As my end-of-year, end-of-era contemplations continue, I thought I'd bring up the issue of disagreement between parents. I've mentioned before that in my history of ED activism it has not been debate with other activists or clinicians or patients that has caused me the most pain: it is with fellow parents. The nature of these disagreements have followed certain themes. As a new generation of parent advocates and activists come up, I thought I'd share some of the patterns:
- One Note Sallies. I struggle with certain people who have only a single interest that blinds them to other issues, to hearing other people, or to the complexity of how their one note fits in the larger symphony. This singular focus can be positive (something that worked) or negative (the thing that did not). It is rarely convincing.
- Confusion of people with ideas. Each of us is complex and very few of us share agreement on very many individual points. Befriending or making an enemy based on a single point of agreement is satisfying only in the moment, but keeps us from respecting one another as full individuals.
- Time-freezing. We evolve as thinkers over time. We need to give ourselves and others the chance to learn, to develop, to change. What we see on a given day is only a single frame, and holding someone to the standard of a former POV is unfair. The point is to grow together.
- Personalizing. It leads people to think that others are talking about them when they are not, or ignoring them when they are not. The truth is that most people are really thinking more about what they are themselves saying and not what others are saying or feeling. Sorry: it really isn't about "me." And no, I'm not talking about you.
- Enemy by association. It is a depressing reality that people will hold you to the standard of your lowest common friendship. People who reject and ignore others for associating with the 'wrong' people with the 'wrong' ideas end up terribly righteously correct: alone in a corner.
- Anger in the form of caring. The language of caring about others doesn't always mask the actual fury and intolerance driving the speaker. You know that cousin who ends her criticism of your lifestyle with "I just thought you'd want to know?"
- Eating worms. I often hear from people that they feel no one supports them and that they are excluded and undervalued. I also note that these are the same people who: do not read what others write, do not FB/tweet/blog/review/forward/LIKE/comment on/laud other people's work, do not ask advice from others, do not remember the names or work of others, and don't like anyone else. There's a lesson there.
- Data bullying. Listing data is not persuasive. Neither is listing credentials or personalized attacks. In an ideal world, this sort of bluster would simply be a poor reflection on the doer, but in our world we are far too vulnerable, deep into our learning curve, and all coming from a different intellectual background. Have you ever seen a really smart kid eviscerate a classmate with high-flown statistics above even their own intellect? It's like that.
- Strategic lack of response. It's almost an art: the willingness to not respond to someone who has taken you seriously and bravely responded. It's brilliantly condescending to not even bother to acknowledge it. I love this one. The lack of respect is dazzling. The moral superiority: bravo!