Watch Your Tone

Moms are passionate. We pick sides and we advocate for them: circumcision, vaccination, co-sleeping, self-soothing, extended rear-facing, helicopter parenting… the list goes on and on. We choose our sides, we feel good about them, and backed by much research, we feel justified in our choices. This much I’m okay with. This much I can respect, even when I don’t agree. Where I find myself struggling, is when my friends openly, sternly, and rudely call out the people on the other side of their fences without grace.

Would we allow this behavior from our children?

I sit on a controversial side of one of those fences. I sit there firmly after research, soul searching, and life experience. I don’t talk about it because it’s no one else’s business. I don’t talk about it because it’s not my job or my place to change minds. I don’t talk about it because I have fears that others will judge me. And yet, they judge me anyway: out loud and fervently on their social media. My friends, some of them close friends, openly call out parents on my side of the fence. They don’t speak kindly or with understanding. They aren’t asking for open dialogue or some understanding of decision making. They just sit in what I perceive as judgment and I reel in my hurt feelings. Do they know I’m part of the crowd they’re bashing?

If ever I consider saying something of a similar thread, because I too am passionate about my choices, I hear my mom’s voice in my head, “Watch your tone!” Maybe they don’t have that same voice? I’d prefer to think my friends have not considered how their actions are truly affecting others. What I wonder is: Do they realize it makes me feel as though they believe I am ignorant? I don’t think they are being malicious. I wonder instead: Do they really believe they will change minds and hearts with that tone?

I recognize they’re passionate about their choices and desire validation. “On a deep emotional level, feeling approved of makes us feel secure with ourselves as a person. There is a huge degree of inner peace and security connected to feeling good about who we are.” According to “Understanding the Psychology of Guilt” on, most children were taught from a young age to seek approval from their parents for the things they said or did. Since the need for approval, love, and acceptance from our parents is strong, we become conditioned over time to seek approval from others as well. I believe this is both why they share their strong opinions and why I feel like I had to write about my feelings.

What I’d like to implore all of us to do is to be more thoughtful about what we say and share. I have had to work to become more thoughtful in my words and actions after some reflection with a friend who sits on the other side of my fence, actually. Goodness knows, in my head, I hear Brené Brown telling me their opinions aren’t any of my business. I try not to take it personally; I try to take myself out of it and realize their words are not meant to be a personal attack. What it boils down to is, I wonder if they realize they may be hurting their friends without intending to?

Just before the holidays, I witnessed a conversation between two friends. One asking for car seat recommendations as she wanted a safe seat to forward face her 2-year-old who had outgrown the rear-facing limits and was also now legally meeting the requirements to forward face, and one friend vehemently trying to persuade her to leave the child rear-facing until four-years-old when the spine is fused. They both had valid points, neither woman could be considered more correct than the other, and both felt passionate about their choices but the conversation seemed to lack grace and understanding. These two women were good friends but they sat on opposite sides of the fence. The conversation seemed to become about justifying opinions more than being helpful and I’d be surprised if the friendship doesn’t suffer. 

If this is you, and you hadn’t considered it before, will you now?

When people on opposite sides of the fence have open discussions, understanding happens. When we can speak to each other with grace and respect, we may never change minds, but we can learn each other’s hearts. Maybe before saying that someone who co-sleeps / bottle feeds / doesn’t vaccinate is a fool, we can either open ourselves to a respectful discussion or say nothing at all.

That first-time mom putting cereal in her baby’s bottle because her doctor suggested it for reflux, the one in the mom group asking for recommendations on relieving tummy upset, she doesn’t need to hear that you believe she’s probably giving her baby a leaky gut. She doesn’t need to feel like a villain or like she’s making bad choices. What she needs is for someone to offer her grace, understanding, and if they feel strongly a meaningful conversation about what sorts of alternatives might be out there. 

No one I know has ever truly changed their minds when presented with rudeness. 

Sarah is a Cecilia native currently living in Lafayette's oil center. She's the mom to a Brady Bunch of 7 children ages 13 to 5. Married to Clint, her 'environmental superhero', they enjoy traveling often. The self-proclaimed queen of big family travel planning; she's also taken up GLAMPing as she explores the State and National Parks as part of their year of road schooling. Sarah started Real Product Talk, a product testing and secret shopper service, with her online bestie of 10+ years in 2014 and continues to grow as a major player in her field. When she's not working from home, she's can be found serving the less fortunate in Lafayette alongside Lafayette Mom Writer Ali Comeaux and their non-profit, With Love, Acadiana.


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