Friday, October 16, 2009

Parenting Styles

Critiquing is a skill. And one that I worry about when I do it. Am I truly respecting the writer's child? Am I loving it as it should be loved, and am I pointing out any misbehaving? Because otherwise, I'm letting that child (and writer) down.

My crit partner is a genius when it comes to critiquing. He carefully supports the neck and head as he holds my baby, says how beautiful she is, and then gently tells me that the baby has spit up all down its front. Perhaps I should consider changing her?

Writing is exploration for me--I go on walks with my baby through seedy parts of town--just to see. My baby doesn't know better. She gurgles happily in her stroller, and allows me to take her wherever I want to go. I love to walk. And when my crit partner says, "I think you took a wrong turn." I own up to it. "I know, I saw all the signs. The broken windows. The guys in ski masks. I know, I know. I never should have taken my baby down this way. But there was this really cool vintage shop just around the corner. And, on the way, I saw this other street. I think I'll take a look." I try the different direction. Even if I don't use any of the day's travels, the journey still helps me get to where I need to go. My crit partner understands this, and is a very patient co-parent and partner.

I recently did an exchange with new critter. And I was worried--not only did I not know what kind of parent she was, but would I be a good sitter for her? Would I love her child and know how to tell her when her child misbehaved? "We don't put our hands on the stove at my house..." Or would I let her child run rampant? Permissive parenting has never been my style. In the end, her baby was a delight. I loved the baby. I wasn't all that graceful in telling her my thoughts--I let the worry get in the way. However she was graceful in critiquing my baby. She was an extremely capable sitter--honest, reflective and respectful.

So, thanks R, for pointing out the seediness, and thanks E, for the honest feedback.

And thank you both, for never once saying (yet), "Dear God, what IS that thing?"

What kind of parent and sitter are you? What kind of sitter do you prefer for your baby?


  1. I'm a line editor. Can't help it, it's what I do naturally even when I'm reading for pleasure. I bleed all over the page. Then I go back to the beginning and add overall comments - always starting with positive and giving a general overall impression. It's not for everybody.

  2. What a wonderful analogy for editing. We all need a bit of reassurance that we are on the right track, and then how to be better. I hate it when I am critiqued with blood in the eyes by someone who only seems to want me to fail.

  3. Sarah--I saw you critique someone's query on a blog once, and you were kind, and specific in your comments, clearly with the goal of helping the writer grow. It was a very good and thoughtful critique.

  4. SAVanVleck--It would be great if only people with our best interests at heart got to handle our "babies"!