Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The Big Picture

This post was first published at OurAdopt.

Over the last couple of days I've been keeping my eye on a conversation going on in bloggyland, and it has actually compelled me to jump into the fray a few times. I find myself wanting to jump to the defense of the person writing the blog, even though:
  1. I don't agree with her positions entirely, all of the time.
  2. I am quite sure she is capable of defending herself without my two cents worth.
Basically it boils down to a blog expressing frustration with the trials of parenting an attachment disordered child, especially during times of parental illness. The discussion has taken a few twists and turns,with folks squaring up, choosing sides, and throwing nice people under the bus. And all while said people are feeling unwell. Good grief! There are other parents in the same trenches sending comments making comforting noises, plus at least one parent who employs a different parenting technique sending cloying offers of "help" if only you would be open to trying something new. And fanning the flames, are a couple of folk who make no reference to how they are related to the adoption community, much less their experience in parenting attachment disordered children, offering advice and criticism based on the prevailing logic of armchair experts. You know, the sort of folk who tell you what worked with their strong willed child, or recall how they felt as children, when dealing with deep childhood trauma, which usually amounts to some bullying in the schoolyard.

So through all of the discussion, as polite accusations are hurled, and a person's character is being assaulted, I consider how easy it is to read one or two blogs and crash the party. If a person is willing to do the research, and read through a huge archive of very helpful posts, one would realize the criticism is unfair. It reminds me of a game we play out on the challenge course. We have all these laminated pages, and we hand one out to each person who is participating, telling them not to let anyone else look at it. We ask each person if they know what the picture is. Some of them reveal that they suspect what it might be...others have no idea. We then instruct them, without showing their picture, to describe what they think they are seeing, and see if they can put together something that makes sense. Over time, they are able to arrange themselves so that all of the segments of a bigger picture fit together. Then they do the big reveal and see if they are correct. They almost always are, because over time, through careful discussion, even the most confusing component can be understood and added to the whole.

Then we debrief, and this is really a great one because pretty much everyone "gets it". They talk about the big picture. They tell you about the frustration and confusion of only looking at one small part. They confess being wrong in their initial impressions. They tell you about the need for clear communication in order to achieve understanding. They sheepishly admit that rushing to conclusions or getting snappy did NOT help.

The discussion on this blog reminds me of this exercise. And it makes me sad because few are working toward seeing the big picture. For the most part you have three types of commenters. The first group is the choir and they want to be preached to. The second group follows a different method, expert, or ghuru, and they want to convert you. When you are feeling down or discouraged, this is the perfect time to offer to point out a "better way". The third seems to have no stake, yet they jump into the discussion. This would be like someone with no picture card trying to participate in the activity. Wouldn't it mostly just confuse and irritate the folks who do have pictures?

My inclination, as I said before, is to jump into the fray and defend the blogger, not because I agree with everything they teach, but because they are doing this tremendously hard thing and being transparent while they are doing it. This takes courage, and it gives me courage to do the same. Truthfully, I hate it when people try and spoon feed me the answers. I once got a letter from an acquaintance who had adopted older children, and heard that we were doing so as well. This long missive contained lots of authoritative "information" about the methods I must use to reach my children...and my spirit cringed. According to this particular expert, I would have to cease being who I am and reinvent myself totally to meet my child's need. You know what I say to that? My kids can smell fakey, fakey a mile away. They like this real, yet imperfect Mama better than any perfect one following a blueprint to success. And they like being my children more, and my project less.

Why are we so afraid to bring our picture cards to the table, and talk respectfully to one another, until we can see the big picture? Why must we line up on one side or the other? Why must someone else be totally wrong for me to be right? Why is it so hard to believe the lessons we strive to teach our children? That I am a competent and intelligent individual. That I can research the options, weigh the evidence for myself, and come up with a plan that works for me and my loved ones. That I am free to admit when something is not working and adjust my plan. That some things need more time, and though I find myself battered and tired, I can choose not to give up the fight. That I am frequently wrong, and need humility to live with it. That I am frequently right, and need even more humility to live with it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I really like that picture card idea. I love some of the things they do at camp and just need to have a few more chillins to do them ;)