This year, I'm going to focus on writing a letter to my readers (whom I lovingly call Sugars) every Wednesday. Most will be adoption-related, and if not adoption, then race or health or parenting.
So here we go! Letter #1 of the new year!
After Christmas, I saw in several FB parenting groups where women were complaining about comments coming from relatives and friends. Comments about adoption, comments about parenting choices (vaccines...oh, vaccines...and breastfeeding, let's not leave you out!), comments about comments... These posters asked their FB group friends, "How should I respond?" or "How should I of responded?"
First, know this:
People can be really, really ignorant. And it's annoying. And their ignorance can (and perhaps already has) festered within you for days, messing up your holiday merriment. You reach for extra wine instead of cocoa.
I get it.
Yes, they often mean well, and often the comments come from those who truly do care about you. But sometimes, they just don't know how to say something appropriately, respectfully. Sometimes, they just need to keep. their. mouths. shut. But they don't, because they are relatives, friends, or co-workers, and so they feel like they have the right to speak up (and in ALL the wrong ways).
I know some people feel we live in a too PC culture where "everything offends everyone" and "you can't say anything these days." That's not what I'm talking about here... (and let's not get into that right now, anyway) I'm talking about the ways that you get kicked when you're down, even unintentionally.
It's hard. It's hard to HEAR another comment about your family-planning, for example. And doesn't it always go that when someone asks you a super-sensitive, invasive question, the room goes silent and it feels like the spotlight is on you.
If you are like me, later you are kicking yourself for not responding quickly enough or in the the most-perfect way. Maybe you wish you would have been more direct or less abrasive. Maybe you are angry with yourself for feeling obligated to answer. Maybe you just wanted to suffer in silence. Maybe you were just trying to forget for five seconds that your body isn't cooperating with your baby-making plans...and then cousin Josh decides to be funny and make some off-handed comment about your eggs.
I'm going to take it back a few years to the KISS method. Keep. It. Simple. Sugar.
Take it from my personal experience as a person with a chronic disease (10 years in March) and a mom who adopted three times (quite obviously). Less IS more. I've been asked if I should be eating dessert (I thought diabetics can't have sugar). I've been told about great aunts going blind due to diabetes. I've been asked how much my kids cost, if they are real siblings, or if why I didn't have my "own" babies.
Maybe this season, you faced something like...
Your mother-in-law: "When are you two going to give me a grandbaby?"
Your neighbor: "Oh, I see you are still breastfeeding your son. Isn't he a year old already?"
Your step-sister: "What do you mean you don't plan to vaccinate your child?"
Your friend: "I just think it'd be hard to love a baby I didn't give birth to."
KISS. KISS. KISS.
Just say, "Thanks for the advice." Or, "To each her own." Better yet, say nothing and just give a little smile.
Don't defend. Don't explain. Don't fumble. Don't justify.
I do believe it's important to educate your nearest-and-dearest. But maybe you aren't in a place to educate in the "heat of the moment." That's ok. Send an article. Buy them a book. Bring up the topic later when you are better prepared.
When you are adopting (and subsequently parenting), you cannot and should not take everything people say to heart, nor look at every comment as an invitation to start an emotional war.
Sugars, going forward, let's agree to apply the KISS method to all those ignorant encounters we're bound to have. Doing so means you choose peace, you choose a higher road, and you choose to spend your energies on what really matters.
Let's have a fabulous 2016!
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