A few days ago, I was having a happy, lively conversation with a woman I greatly admire. She is loving, charismatic, authentic, and faith-filled. She falls in that generation between my mom’s and my own– it’s nice to have friends in that range, you know?
Anyway, we were talking about how hard it was for some children to get “back in the groove” following the holiday break. Some of that is just personality. Some of it was related to the hot, hot inside air making us all sleepy after the cold, cold outdoor air. And some had to do with bedtimes getting all whack-a-doodle while school was out of session.
I told her the truth– my kids’ bedtimes do not shift overly much, whether we’re in school or not. They never have. Even in the summer. As a result, that’s one readjustment we don’t really have to make. That doesn’t work for every family– this I know. But, for us, it really does simplify matters and I’m always heaving a deep sigh of relief come August when I watch other parents face the upcoming school mornings with dread.
This topic led us onto a whole discussion about bedtimes and sleeping and “good sleepers” and, ultimately, sleep training.
She told me, smiling brightly, about her firm convictions that, if a baby is fed and dry (and at least three months old), he can, and should, learn to cry himself to sleep. That’s how they learn. That’s how you get good sleepers. This worked for all her children and for many babies before them, so there you go.
Here’s the thing.
That’s not actually how we did things around here. For us, “cry it out” wasn’t a good fit and so we found methods that worked for our family. We still wound up with good sleepers, by luck or design, I’m not sure, but we didn’t achieve it the same way.
But you know what? She was sharing her story. Her children are grown, happy, and well-adjusted. She is comfortable and confident in her choice and, really, why shouldn’t she be? She wasn’t really telling me what to do with my own kids (they’re past that point, anyway) anymore than she was asking me for advice.
It was her story. And that was good enough for me. I didn’t need to affirm or debate her. I could just listen and, if it wasn’t something I could add to, move on in the conversation.
None of this is earth-shattering– you likely have this sort of experience all the time. I know I do. And, time and time again, I smile or nod or just listen and then move on with my life. Unless I feel strongly that a child is iminent danger, I really don’t need to judge or criticize someone’s story or experience.
But why is that so tricky online? Why do people have such a hard time moving on? Posts must be written delicately and with great consideration. It’s important to reread and scrutinize and attempt to anticipate backlash. Even if you don’t ask for opinions, people are at-the-ready to spit them at you.
Later that evening, I was recalling the conversation and I was imagining if her words had been shared via a blog post or, even worse, a Facebook status. Oh my! I can only imagine the response. The judgments. The criticisms. The generalizations.
I sometimes question in-person etiquette, for sure. Sometimes I fear that good manners are going the way of the typewriter– becoming archaic and obsolete.
But I will say this– the art of recognizing when there’s no need to comment? Is still alive and well in real life, but fading fast online.
It’s just something I’ve been noticing and thinking about lately…