bearing children. No questions as to why I didn’t have any – didn’t care. Just assumed.
    The Internet is a breeding ground for holier-than-though attitudes especially, because people don’t have to be held accountable for what they say. It’s much easier to ramble on knowing that you have no one to challenge your ideas and opinions on things.
    I love your tips on better blogging. I will use these, myself. Great post as usual!

    • I am still trying to figure out why family planning has become a topic that total strangers feel they can voice an opinion on at any time. Compassion and good manners seem to be a thing of the past. I am so sorry that you have been on the receiving end of that social trend, Ellen.
      I think personal accountability has been lacking in our society for a very long time, and you are absolutely right that the internet has made it that much worse.
      Thanks for the compliment!

  3. hi I was luck to discover your theme in wordpress
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  5. Why not comment? 🙂 People can’t understand how they are being perceived by others unless they are told.

    I’m the first to admit, I’m not a fan of NAAM. I know several foster alumn and I feel like when NAAM is used to celebrate and promote all of adoption, rather than focus on why NAAM was established, it takes away from awareness from the kids it was intended to help. Of course, I know that’s not everyone’s intentions when they talk about other adoption things in the context of NAAM, and I certainly have been discussing things other than foster case this NAAM myself.

    What I have noticed about the adoption community is that many people identify themselves with whatever their role is in adoption, just as much as they do their race, religion, ethnicity, gender, so on and so forth. I know I do; being adopted is a part of my identity just like being a Christian or being a woman is. When others notice something that’s offenisve to them from the perspective of their adoption-identity, it’s hard not to be upset about it –just as if someone had said something offensive about their gender. I too often do think people get misunderstood because it’s not voiced in a way that many others can understand; but I empathize with where it is coming from.

    • Hi Amanda –

      Thanks so much for stopping by!

      I think the main reason that I don’t respond is because I truly think they really don’t care how they are percieved. I go through and read the comments and see how other people are responding and how the poster is replying back to them. A lot of times this tells me the “type” of audience they are attempting to address. I have ABSOLUTELY NO issue with posting from where they are affected in adoption. That is exactly why I go to read differing view points. But so often there is such total disrespect for other viewpoints. Such generalizations/stereoptypes are placed on other people at the same time the poster is complaining about being stereotyped. I love open dialogue. It is the only way we are going to create the much needed change in adoption. But when I am told that my viewpoint is just wrong – then that does tend to shut down discussion. I have posted about my views, claiming them as only my views and how I present a topic to my child. I have said in so many words that I respect their point of view and do not intend to change theirs, but would like to present mine. Their response was that I was totally wrong and that I should never present such ideas to a child or the public.

      I am going to summerize a recent post from another blog. It was from the viewpoint of an adult adoptee. This person was addressing how adoptive parents blog, their blogging “handles”, the adoption clothing, etc. It seems this person was really focussing on international adoptive parents. Basically the blogger was saying that if the AP puts anything in the blog handle or the blog name that says they are a mama, that identifies them as an AP of a child from a particular part of China (I.E. HunanMom), that identifies their child with any type of Chinese “stereotype” (I.E. Spicy Hunan Girl), that we are insecure in our role as a parent, that we are claiming to be the mother of the entire Province, that we are being mean to our children, that we are creepy. From an AP mom’s perspective we are trying to do exactly what international adult adoptees have told us to do – do not ignore our child’s history and home country, instill pride of the child’s first culture by being proud of it ourselves. Incorporate the child’s home culture into our family so that not only do they become part of our family (and subsequently culture), but we, in whatever way we can, become part of theirs. When I look at those same things the poster was complaining about I see a mom who is saying to her child that she is proud and honored to be the mom of a child from that area of the world. The Spicy Hunan Girl is actually something the Chinese people tell us about when we are over there adopting. If they hear a child being ornery or obstinant or hot-tempered they will ask if the child is from Hunan or one of the other areas of the country where spicy (read that as inferno hot) food is the norm. They say that the child is a Spicy (insert province name) Girl. They say it as if it is something to be proud of. So we attempt to instill and maintain that pride of their particular region if they are indeed from that region of the country. But the post was not written for discussion (at least that was my perception, and obviously from the comments by others and lack of comments by adoptive parents). It was written to denigrate the adoptive parent.

      One of the reasons I so respect your writing is that when you have a beef with something you research the topic and when you present something as fact there are indeed facts to back it up. When you post about your feelings, you qualify them as just that, your feelings. Your posts can be strong at times, but I have never read a post where you attempt to shut anyone out. This constant screaming/insulting/myoptic view truly turns away the very people that they need to be reaching. It is so hard, day after day, to try to learn from someone when they show no sign of respect. I honestly believe that is why so many adoptive parents just tune them out. There are so many of us out there that really want to learn, to understand, to make it ethical. But if we are made to feel totally stupid if we ask a question, or if we are immediately insulted by the poster? I just think it is counter-productive.

      Sorry to have rambled to much. So that is my book on why I often to write a comment. I have enjoyed your NAAM posts. They have been enlightening and a true breath of fresh air.

      I hope you have a blessed Thanksgiving!

  6. You’re not rambling! Your response was educational for me.

    I believe I read the same adoptee blog posting as you. For me as an adoptee, I see lots of adoption-related stuffs e.g. shirts and bumper stickers out there that I don’t know if people understand how marginalizing they can be. I personally have very, very limitted knowledge on the Asian and Pacific Island cultures, so if I were to have seen the “Hunan Spicy Girl” bumper sticker or T-shirt myself, I would just assume it was a joke based on the exotification of Asian/Pacific Island women here in the U.S. My concern would be that without explanation, other Americans would assume the same thing when they saw it. Without you explaining it just now, I would have had no idea.

    I’m not trying to invalidate your feelings, just musing aloud (aloud via typing hehehe). For me, I know when I read blogs and people say “adoptees do this” or “adoptees do that” it can be frustrating because even though they don’t mean to, it makes us feel lumped together. But I’ve read that particular blogger say before that she doesn’t want people to interpret her writing as encompassing all Adoptive Parents when she says “Adoptive Parents.” I think if someone told her that the APs with those stickers aren’t trying to be marginalizing, and why, she would be receptive to it. I think it would be an interesting conversation about celebrating Asian culture within the United States and what impression others who are not familiar with the culture might have.

    Thank you for your kind words on my blog. People email me regularly and I have had a lot of feedback from Adoptive Parents, First Parents, and Adult Adoptees. Some people love it and have no complaints. Some people think I am too wishy-washy (lack of a better word) and not direct enough. I actually had one AP email me and say she doesn’t appreciate it when adoptees try to be overly-considerate because we’re all adults and she doesn’t want her hand held (her words, not mine–rough paraphrase). On the other hand, I’ve had people tell me I’m mean and my opinions are horrible lol. I do try my best to write in a way that I think everyone will be able to receive without compromising my own beliefs on issues.

    Hope you’re having a fabulous Thanksgiving! (((hugs)))

    • Amanda –

      I had a fabulous Thanksgiving, full of things and people to be thankful for!

      I am really sorry that anyone does not like your writing, and that they are so mean about it. There are times that I have read something that you posted that I have to take a breath and read again because it “hits too close to home”, but NEVER have I been offended or found your opinions anything but aimed at trying to make others aware of things. I had to shake my head about the one AP you wrote about. Maybe I am totally misunderstanding what she is saying, but it sounds like since we are all adults we don’t need to be respectful and considerate of each other. If that is truly what she is implying, then I guess I understand why the world is the way it is today.

      Thanks for telling me a little bit more about that particular blogger. I may go back and send her a message with some of the information that I wrote here. I honestly never looked at it from the stand-point of marginalizing someone or objectifying them – though when you wrote it I could truly see how that could be the impression. I know as an adoptive parent I try so hard to do the “right” thing and spend so much time reading and trying to learn not only about adoption, but also about the international part of it, that I forget others haven’t done the same thing. There are a lot of adoptive parents out there that do things for the “cute factor” (like some of the t-shirts, etc) that are way off base and totally out of line. I am embarrassed to be put into the same group as them. I am sure I have done things that other adoptive parents have been embarrassed about. I will also be the first to say that there are parents who have adopted for all the wrong reasons – and there are people out there who have birthed children for all the wrong reasons. But for many of us who appear to be bumbling around, we are just trying to do the best that we can in a world full of conflicting information. Thank you for being understanding and supportive of my efforts to filter my way through all of it!

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