I Need Your Opinion

One of my close friends had surgery recently.  Her ailment required the opinions of two specialists.  Of course, each specialist suggested a different path to get to the desired outcome.  By friend was a bit overwhelmed by all the information in front of her and asked the three other members of our little clan to give our thoughts on the process.

What I found interesting about this was the three separate approaches we had to making a decision.

  1. My Approach: I asked her what the pros and cons of each method were- the best case and worst case scenario
  2. Friend 1: She asked a Doctor friend for what he would recommend if the procedure were to be needed by someone he knew
  3. Friend 2: She described  her own issues with surgery and healing, and what her friends who had gone through the same procedure  thought, and did

Three people, three different methods of thought.  All valid. And oddly, all these methods led my friend to the same conclusion (coincidentally, also the decision she and her Husband were leaning towards anyway)

When you make decisions, what are the factors involved? Personally, I  make lists of the possible outcomes. (Yes- I will do anything possible to use a list.  I love lists) I formulate best and worst case scenarios.  I think about acceptable risk. This is the numbers part of me- I can’t help but calculate odds….no matter how hard I try to be a words girl, in the end,it always comes back to numbers.

I read about a subject.  And I read.  And I read. If I need to make a decision I try to read as many varied opinions as possible.

I ask questions. (Shocking that I would ask questions) To me, the greatest knowledge comes from the answers that people give you, both the verbal and the non verbal (if you’re looking at someone, check out the body language) Also, a non answer is also a very telling answer- if someone avoids the question, or gives you an inconclusive answer, what does that say?

And, in the spirit of asking questions: How do you make a decision?  How do you formulate an opinion? If a friend were to ask your advice, what method would you use to help them out?

Is one method superior to another?

I need your opinion: how do you form an opinion?

Advice: Should You?

This week I spoke of opinion/criticism and I spoke about family.  Today, we’re going to sort of combine the two subjects and talk about advice.  Specifically, parenting advice.

I do not like to receive unsolicited  parenting advice.  There you have it.  I don’t like when anyone tells me what to do with regards to the child that I am raising.  If I want an opinion, I will ask.

Also, I do not offer unsolicited parenting advice to people.  If someone asks my opinion, I will gladly give it, but…  Sometimes I do talk about parenting when I am blogging.  Though I may be giving advice, I am not aiming it towards any specific person, I’m merely sharing my thoughts on a subject.  I think writing about parenting in the abstract is not really advice (my blog, my rules)

I have a rough plan when it comes to how I want to parent my child.  If something is not working, I figure out how to change course.  So far, this method has worked for me.  The rules that I have thought about and put into practice work FOR ME.  They are great in our specific family dynamic.  They might not be great in someone else’s. (my house, my rules)

I have had people scoff at my parenting notions.  I have people that make very passive aggressive comments about how I choose to raise my child.  To say I get annoyed by this is an understatement.  It’s not that I don’t value other opinions, but let’s just say that I don’t like certain things about their children, so why would I want to repeat their mistakes?  This most closely applies to my Mother, because I see which of her actions caused my bad behavior patterns.  Behavior patterns that I find so abhorrent that I refuse to have my child ever thing the same way.  But enough of my emotional baggage for today.

(On a side note, if you do not have children- please don’t ever tell someone how to parent.  Just remember, everyone is the best parent in the world until they have children)

Now we come to the crux of my problem that I am writing about today.  I think my Sister is making a huge parenting mistake with my niece.  Notice how I used the word think.  I don’t know for sure if it is actually a mistake.  I have no actual psychological training with which to base my thoughts on, I’m going off of instinct.

I know that I don’t know everything (seriously- I know it often appears as if I think I know everything, but I really don’t think it or know everything).  But… My logic meter is telling me that my sisters actions don’t compute.  My emotional meter is telling me that my sisters actions don’t compute. Yet, I remain silent.  Because I don’t like to give parenting advice.

Should I break my rule?

When breaking a rule, you have to ask what the benefit will be.  I run the risk of my sister not ever speaking to me again. (she runs a little hot and holds grudges and is a blamer)  I run the risk of her giving me unsolicited advice.  But…is telling her my feelings going to be beneficial to my niece?  See, that’s the unknowable thing- I have no idea if I’m right and my sister is wrong.  I have no idea if my way of doing something is actually better.  Because there are no definitive rights and no definitive wrongs when it comes to parenting.  Different things work for different people in different situations.  Parenting doesn’t come with a rule book.

I’ve actually talked around the specific subject with my sister.  I know her feelings on the issue and I’ve tried to hypothetically point out things to her, so I know her stance.  To delve more into it would be pushing the boundaries.  I know I don’t like when my personal boundaries are pushed:  shouldn’t I respect the boundaries of others?  The issue is also one that would never specifically affect my child.  I have no personal knowledge of the issues faced, so it makes my opinion less valuable.  Do I have the right to comment on something I really know nothing about?

So here I sit- wondering what the best course of action is.  Because I just don’t know what to do.



Here’s My Opinion

Welcome to my new blog, where I write a post about something, and then follow it up for the next 3 months……

Yesterday I wrote about opinions, and I showed you what my friend said to her daughter about sororities.  While I was reading the comments, I realized that I never said how I actually gave an opinion.  So this is what you get……

I give my opinions very freely- no one asks for them.  I sit here, on soapbox, aka the dining room chair, and I spew between 500 and 1000 words on any given topic.  I have lots of thoughts and theories about just about everything.  I am a classic over thinker and analyzer- (gee- you thought that degree in English Literature wasn’t worth anything…..this is what it gets you…..a portal to share your thoughts with everyone)  I pick and choose a topic based on what is happening in my life, I choose a side, and I’m off………


What about when someone actually asks me for advice, for my opinion?  What do I really do?

Well- that depends on who is asking, and what is the nature and scope of the advice.

Last week I got a text from my daughter- “Should I apply for this?” (it was for a committee for school).  My first question was, “Do you have the time?”.  Then I told her to tell me the Pros and Cons. ( You know I love a list.)

And that’s how I give my opinion when someone asks.  I put the ball back in their court.  I ask them to say what is good and bad about the decision, and then I ask them questions based on what they say.  After listening to the evidence, I may or may not weigh in.  I know- shocking- I actually DON’T give my opinion.  I  didn’t realize this until a reader commented about all the downsides of sorority life- then it hit me- I try to get people to see the upside and downside of any issue.   I would have asked questions that would lead the person to explore all facets of the issue.  If it’s my daughter asking, I try to make it a teachable moment- learning how to make a decision.  But this is only when I’M ASKED.

Conversely, I will often give my opinion when I’M NOT ASKED.  This is butting in mode……I can’t help myself.  Someone says/writes something- I chime in.  In my mind, I’m doing community service- I’m illuminating points that someone might not see.  See- I’m really being a good person- jut trying to help out.  I’m good that way……What- you don’t think I’m good that way?!?!

To be clear though, if someone said “Should I play Russian Roulette?” I’m probably going to say no, I don’t think that’s a good idea.  I know- this is where butting in with an opinion gets dicey- when someone has a really well thought out plan…..

And, lest I forget, if my Husband asks for my opinion, I just tell him what to do.  He has learned that I am always right. Perhaps that is good advice for us all.  I am always right……