Let me set the scene.  Daughter is away at college- about her first week.  The following is a skype call.

Daughter– Mom- What’s your opinion on Sorority’s?

Mom– I don’t like them.  They’re degrading.  They force you to do things that you wouldn’t normally do.  Have you heard the stories about rush?  Why would anyone want to be in a sorority.  You auditioned for a dance group.  Those will be your friends, the other people in the dance group.  Why would you need any other friends? There is no reason to join a sorority- it’s just a big party circle. And they’re not really popular at your school.  If I were you I wouldn’t join a sorority.  But, it’s your choice.  Do whatever you want.

Now, I realize the kid asked for an opinion.  But….is this an opinion, or is this a diatribe?

What’s the nature of an opinion?  I think of an opinion as a particular take on any given subject.  I have been know to overtly state my opinion on just about everything, even though no one has asked me for my opinion.  (note to self- why is no one asking me for my opinion on anything?)  So, I’m making a distinction that some people write from a particular viewpoint, and they don’t care what anybody thinks….they just articulate.

But…..

What if someone asks you your opinion?

How do you answer?

Do you present your side in a logical format, with as little personal bias as possible?  Or is personal experience/reflection crucial to an opinion?

If you do not like the idea of something, how vehemently would you state your distaste?  Would you say something like Why in the world do you want to do that?  Is making someone feel ignorant part of voicing an opinion?

At what point does an “opinion” become manipulative?  We all know the power of words, but should an opinion persuade someone in one direction or another?

And then there is the person giving the opinion.  If you are asking the person you trust most in the world, does this opinion carry so much weight that you will do exactly what this person “suggested”?  Should you get multiple opinions before making a decision?  Do some people ask opinions of those that are of like mind, so they’re going to get the opinion they are leaning towards anyway?

Back in the real world, I think my friend is so opposed to even the idea of a sorority that she is manipulating her child into not trying.  Which is her right, but is it fair?  Is it really acting in her daughter’s best interest?

Of course, I told my friend that I thought she was being a little over dramatic.  Ok- my talking to her could be described as over-dramatic.  I won’t repeat here what I actually said to my friend (but really could explain why no one asks for my opinion) But, the short version is, I told her that a “better” answer might be “I don’t like the idea of a sorority because I have heard some horrible stories about rush, and I don’t like the idea of you being in a situation that you may not know how to handle.”  And I don’t know if mine is better, but I don’t think her version was the right way to go.

So….

What’s your opinion?  What is an opinion?

 

67 thoughts on “Can I Ask Your Opinion….?

  1. I pretty much gave our daughter the same talk your friend gave hers. And I kicked myself afterwards for being so manipulative. But, when it’s your precious daughter you tend to go overboard. Well, I do anyway. She knows not to ask me if she doesn’t want my undiluted truth.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Giving an objective, unbiased opinion substantiated by fact, research or experience is a piece of cake – when it comes to professional matters, but a an absolute nightmare in parenting. There is no such thing as detached opinions that are not manipulative in some way coming from parents. Having said that, I think the trouble with giving opinions to our children when they are already in college is that we have trouble letting go and accepting that no matter what our opinion may be, they will go ahead and do their own thing.

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  3. I think that was a crappy thing for Mom to do. I would have told her to follow her heart and not worry about what others thought to include Mom & Dad. but I’m a Dad and I wanted my daughters to be strong and independent women.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank goodness FrogDiva was so articulate in answering, because- quite frankly -giving my opinion on opinions would have meant reading more than you really asked for, and I likely wouldn’t have answered things well but just piled on more opinions… 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I do think that we are all guilty at some point of voicing too much of an opinion. When asked my opinion on things, I TRY to keep it as simple as possible at first. I will start with “well I personally….”, and keep it reflective to I, myself, me, do/do not…then my brief take on the topic. Now, if I am then asked to elaborate more on my opinion, I will go more in depth as to WHY I feel the way I do. At least for me, I feel that by keeping the reference to ME, it hopefully doesn’t come across as trying to persuade a person one way or the other.

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  6. If you look up the definition of the word it will tell you that an opinion is personal and not always based in fact. I feel that if someone is asking for the opinion they are not truly comfortable with it themselves, they almost are looking for justification to go one way or the other. All things being equal most people know the person they are asking and understand how it will be framed. I know my kids as well as myself have asked for someone’s opinion just to get a conversation going.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I think you’re right, they want back up on the decision they’re making. But it this case, when a kid is beginning to spread her wings, is this too much bias? Judging by the daughters response, which is why my friend talked to me about it, was that the mother went a bit overboard with her response.

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  7. I think that youngsters, when asking for an opinion, really want a justification of a decision they have already reached.
    “What do you think?” is always a good starter.
    Then a discussion, rather than an opinion.

    Being a Brit, and a male, I know little about sorority’s, but any organisation that judges people before allowing them to participate in activities is not an organisation I would want to join anyway!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree with you on everything, including sororities. But, I know people that loved being in sororities and made amazing friendships and business contacts, so I don’t know. I joke because my daughter says she will never joking a sorority, but I joke that 6 years from now she’ll be a sorority president

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Well, an opinion is personal, and if somebody asks me for mine (which they generally don’t), then I give them the full force of it. They asked for it, right? If it’s something I feel strongly about, I let that strong feeling be known. If it’s something I’m indifferent about, I let it be known that I just don’t give a flying rats ass and “here’s a quarter, call someone who cares”.

    Maybe there’s a reason nobody asks me for my opinion LOL

    Liked by 2 people

  9. An opinion is something people usually ask you when they want your feelings about a subject. This can be just pure emotion, fact-based or both. Honestly, they can be used a lot of time to mislead people. It’s kind of what opinions do. They offer up your point of view, I suppose.

    However, I would present her with some facts about sororities. People seem to get this vision that a sorority is what they see on television: all fun and stuff. It’s not. You can say good-bye to your social life in a sorority. She’ll be bogged down by volunteering, meetings, parties and other things like raising money and such. Surrounded by a bunch of women, too? YIKES. Most of us can’t stand our own in big groups for more than five minutes.

    She’ll be spending money left and right on things! Sororities are not cheap. Tell her to do some research before she decides to join one. It’s better that she doesn’t. She’ll find friends everywhere else: work and school. Then again, I think I am also terribly bias about sororities. Some may be good, and others may just be what we envision them to be – terrible.

    But like all parents know – kids are going to do what they want to do, regardless. Maybe some people need to learn lessons harder than others.

    Liked by 3 people

  10. When someone asks me for my opinion I try to keep it related to me and not how I would feel if they made any particular decision. For example when clients ask my opinion about some dog related thing (asking opinion is different than them asking for my advice or expertise on their specific situation, those would get an often different response), my answer often includes how I would related it to my own dogs, I try to include why and how I came to form that opinion adding in any research I’ve done, things I’ve observed, studies I’ve read, etc. When asked my opinion I try to stay away from making any value judgements about the person asking. If the person specifically asks me how I would feel if they made such and such decision again that gets a different answer than if they ask me what my opinion on something is.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. My opinion is that an opinion is whatever you want it to be. That is, it can be detached + reserved or emotional + strident. It’s up to you, and if you’re sane and self-aware the way in which you express your opinion will vary according the situation.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Interesting! I’ve just recently had this conversation with a friend. It was on feminism – which, as always, seems to be a sticky subject.
    She had erred on the side of caution with a mutual acquaintance, and stayed right out of the ‘conversation’, not giving any opinion at all. I diverted away from the politics and tried to refocus onto the issue pertaining to Me (and how a lot of us ‘old school’ feminists tend to see it); all the while this acquaintance was letting Me know in no uncertain terms that I was wrong for my point of view – because I didn’t side with her opinion.
    I had to look at my delivery, like yourself, wondering whether my opinion was more of a speech lol. But i don’t think it was. We seem to be lacking (societal) the ability to hold an opinion or point of view, and share that as our own, without trying to make everyone else see it our way … or being able to honour them in their opinion.

    Oh, after all that … then theres the ‘mummy opinion’ lol and thats always fully rounded, with all sides considered, delivered with a large dose of caution – I do it All the time 😉

    Liked by 1 person

      1. This is true ! … I generally don’t ask for anothers opinion, they just give it lol. But if I am asking for an opinion, it’s usually from someone I trust 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  13. Welp! All of it is an opinion. I wrote about this not too long ago (feel like I begin with this phrase a lot). Anywho, I’ve recently tried to stop giving my opinion to people, no matter how it’s phrased. I think people already know what they want to do and should just think deeper about what that is and do it.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. Aha! You’ve hit the nail on the head. I think that’s also why I have an issue with it. I don’t want anyone to come back and say, “you told me to…” so, yes. I think they want justification/validation.

        Liked by 1 person

  14. I think we all constantly look to others subconsciously anyway in order to figure out our way through life. We assess their mistakes and failures and try to navigate our own route. Occasionally we ask advise (experienced based I think) but generally we ask opinion (more emotive) of those whom we admire and as we are likely agree with them anyway (UNLESS it’s your parents).

    Liked by 1 person

  15. As parents, it’s our job to guide kids, not control them. Still, some kids need (want or demand) more guidance than others. Perhaps your friend’s daughter suspected her mom wouldn’t approve and wanted to get her opinion before she made a final decision. Not all sororities are bad. My sister still has wonderful friends from hers at Occidental. Finally, sometimes parents have to voice their opinions when their kids do idiotic things. My son was gambling at college without our knowledge and we flat out told him to stop before we all go broke. Am I trying to control him? Yes.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I was going to say that an opinion is best shared with the words, “I think” or “I feel” at the beginning, and “but that’s just how I see it” at the end, because that makes it clear that what I’m saying is simply my personal viewpoint. And each of us has a very different viewpoint based on our own life experiences and individual quirks.
    But after reading K E Garland’s comment above, I realize that I tend to agree with her. When people ask for an opinion, they are often just seeking validation for what they already want to do. And if they happen to ignore what they want to do and go with what I’ve told them I think they should do, then they have someone to blame. I think it’s almost a “lose-lose” situation.
    Maybe the best thing to do when asked for an opinion is just turn it back on the person, saying, “What is causing you to worry? Why do YOU think you should or shouldn’t do that?”

    Liked by 1 person

  17. If someone asks for my opinion I don’t take that to mean they want advice. I think they are two different things. Depending on who is asking and what they are asking about I sometimes ask them why they are asking so I know better how to respond. It seems your friend’s daughter was looking for opinion and was given unwanted advice.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Very thoughtful, and a good post for parents of “children” of any age. The opinion/diatribe line can be hard to walk. As the child of someone who usually took the diatribe route, I now carefully frame my “opinions” (when I think ahead) with comments like, “Why are you asking?” or “You know, this is just me, and I’m speaking from my own time and experience,” etc…but even so, dang, I can feel the pull! Because as parents we all want only one thing: our kids not to get hurt. And we always think we can see that route better than they can. I know I haven’t answered your question, but it feels good to vent about it, so thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Not that you need (or want) any more opinions on opinions… for me an opinion is what someone thinks about something who I hold in high esteem and value their thoughts on a wide array of stuff. Politicians, clothes, organizations, charities. They tell me yes or no. Or pluses and minuses. I usually ask that they elaborate which may or may not lead to a diatribe which indicates their passion about the thing I asked about, or their depth of friendship in me, or both. Does that help (not that you need help)?

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