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Judging the Judgmental: Telling Women to Stop Thinking Is Not “Empowering”

When Judging Comes Back to Bite You

The circularity of those who judge the judgmental is a delicious irony that has long amused me. To be clear, yes, I’m judging those who judge the judgmental, but there is a significant difference in the judgment I’m making and that of the judges of the judgers. (Follow that?)

Judging the Judgmental

The judges I’m referring to are those who single out people who make judgments, claiming it’s wrong to be judgmental — seemingly not realizing they are doing the same thing they are claiming is wrong. I, on the other hand, have no problem with judgment. It’s necessary and good (when used appropriately). And my judgment is pointing out the hypocrisy of being judgmental while decrying others who are being judgmental, merely for being judgmental.

In other words, if you think it’s wrong to be judgmental, you’d better stop noticing when other people do it and you’d better shut up about it, lest you be exposed.

The other day a friend and fellow author, Angie Gardner, lead me to a post that went wrong from the get-go. The post —  titled “End the Mommy Wars” — started out with a photo saying “Let’s love more and judge less.” It featured multiple photos of women holding signs, describing what women are supposed to stop judging each other about.

In other words, the author wrote an entire post judging people for making judgments. 

Top that off with the fact that the post has soft-peddled every “controversial” issue into an opinion-based statement that makes any kind of discussion almost meaningless. I mean is there anything to argue with when someone says, “I felt amazing after having my baby!”

Are there really women who shout back, “Liar! You felt awful! We all do! No exceptions! Admit it!”? I doubt it. Instead women who experience postpartum depression might hear, “That’s not a real condition.” So the arguments usually begin because someone makes an explicit statement or strong implication about what someone else ought to be doing. Not when women give the fluffy, happy, watch-me-carefully-and-thoughtfully-choose-the-very-best-for-my-family statements shown in most of the photos.

Judging Is Essential

Next up came this cozy sounding but nonsensical tidbit:

Who cares if some moms choose to homeschool vs. use public schools or if some moms breastfeed and others don’t or if some moms let their kids watch more TV than others? The only choices we have control over are our own. What another mom chooses is her decision – who are we to judge that? And when you really think about it – what’s the point? It feels so much better to treat people kindly with loving intentions than to go straight to a place of judgment. We should be supporting women’s decisions instead of critiquing them and making snap judgments based off our limited knowledge of other people’s situations.

Now don’t get me wrong, Hating on everyone for every choice they make isn’t the  goal in life or mothering. Being kind, loving, and compassionate are crucial. I also agree that “to go straight to a place of judgment” isn’t sound — if by that she means going straight to a decision that another woman is wrong/stupid/lazy for a decision just because it’s not the same as my decision.

But most reasonably intelligent women I know don’t do that and discernment — meaning the ability to make sound decisions based on relevant facts — doesn’t occur in a vacuum. Discernment, by definition, is judgment. We can’t make  good choices unless we’ve analyze what a “good choice” is, and that only occurs by also judging what a bad choice is. The one doesn’t exist without the other. (You know, that opposition in all things deal.)

In case you’re confused about all the “don’t judge” chatter, remember our scriptures and general leaders don’t tell us not to judge, they tell us not to judge unrighteously and they tell us not to pretend we can impose (or divine) final judgment.

If we, as women, really want to be empowered, we should spend more time thinking, discerning, and acting on our decisions. Not telling other women to just quiet down and keep sweet so we can all go to our happy place.

No, We Should Not Support Women’s Decisions

I’m stunned by the explicit declaration that women “should be supporting women’s decisions.” Doesn’t this depend entirely, 100%, unequivocally on the specific decision we are discussing? The idea that mothers should ipso facto “support” other mother’s just because they are other mothers is just harmful nonsense.

We should support other women’s decisions only when they are sound and good.

Mommy Wars Redux

Objection to the “mommy wars” needs a redirection. Judging isn’t the problem. If we think, we judge. We have to judge. We want to judge. We can’t choose a breakfast cereal without judging.

Supporting other women’s decisions for the sake of holding hands and singing kumbaya makes no sense. The real debate in the mommy wars is to decide what issues are worth warring over. And some are.

As a homeschooler of 19 years, yea, I get really tired of  stupid arguments against homeshooling made by women (and men) who’ve never actually thought through the logic of their objections. But that’s not to say that the debate isn’t worthwhile. Education is important. It’s critical. So, of course, people have strong opinions about it and even defend their choices. Would you demand all women have a lassai faire attitude toward education just so we can all smile and sip our (herbal) tea?

To me the real questions about the mommy wars are:

  1. Which of the items mothers debate about are critical, consequential, and worth debating?
  2. Are we presenting sound, logical ideas to support our positions?
  3. Are we maintaining civility and avoiding ad hominem?

Arguments of the Mommy Wars

With all that in mind I’ll add my thoughts below to the specific items listed in the photo blog. For the most part, I intend to discuss the veracity of  debating the particular topics addressed. I’ll add my own opinions when I can’t help myself.

For the record, I’m going to ignore the soft “I language” used in the photo blog and try to get to the heart of the debate. As I said above, in my experience, few arguments arise from people merely saying what they choose to do. It’s only when that choice is presented in contradistinction to the other possible choices as being universally better that the debates arise. So I’m going to try to address what the real debates — or “wars — are really about.

Please add your thoughts, ideas, and issues in the comments. Tell us which items you think are “worth fighting for” and about which we should “all just get along.”

I felt amazing after having my baby vs. I had postpartum depression

Maybe I’m out of the loop. I haven’t had a baby since 2003. But I’ve never heard people fighting about this.

I’ve known people who bounce right back and don’t miss a beat after giving birth and I known a women so consumed by postpartum depression that she was hospitalized and nearly catatonic. But I’m unsure what the debate would be about on this issue.

Ideas?

I lost all my pregnancy weight vs. I’m still working on losing the baby weight

Except for the silly (judgement) Maria Kang — who implies that she does not recognize that bodies are very complex and different and that even working hard won’t always give identical results — I haven’t heard much of this supposed “mommy war” between mommies themselves. Most of the dribble comes out of general celebrity liposuction discussions and female objectification that exists within and without pregnancy.

Has your experience differed markedly? Do you hear skinny moms telling fat moms they are lazy slobs? Do you hear fat moms telling skinny moms they are neglectful? Is this typical?

My excuse? I’ve been pregnant 11 times from the time I was 23 to 39 (not a pitiful three times, all before age 31), have struggled with a sluggish metabolism my whole life, and still worked by backside off.

My post-pregnancy weight loss saga has also included completing the entire Insanity program last summer, without missing a day. I lost a total of six pounds. Six. But my pushups did get pretty epic.

I only used disposable diapers vs. I only used cloth diapers

Ah, an argument I’ve actually heard of!

The crux of this argument seems mostly based on environmental concerns. Some people think the earth needs saving and some of those think cloth diapers will save it. If they’re right, then isn’t this a discussion worth having? I mean if we’re all going to burn up in a fiery man-made abyss due to disposable diapers, then why would you get your Pampers in a bunch about debating the issue?

Sure, you can disagree. (I do.) But does it make sense to tell people the issue is not worth discussing?

I give my children mostly organic food vs. I let my children eat fast food

One of my blogging clients is a food blogger. More specifically, she’s a school lunch reform blogger. Until she hired me, I honestly had no idea how hot the topic was and how politically polarized it could be.

Being the libertarianesque person I am, I think school lunch is a crock that should be abolished. If not that, at very least, can’t we just say, “Hey, we have this minimal, subsidized, institutional lunch program going on. If you don’t like what we serve, bring your own lunch!”

But on the issue of what we personally feed our kids in our own homes, don’t we all agree that what we put into our bodies matters? And, if it does, then why shouldn’t this be a point of discussion?

Must we say, “Ladies, ladies, stop arguing about food choices and hug each other!” Instead, let’s allow women to think and discuss. For example:

  1. What is a good cost/benefit analysis of organic food vs. non-organic? (What is the best use of resources?)
  2. What is the basis for a healthy diet? (The government changes their criteria every few years and the first lady’s inconsistency in food rhetoric/implementation isn’t a good model.)
  3. How often can one eat fast food and be healthy? (Which fast foods are actually unhealthy and which are  not?)
  4. What claims in food health are politically motivated or otherwise rooted in power structure? (Can we trust what we read?)

I chose to have a large family vs I chose to have one child

 Multiply and replenish the earth. There is it. The scripture that causes all this alarm.

This is not a command that the LDS church has rescinded, nor is it one that we’ve deemed (on a general level, anyway) to be an out-of-date artifact. It’s still part of the deal for the Mormon folk.

The specifics from a Mormon view, however, are also clearly defined within the stewardship of the couple in question, not the general public.

It is the privilege of married couples who are able to bear children to provide mortal bodies for the spirit children of God, whom they are then responsible to nurture and rear. The decision as to how many children to have and when to have them is extremely intimate and private and should be left between the couple and the Lord. Church members should not judge one another in this matter.

Almost never, then, are we in a position to debate whether or not someone else should be having more kids.

When it comes to the general principle, however, it’s certainly reasonable to discuss the dynamics, pros and cons, and even practical applications. And apparently it was important enough to God that he brought it up.

I let my baby (reasonably) cry-it-out vs. I never let my baby cry-it-out

I actually don’t believe anyone who claims the latter position. Even if unintentionally, I don’t think there’s a kid on the planet that hasn’t cried until they stopped on their own at some point, for some reason or another. (Mom in the shower, baby with big brother who couldn’t breastfeed on demand?)

Assuming that to be true, all kids actually live on a continuum between utter neglect and near 24/7 immediate attention to all needs. We felt, generally speaking, that kids cry because they need something and so if they were crying we’d try to figure out what they needed. It seems to me most responsible parents don’t vary too much either way from that.

What experiences do you have on this topic that causes intense debate?

I couldn’t wait to get back to work vs. I wish my maternity leave had been longer

Why would you ever want to broadcast to the world that you were chomping at the bit to get away from your baby so you could finally get back to the important, valuable, rewarding stuff in your cubicle?

To be clear, I don’t really care about how you feel. Feel however you want. I know many people really would rather fill out insurance claims or clean dental plaque or book cruises than deal with children. But do you really want your baby to hear how (not) cherished she was? Because, you know, paperwork and year end bonuses.

And, no, I don’t care if you’re the leader of the free world. (You’re not.) And I don’t care if you’re a super model or a broadway star. Why would any woman want her child to feel that she came in no more than a distant second to the sacred job?

“Cindy, you were super cute and all, but I had this awesome movie to shoot on location in France. I’m sure you understand that this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me. And, anyway, you have birthdays every single year!”

P.S. If you’re going to get your knickers in a twist over this section, at least respond to what I actually wrote, not to what you’re projecting on me. Deal?

I co-sleep with my child vs. My child sleeps in her own room

Possible Concerns

  1. Suffocating your baby
  2. Lack of private time with spouse
  3. Neglecting your babies needs

Possible Responses

  1. According the the CDC, “overlaying” (when a person who is sleeping with a child rolls onto the child and unintentionally smothers the child) is the major cause of child suffocation. Legitimate concern.
  2. According to co-sleeping friends, co-sleeping can interfere with intimacy and “pillow talk” with spouse. Legitimate concern.
  3. Logic dictates that a baby sleeping down the hall or up the stairs is more likely to be distressed for longer than one who is seven inches from your face. Legitimate concern.

Result

Who’s to say that mothers shouldn’t discuss the pros and cons of various sleeping arrangements? Are these concerns so inconsequential that we should expect parents to ignore them for the sake of keeping peace?

My family is not religious vs. I’m raising my children with religion

As members of the church who believe that religion is critical for salvation, I’d guess most Mormons think this issue is more than just a little important.

Of course, many of us would be uncomfortable with the term “war” used to describe our efforts and, as a church, we tend to take the soft sell approach to spreading the gospel. But that hardly means we must all just cheerfully go along with the notion that whether families have religion or not, is really no big deal.

I’d file this issues under definitely worth discussing.

I’m breastfeeding my two-year-old vs. I chose to formula feed from the start

Is “breast the best”? Probably. I mean given that breast milk was actually designed to feed infant humans, reaching that conclusion doesn’t require much imagination. But is it so much bestness that it’s worth beating people up over?

I was adopted nearly 50 years ago, so even if my mother had been a breast-feeding advocate (which wasn’t a common thing back in the day), it would have been a tough row for her to hoe. I’m still here in spite of the fact that I never learned to latch on properly.

I have six kids and although I nursed all of them a little, I had tremendous trouble doing so. Only one of my children was breastfed exclusively and for a significant (to me) period of time (seven months).

Generally speaking, I don’t care what people do because I don’t think the method of feeding is terribly important and I don’t think the difference is generally so significant that it’s worth the guilt trip. Some breastfeeding advocates, however, are so adamant about their position, they are harmful to mothers.

When I was trying and trying and trying to breastfeed I did everything I could to succeed. I read and watched videos and took a class in the hospital. But the process still felt like a hot iron was being pressed on my chest. I was a bloody, crying mess and dreaded the next excruciating session.

As a three-time breastfeeding failure with my third baby starving, I called La Leche Leaugue. I got a scolding. They told me (on the phone) that I was doing it wrong. They told me the baby was latching incorrectly and I was causing the problem. They told me if I had correct technique, it wouldn’t be painful and the baby wouldn’t have problems. I told them I was sure that wasn’t the case because I’d watched so many videos and seen so many picture and watched for all the problem signs. I’d had the nurses in the hospital make sure it was right. But they were sure I was just an idiot who could only be helped by an in-home visit from an “expert.”

They sent a woman to my home. Total loser mom who needs a helper to do normal mom stuff. But, hey, it was for the best, right?

She watched me getting the baby started — as I cried in pain. Oh, yea, you are doing it right…I guess.

Well, you’re just too fair-skinned. Sometimes redheads are just too fair.

No, I’m not kidding. Yes, it was an official La Leche League International representative in Palm Beach County, Florida, in 1993. Yes, it happened. And then she left.

Four years later with baby #4, I did not call La Leche League. I called a “lactation consultant.” She was an RN who — if I remember correctly — ran a business called The Breastfeeding Boutique. She came to my hospital room and in about 90 seconds told me I was “dry nursing,” a term I had never heard in all the books/videos/presentations/years.

She explained it as being the case when the mother doesn’t produce enough colostrum to satisfy the baby. So the baby nurses nearly 24/7 until the milk comes in. (True in my first three babies.) By the time the milk finally comes in, you’re such a cracked, scabby mess that if you haven’t already given up, the engorgement and other problems will put you over the edge.

Sounded about right to me.

She got me some surgical tubing , surgical tape, a syringe, and a bottle of glucose water. She filled the syringe with the water, attached the tubing to the syringe, tucked the syringe under my bra strap, and taped the open end of the tubing to my breast, right near the nipple. Then I nursed the baby again with the little tube sticking into the corner of her mouth.

Magic.

Baby fills her tummy in a reasonable time, mommy’s body still works toward producing milk without massive pain.

Unfortunately the magical technique did not work with babies #5 and #6. I have no idea why, it just never resolved. But what I did learn was that every mother and baby is different. I already knew that breastfeeding isn’t the only way to start out healthy, happy adults.

What are we arguing about, again?

I had a natural home birth vs. I scheduled my C-section

Well, if you scheduled a C-section, then you are obviously a terrible, terrible — did I mention terrible? — mother.

If you were actually a caring, conscientious mother you would have stayed home and had your high risk baby in a blow up pool of warm water in the living room with all the siblings and in-laws — plus available neighbors and  free range farm animals — basking in the glow of you screaming your guts out while your husband played soothing rhythms on his marimba whilst simultaneously wiping your brow with lavender oil.

Put your dukes up, I’m ready to jump in on this.

OK, really, I’m not. Yes, I tried natural child birth. Once. With our first baby. For about 13 hours. After that I cried for an epidural. Since then, I prefer to get the epidural at about week 17 of the pregnancy and then just wait it out lying on my side.

If you want to have your baby at home and it’s reasonably safe (which would be most of the time), then go for it. If you prefer to take advantage of modern medical procedures to aid you on your way, then go for it. I don’t really care and I don’t think most people care.

Yes, there are a few evangelists on the natural side (the ones who talk about “real women” and all that) and there are those who make fun of the evangelists on the natural side (um…like me). For the most part in my experience, most people are happy to let others do it the way that makes most sense to them. Obviously, both methods have pros and cons. In my mind, none of the arguments are worth evangelizing over.

Do you try to persuade others to your method of birthing?

I work outside of the home vs. I am a stay-at-home mom

Now here’s the big one. The. Big. One.

We all know the prophetic statements. We all know the exceptions. We all know the punch and counter-punch on this issue.

I am a stay at home mom. I did it because President Benson said I should (when I was just a few months pregnant with my first). I did it even though we were the exceptions. (I was just about to graduate, Sam was in grad school, we were dirt poor.) I have a testimony of the validity of that counsel.

Still, I’m not convinced that women must stay home. Mostly, I’m convinced someone must stay home.

[Yes, I know there are still exceptions. I know there are the widowed and people who've been deserted. I do. So can we just agree to understand that I'm not talking about the exception? Can we also agree that most people (no matter how much they'd like to be) aren't exceptions because otherwise it's not, by definition, an exception?]

Children are the issue. Not self fulfillment. Not recognition. Not “me time.” Not accolades. Not position. Not wealth. Not comfort. Not preference.

If you have children, their well-being (true well-being, not indulgence) should be central and should take precedence over the fluff that surrounds us.

I have a friend who is a nanny. On her birthday and holidays, her employers offer lavish gifts and treats. The “spoil” her and don’t want to lose her. Of course they don’t. She’s a dream nanny. She spends all day with her charges. Almost daily she posts pictures of these kiddos on Facebook. She loves the children like a mother and they adore her (she is adorable). And of course they do, she is their mother. She is as much their mother as my adoptive mother was my real mother.

Real parenthood isn’t biology. It’s love. It’s nurture. It’s care. It’s teaching. It’s doting. It’s attention. It’s affection. It’s time.

And while these parents are both at work all day at their very important jobs, it’s the nanny who is giving them love and nurture and care and teaching and doting and attention and affection and time.

So, yes, they are being well cared for. But they are being cared for by someone who has no eternal or legal relationship with them. By someone who will likely, one day, leave to have her own family. Her own family.

I’m sure it will break her heart. But not as much as it will break the children’s hearts.

In the end, I don’t care whether it’s the mother or the father (or a combination of both) who stay home to raise the children and give them what they need. There are probably a billion ways to do that. I trust that loving, faithful parents can work together to figure out the logistics. But I also trust parents to accept the responsibility for the children they choose to have, rather than hand it over to temporary help. Temporary help who will one day leave and take all their memories and connections and experiences with them.

That one, you can fight over.

Making different choices & Raising healthy children

The premise of the entire photographic piece was to present the idea that mothers collectively are “making different choices and raising healthy children.”

That feels super warm and fuzzy, but it’s just false. We raise healthy children by making healthy choices. Some choices simply are healthier than others and some are more consequential than others. They don’t become healthy just because we all decide to engage in a worldwide motherly hug.

As intelligent, thoughtful, caring mothers, we should never believe it’s a good thing to smile sweetly with raised pinkies, sipping our herbal tea while chaos reigns around us. The truth is, it’s tough to raise kids because we live in a culture that doesn’t often support gospel values. And we need to use all our of thought and discernment to make the best choices we can.

Finis

At the end of my 4,000+ word essay, I  want to point out one more thing. Seldom when working out important issues are men told they should embrace and stroke each other’s hair. Or just put on their happy faces. Or use their indoor voices. Seldom have I been told to do that by men. Rather, it’s been other women who deem any kind of serious discussion as “contention” that must be abhorred.

Dealing with difficult, complex issues takes work. It’s even more work when we are trying to “stand as witnesses  of God” while we do it. (I should know, I often fail miserably finding the sweet spot.) It’s a learned skill many of us have not been taught and that some of us have been taught to avoid.  But if we want to be seen as intelligent, thoughtful, capable women, we have to stop pretending that we can’t handle it and stop accepting erroneous cultural labels.

Discussing — even debating — issues isn’t unladylike. It’s not unchristlike. It’s not wrong or bad or evil or sinful. It’s not synonymous with contention. And as the world moves further away from gospel standards, it is critical that we learn to speak up, to make sense, to present our positions with reason and clarity. It’s time to up our game.

{ 30 comments… add one }

  • Cambendy January 29, 2014, 12:47 pm

    Yes, that was long but worth reading. I had to read it twice!

    Women are really prone to wanting peace more than good. I see it all the time. Elder’s Quorum discussions try to work out issues. Relief Society is spent nodding heads and smiling. And we DO seem to think it’s GOOD just to AGREE even when the topic isn’t agreeable.

    I think that’s one of the reasons women tend to stay out of politics. But our voices need to be there and be strong!

    Thanks for clarifying some issues that have been rumbling around in my head for the past few years and I couldn’t quite put into words.

    Love you!

  • Cherish January 29, 2014, 1:02 pm

    I have to think about this. I’m not a confrontational person and, to be honest, when I recite the “stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things and in all places” with my Young Women’s group each week, I think of myself, how do I say this, standing quietly and calmly while the world spins around me.

    I don’t ever think of trying to create a world of calm or a space of goodness AROUND me or of influencing the world around me because it seems like that would be fighting and contentious. I’ve always felt like the “right” thing for a Mormon woman to do was to just be an example and to be kind and loving and gentle and wait for . . . I don’t know what exactly.

    I’ve always said I don’t get involve in politics (I do vote most of the time, but I don’t discuss politics) because I don’t like the “partisan bickering.” But then I get so dismayed at the state of our country and where it’s going.

    This morning I read this and I’ve been thinking about it for hours. I realize that —I— am the problem! I sit on the sidelines hoping someone ELSE will solve the problems that are harming our country and our kids and our future—so that I don’t have to get my hands dirty or look like a “bossy” “pushy” woman.

    It’s just a completely different angle to see things from. I don’t know how comfortable I am going to be knowing I need to do something but not knowing what to do or how far to go in doing it. :-(

  • Conrad D January 29, 2014, 1:07 pm

    You totally missed the point of the article, as usual. The point is that women need to stop arguing about so many stupid issues. Who cares about any of those things, they don’t even matter? Just get on with your life and do whatever it is you do.

    I bet you don’t even keep your house clean or do laundry.

  • candee January 29, 2014, 1:39 pm

    My sister-in-law did the co-sleeping as she’s really into all the baby wearing and stuff. She fell asleep and rolled on her 6-week-old. She didn’t suffocate, but it broke her arm in two places.

    She was trying to do the “right” thing and feels terrible. So, yes, we should at least be able to discuss the real risks of such things without being accused of being argumentative and intolerant.

  • Angie Gardner January 29, 2014, 5:05 pm

    I wish there was a word for what I think (there probably is but I don’t have the vocabulary to know what it is) :) So instead of a word, I’ll have to try to describe it.

    Of course we all make judgements. It’s inevitable. We all make probably hundreds of them a day. Consider just the food we eat. Every product we use, where we purchase those products, when we shop for them, how we earn the money to pay for them, etc. – all of these are judgements – some are very simple, almost mindless judgements and others are a little more consciouse – but nevertheless our days are filled with them. And by making certain choices, we are showing that we do judge some things as more valuable, better, or worthwhile than others.

    I guess what my concern is is that we sometimes judge the worth of a PERSON by the choices they make rather than just judging the choice for whether it’s something we would do or not. For most of the things mentioned in this campaign I couldn’t care less (diapers etc.). Use what works for you. But there are a few that have struck me personally and I see women judged as individuals all the time for these choices. A few examples:

    Family size. This is such a hot-button issue in the church. I have a good friend who recently announced she is pregnant with her 9th child. When she told me, she expressed that she was reluctant to announce it because she was afraid of how people would respond and that they would be mean. She thinks that because some people WERE mean when she had her 8th, and her 7th, and her 6th…you know? Can you really afford another kid? How do you have the time to give each child the attention they need? On the flipside, I’ve known people with small families (me included, although I don’t see 3 children as a small family) who are judged as being selfish for that. Someone actually asked me once why we “only” had 3 and if we had tried for more. First of all, that is a super personal question to ask an acquaintance. Second, when I answered that we stopped at 3 because it was medically recommended due to extreme complications in the 3rd pregnancy which almost killed both of us, the response was, “Well, I would have had faith that God would have taken care of it so it was safe for #4.” Thus, my faithfulness is questioned because I only have 3 kids. My friends’ sanity is questioned because she has 9. So, what is the perfect family size, and who decides that? How is my 3 any less faithful than your 6? What if I had stopped at 3 just because I don’t really like kids and I don’t want more? Is that still a valid choice? So, of course we have to make a judgement for our own selves for our family size based on our circumstances, but it’s not our place to judge SOMEONE ELSE’S choice.

    Homeschooling. I hear so much vitriole on both sides about this, especially in the LDS community. Here are some things I hear: Your kids are going to be socially inept because you homeschool. You think your kids are too good for public school. You don’t care about your kids education because you trust the public schools to educate them instead of you doing it yourself. Your kid is academically inferior to mine because they get a 1-on-1 education instead of being thrown into a factory. – and that’s just a few. Here’s the thing with homeschooling. It’s a fantastic thing for some people. So fantastic, I think, that I tried it for a few weeks and failed miserably. I was miserable, my kids were miserable, and worse than that is I think they were getting an inferior education from me versus what they were getting in public school. Some moms can do it and are wonderful at it. Their kids are brilliant and talented and socially strong (like yours, Alison). Others could probably do it well if they really put their heart into it (I put myself into this category). Some just don’t have what it takes, or they can’t afford it, or whatever. That doesn’t mean they are an inferior mother. And some do it but do it very badly. Here again, you have to judge whether it is right for you and your family or not – but it’s not your place to judge that if it’s right (or wrong) for you that it is right (or wrong) for everyone.

    Moms working outside the home. Wow, this one is so loaded and discussed for years and yet we still fight about it. Women have a hundred different reasons why they work. Some do it because they are supporting their families. Some do it because they learned valuable skills and need to keep up with them. Some do it because they simply want to. Some do it for different reasons at different times of life. Some spend many years at home raising children and then try to get back into the workforce with less-than-acceptable results. I personally seem to function better when I am working outside the home at least part time. It doesn’t have to be anything amazing, career building, or fulfilling, but in the years I spent at home I wasn’t nearly as happy as I am now that I work. I wish I had taken the time in my younger life to set myself up for a more rewarding career. Am I too lazy to be a good stay at home mom? Probably. Have I been judged for that. Of course I have. Have I judged the stay-at-home moms who always have a perfect house and perfect kids by saying, “Oh they just stay at home, what else would they do with their time than have everything perfect?” Sadly, I have. This is probably much more about justifying our own decisions than judging others for theirs, but at any rate there are just so many reasons why women choose what they do one way or the other that it’s fruitless to judge them. Judge whether you want to work or not (or have to) but here again, not your place to judge anyone else’s choice.

    This is already too long so I’ll just end by commenting on your last section. I am SO open to discussion. I’m sure you know that by now. I am also not afraid to speak my mind. I won’t say I’m innocent from judging others because I’m totally not -but I am really trying to get better at judging the pros and cons of the CHOICES themselves rather than what those choices imply about the person.

  • jennycherie January 29, 2014, 5:05 pm

    Wow Conrad – did you even read Alison’s article? YES, many do argue about these things. Some of the discussion are petty and meaningless and some are valid. She gave a detailed list of each issues, for goodness sake. Adding nasty little asides like, “I bet you don’t even keep your house clean or do laundry” is pointless.

    Cherish: “I sit on the sidelines hoping someone ELSE will solve the problems that are harming our country and our kids and our future—so that I don’t have to get my hands dirty or look like a “bossy” “pushy” woman. ”

    I know what you mean! I don’t care much for conflict, so I tend to avoid it, but the older I get, the more I realize how important conflict is, and how many more problems I create if I don’t deal with problems head on. I have tried so often to be polite and diplomatic and I am coming to believe that is a slow path to hell. That doesn’t mean we have to be contentious, rather that we talk about the things that matter and don’t condescend and pat people on the back, when it would be far more loving in the long run to be honest and direct. There is a difference between a petty argument (cloth vs. disposable diapers or formula vs. breast milk) and a serious discussion about the pros and cons of an important issue that has lasting consequences.

    candee: we should at least be able to discuss the real risks of such things without being accused of being argumentative and intolerant.”

    Amen!!
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  • Sanz January 29, 2014, 8:56 pm

    Fabulous post! I laughed so hard at your birth experience! I haven’t clicked over to the original post that inspired this (but I probably will). In my opinion, some of “debates” that you’ve listed are worth debating and the rest are ridiculous.

    Worth debating:
    1. Childbirth: Medicated vs. unmedicated (can’t use the term natural ‘cuz people get all worked up about that.) Considering that the maternal death rate in the U.S. is higher than it is in 40 other countries and that more money is spent in the U.S. on it, it is definitely a discussion worth having. Also considering that more women end up with a c-section who are medically induced than those who do not. (67% increased risk of a c-section, 64% increased risk of a NICU baby.) Can you tell where I stand on this?! HA!
    2. Working vs. staying home
    3. Food.
    4. Homeschooling vs. public school
    5. I wasn’t going to include cloth diapering, but I’ll throw it in there. I suppose it’s a good conversation to have.

    I have often felt that I am perceived as argumentative because I feel passionately about a lot of things. I don’t just “go with the flow.” I like to analyze, think, talk, consider, debate, research… I hate that I feel that way sometimes. I just want to be able to talk about something logically without worrying about someone getting their feelings hurt. It isn’t personal, let’s talk facts.

    Great post!
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  • Naismitth January 30, 2014, 7:31 am

    You only mention the notion of “stewardship” when it comes to family size. In fact, this is a principle of the gospel that applies to everything on the list. We can’t righteously judge other women because we are not entitled to revelation for them.

    We need to butt out of their lives and stop it. To me, there is a huge space between supporting a woman in a choice, and judging her. A huge neutral ground in which most disciples live.

    As a grandmother, I am sometimes impressed with something to say to one of my adult children. But this is not revelation for them, merely something that the Lord wants them to hear as they consider their own decision of what is best for their family. Sometimes it is valuable to actively consider and reject something. I say my piece and step back, confident that only they have the stewardship to know what is best for their family.

    That said, I was not overly thrilled with that either. I find it a bit amusing that a group of “working moms” would attempt this. I dislike the term because it is intentionally exclusionary, attempting to dismiss the efforts of those who are not employed for pay as less than “work.” There are already words for that: Employed, self-employed.

    I have been employed for most of the time I’ve been a mother, but I am not going to pretend that my work outside the home is more valuable than the nurturing and homemaking that I’ve done inside the home.

  • Alison Moore Smith January 30, 2014, 8:57 am

    Cambendy, good to see you. Thanks for commenting. :)

    Cherish:

    This morning I read this and I’ve been thinking about it for hours. I realize that —I— am the problem! I sit on the sidelines hoping someone ELSE will solve the problems that are harming our country and our kids and our future—so that I don’t have to get my hands dirty or look like a “bossy” “pushy” woman.

    Cherish, can’t tell you how much I LOVED your response. Every once in a while someone tells me I should run for some political office or other. The horrors! Seriously.

    I hate politics. I just really hate it. I’m an accountant and the tax code is the most frustrating, tedious pile of garbage I’ve ever seen. (Well, next to ACA and …) The people who write this tripe should be flogged. You think I want to be ONE of them?

    If I were elected to congress (hahaha) I would spend my time trying to REPEAL 98% of the laws on the books, not making my living adding thousands of pages of code. What have we done that these people think it’s their duty to add more and more and more laws to the books? Augh!

    So, yea. Lately I do write about politics and other issues when, really, I’d prefer to work on learning more programming and computer stuff. BECAUSE I realized it’s just a really stupid move to leave our freedom up to a bunch of people who have a vested interest in us NOT having freedom. :(

    Keep me posted on how/what you are doing. I’d love to hear!
    Alison Moore Smith recently posted…70% Off Entertainment Coupon Book + Free ShippingMy Profile

  • Alison Moore Smith January 30, 2014, 8:59 am

    Conrad, what a bright bit of sunshine you are!

    For the record, not only is my house very clean and organized, but the laundry is done. Always. I teach classes on home organization because I’m so freakishly organized. (Would you like me to alphabetize your spices?)

    But, of course, that’s irrelevant. As is your comment.
    Alison Moore Smith recently posted…Top 10 Things More Fun Than Watching SOTUMy Profile

  • Angie Gardner January 30, 2014, 9:53 am

    “If I were elected to congress (hahaha) I would spend my time trying to REPEAL 98% of the laws on the books, not making my living adding thousands of pages of code. What have we done that these people think it’s their duty to add more and more and more laws to the books? Augh! – ”

    Um…hello! This is exactly why we need people like you to run for office. :)

  • Alison Moore Smith January 30, 2014, 10:47 am

    Angie, love you!

    I guess what my concern is is that we sometimes judge the worth of a PERSON by the choices they make rather than just judging the choice for whether it’s something we would do or not.

    Absolutely. That is what I meant by not pretending we can divine final judgment. We can’t just someone else’s worth, progress, position with God or any of that based on ANY choice.

    In the 1987, the assigned high counselor was speaking in our sacrament meeting. In the course of his talk, he made some comment like about Liberace, who had just passed away that week. “Well, look where that got him!”

    I was dumbstruck. Liberace was a practicing homosexual (which, like it or not, the church condemns as sinful behavior) who died from AIDS induced issues.

    I’m no Liberace fan (or Elvis or the Beatles or…) but in Relief Society I figured out a way to make a lesson-related comment referring to that statement, because I just didn’t think it should be left unchallenged.

    I said something like this, “We don’t KNOW where it got him!”

    In a nutshell, YES we can judge homosexuality based on what the prophet has said. And YES we can judge that a person engaging in homosexual behavior is sinning, based on what the prophet has said. What we cannot do is try to extrapolate from that behavior to sweeping claims about the person, his salvation, his goodness, etc.

    But there are a few that have struck me personally and I see women judged as individuals all the time for these choices.

    I guess that is my point. Of COURSE they are!

    Don’t know that you are old enough to remember the happy ’80s pop psych parenting, but there was a lot of stuff about, “Don’t tell him he’s a bad boy, tell him he’s a good boy who does bad things!”

    First, seriously? What IS a “bad boy” if it’s not a boy doing bad things? Sure, we don’t want to burden down our kids with negative labels and all that — and we want to make sure they know when what they do it GOOD. But if your son can’t be a bad boy, he can’t be a good boy, either!

    So when the issue IS consequential, or COURSE the decision reflects on the person making the decision. How can this NOT be the case?

    Sometimes I like to bring it back to when we chose our spouses. Did we judge them? Darn straight we did. Did we do it based SOLELY on some celestial standard (that we can’t possibly know)? Of course not.

    Likely we looked at their choices, their behaviors, their habits, their goals, their lifestyles (oh, and their hot bodies!) and decided whether those things were good, bad, tolerable, compatible, all that.

    Don’t tell me you all sat around singing kumbaya and humming affirmations and just pointed to the first person in the room and headed to the alter. :)

    I guess the bottom line is that no one likes to be judged negatively, but that’s just part of making consequential choices. Our choices mean something and others ARE going to judge us based on those decisions.

    She thinks that because some people WERE mean when she had her 8th, and her 7th, and her 6th…you know?

    Can you really afford another kid? How do you have the time to give each child the attention they need?

    I understand the intrusion that people feel when asked these directly and I can tell you I’ve never asked ANYONE these questions on a personal level. But aren’t they valid questions? I have six kids and I asked myself those questions EVERY TIME we thought about having more. Didn’t you?

    On the flip side, I have a brother who has multiple kids from multiple women scattered around the country. He supports none of them. I WOULD ask him these questions to his face if I got the chance pre-fertilization.

    When I was growing up I knew a family with three kids on welfare. They preceded to have two sets of twins and two other children. Eight kids total. All the while jobless.

    Yea, it did seem irresponsible to me. And to most people. And I can’t see that there is a way to separate those choices from the people making those choices.

    Another thought, in our culture many people just cannot FATHOM how ANYONE can manage 4+ kids. (Or homeschooling or…) Sometimes it’s just about educating them and if they are sincere in their concern, that’s not such a bad thing.

    I’ve known people with small families (me included, although I don’t see 3 children as a small family) who are judged as being selfish for that. Someone actually asked me once why we “only” had 3 and if we had tried for more.

    Again, I understand the intrusiveness of that. I don’t even ask my own married children about this! But when we do have a lot of prophetic counsel about not putting off families and not limiting families and all that, it’s natural for people to make judgments about what that means.

    The problem I see with the child-bearing thing is that there are SO MANY variable to consider that we can almost NEVER be in the “righteous judgment zone” on that issue if we are ascribing things to others.

    Physical capabilities/issues, financial issues, family dynamics, etc. Plus “selfish” is such a fuzzy (and internal) term. Making this kind of judgment requires divining motive — and I don’t know anyone but God who’s good at that.

    So, yea, if I see someone having an affair or stabbing their child, I can say they are wrong. If I see someone having “only 3 kids” I can’t accurately say anything at all.

    “Well, I would have had faith that God would have taken care of it so it was safe for #4.”

    Angie, you can’t fix stupid.

    When my friend was dying of brain cancer, some people in our stake told wife and said, “You just need to have more faith.”

    It was very hurtful to her. When I witnessed this rubbish, I responded, “Oh! That’s why Elder Oaks wife died. Too bad he as so unfaithful!”

    Homeschooling. I hear so much vitriole on both sides about this, especially in the LDS community. Here are some things I hear: Your kids are going to be socially inept because you homeschool. You think your kids are too good for public school. You don’t care about your kids education because you trust the public schools to educate them instead of you doing it yourself. Your kid is academically inferior to mine because they get a 1-on-1 education instead of being thrown into a factory.

    After 19 years, I’ve heard it all. But I’d actually like to address some of them! :)

    Social ineptitudehere.

    Think your kids are too good for public school – yes, I do. I think all kids are. I think public school is mediocre crap. But the alternatives for some might not be any better.

    You don’t care about your kids education… =- OK, I’ve actually never heard that one, but it’s fairly obviously doesn’t follow logically. Even if you think public school is crap (like I do) it simply can’t be extrapolated that public school parents don’t CARE. (So, again, you can’t fix stupid. But you can educate stupid. :) ) Note, however, that if my experience is typical, one of the top THREE questions asked of most homeschoolers is “How can you stand to be around your kids all day?” So you might understand why some homeschoolers think parents make educational choices based on ME TIME. Which is kind of not caring about education as much as other stuff.

    Academically inferior – too many variables to extrapolate this, obviously. But do recognize that one of the ongoing NEA mantras is that they need more money because class size is PERPETUALLY too big and these too big classes aren’t good for kids because they need more individualized instruction. So if you listen to unions and lawmakers who want MONEY and POWER, it’s not a stretch to think that kids in school NEVER EVER get enough teacher attention. Again, it’s a faulty assessment, but perhaps muddled by politics.

    Here’s the thing with homeschooling. It’s a fantastic thing for some people.

    Actually, I do disagree with you on that in almost all cases. No, I don’t think I’m qualified to make the exact delineation, but I do think almost everyone CAN homeschool very successfully, I just think they don’t want to. I’m OK with that, but I think it’s a more factual explanation.

    Their kids are brilliant and talented and socially strong (like yours, Alison).

    We have an unwritten code in our family. When mom loses her cookies and screams bloody murder all over the house, the kids don’t tell all their friends. When my kids display non-brilliance, talent fails, and social faux pas, I don’t blog about it.

    Yes, my kids are well-educated because we insist on it. But they are normal kids (you know, in that weird, freaky, odd, homeschoolish way). They also span a wide range. Some love to perform, some would rather be boiled in oil. Some are extremely outgoing, some are introverts. Some love science, some prefer writing, and some love both.

    Homeschooling isn’t an all around panacea. It’s an educational panacea. Perhaps that’s because I explicitly don’t define homeschooling by WHERE it’s done, but by WHO is in charge of it. My husband and I (the HOME) are in charge, not a school board, not an administrator, not Obama. They don’t know my kids. I do.

    Here again, you have to judge whether it is right for you and your family or not – but it’s not your place to judge that if it’s right (or wrong) for you that it is right (or wrong) for everyone.

    I agree with this specific point. In THIS arena, you can’t judge what is right for everyone. But I don’t know anyone who does. OK, except PUBLIC schoolers. I do know lots of public schoolers, public school officials, union affiliates, politicians who say, point blank, that homeschooling is bad, wrong, and that parents aren’t qualified. There are countries where it is illegal, as it used to be in the US.

    But I’ve never heard ANY homeschooler say, “Yes, even if you are an abusive drunkard, you should homeschool your child. Because homeschooling is the #1 priority on earth.”

    This is probably much more about justifying our own decisions than judging others for theirs, but at any rate there are just so many reasons why women choose what they do one way or the other that it’s fruitless to judge them.

    The problem is that you can’t judge a situation without having the collateral damage of people IN those situations feeling judged and getting bothered about it.

    Personally, I don’t really give a flying crap about the reasons women work (understanding the caveats I already made in the OP). And, as I said, I PERSONALLY don’t care which parent is the primary caretaker. Or whether it’s shared or whatever. (I realize the church’s position is different, I’m just not as convinced that doesn’t have some cultural artifactness :) to it.)

    My JUDGMENT (and, see, this comes back to the “can you take care of all those kids?” questions) is that parents should be the “primary care givers” with very few exceptions. I DO think that is essential, however that works, because PARENTS are a constant force and PARENTS have the stewardship. And I don’t think that stewardship can be appropriately delegated.

    Angie, I don’t know your whole situation, so I’m not speaking to that. I’m speaking to ideas and principles. Please understand that up top because I know I’m not capable of making any specific judgment about YOUR situation.

    Kind of like with homeschooling, I don’t WANT to know someone’s X “I can’t stay home because of X” because then I’ll want to help them fix X and then they get crazy mad.

    For example, I have heard dozens of women say they are better moms when they work outside the home because they are happier, more fulfilled, etc. I get that, because if you know my story, you know I NEVER wanted to stay home EVER.

    But, just as with homeschooling “barriers,” MOST can be overcome if it’s a priority. If you’re not happy being home, you can find ways to be happy. If you’re not fulfilled, you can find ways to be fulfilled. If you need money, you can find ways to make money.

    Yes, it’s HARDER in many ways. I don’t find any fulfillment in, for example, making crafts or doing domestic stuff. (Which is how lots of homemakers traditionally used their creative capacity.) So I couldn’t follow that model. And home businesses were almost unheard of in the ’80s. (I had to FIGHT to be respected as a “real business” and had to charge less than comparably skilled workers to start, because I wasn’t taken seriously.)

    All I’m saying is that most barriers can actually be overcome. I’m not to tell you if yours can, but often people don’t consider these less obvious routes.

    There are two BYU professors, married to each other, who each teach part time on opposing schedules. One stays home while the other teaches. Then they swap places. I love this example!

    …I am really trying to get better at judging the pros and cons of the CHOICES themselves rather than what those choices imply about the person.

    Absolutely. But I think we have to recognize that judging choices does, in fact, judge those who make the choices, whether we frame it that way or not, whether we intend it that way or not.

    Talk about long! Sorry, but you had so much good stuff to talk about!
    Alison Moore Smith recently posted…Argumentum Ad Hominem – Logical FallacyMy Profile

  • Alison Moore Smith January 30, 2014, 1:36 pm

    jennycherie, thank you for the defense and great input!

    Naismith:

    You only mention the notion of “stewardship” when it comes to family size.

    I did that because that’s the only one of the presented issues (as far as I recall) where the church has officially made a “butt out” statement. But I do qualify everything in the earlier statement about divining things can’t possibly know.

    As with the myriad working parts with the diaper issue, most of these issues have so many unknowns that trying to make a one-size-fits-all right answer is an exercise if futility, so I agree generally that we don’t go there.

    Still, prophets have made very clear statements. So if someone says something to contradict prophetic statements, I think we can, in fact, counter the statement, even personally. For example if the prophet says not to limit your family for selfish reasons and someone says, “We are limiting our family for selfish reasons,” you can say the choice is wrong.

    But people will almost never say that. Instead they might say, “We can’t afford more children.”

    That MIGHT mean “we are destitute and our children are starving” in which case most people would not think that choice is “selfish.” (Some probably would!)

    But it MIGHT mean “we can’t afford more children because my clothes are jewels and travel are more important.” If we actually KNOW that’s what they mean (because they told us, or something) and if we actually can accurately define that as “selfish” (very tricky to do), then maybe we can still judge the choice personally. But this slippery slope becomes very steep, very quickly.

    But having a discussion about what constitutes “selfish” — outside of pointing fingers at individuals — is often a helpful exercise. When we were trying to figure out what “keeping the Sabbath day holy” actually entailed, it was very helpful to hear many opinions (both more and less rigid).

    To me, there is a huge space between supporting a woman in a choice, and judging her. A huge neutral ground in which most disciples live.

    I don’t know how you can support ANYTHING without first judging it. Or at least I don’t think we SHOULD support anything we haven’t judged. If that really is the ground most disciples live on, I not only think they are wrong, but not being good disciples in that arena. :/

    Sometimes it is valuable to actively consider and reject something. I say my piece and step back, confident that only they have the stewardship to know what is best for their family.

    I LOVE that! Naismith, seriously, I’d love a whole post on that. My third daughter just married (2nd of my kids to marry) and I’m just winging it. I’m following my parents example which was pretty much this:

    1. Be overbearing when the kids live at home
    2. Completely butt out when they leave home — unless they ask

    heh

    But I like your idea better. Really would love more ideas on how you navigate parenting adults and grandparenting. :)

    I find it a bit amusing that a group of “working moms” would attempt this. I dislike the term because it is intentionally exclusionary, attempting to dismiss the efforts of those who are not employed for pay as less than “work.” There are already words for that: Employed, self-employed.

    Spot on. Thanks so much for your comments.
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  • Angie Gardner January 30, 2014, 2:44 pm

    Thanks for your thoughtful response, Alison. I agree with many of your points.

    I think many of the things we judge others for is because we’ve either experienced the same choice and chose differently (even if it was super hard…to your point about anyone could homeschool if they would work at it) or because we think we would choose differently if placed in the situation. But where this gets really hard is that we are all so very different. Our backgrounds, education, financial situation, psychological struggles, intelligence, etc. vary so much. It’s hard to judge someone’s choices without assigning motive (you are just too lazy to clean the cloth diapers, you want your fun and cute clothes instead of spending the money on another kid, you work for vacations instead of to put food on the table, you let your kid sleep in your bed because you have your own attachment issues, you are feeding your kids poorly because you won’t take the time to plan and prepare healthier meals, you homeschool because you are some right-wing crazy who thinks everything outside of your home is evil…on and on). But the simple fact is, in most cases we don’t know the motives or the circumstances. Most things just aren’t our business.

    Having said that, we also choose our friends, and we obviously make judgments in choosing who those friends will be. If I am an environmentalist, my best friend will probably recycle and use cloth diapers. If I value families, I probably won’t be friends with someone who chooses not to have children because they would rather have a nice lifestyle and can’t afford both raising children and having nice things.

    It’s kind of sad to me that we (I) don’t make more of an effort to find the common ground with people who have a lot of differences than us, but I get it. We associate with people we are comfortable with, and we are comfortable with people who are the most like us in important ways. (I can’t imagine ever caring if someone uses cloth or disposable, but hey that might be an important value to some people.) :) The reason it’s sad to me is because I think we probably withhold some really great experiences and friendships from ourselves because we judge someone prematurely.

    Here is a quick example: I know someone whose food habits drive me kind of crazy. She is so weird with food that it’s almost obsessive, and I think it’s strange. I didn’t care too much about her personal choices with food until she was at my house one day and one of her kids asked for a cookie (which my daughter was baking) and she told them they couldn’t have it. These (very young, nondiabetic, nonceliac) children are on a sugar free, gluten free, dye free, organic diet because their mom has food issues. While I personally think this is just kind of mean (not that I am raising gluttons but the occasional treat…so what?), how is it my business? The kids are getting the nutrients they need and they are healthy. If they grow up to hate their mom because she made them as weird with food as she is, then so be it. If they grow up to praise their mom for making them super healthy and awesome people then I was wrong and good for her. But if I focused on this issue I would miss out on the complete sweetness and talent of this friend. I would be negating the fact that she has had really serious health issues that have caused her to adopt this lifestyle. I would be the one missing out because I judged her in one area when she has so much to offer in other areas.

    If we want to be discriminating in these ways in choosing/judging then that’s certainly within our rights (and certainly a natural inclination to do so), but what are we missing out on? If we are okay with that consequence, then great.

    Of course, some of the judgments we make aren’t a big enough deal to us to withhold friendship or sisterhood from someone. But I think on some of the real value-based choices (like family size, working outside the home, raising children without religion, etc.) do make a difference in that regard.

    I am really trying harder to let up on those judgments as much as possible so that I can benefit from the positive things people even very different than me have to offer.

  • E January 31, 2014, 7:00 am

    Allison, I love your blog and I mostly agree with the point of your post. It can be hard to understand how to obey the commandment to “Judge not” while also standing for truth and righteousness. I love how you are so forthright in sharing opinions on things. I think Angie has it right though; we really do not generally know enough to judge another person’s choices.

    I have opinions on most of the items in your list that would offend at least some of your readers, but I’ll pick homeschooling to comment on. :) I basically disagree with you that public schools are “crap” and think most kids are better off there than they would be if they were exclusively homeschooled. Public schools are not perfect and do not perfectly meet individual kids’ educational needs most of the time. Some schools are undoubtedly horrible but I have not encountered these schools. Some teachers are bad teachers who should not be working with children and the one thing I dislike most about public schools is that they generally put teachers’ job security ahead of childrens best interests.

    Several years ago I visit taught a young mother who was homeschooling her children. She had four children ages 9 to 18 months. She was a humble, sincere, sweet person who I have no doubt loved her children just as much as you or I do and wanted what was best for them. She was not lazy and I think tried hard to do what is best for them. None of the children could read. At all. The 9 year-old could. not. read. anything. No math skills, huge deficits in general knowledge. To be blunt, this Mom was just plain incompetent as a teacher and her children may also have not been natural learners. Because of financial circumstances she was forced to go back to school and work and all of the children were enrolled in public school, including the toddler who was enrolled in an early childhood program run by the public school district.

    The change in the kids was dramatic; within a few months the 9 year old was almost at second grade level in all subjects per his Mom’s report to me. He was a happier kid at church because he could read. Mom was surprised how well they were doing and told me she wished she had put them in public school from the beginning.

    I know this is a dramatic story and is not typical for what happens with most homeschools. But I don’t think what you do is typical either. I have of course known several families that homeschool their kids and most of them are a lot better at it than the woman above, but I think most of them do not provide as good an education as the local public school. Most people are not as intelligent as you are. I know from my work that most people have limited scientific literacy. Maybe I have a skewed sample. I have seen claims made by homeschool parents that homeschooled kids have higher educational attainment than public school kids. That doesn’t match my personal observations but even if it is true, I am sure it would cease to be true if everyone homeschooled their children.

  • MB January 31, 2014, 10:29 am

    I think the main point of the “End The Mommy Wars” site isn’t the call to stop making personal judgments about what’s good or bad, what’s normal or what’s not, nor what’s acceptable or not. We all make those as moral beings.

    I think the site is about ceasing to let those judgments cause us to feel threatened by each other’s decisions or experiences and then to feel like we need to prove they are unacceptable or lacking. Feeling threatened makes us experience fear or discomfort or anger. And fear, discomfort and anger make it harder to embody the charity God requires of all of us for all our neighbors.

    So, go ahead and decide what’s good or bad, wise or unwise, okay or not okay. And live that with purpose and gratitude. Just don’t let that process drive passionate wedges of defensiveness about your own choices and experiences between you and your sisters. Those wedges will do nothing but diminish your effectiveness as a disciple of God as an influence for good who creates a safe environment for change.

    Every woman I know, no matter what her choices are, feels judged by some other women for them. If you understand that about every woman you encounter, you will be enabled to respond with the kind of kindness that will allow her to converse freely with you rather than feel like she must defend her choices. And when she feels free to do so without being dismissed as lacking she is more likely to consider your position too.

  • Alison Moore Smith January 31, 2014, 12:55 pm

    Angie:

    It’s hard to judge someone’s choices without assigning motive…But the simple fact is, in most cases we don’t know the motives or the circumstances.

    I don’t think it’s hard not to assign motive, because I see no point in even going there. I can’t even assign motive with my KIDS with any degree of accuracy, so I just don’t try. And I don’t think motive matters much in the context of discussing pros and cons of behavior. In fact I think we (particularly women) tend to get so bogged down in the MOTIVE and the FEELING and the INTERNAL ANGST about decisions that we really just need to THINK about.

    Agreed we don’t know enough — to assign motive and other things, too — and I think I said that multiple times. No argument from me on that.

    It’s kind of sad to me that we (I) don’t make more of an effort to find the common ground with people who have a lot of differences than us, but I get it. We associate with people we are comfortable with, and we are comfortable with people who are the most like us in important ways.

    And also just limited resources!

    Sometimes I hear non-Utah Mormons complain that their Mormon neighbors don’t hang out with them. Even though they helped them move in, will shovel their walks, take them cookies, and care for their kids and clean their homes when they are sick.

    And I want to respond, “I don’t hang out with my Mormon neighbors either – except at ‘required’ church events. I hang out with almost no one as it’s challenging enough to see my immediate family!”

    When we lived in Boca, we were never invited to hang out with our Jewish neighbors, except for big even type things. We were all busy and had more friends from our religious groups, work, etc., than we could keep up with.

    There are times when we might go out of our way to befriend someone entirely different from us, but most of us feel like we already neglect our kids, spouses, siblings, parents, extended family, let alone old friends who still live relatively close, etc.

    Yes, we miss “some really great experiences and friendships,” but we do that if we miss our kids’ piano recital, too! :)

    While I personally think this is just kind of mean (not that I am raising gluttons but the occasional treat…so what?), how is it my business? The kids are getting the nutrients they need and they are healthy.

    How did you decide that they were getting enough nutrients and were healthy enough that it wasn’t your business to butt in? By judging the situation.

    Apparently if you thought the kids were NOT healthy, you’d step in. And you couldn’t do that without recognizing that there IS an element to food choices that is important, even it THIS doesn’t rise to the level of interference.

    But if I focused on this issue I would miss out on the complete sweetness and talent of this friend.

    But you DID focus on it. You focused on it enough to understand many angles about it and, then, to determine it was not consequential enough to interfere, to make a statement, to cut off the friendship, or anything else (except be kind of annoyed). Right?

    If we want to be discriminating in these ways in choosing/judging then that’s certainly within our rights (and certainly a natural inclination to do so), but what are we missing out on? If we are okay with that consequence, then great.

    My point is that you DID discriminate in all those ways. And you determined the particular issues in this specific situation weren’t enough of a problem that you’d let it be a problem.

    I am really trying harder to let up on those judgments as much as possible so that I can benefit from the positive things people even very different than me have to offer.

    Sounds like a great approach. :)
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  • Angie Gardner January 31, 2014, 2:34 pm

    Point taken. I don’t know that my friend’s kids are healthy and getting nutrients. I just hope they are, I guess (they appear healthy…and yes I probably would be one to say something if they didn’t :) ). And I know her well enough to know she’d never knowingly harm them so I am assuming the best about her.

    Maybe that’s what it’s all about – assuming good things about people instead of bad things. If we are going to make judgments anyway (of course we are) then maybe it’s better to assume that the reasons behind the choice are sound instead of jumping to the negative.

    It’s just too exhausting to live your life like that, at least I’m finding that to be the case with myself. For most of my life (even just a few years ago) I was rather on the judgmental side. I had done hard things and done them well, in my own opinion :), so I just assumed other people could too and if they couldn’t, well, they were just selfish or lazy or weird or stupid or whatever. More recently, I’m starting to think there are just a lot of ways to look at different things, and your way may not be my way, but both of our ways can be “right” or “best” for us. What you choose as right for you I assume you have chosen because you’ve studied it, prayed about it, pondered on it, compared it to other choices, observed others, or simply have no other choice at the moment under your current circumstances.

    Not that I am the least bit perfect at it, but I’m trying to get better at it. Sometimes I have just started saying to myself, “Hmm…weird. But it’s not my business so forget about it and move on.”

    About friendships, I think what you said is true in the sense that obviously we aren’t going to be best buds with everyone we come in contact with. But I do think that I have occasionally been distant from someone because of a judgment I’ve made about them. That judgment may or may not have been correct, but it withheld from me a potential friendly relationship. Not necessarily a best friend, but someone I could at least learn something from but I didn’t because I didn’t get to know them.

    I see this a lot in the church in 2 specific areas: Callings and visiting teaching. With our callings, we are sometimes working closely with someone who we may have not gotten to know previously because we perceive them as not being a good friend match for us. Same with our VT companions and those we visit and those who visit us. I’ve had lots of time where I’ve wondered what on earth I am going to find in common with Sister So-and-So when she kind of drives me nuts and now I have to visit with her at least once a month. And yet, almost always I do find common ground. I can think of very few cases where I honestly can’t say I’ve learned something awesome from someone I might have not discounted initially because I thought our life choices were too different from each other.

    I kind of look at judging others as similar to making a poor choice in obeying the commandments, for example. It doesn’t necessarily make us evil, but it does withhold from us blessings that we might gain from looking at someone with different eyes or keeping the commandments.

  • Naismith January 31, 2014, 5:46 pm

    “I don’t know how you can support ANYTHING without first judging it.”

    Maybe. But as I said, I try to stay in the place BETWEEN support and judging. Doing neither. Because other people’s lives are their business. It really does not affect me.

    Why should I go around judging others? It seems to me that there would only be bad consequences: guilt, pride, jealousy, etc. etc.

  • Alison Moore Smith February 1, 2014, 12:36 pm

    E thanks so much for commenting. Hang on!!!! :)

    I think Angie has it right though; we really do not generally know enough to judge another person’s choices.

    I hope you understand that I agree. It’s just that I almost NEVER hear ANYONE do what the Home Depot woman did. That is, approach a stranger and tell her off about one of these choices.

    Instead, almost every part of the “mommy war” I’ve ever witnessed has been women discussing multidimensional issues that (at least to them) ARE consequential.

    So when I hear a sweeping call to stop the mommy wars and just get along, it’s a call to stop discussing consequential issues for the sake of feigned peace and harmony.

    So, let’s have it out about homeschooling. :D

    I basically disagree with you that public schools are “crap” and think most kids are better off there than they would be if they were exclusively homeschooled.

    I understand that most people (particularly those who use public schools) will disagree that public schools are “mediocre crap.” But I think you’re wrong. :) I think the reasons most people use public schools are:

    1. Alternatives are unknown
    2. Alternatives aren’t as easy
    3. Alternatives aren’t affordable (due, in part, to forced payment through taxation for public school whether one chooses it or not)

    The the #1 reason that unions use for spending MILLIONS to fight vouchers is that the schools will be ruined because all the kids with involved parents will LEAVE public schools if they can take their money with them to use on alternatives. The only kids left will be those with uninvolved parents and major problems.

    Why would a stellar institution be afraid of competition?

    I actually agree with the last part of your statement, but probably not for the reasons you do. I believe the greatest reason most kids are better off in public schools is because most parents don’t want the responsibility of educating their kids when they have generationally become accustomed to having the government do it.

    We talk about generational dependency on welfare all the time. We also have generational dependency on government education without question. Anytime the government (or anything else!) takes over, people forget how to care for themselves.

    Yes, that’s a loaded statement. Yes, it’s a judgment. No, it might not apply to you specifically. But does it generally apply? I think it does. And if you break it down, I believe you’ll find it’s true.

    You follow by giving an example of a woman who, in your judgment, was a lousy home educator. I can’t see that it makes the point you’re trying to make and I’ll tell you why:

    I actually, honestly, sincerely do know a number of kids who could not read at 9 (and 12!) and went to college and have become productive adults. Truth.

    Now, do I agree with unschooling or similar paths? No. I think they’re flawed for many reasons. But the reasons I disagree with them are almost never for the same reasons public school people disagree — and I usually think the public school reasoning is wrong.

    I’ll be blunt, since I’m a homeschool writer/speaker/advocate I’ve talked to hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people about these issues over two decades and almost ZERO public school families have built a solid educational philosophy. Not surprising because they don’t HAVE to have one since they aren’t the educators and even if they DO have one, it can easily be ignored. (Witness the nationwide movement against Common Core right now. (Please, just click through and read that link. Shoot me.))

    The mom you reference may have been a lousy educator, we might both agree on that. But we’d also have to agree that national literacy rates suggest that public schools have enormous problems with such things. Also note that you said the child was happier at church because he could read. That’s far more likely because he had become “normal” and so he wasn’t tormented by other kids for being stupid than that he’s really, really, really wanted to learn to read and was thrilled to have finally mastered it.

    I’m really hard pressed to say, “public schools are good because if all the kids are the same they get bullied less.”

    I have hosted homeschool parties with up to **70** junior high – high school kids in my home multiple times. THERE IS NO BULLYING. Ever. Not once in 20 years.

    So, again, while I probably agree this mom was a lousy homeschooler (for DIFFERENT reasons than you do), I’d say that if the kid was unhappy because he couldn’t read at church, it was because the kids (or adults) in church were being jerks. THAT was the problem, not the reading.

    I know this is a dramatic story and is not typical for what happens with most homeschools. But I don’t think what you do is typical either…I have of course known several families that homeschool their kids and most of them are a lot better at it than the woman above, but I think most of them do not provide as good an education as the local public school.

    But you don’t know what I do, do you? :)

    The fact is that public school kids average 50th percentile (obviously) and homeschool kids average 85th percentile on standardized tests. That’s just fact. And they score BETTER on socialization tests as well. Why? Because those tests score for maturity, civility, ADULT behavior, rather than scoring for “normal” nasty teen behavior.

    You must also note that — at this point in history at least — homeschooling has the same skew unions whine about. MOST people don’t grow up envisioning an idyllic life of homeschooling. They have no model for it and it isn’t “normal” to them. And they’s rather send their kids someone else most of every day.

    MOST people (in my workshops, I’d say still about 70%) only homeschool because they are desperate. Their kids are struggling academically in school, there are gang/drug issues in school, there are learning disabilities, kids are bullied, etc. Most people who homeschool are not doing it based on preferred methodology or control or principle. They are doing it because their kids are failing and flailing in school.

    However, I have seen a marked change of the past 20 years and I love how people see the possibilities.

    Most people are not as intelligent as you are.

    Most people are as intelligent as public school teachers. :) That is the measure that matters. One of my posts (I think on the same site as the other link?) actually breaks that down statistically.

    Teaching, IMO, is the most hyped career on earth. If you don’t prostrate yourself and pay homage to the “amazing” teachers who “give their all” for the kids and fall all over yourself in gratitude because they might actually spend time after class to (gasp!) do work (like most salaried people do), you are villainized.

    The majority of education majors choose the major TO AVOID UPPER LEVEL MATH. (See research by Sells, et al.) Google “easiest college majors.” Education shows up on every list, is often the #1 item, and sometimes is the ONLY item. They have darn good schedules, amazing benefits, good pay given the package offered, TENURE (even when horrid things occur — and if there’s no RESEARCH, why do they need TENURE?), and they don’t have to be particularly smart or capable or anything.

    Click through and read that link. They don’t even have to have average critical thinking skills!

    I had a couple of great teachers, a handful of lousy teachers, and the rest were very mediocre. I survived, but I certainly didn’t thrive and, yes, I could have learned MUCH more in MUCH less time for MUCH less money at home. Most kids can.

    But I digress (as I tend to do).

    The point is that you just don’t have to be very smart to teach most elementary, junior high, and high school level courses. And if your child wants/needs to learn something you can’t teach them, you find someone who CAN.

    An education degree is not only the easiest degree, but it’s largely administration and abstraction. It has little actual subject content knowledge. In other words, one of the main reasons are kids are so crappy at math is that the teachers who teach them math don’t like or understand math in the first place.

    My kids didn’t learn graphic design, welding, drafting, piano, pottery, English riding, or a billion other things from ME or from their DAD. They learned them from people who are actually GOOD at doing those things. Academics are no different. They aren’t a magical class of knowledge, they are just knowledge. And while teaching is a skill unto itself, topical knowledge is far more important than bulletin boards or classroom management when trying to gain actual knowledge.

    The unions sure want you to think that “teachers” have something magical. But they don’t.

    Read that link, seriously. School teacher —> school administrator —> school board member. Common sense = 0.

    P.S.

    My 16-year-old attends a charter high school for part of the day. She does academics at home and takes performing arts classes in the mornings at Pioneer High School for the Performing Arts.

    Why do we love the school? Because the teachers aren’t “teachers.” They are working, professional performers with real, live expertise in their fields.

    So, I’m 100% behind taking a class (no matter WHERE it is) when it’s the best reasonable way to take the class and/or learn the skill. But few, for example, junior high math teachers are mathematicians or scientists with real expertise. And some AP chemistry teachers are really cheerleading coaches (true example from a school one of my kids was assigned to). I won’t waste my kids time on that.
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  • E February 1, 2014, 2:29 pm

    Alison, I knew you would have a great response to my comment! I have seen all your arguments before and I actually do share a lot of your perspective. Your statistic re homeschooled childrens performance on standardized tests is similar to claims I have seen before. I don’t necessarily accept it at face value but could you explain how these data were collected? What tests? All public school children are tested but I would assume not all homeschooled children are. So I would think it would be impossible to have a valid statistic.

    I read your link including the exchange you had with poor Dixie Allen. She is absolutely typical of every public school administrator I have ever dealt with. I cannot figure out what on earth they actually DO. I agree with you that public school teachers are well paid, especially for their level of education. My father was a public school teacher. He had every single weekend, holiday, and summer off work his entire career. He was able to retire (with a pension!) at age 55. He has a very nice lifestyle. :) I am glad that teachers are well-compensated but it burns every time I hear them complain about their “low” salary and I think they have way too much job security. I am aware that education is an easy degree and that teachers do not have to be (and generally aren’t) more intelligent than the average person. But I do not think individual teachers are the problem. In fact, I think most of the teachers my children have had (especially in elementary school) are awesome and do great work. They have very little power and they are working in a system where there is a culture that rewards people like Dixie Allen (who is a very nice woman, I know her!) with promotions, more money, and more power.

    I think my view of teachers unions is even more negative than yours. It is true that they advocate for teachers in the sense of getting them better wages, benefits, and security. But their main purpose appears to be to forcibly collect dues to give to the Democratic party.

  • Cambendy February 1, 2014, 4:07 pm

    E, if most of your kid’s teacher are excellent, you have been in a rare bubble! For my kids it’s about 10% great, 30% average, 60% lame.

    I don’t pull them about because I have no idea if I could handle it!

  • E February 1, 2014, 4:24 pm

    Cambendy, I’ll bet Alison could point you in the direction of some resources. Some ideas I would suggest: you could look into charter schools in your area, or just look around at public schools that are not your neighborhood schools. Charter schools have the advantage of not needing to keep underperforming teachers. If you are familiar with the teachers in the school your kids attend, you could request specific teachers for them. If you are concerned about specific deficits in their education, there are a lot of ways to enhance their education at home without pulling them out of the public school. If you have the means, you could consider private school, but IMO, most private schools are not really better than the public schools in my area.

  • Sanz February 1, 2014, 8:57 pm

    Such a great post and great comments. There’s so much going on in my mind…where to start?

    1. I laughed out loud and darn hard when I read your birth experience.
    2. Some of the above “wars” are about the most ridiculous things I’ve ever heard.
    3. Some of the above “wars” are definitely worth discussing and debating: food, education, childbirth, working vs. staying home.
    4. I’ll pick childbirth: Considering that you are 67% more likely to end up with a c-section when you are medically induced and that you are 65% more likely to end up with a NICU baby when medically induced, I think this is definitely worth talking about. Also, considering that the majority of C-sections occur at 4:00 p.m. and again at 10:00 p.m., (just before dinner and just before you could be headed into a loooong night), I think it is definitely worth discussing.
    5. I love how anytime someone wants to dis homeschooling they always say, “I know a homeschooling family who _________ (can’t read, they are socially inept, they are stupid… whatever). Well guess what? I heard about a public school student who shot other students. I know many public school girls who got pregnant. I know public school students doing drugs. I heard about a public school student who set himself on fire in the school cafeteria. So what? I’m pretty sure that doesn’t mean ALL public school students murder other people, just because a some did. Just like the ONE homeschooling family you know doesn’t represent all of us.
    6. I have read several of your posts now and have read some of your responses on WHEN. You always make me think. THANK YOU!

  • Charming February 2, 2014, 3:38 am

    What do you mean about educational dependency on government? I pay my property taxes.

  • Naismith February 3, 2014, 9:51 am

    How would a professional homeschooler know what public school families are thinking or doing? Birds of a feather flock together. We’re not generally going to trespass into homeschooling forums and tell you that you are wrong in your assumptions about us. And I certainly don’t claim to speak for all public school familes, how could I?

    But I can tell you that for the public-school families of my children’s friends, both LDS with whom we carpooled and their non-LDS co-students in band/drama/AP courses, the families all (1) considered THE FAMILY responsible for their child’s education, and (2) viewed the public school as only one element in the child’s education.

    We all tried to do what was best for each child. For my family, this involved taking one child to a magnet humanities program across town, hiring a Spanish tutor when the elementary school dropped Spanish, having a weekly “summer activity group” with other families during the elementary years, in which they visited various workplaces to be exposed to different careers. And of course various extra art and music classes and lessons. Our high-schoolers did some classes by online courses, but for pre-calculus that meant bringing in a tutor. As part of their overall education, most school spring breaks, we went someplace for an educational field trip: A week in NYC (visited the United Nations as well as the museums and Ellis Island), Philadelphia (nice little Civil War museum as well as the Constitution Center and Revolutionary War sites), Washington DC (observing Congressional debate as well as the museums and historical sites), and so on.

    We also traveled to Mexico and South America so that they could practice language skills. It was magical to watch a daughter go up and ask for another soda, and have the confidence of being understood. That was a key part of their foreign language development. And at college age, they were taken to Paris and/or London for their spring break for a week.

    We also taught a lot of practical skills, including cooking and basic car stuff that helped on their missions and as they went out to raise their own families.

    So we are not all the lazy ignorami that we are made out to be.

  • New Iconoclast February 5, 2014, 1:57 pm

    I have about 8 million thoughts when reading this post, as usual with most of what you write. This hit me, though:

    I don’t know how you can support ANYTHING without first judging it. Or at least I don’t think we SHOULD support anything we haven’t judged. If that really is the ground most disciples live on, I not only think they are wrong, but not being good disciples in that arena.

    Is it safe to assume that there’s a difference between supporting someone’s decisions and supporting their right to decide? Because I’ll judge the decision, to the extent I know the facts; I do it all the time and I think you’re quite correct. But I do try (and try, and try, and try) to respect the right of each person to make her own decisions, even when they’re wrong.

    Even when they’re my kids, as long as the decision won’t get them killed, expelled, or pregnant. ;)

  • Tiffany February 13, 2014, 12:15 am

    I hold a master’s degree in educational psychology. My purposes for attending graduate school were to:

    1. Be able to teach courses online while raising my future family
    2. Gain an understanding of how the developing human mind learns so that I could be an effective homeschooling parent to my future children

    Allison, you make a good point regarding the sickening societal sanctity of the education degree. Several of the students in my graduate program were teachers who were earning master’s degrees in order to raise their salaries. I am sorry to sound offensive, but those with undergraduate degrees in education were by far the worst students in the program. Many were lazy and carried with them attitudes of grandeur and superiority. I heard so many comments such as “I am changing the future of America because I am a TEACHER!” that I wanted to throw up.

    These people could barely write. I helped one such TEACHER by editing her course papers that should have gotten her expelled from the program due to, not just incompetence and lack of real content that even a high school student could have mustered up, but plagiarism and a complete disregard for professionalism. None of the teachers were able to perform well in our statistics and research methods courses because, I suspect, they had absolutely no knowledge of the subjects since they were not taught the material in their undergraduate programs. While these women spent their college years making bulletin boards and patting themselves on the backs for changing America’s future… one cork board at a time, I was learning about research design and attending professional conferences. No, I do not think I am better than they are, however, I do believe that my undergraduate choices better prepared me for graduate school and my personal future.

    I confided in one of my fellow students (NOT a teacher) that I sincerely feared for the futures of my future children. If they were to be taught by individuals similar in skill to those in my graduate program, I’d be condemning them to wasted years of their lives and an educational (and therefore social) disadvantage in adulthood.

    This is not to say that all teachers are bad or incompetent. Many are hardworking, dedicated professionals with a true natural knack for formative assessment and differentiating their instruction to fit the needs of different levels of learning in the same classroom, etc. Unfortunately (and I can speak about this factually due to my educational background), school has become a public babysitting program. Students are aware these days that teachers have no real disciplinary power over them – I don’t need to get into that, right? Students are not afraid of teachers, in fact, teachers are afraid of students. Teachers are not afforded latitude to deviate from the canned curriculum they have been handed, no. Instead, they must “teach to the test.” Thanks to No Child Left Behind, if students do not satisfactorily score on end of level testing, schools are at risk of losing their funding and therefore having their doors closed. Students are not encouraged to self-direct their learning or think critically, they’re taught to memorize facts and regurgitate them for standardized tests. I’m sure you know all of this as a home schooler, Allison, but since I do not have children, I was unaware of this until I reached graduate school.

    I do think that parents should have the right to choose how to educate their children without the tactless comments that will inevitably come from others regardless of their choices. However, with the decline in quality of education in this country, now, more than ever, parents need to be closely involved in their children’s education experience no matter what method of delivery they choose.

    I agree with you that rather than closing our mouths and nodding our heads, we should absolutely be discussing important issues. We should also recognize, however, that we can catch more bees with honey. I think it goes without saying that many people confuse honesty with a free pass for rudeness. It is possible to express an opinion without being hurtful or accusatory. Women can be vicious creatures (before you call me sexist, read the research). I think that it can be difficult for a group of us to discuss issues so near and dear to our hearts without feeling defensive when someone else treads on our ways. I don’t think any of us make major decisions (i.e. how to educate our children) without a great deal of personal thought and hopefully, research. I think that a healthy conversation all comes down to having open minds and a respectful approach. Sometimes we have to agree to disagree and for some, this can be torture.

  • Becky B March 7, 2014, 10:57 am

    Hum. I wonder if some of your commenters here understood the point of what you are saying. I too, felt uncomfortable by the blog post about Mommy Wars that you mentioned. It’s not that I don’t want to love and support my sisters, but it is that they are hiding relativism under the umbrella of non-judgement.

  • Alison Moore Smith March 7, 2014, 11:10 am

    Becky B, I often wonder about that! :) Thanks.
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