3 Tips for Interacting Respectfully When You Disagree
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|Tue, 02-14-2012 - 9:23am|
3 Tips for Interacting with Other Parents Respectfully When You Disagree with Them
How do you keep interactions respectful when you know you are talking to someone whose parenting philosophy is at the other end of the spectrum from yours? Here are 3 guidelines that I always keep in the back of my mind in these situations:
1. Every interaction is a learning opportunity.
Just because you learn something from another person does NOT mean you agree with them. It just means that you have opened your mind enough to take in some new information. Don’t discount the things that you can learn from a person you don’t agree with. It could be something as simple as: “So that’s the name of the book where that theory originated…” or “This is a good example of why it is important to use XYZ approach when trying to articulate your thoughts…” or “Although I don’t agree with her choice, now I understand that her heart is in the right place”. If you feel like you haven’t learned something new in the conversation, then ask the right (respectful) questions until you do.
2. Model the behavior that you would want your child to see and utilize.
Ask yourself, based on how I am raising my child, how would I want her to handle this situation? My guess is that your answer will typically be something that feels calmer, more aware, and more respectful than what you might like to unleash at the moment. Every situation is a teaching opportunity for children, whether we want it to be or not. We never know when they are honing in on our words and actions, and even if they are not present for the discussion, it doesn’t mean that they won’t pick up on your vibes, your mood, or even your retelling of the story later.
3. Pick one small detail about your parenting philosophy that you would like to convey, and don’t sweat the rest of it.
I don’t know about you, but my parenting philosophy certainly did not come to me as a complete package overnight. Every day and every minute more of mama experience helps me refine my thoughts on parenting, so how can we expect to make someone else understand all of our thoughts, experiences, and ideas in one single conversation? It’s impossible, and it’s an unnecessary burden to think that you are capable of doing it. It’s also unfair to any other person to quickly understand something that you have put tons of time and thought into. This is why I never try to sell other people on my way of doing things, but if I am having an open conversation about parenting with someone, I’ll pick one thing to share about my philosophy. I also choose to present that one thing from the perspective of when I first learned about it rather than from my current perspective, which might feel to me like I have believed that certain thing forever. I’ve found that if I demonstrate my road to realizing something, it takes the other person off of the defensive and it tends to come off in a more relaxed way.