On having friends and having opinions

  • Some of our best friends spank their kids (and they're wonderful parents, by the way). But we choose not to.
  • Some of our friends have little girls that know all of the Disney Princesses by name. But our girls don't.
  • Some of our friends watch "The Office." But we can't stand it.
  • Some of our friends had their babies in hospitals with all kinds of gizmos and gadgets and machines. But we didn't.
  • Some of our friends prefer to carry around their babies in infant car seats. We prefer to take our babies out and put them in carriers (those car seats are heavy!).

On having friends and having opinions 1The point is that we have a lot of friends - and we have a lot of opinions. Opinions are good (very good). And everyone has them (even the people who don't share their opinions or who say "everyone should just do what's best for their family and keep their thoughts to themselves..." - oh, boy, do they ever have opinions!).

It's easy to be intimidated by Opinions. I state a lot of them here on my blog. I state them because Tim & I think about a lot of things...we read a lot of books, we have a lot of conversations, and we have very intentional reasons for almost everything we do.

On having friends and having opinions 2Sometimes I notice people shy away from conversations with me for fear of causing waves. Or they may think, "She's just so different from me...with her natural-birthing, breastfeeding, only-watching-1-hour-of-TV-per-WEEK, [insert your-topic-of-choice], ways."

BUT please know: I want to hear your opinions too. I want to hear your reasons and your point-of-view. I want to hear your questions...and your answers. So we can argue and contemplate and sharpen each other. So we can: GROW.

So State Your Opinion, please.

And know that we can still be friends. We can have lively discussions. We can laugh and share hobbies and go on family camping trips. We can pray for each other, encourage each other, enlighten each other, embolden each other, believe in each other. Yes. We can.

That is my opinion.

Do you share your thoughts and opinions freely with people in your circle? Why or why not?

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43 comments on “On having friends and having opinions”

  1. I agree with you about sharing opinions - I call it being able to "accept" the other person without needing to 'approve" of their opinion. I can accept my friends without needing to agree with everything they say. But sadly, not everyone does this. Even this week I had a situation where a friend of mine voiced her ADAMANT opinions on modest dress. I agreed with her, but I disagreed with her method of sharing that opinion (which was to write a long Facebook note and then TAG everyone she felt needed to read it!). When I tried to speak to her about it, she told me she was tired of not speaking up and we should not be afraid to speak up. I agree that we should not be afraid to speak up - but I think we should also watch the WAY we speak up.
    You do this very well here on your blog. It's what I like about blogging - that we can speak up on our blogs, and it's not necessarily "in your face" b/c people have a choice to read or not. :)
    Also, I wish more people were forgiving when opinions clash. Because they are going to clash at times. We need to be gracious about that! :)

    1. I agree with you. Sharing opinions is a good thing, but LISTENING to opinions is equally important. As you mentioned, it's also important to state opinions with grace, compassion, and empathy - allowing freedom for disagreements and opportunities for growth.

  2. Great post! I have a lot of opinions, and when I voice them, it's not usually quiet. I've gotten into trouble (ie, offending people) by stating my opinions boldly and without apology. I'm still in the process of learning to express them in an honest but less in your face way.

    1. Thank you so much for that compliment, Amanda! I sincerely hope that we have an opportunity to hang out in-person someday... :)

  3. Hmmmm....I wonder if I know those friends of yours whose girls know all the Disney princesses by name. ;)

    I enjoy reading your opinions here on MM. Sometimes I'm nodding my head in agreement, other times I'm drooling over your meal teasers, while still other times I find myself coming to entirely different conclusions than you. That said, I appreciate that your opinions are so articulate and thoughtful. You've made me give consideration to issues that I would easily have looked over otherwise. And that, my friend, is one of the reasons yours is a blog I look forward to reading {almost} daily.

  4. The subject of this post has been on my mind recently as I jump into motherhood and blogging. There are lots of subjects that can cause some serious rifts and I often feel some blogs take a "If you don't see it my way, you are wrong" approach. Honestly, a few of your posts have struck me that way even if it was unintentional. Which is why I continue to read because I like hearing the different opinions and styles that people choose.

    I have quickly learned that my opinion on child raising changed once I was in the thick of it. I also learned that what works for my family doesn't work for others. Therefore, I state my opinions when asked (or in my blog) but I am accepting of (most)other views and styles.

    1. Hi Laura! Thanks so much for commenting. I love sharing our reasons for doing things the things we do, but I also love hearing other peoples' opinions. It really helps me grow and change and become a better person.

      I'm truly sorry if my posts have come across to you as "my way or the highway." In an ideal world, we would all be having these conversations over coffee so we could see each other's smiles and hearts...but, since we can't always do that, it's fun to have these deeper discussions in the blogosphere.

      I look forward to getting to know you better!

  5. My closest friends, yes. And sometimes total strangers or acquaintances. I do have a rein on my tongue, but I also firmly believe in transparency and up-frontedness. (Is that a word??)

    I tend to feel more comfortable in uncomfortable situations when I get chatty -- takes the nervousness down.

  6. This post sums up what I love most about you - you are about the least judgmental person I know. I learned that about you in the first week I knew you. I love that we can be passionate about our philosophies, agree or disagree, share, and never judge. It is critical to our success in our line of work. Your blog, however, is one of the few places I feel totally "safe" in spewing how I "really" feel about certain things. My husband and I learned after years of extreme and harsh judgment on us as teenagers because of our parents and their actions, that we must be VERY careful in an attempt to avoid that same life for our girls. So, we keep pretty closed and rarely engage in controversial discussions with others. I greatly appreciate you, your willingness to share and take on the controversial topics, your sensitivity and respect for those who differ from you, and your compassion for others. I deeply appreciate your prayers and kindness in my behalf! Thank you!

  7. Hey Stephanie!
    I enjoy reading about different people's opinions on these subjects. I believe it's good to voice your opinion, but not to force it on others. If people were all the same it would be somewhat boring. I like to tell others what I think if the issue arises. Since Bill and I are not quite parents yet, we aren't strongly opinionated on some of the topics. But I know I will most likely spank when necessary, but not out of anger. I also won't want our children to know all of the princess names either or have barbies for that matter because I think It is negative body image role model toy for girls. I like the baby carrier option much better then the heavy car seats as well. Anyway, I like reading your blog. Hope you are doing well!! -Kat

  8. Hey Stephanie! I haven't been reading your blog for long, but I always appreciate your posts, and I especially liked this one. This is an issue that has been coming up in my life a lot lately. My husband and I live in Belgium and in my personal experience, Europeans are quite good at sharing their opinions, disagreeing, hotly debating the issue, and then sitting down for a big friendly meal together. Recently, a Belgian friend of mine was complaining to me how difficult it was to engage some Americans she knows in healthy dialogue about issues like politics, family, etc. She could not understand why it wasn't ok for them to disagree but still be friends. It was an extremely enlightening and challenging moment for us both as we were able to pinpoint that cultural difference. I think we'll both try to be more aware of it in the future to ease tension. With that, though, many Americans simply have a hard time disagreeing about things while still moving forward in the relationship, which isn't good. While I know every person is different, generally speaking I think that your message is a really important one. It's good to have our opinions and share them in love so that we can grow!

    1. Thanks so much for your thoughtful comment, Hannah! From your description, I think I would fit in quite well in Europe. ;)

  9. Great post Stephanie- as usual. I have tons of opinions- but I do censor myself a bit until I know someone better. I love that you are sincerely so open to discussion and a friendship w/ differing opinions. I have often found that although I may have a different opinion- I always want to know HOW someone arrived at theirs- and frequently find myself looking at something a different way.
    Jury is still out on spanking in our house- almost nightly conversations w/ husband & I.
    No to Disney princesses for us thus far- however my big girl came out w/ princess passion- she is all about flitting, butterflies, & flowers. (However she is into mud too :)
    The Office is a bit of a guilty pleasure.
    Both of the girls in the hospital but thankfully w/ minimal gadgetry.
    LOVE my Ergo but the infant car seat occasionally comes in handy for solo or sleepy baby shopping.
    Keep those opinions coming...

  10. : )

    We don't spank, I agree, car seats are heavier and baby carriers are so much more comfortable and comforting, and I can't stand the Office.

    But I want my daughter to know about the Disney Princesses and I had both of my children by c section with lots of gadgets and gizmos : )

    I love that you share your opinions and I try to do that with people I'm close to....

  11. What a wonderful post, Stephanie! I have felt an awkwardness in mommy play groups when my son was a baby and toddler and it felt like there was a lot of judging going on in the group. It's nice to bring everything out in the open the way you do and say "yes, let's talk!" We don't all have to parent in exactly the same way. And we can share our opinions and still be friends! GREAT post.

  12. Another GREAT post Stephanie! If we all had the same opinions, life would be quite boring wouldn't it? I appreciate different opinions. I agree with you on so many levels. I do share my opinions within my circle, if asked. I try to make sure I don't *push* my opinion on anyone or assume that what I think is how all people should think. Sharing them within the blogosphere is a different story. I find that I tend to 'censor' myself a bit in the blogosphere...more on my own blog than anywhere else. I try to be sensitive to what I post about my family. I don't censor the hard parts of life or try to paint my life a different way than it really is, but I do watch myself a bit when I speak of discipline, what pictures I post, etc. I do love hearing other people's opinions though...and try to always keep in mind that they are just that: opinions. I SO appreciate you being willing to share yours with tact and grace!

  13. I agree that we all have opinions, and I don't always share mine out of fear for upsetting someone, or getting into an emotionally grueling argument. But, there is a time and place for sharing, and our opinions are all important to us.

    The older I get, the more children I have, the various life experiences I've gone through have all given me various opinions, and ideas on life. I think it's also allowed me to be open-minded towards other's choices, and I always think about walking a mile in someone else's shoes before casting any type of judgment. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  14. Okay. I totally agree that sharing opinions is good. It is good share reasons & learn from each other. But, I have a question to ask you. What about when you state that you choose a certain method, because the other way is flat out wrong? I going to use an example from your recent blog post on sleeping. Most of it was helpful & non dogmatic. But, when you say that letting a baby cry is unkind, how does that leave room for other opinions? What does that say to the parents of babies who cry no matter what they try?
    What about a baby who won't sleep in the family bed & needs to cry for a few minutes in their own space, in order to get any sleep?
    I am all for sharing opinions. And I have many of them. But, I have been learning how many of my opinions for my family do not/or cannot apply the same way to other people.
    If I share why I believe in homeschooling, that is good. But what if I were to add to that, "what a lazy way to educate your children, by sending them off to someone else" I would be terribly out of line. Right? (By the way, I don't believe that it is lazy to not homeschool your kids. That was just an example...)
    Do I make any sense? What do you think? There has to a line in what we say when sharing our opinions.

    1. Thanks so much for your thoughtful comments, Erin.

      I think it's often, but not always, good & productive to share opinions...even if they are controversial in nature. Of course, it's important to take care that we express them with humility and love, but without sacrificing candor.

      In the case of crying-it-out, my opinion is that it is unkind to ignore any human being that is calling for help - regardless of age. That is my opinion. A friend might state the opposite opinion...that it is indeed kind/loving to let someone else cry. In an ideal world, we would freely debate and disagree and state our reasons...and then eat dinner together happily afterward. Hopefully, we would both learn something from each other too. :)

      RE: crying-it-out. You may want to read my full post on that topic: http://bit.ly/LHLi3. In it, I do differentiate between "letting your baby fuss a bit to settle down before sleep" and traditional cry-it-out methods.

      Thanks again for sharing your thoughts!

      1. Thanks Stephanie! I think I should have read your cry-it-out post before commenting. Sorry! :(
        It is so different to me to distinguish the cry. A cry for help, instead of fussing, makes a huge difference.
        Thanks so much for your reply! I appreciate it!

  15. Stephanie, this is a great post. I completely agree that opinions are a GOOD thing! When someone seems to have no opinions, or just goes along with "whatever," it concerns me. I definitely consider myself a person with pretty strong opinions and convictions. However, I don't usually find it all that easy to talk openly about my opinions--with most people. I find it easier and more impactful to "live" my opinions and then if it comes up naturally or someone asks me outright why I do "such and such," I am more than happy to talk about it and fully share my thoughts and opinion.
    There are a handful of people in my life who I can openly and passionately discuss anything with--agree with, disagree with, etc. and our relationship is all the stronger for it afterward. I cherish those friendships.
    Oh, and I have probably watched the Office two times since my little boy was born, but before that it was my favorite show. I am still happy to catch a minute or two of a rerun now and then. :-)
    And my little guy doesn't know any Disney princesses, but the Disney Cars characters are a completely different matter altogether, and he loves Mickey Mouse.
    Thanks so much for the continued quality content on your blog!!

  16. I think for me it depends. If there's a parenting discussion happening in front of me I may well interject an opinion but I'm only going to go so far in arguing about it.

    I know a little girl with terrible eczema but her parents (especially her father) doesn't believe doctors know anything so they are just waiting for her to "grow out of it".

    In the meantime the poor kid is miserable and it breaks my heart. I spend a lot of time biting my tongue but I wish people could be more rational (and less black and white) about medical and parenting decisions.

    I find myself choosing not to tell certain anecdotes to certain people because I feel they'd use it to reinforce an opinion which I wasn't intending to reinforce (nor do I agree with it). Like when I talked about our visits to goof-ball doctors and then have spent weeks since pointing out that just because we went to two really BAD doctors doesn't mean that we should ignore all medical advice we have ever received.

  17. Oh wow, I think being a new mom has recently opened me up to a whole new world of opinions...both my own and that of others. I try to be pretty open with my friends about my opinions and make it clear that they are just that. opinions. not truth. Even though I'm definitely the odd duck in our group of friends...I think they are growing to expect and love that though. But with family, might I even be so specific to say my in-laws, opinions seems to carry a lot more emotional attachment. I find their opinions (and their opinions about my opinions :), can really frustrate me and cause me to not want to share with them who I really am.

    Loved going back and reading your birth story...we used the birth center as well and LOVED it!
    And, I agree...infant carseat carriers are way too heavy...we don't have one and love just carrying our little boy around in our arms or a sling.

  18. I'm opinionated. Most definitely, but I've learned to not judge another parenting style that is different than my own, it just isn't worth it. I may say well, this works great for me, but really have to keep my mouth shut when I see someone formula feed over breast feeding, it is so hard sometimes!

    My daughter doesn't know the name of the princesses from Disney, and we won't be visiting Disney Land or Disney World at all. Just seems like such commercialization to me.

    Also, I adore the Office, it makes me laugh so hard.

  19. I'm more of a share-when-asked kind of gal. I share a lot of the same opinions as you, which makes me somewhat of a radical in our circle of friends. Thankfully our "different" style of parenting intrigues our friends, rather than deterring them. It would be impractical to choose friends based on their parenting style and I'd be missing out on a lot of great friendships because of it.

  20. I don't share my opinions freely but I definitely have opinions. I usually only share my opinions when asked. I am a non-confrontational person by nature and sometimes I don't feel up for a debate. I don't want to hurt someone's feelings either. However, the downside of this is that other people sure do feel comfortable giving their opinions to me! I really don't mind hearing someone's opinions but sometimes people have a way of stating their opinions in a way that puts me down or is passive-aggressive. My mother-in-law is very good at this.

  21. I share most opinions with othersbut on hot topic items I always do so very carefully and respectfully and only with those that will be open to differing opinion if mine are different. I do not disscuss religion, money or poltics very often as many people can become very irate, including family members. As for your list, I agree with the spanking, no hitting of our girls. My girls do know all the disney princesses, we encourage the image of them being independent and rescuing themselves. It is funny listening to them play with their princess dolls who have to save the princes since he is trapped in Noah's ark which the bad guys locked him in. I can see that if one is not careful princess stuff can get out of hand. My girls are princesses in the sense that they like to wear dresses and have tea parties but I do not like the princess mentality that I call divas. For some people they are interchangable but to me they are very different. Princess is harmless fun in our house but diva is not allowed. A diva expects the world to revolve around her, dressing to grown-up, being sassy, and a long list i see people allowing in their children. My girls are 7 and 4 and believe it or not but many kids their age are really into Hannah montana and High School musical, neither of which my girls know anything about. Well, my oldest knows who Hannah Montana is but unlike her friends she has never seen the show or knows any of her songs. I don't like the office either, watched it once for a few minutes and that was enough. I had my babies in hositials, which I wanted. I carried my babies in carriers and slings (those carseats are heavy!)

  22. I think opinions are important to have and to share. You voicing your opinions is one of the reasons I always come spend time at your site. If you were cookie cutter, I wouldn't still be here.

    My opinions don't always sync up with yours, but if they did, I wouldn't need to read what you have to say. It would just be me reading myself :)

    Spanking- we have and occasionally we still do.
    My girls know all of the princesses
    We love the office
    Both of my girls were born in the hospital, both with epidurals that did NOT work.
    I loved carrying my baby in her sling and in my arms. But for fast run into the store for milk, I carried them in the carseat - it was simply easier.


  23. Hi Stephanie! Thanks for your comment on a mountain brides blog! Very cool blog you got here :)

    As for opinions, i think it's very hard to have authentic relationships unless others know how we feel about things...even if they are different views. Very good post!

  24. I have opinions, and I have reasons for what I do and don't do, and I think I'm generally pretty good about sharing them if it comes up in conversation (or on blogs). :) I do think that it's sometimes difficult, because you never feel quite so judged as you do as a parent. People's opinions are so much stronger about that, and many parents have a way of making you feel like a terrible person and a terrible parent if your way doesn't match theirs. I still try to share, though, unless I think it's not worth the uproar.

  25. Oh opinions - yep I have them and yes I voice them BUT I don't believe that you have to follow my opinion in order to be right or in order to have something worthwhile to hear. I appreciate hearing differing opinions and working through reasonings - it does help us grow!

  26. I have some extremely strong opinions, but I tend to not voice them. I REALLY don't like confrontation, and I don't like to ruffle feathers, so it is the rare occasion that I do voice my opinion unless I'm asked. I like to keep the peace! :)

  27. Oh, no. I just spent the weekend with my inlaws, dear, dear people who I love and adore, biting my tongue a lot! I don't always keep my mouth shut when I should, but I do try to keep the peace in our family.

  28. Although I do have some strong opinions, I feel like on most things, I really don't have a strong feeling either way. I'm a pretty laid back personality, I think, and I guess my strong opinion would be that strong opinions are not worth the fuss most of the time! So many issues are not life or death or heaven or hell issues, so I tend to not commit to one side or another. Maybe too, its because as mothers we tend to get on our soapbox about pacifiers or cloth diapers or organic or homeschooling and can really do damage to other moms by inserting a judgment right along with that opinion. I commend you for your graceful ability to state your opinion so non-judgmentally. That is a rare gift, my friend.

  29. I'm all about different people having different experiences. I love hearing what others do and don't do. Sometime I think to myself "Not for me" and I move on. Other times, it's something I might want to try.
    Why are we all here, online, sharing, if not to be open to others?
    Great post!

  30. Great post Stephanie. I too agree with all your comments (except "The Office" :)) Is that an ergo you are wearing in one pic? When I started wearing Aidan in mine 6 years ago, not many people were wearing them. Now I am thrilled to have introduced a ton of gals to them and to see them all around. I wear Cam in the same one now, but there are much fancier ones out there now. I understand when my friends talk to me about their planned hospital births w/ drugs because I had an unplanned hospital birth with drugs. I got to have Aidan drug free in the tub, but not so lucky with Cam, but it gave me some real perspective. I am glad women can share all kinds of life experiences and birthing stories with each other and not be judged!

  31. I'm a pretty opinionated gal...especially when it comes to parenting topics. Despite that, I have many friends who don't share my opinions. If I felt like people had to agree with me to be my friend, I'd be friendless. And, I too have friends who spank. Even though I thoroughly disagree with them on this subject, I still think they are good parents. You don't have to follow my "rules" to be a good parent. You just have to love your children and be motivated to do the best for them. We all come to different conclusions on what the best is.

  32. Absolutely perfect blog post! I've been thinking these exact same thoughts lately as some of my best friends are the complete opposite of me. It makes both of us better I think! :)

  33. I have to agree with everything you said, except "the office".

    Kip and I love The Office, and although we don't really watch it anymore because we are busy catching up on Mad Men, Dexter, Breaking Bad, Lost and True Blood, we still think it's really funny.

    We first watched the BBC show and then when they made it here in the US, we had to watch.

    I just wrote way too many tv shows...that is NOT all I do ( : We actually are halfway in seasons on all of these because of time. Like, I still haven't watched the Lost finale!!!

    I do share my thoughts and opinions freely on parenting, although I don't say it in a fighting tone. Just in a trust me, try it, you will love it.

    I hope you are having a good weekend. Great post.

  34. I do share my opinions within "our circle" If your truly friends with someone you respect and feel you have the freedom to share your thoughts and opinions and know that at the end of the day they are still going to love you even though theirs could be different. There is nothing wrong with sharing your point of view with people in a resepectful manner. I do have a few friends that we choose to not talk about some things with because we just don't agree but we love each other and don't want that to stand in our way..We just agree to disagree and move on.

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