Whether it be social, recreational, or professional, some of what represents me is here. Post a comment, or contact me at should you so desire.

The posts are in reverse chronological order, and are pegged by topic on the links to the left. For more of an introduction, please see the About this site page listed above.

Friday, 5 December 2014

Unfair Criticism

With the holidays coming up, there's the usual stress and excitement which comes with dealing with snow, super-cleaning the house, decorations, and the possibility of gifts. In some households, especially on TV, the holidays are accompanied by friction between family members. While I have seen a fair share of this friction, nothing compares to what I have seen this year.

The situation is so bad that I'm wondering if it will be a very quiet Christmas at my home.

All my life, my parents have received a lot of grief from friends and family members in how they raised me and my sister. My parents were criticized for being too harsh, too restricting, too controlling, too demanding, unreasonable, and much more. People seemed to think that I was afraid of my parents, worried about their extreme judgement, and they nagged at my parents for years.

In context, my parents were more demanding than other parents. They instilled a set of values and expected a certain level of behaviour, a certain decorum, and a certain amount of hard work and cooperation from my sister and me. We lived in a rough state of affairs for quite a long time, my parents moving us to a new home where we have been constantly renovating. The economy being what is was, we grew up financially modest, and we had to work hard, sometimes without the essentials to which a person in a developed nation is accustomed. 

When you add the bias which comes from limited exposure to the way we live, you can understand why an outsider may feel quite strongly, in a negative way, about how I was raised. However, an interesting phenomenon has also happened, more so in the past half-decade.

The same people who have criticized my parents have started to praise how well my sister and I are turning out. From a small town with a proclivity of violence, drug problems, and financial and vocational modesty, my sister and I have gone away to university and are pursuing some very interesting careers. We work very hard, are very independent, and yet we love our family very much. We try hard to follow the wisdom and etiquette set down upon us by our parents and other people are often impressed and even surprised at how respectful and well-behaved we are.

They hear about my exploits in Europe, my internship at NASA, and my sister's new-found independence and pursuit of her dream profession, and they marvel. How could we be doing so well?

These people do not seem to consider that perhaps there is a method to the "madness" in how my parents have raised us. They do not seem to factor in that the years of hard living and hard work have made us appreciate what we have and fight for more. That being more demanding means that you expect great things from your children and that if they are encouraged, these children will deliver and succeed.

No, instead, I keep hearing criticism toward my parents. Extended family and friends of the family keep judging my parents, calling them names, and assuming wrongdoings about them.

A few years ago, my Mom's mom, my Nannie, suffered some health problems. She quickly went from stubbornly independent to extremely dependent. My mother, and my nuclear family, immediately volunteered to take her in, to take care of her. There were several other options available including staying with any of my 4 uncles or going to a senior citizen retirement home. However, the family agreed that my home would be a good place for her. 

Since then, we have done a lot to ensure that my Nannie is safe, happy, healthy, and comfortable. My sister gave up her bedroom, and we have filled it with my Nannie's favourite things, including a 50 inch television, and we keep her warm, fed, and as entertained as she can be. 

And once again, my extended family is criticizing my parents, most specifically my Mom. 

I try to stay out of family drama. I have been fortunate to have spent most of my time away at school in my studies and thus hearing about all this criticism far after the fact. I have shared my incredulity at this criticism, and I have approached the situation from a logical perspective, trying to understand the root of it, trying to help people better understand the situation.

However, recent events have gone too far. Family members have begun harshly criticizing my Mom, and even accusing her of incompetence and neglect. It seems that they are half-hearing stories told by others and misinterpreting the facts, resulting in nothing but a judgmental stream of disapproval and condemnation.

My Nannie has lived with us for a few years and in all that time, she has very rarely been visited other members of the family. Now, we all live busy lives, and my family's home is rather remote, but some of these people who have so rarely visited are now harshly judging how well my parents are taking care of my grandmother. They accuse us of locking my Nannie away, ignoring her, and worse.

In these situations, I am always struck with the impression of how differently I approach situations than some other people. I try to be logical, as often and as consistently as I can. I try not to let emotions control me, rather I try to form an emotionless perspective and use emotions as an additive, an enhancement of my logical viewpoint.

When people accuse of me of something, or are upset with me, my first reaction, normally, is not defensiveness, it is curiosity. Why are you upset with me? Where did this come from? I find it truly interesting to unravel the mystery and then I try to access the validity of their statements. 

When I hear a story about someone, I do not take it as immediate fact. We all have biases, and human memory is terribly faulty; lacking retention and subject to malleability. I have found that while I am usually fairly able to acknowledge this within myself and my memories, I am also able to recall things more clearly, more accurately than others. I have come to rely on this clarity, but I temper it with acknowledgment of my limitations.

However, other people do not seem to behave this way. They let emotions form, or contribute to form, their intellectual premise. They let stories told of those not in the room set their perspectives in stone within their minds and hearts. And when they finally get around to confronting the person with whom they have grief, they do so in a confrontational manner which makes it clear that their opinion is final, immutable. 

People have criticized me for my overly patient attitude. They see my patience and logical approach to the situation as either cowardice or weakness. They think I am fearing confrontation or that I am not strong enough to tackle issues. Or, perhaps they feel that I am incapable of forming a solid opinion on something and sticking to it. I have had many people completely disregard my opinion, even my presence, in situations because they are fueled by their emotions and I am simply standing there patiently.

However, do not take my calm manner for complacency. Even my extremely refined and extensive patience is wearing thin. My parents have their faults, sure, like everyone else, but they have done nothing but work extremely hard to ensure that my family is well-taken care of, safe, happy, healthy, and successful. I have learned so much from them and received more than I can ever hope to pay back.

They care extremely deeply for those they love and they have sacrificed so much. They have sacrificed so much for so long that it is a wonder that they have anything to show for it. Our home has always been open to those in need and while we don't often have a lot to give, what we do have is shared.

So, to all those who see my Mom and Dad in a different light, to all those who view my parents with contempt, or negativity, I urge you to temper your perspective, try to find out the truth, and approach the situation calmly and without prejudice.

And if you cannot do that, then perhaps you're not going to be good company this holiday season and I'm sorry to hear it.

1 comment:

  1. Dude. I have met your parents only a few times, but they are some of the kindest, most caring, and most accommodating people I've ever met. They are definitely hard-working people, and always willing to do more than their share to help others. I'm sorry to hear there are people in your lives who aren't able to readily see this right now, and I hope that they come around to see the truth soon. My love is with you and your family, and you can tell them I think they raised beautiful, stunning, genuine children with excellent morals and personalities.