Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Giving and Receiving

Luke's first birthday party went very well! My parents alone with a friend and her daughter came over to celebrate. I was glad that we kept things small. I think it made everything a lot more fun. Luke didn't really go for the cake, although he did taste the icing. I am more and more convinced that he really likes the most bland food you can buy. (That's funny since I lived on Indian when I was pregnant.)

We all know about receiving advice and how annoying it can be. When I was trying to get pregnant I wanted to hurt anyone who started a sentence with, "Have you tried...." Now that I have a child, it doesn't stop. There is always someone willing to offer their opinion about what or how to do things. Sometimes, advice and judgment meld together in a messy lump. You aren't potty training? He still eats baby food? He isn't solving differential equations, yet?

I've been thinking a lot about this, lately, because I have come to realize that some people view information sharing as advice/judgment. I try to be really careful about what Luke eats and plays with. I check labels, I do research and I'm not a big fan of giving juice to a one year old. I'm certainly not perfect and Luke ate some dirt the other day, which is not on the food plan, but I do the best I can. I have friends who are of the same mind. We exchange information about recalls, chemicals in toys, new labeling laws and anything else that might be useful. I especially rely on the blog world for input, as you have probably noticed. I also have friends who don't approach their parenting in the same way. Well, they are pretty much the opposite. It does bother me sometimes if I feel like the child will ultimately suffer, but unless the child might really be in danger or I am asked, I just stay out of it.

I have one friend who asks for information or advice and then resents getting it. I think she feels really guilty about her choices in life and doesn't know how to process that. I don't think she's a bad parent or a bad person, but I really don't know how to deal with her anymore. I've tried to be really aware of how I answer her questions, but no approach seems to work. This isn't just directed at me. She acts this way towards others as well. It has made me examine the question of whether I can be friends with someone whose approach to parenting (especially discipline) is so very different from mine.

Do you welcome advice or input from trusted friends or would you just have people leave you alone completely? Have you ever had to end a friendship because, as parents, you were just too different?