A Word on Candor

by Ashley on February 2, 2013

I tend to be blunt with my friends. Though I try to be tactful, I believe it’s difficult to be close to people if you aren’t able to be honest with them.

But recently I griped about someone who was honest with me, and the comments I received about that post made me rethink my initial reaction.

To recap, I was shocked (shocked, I tell you!) that a woman would tell a very-soon-to-be first-time mother that raising children was not a particularly rewarding experience. I felt like that admission was something that one ought keep to oneself or perhaps share with a therapist.

But many of you commented that the woman was being honest with me, rather than jazzing up the idea of parenting into some fantasy experience full of coos and giggles and rose-scented diapers. (Not that I had those perceptions, mind you.) Rather than idealizing the concept of motherhood, this woman was being real, according to many of my readers.

And you know what? You’re right.

In the moment, I was offended that someone would say this to a woman who is only weeks away to giving birth to her first child. I still think it would probably have been better left unsaid unless she were speaking to a close friend, rather than a mere acquaintance. And many of you agreed with that.

But I’ve long said that I’m a realist. Sure, I fantasize about a perfect world and a perfect life. In the end, though, I try to be realistic about what’s possible and leave ideals for my REM cycles.

So why would I want someone blowing smoke about how wonderful motherhood is when it’s not always that way?

For months, I’ve been begging my close friends to tell me about their childbirth experiences. The good, the bad, the ugly – I wanted to know every detail so I wouldn’t be disappointed when labor and delivery weren’t a fantasy experience.

So why should I be offended by someone offering an opinion that might mitigate some disappointment in my child-rearing experience?

Thinking back, I’ve been known to be truthful (read: brutally honest) with my close friends. On more than one occasion, I’ve approached a good friend who was nearing her wedding day. I sat her down and told her, “You don’t have to do this.”

Shocking, no?

Not that I believed the man she loved was a bad choice or that she was too young or was getting married for the wrong reasons. I simply wanted her to know that if she had changed her mind since getting engaged, she didn’t have to feel forced to get married simply to keep up appearances or spare injured feelings.

And I know those friends were a little offended by my bluntness. When I explained why I said it – sometimes a wedding can seem like a train you can’t get off of – they understood that I was trying to be a good friend and let them know it was OK if they didn’t want to get married.

The woman who told me that child-rearing wasn’t very rewarding didn’t offer a reason why she said it. But I have to believe that she said it with good intentions. She certainly wasn’t trying to hurt or offend me. She was simply being real.

And I respect that.

When do you think is it OK to be that honest? Let me know in the comments.

 

3 comments

I’d have to say that I agree with the offense you took with her comment. I get really sick and tired of people trying to bring others down, or be negative, or feel the need to “one up” everyone (ie, when someone comments about what a horrible night sleep they had one night, and people feel the need to say ‘good thing you don’t have twins, then’ or “you think toddlers are bad? wait ’till they are teenagers!”). Seriously, people need to be more positive. If she wanted to be brutally honest (and the Southern girl in my still is not sure why a complete stranger would feel the need to say this to you), then there are more tactful ways to say it (ie, “I wish nothing but a happy and healthy motherhood, but you should know that its OK to have some bad days, weeks, months, or even years). No one really thinks parenthood is easy, and 99% of all the soon-to-be-parents I know are already scared to death. Her sentiments were not necessary or warranted. Positivity can go a long way…. Hiss to her. She’s obviously an incredibly unhappy and negative person and just wants to bring everyone else down with her.

Parenthood is amazing… you’re going to love it (even if you have days where you hate it ;)).

by Jan on February 2, 2013 at 8:14 pm. Reply #

Hi Jan,

I agree – I still think a comment like that would be better left for close friends rather than a passing acquaintance. It was the context of it that was so jarring! Thankfully, most people around me are very positive about parenthood, even while acknowledging it’s difficult and not always fun, which I am expecting. Thanks for your comment and encouragement!

by Ashley on February 3, 2013 at 6:53 pm. Reply #

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