This blog was archived from April 14, 2016.
Hot topic alert!
But your opinions are different from mine, can we still be friends?
The answer to that seems simple enough, right? My initial reaction after hearing a question like that would be: "Of course! Just because you feel one way about something, and I feel the complete opposite, doesn't mean we can't still be friends!" Then I would end it with a smile, a hug, and a "let's schedule a play date some time!"
That was entirely too good to be true! Cuuuuz it kind of is. Hear me out.
This past year has had it's ups and downs and learning points for me. I am obviously one who expresses herself and her opinions with passion and heart and facts littered through. I've had to learn the difference between a debate and an answer to a question. If someone had a question about something and was on the opposite view point, I would defend my answer to the death with point after point and link after link and then I would realize this person doesn't plan on changing their views or even hearing the other parties, they just wanted to let you know they disagree with you. Heads up, if you disagree with someone, please state some facts and not just, "I am offended by what you said." Partly because, well... you being offended doesn't make you right. Debates are no fun if they're one-sided...and I get it, not everyone wants to debate.I've had to learn the difference between someone asking for advice and someone who just wants to be heard. They will likely continue in their ways, they just want someone to listen to them and tell them that their feelings are warranted.
I come to a cross roads often and battle it out with myself thinking, "am I being a good friend by just keeping my opinion to myself?" I find that I am being a SHAM of a friend if I don't warn or say something to help this person's situation.
In order to keep myself from being offended and keep my sanity together, I've had to get on level playing ground with certain friends. Friendship, like any relationship, should be worked on, right? We hear it all the time: marriage is a lot of work! And although I am by no means comparing the two, I do feel that when a friendship is left alone or set to a side for too long that the strength of it can dwindle. Life really only gifts you with a few "lifelong friends", the kind who will always be there, even though you don't see one another often, and these friends? Well, not to state the obvious, but they likely have similar views and opinions as you do when it comes to those "stay away from" subjects such as: politics, religion, child rearing, and what you would deem as "moral." Think about it. Check your friends list, then check your BEST friends list.
So what do I mean by "level playing ground"? Well, friend x doesn't agree with my stance on vaccines. We are completely opposite in our views and discussing it will only anger friend x. So how do I go about this because I really, really love friend x and care about her? We share our thoughts on the matter ONCE, then we agree to disagree, and not only that, we agree to never bring it up, unless the other party asks and it's because they actually want* our opinions on the matter. Does this put a bit of a dent on the friendship? Well, perhaps a little. See, they'll still be your friend, but they might not invite you or your un-vaccinated children over during flu season, or if they just had a baby. They won't be that friend who forces you to vaccinate yourself or your kids before holding their newborn, (because believe it or not, there are parents out there who would make such an idiotic request!) they will likely just invite you over a few months after. (*and if you're me, you will likely sigh with relief because you know that once people are vaccinated they are shedding that very disease they don't want to get, so you are thrilled your kids won't catch what they're spreading around... do you mention any of this? No...because you wanna stay friends. ;) *) Can this friendship last? Only time can tell. And hey! This "vaccine" example is just ONE example of a hot topic that you may or may not have opposing views on. When it comes to raising children, these hot topics almost HAVE to be agreed upon or you are facing some serious backlash in the future. Sure, maybe play date 1 and 2 will go great, but then by play date 5 your kid has a small cough and friend x gives you that look of, "you ought to vaccinate" and then well blow up time.
Another example? Friend Y. Friend Y doesn't believe in disciplining their children. When I say "discipline", I mean, when a child bullies or hits another child for no reason other than out of anger, my belief is that the parent of that child should step in and in some way, shape, or form, show disappointment and pull their child off to the side and let them know that that behavior is just not acceptable. This can also apply to children to yell back at their mothers, children who throw tantrums that don't get corrected. I won't ever tell another mother HOW to discipline her child, but I can tell you this much, my kids don't try anything like that more than once. If you want the secret I can show you one day. ;) So now you ask, why can't Friend Y be your friend if they don't have the same opinion on discipline or lack thereof? Well... let's say our children are playing together. Friend Y has a child who hits my child. I give them a chance. They don't do anything. At most they will tell their child in a very non-threatening, about to read you a bedtime story voice "Oooh ___... we shouldn't do that..." This tactic is one of the most irritating that I have to hold my tongue to. Your kid JUST hit my kid, and you acting like that tells MY CHILD that it was okay for this to happen to them. So I give Friend Y the benefit of the doubt. And hey! Surprise surprise! Five minutes later, it happens AGAIN. Folks, you have two chances max. I feel bad for the children who don't get corrected in the proper way, not because they will likely grow up to be bullies, but because one day, ONE DAY, either another parent will tell your child off, or another kid will fight back. There are many parents who teach their children that if they are hit once then give them a chance, but if it's more than once and no one is stopping it from happening again, to fight back. So your kid who likes to hit will get quite the wake up call and by then will have zero coping skills thanks to your ignorance and wanting to baby them forever. Oh, and I won't continue to bring my children over to that kind of atmosphere until it's corrected. This doesn't mean I cannot be friends with Friend Y, but I certainly cannot hang out with Friend Y unless it's just us, no kids, and with a bottle of wine. Can I maybe then tell Friend Y what I really think of thei