Whoa. That’s a mouthful! I’ve been meaning to write a post on misplaced reactionary guilt based defensiveness for quite some time. Paxye’s written about guilt before and we’ve talked at length about this subject but I’d like to take the time to publish my thoughts here on my blog!
I feel badly for people who immediately feel defensive enough to lash out in anger because it’s usually obvious that they are fighting their own guilt.
Topics that often bring out these defensive complaints are usually breastfeeding, birth, discipline and various other parenting choices.
A typical situation would be someone writing about the benefits of breastfeeding. Perhaps mentioning how it’s the obvious and best choice a mother can make and maybe mentioning that there are very few real reasons a mother can’t breastfeed. While this is fact, it’s definitely hard for a lot of mothers to hear because despite this truth there are many lifestyle based obstacles in the time and culture we live in today that can make breastfeeding difficult for some mothers.
The defensive reaction that usually comes out is that the writer sharing their thoughts is “wrong” and “how dare they!”. “Breastfeeding is hard/hurts/takes too much time!” That they couldn’t breastfeed because they “had no milk”, their “milk wasn’t good enough” or they need “me time” or they’re “tied down” and “losing themselves” having to breastfeed. They scream that they “couldn’t care less what anyone else thinks” but in the same breath produce a litany of justifications for their opinion which only a moment ago was held in a vacuum. My favourite is when a rant turns into “You’re so judgemental!” Ha. The irony is always lost on that one.
The truth of the matter is that if people have accepted their choices there wouldn’t be any need to get angry and defensive when reading other people’s opinions. It’s one thing to have an opposing opinion on a matter (I certainly have many of those) but it’s worthwhile to share it in a proactive manner without needing to convince others that you’re justified in your choice.
No one can make you feel any way, which is a concept lost on so many. We all need to take responsibility for our own feelings and reactions. Reading thoughts contrary to your own may spark upset feelings but realising why you feel that way and what you do with it from there is entirely in your control. Many people are all too eager to blame others for making them feel “bad” about not breastfeeding or having chosen a c-section or for using withdrawal of love (eg. time out) as a disciplining technique. It’s futile to take someone’s shared opinion as personal criticism. If you were confident in your choices it truly wouldn’t matter what others thought.