Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Insight or Flight; Open for discussion Part I

Are we ever really ok with criticism? Is our mind ever ok with critique? Are we truly ever open to hear what someone else may have or want to say?

Now let's say we are? Does it change when we become parents and our children are the subject matter?

Under the suggestion of my dearest friend, and he is my dearest friend because he has no restraints. He is a straight shooter, he is smart, he makes you stop and question your actions and he is fairly new to parenting; I am embarking on a two (2) part post dedicated to just how open if ever we are to hear others comment on our children.

I want to touch on parents who do their children a disservice by being closed off to or defensive when receiving advise from other parents (as he so worded it) .

Then I want to turn the table and touch on how parents should approach the subject of giving advise and sharing ideas with other parents. He used the words astute and tactful so I will do my best to see if we can achieve that goal.

The main idea is that someone may be aware of or have insight to something we may be missing when it comes to our children and it would be a shame if we were not open to hearing this information and allowing it to serve a purpose.

So here goes...
I will start with the experiences I have come across when it has come to being closed off.

I had a girlfriend since 9th grade in H.S. so that was a very long time. She has three children, her second child, a son was a handful to put it nicely. He never sat still, played nice, was focused or respectful. He got distracted easily and thought that he was the blue Power Ranger or one of the Ninja Turtles. It was always a challenge to baby sit him or to plan activities where too may kids would be involved.
Early on I recall people always suggesting to her that he should be tested for ADD or ADHD (Attention Deficit Disorder or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). I would also have talks with her and all she would say is "no way" and "I am not putting my kid on drugs".

He was the middle child so she always blamed any outbursts or issues to that fact and how people ignored him for one reason or another. She would say that she just had to do a better job of managing her time with her kids and that all would be fine. That he would out grow it and that he just needed more activities to help with all his energy.

This went on for several more years by now he was in middle school. Doing poorly in his classes, having communication and connecting issues with his siblings and outsiders and becoming more and more aggressive in his means of expression. She would be called to school often and her home life was very unhappy.

For some time I kept trying to be supportive or research with her or for her any and all options available but at some point I just took a step back and said that he was not my child and she would have to figure this out on her own. I valued our friendship and I didn't want to have our connections always revolve around his behavior or end on negative words.

Finally it wasn't until his H.S. years that she accepted something had to change and be done. They had him tested, medications were prescribed but the change was a blessing. His medication wasn't so that it caused him to be a "zombie" as she feared. The opposite actually happened! His grades improved, he joined his school's Football Team and his social skills and life improved greatly. He was actually fun to be around at this point.
He graduated with decent grades, the family unit was much better than in the past, he excelled in sports and had a steady girlfriend.
He is twenty-one (21) years old now.

Too bad it took his mother over thirteen (13) years to figure that she just couldn't do it alone. Who knows how much better a quality of life the whole family would have had if only she had just been open slightly to critique and suggestions. I know it would have saved me many a running around in the parks and streets after him. Not to mention all the hiding places we had to come up with to keep objects that could have been used as weapons away from him.
Better late than never guess is how we should look at it.

Then I have the friend that any words suggesting you are questioning the parenting skills, knowledge or experience causes a complete shut down in communication to the point the conversation has to stop.
It is such an uncomfortable experience I have decided to listen more than I speak and really pick my words carefully before I let them out of my mouth.

Why are these reactions so strong? Are we (as the parents) the only ones who really know what is best for our children? Is there no room for assistance?

Let's start a conversation. Please share your journey on this road and let me know what you think.


  1. I think that the manner in which the advice is given makes a huge difference in how that advice is taken. Nobody is going to want to take advice when it is given in a pushy or condescending manner, or when people do not understand the situation. I am not speaking of your friend, but in my case, I have been 'advised' by several people, some of them family, that my daughter's father should be in her life, which is not well received for several reasons. Firstly, our relationship broke up because he was abusive, and that abuse was starting to affect my daughter. Secondly, we never had a huge custody battle because he never asked for any type of custody or visitation, which was a relief, because I would have fought tooth and nail, under the circumstances. Thirdly, he made some very disturbing threats towards her, and she would not be safe with him, I feel. But when I have explained this, I have been told that regardless, any type of father is better than none. I wholeheartedly disagree, and so can't take this advice, but it is pushed on me again and again, and so that is why I say that it depends. Just to note, my daughter is having no problems, she is has very good grades, participates, and is well behaved and well liked by her peers. So there is also no behavioral problems that caused this advice to be given; this is just advice from people who do not approve of my lifestyle, a single mother, and that type of advice I feel, is not constructive nor is it warranted. Other times maybe, but that's why I say it depends.

    1. Marie, thank you for your share. Appreciate your honesty. I can totally understand and respect your choice of not having your daughter interacting with a negative influence. Father or not, and person who said that better to have some father than none has no real sense of value. Everyone deserves to be treated properly and choose who is best to be part of their lives. Best of luck and continue to stay strong xo

  2. There is always room for advice.

    I have learned that pride comes into it a lot. My ex thinks that she knows a whole lot more than me about raising our kids. This when her pride comes in. She never wants to take advice and is very closed off when it comes to the kids. I work all day with bad kids (part-time Juvy Special Ed teacher) and multi-disabled kids (full-time residential counselor at a state special school).

    The reason I point this out is because I have no pride and will ask questions, seek advice, etc. from the people I work with. Always trying to learn stuff. I am always researching about things and try to learn as much as I can for both the professional side and personal side.

    Well, she dismisses me as an idiot and has told the court, her friends, her family and anybody who listen that I am basically moron and don't know anything about kids.

    It took me a while (after observing a lot of parents) that her self-esteem and pride got hurt if she had to admit if she was wrong about something when it comes to the kids. I have seen parents that are like that when after an assessment of their child that he is a little (or a lot) lower-functioning than they thought. The more I thought about it-my mom was like that also.

    Great topic.

    1. Thanks Patrick for visit and comments as always. I agree always room for questions and answers, support and options :)

  3. This is such a tough one - you are making me think way to early in the morning :-). As an educator, I have seen too many kids struggle because their parents were too afraid to have their children tested and get the help and services they need. But as a parent, I have seen how difficult and confusing it can be to have so many people throwing advice and opinions at you over every little thing. I am the type of person who seeks out advice in everything and anything. I would rather learn from others mistakes then make them myself I guess. However, I have learned that not everyone feels the same way that I do. Therefore, I only give advice when someone asks. Even though inside I may be dying to share, I bite my tongue. And when it involves someone's kids, you have to be extra special nice in your delivery bc you never want to piss off a mama bear! :-)

    1. Secretno, lol I love am thoughts sometimes they can be the most raw and honest ;) Thanks for visit and comment, no one wants to upset mama bear but it happens.

  4. Yes, that can be a tough one because as parents, especially mothers we tend to be overprotective of our offspring. I remember the comedian George Wallace saying, that kids growing up in the 60's and 70's just got their a$$ whooped and that took care of the ADD", but that doesn't work in today's world. I guess as a friend, you can only offer a suggestion and then let them decide...oh and pray a lot!

    1. Antionette, funny you mention George Wallace he was funny but some of things he said also made some sort of sense for its time, lol he always cracked me up. I am not suggesting what he said should be means of resolution but if you are in need of good laugh because your dealing with tough issue, he is right guy to watch for a few minutes. Thanks for visit :)

  5. Great post Mari.

    It's never pleasant to hear something negative about your child, of course. And although as parents we do possess some kind of intuition, we always risk missing something. We're not always there to see our children, and others may need to point something out to us. And when you've heard the same comment about your child many times from different people, it's wise to get help. No matter how serious the problem, and no matter how scared we might be of the truth, hiding from it will not help anyone. Quite the contrary actually, as you have illustrated. Stubbornness and pride will get in the way and deny a child the chance to thrive properly. It's really sad, and it's very unfair.

    I'm looking forward to Part II!

    1. Leila, thanks for comments. As you pointed out hiding from something unpleasant isn't going to make it go away. Hope you come back and visit after you read part II :) chat soon

  6. This is such a delicate subject. Yes, in many ways we as active engaged parents do know our kids better than others who don't spend as much time with or understand the unique personalities of our children. Even still, it is never a good idea to be close-minded and not receptive to the input and observations of others, particularly those who you know have your best interest at heart. As long as the feedback is constructive, we should, at the very least be willing to listen. Two heads are better than one and it is important to be open to the input of your "village".

    1. Yes delicate matter indeed, thanks for visit and comments. I guess keeping open mind and kind words in our mouth can always work best :)

  7. Hmmmmmm. As aforementioned commenters have suggested, this is a toughy. Admittedly, I'm not quite sure how I would handle it -- either way. There are so many different factors. For starters, if I suspected the child of my friend had some issues that needed to be addressed, I'm not so sure I would offer my two cents, primarily because no matter how strong my opinion might be about her child, I am not a behavioral therapist, so what do I really know? How do I know if the kid's problems are due to something that is truly wrong (aka ADHD) or just a symptom of something I don't know about, but is NOT an illness (i.e. acting out because he is upset, jealous, etc.) I saw this a lot during my stint as a substitute teacher: I found that kids who were labeled "a lost cause" or "beyond repair" really weren't bad at all. All I did was show them a little attention, and they were fine.

    I'm starting to ramble, so I'll cut this short, I guess my consensus is that every case is so different.

    1. Courtney, thanks for your comments. I am so happy I got you thinking and rambling (which you weren't ) :) thanks for visit xo

  8. Wonderful post Mari ! Keep up the good work ! I liked the discussion too ;)


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