Thursday, September 01, 2005

patronized, disparaged, and not taking it anymore

"Exhort one another daily."
Hebrews 3:13

I have two pet peeves in life. They do not involve toilet seats that are left up in the middle of the night or fingernails drug across a blackboard, though those are annoying. My irritations go beyond irritating and right to the heart of showing love for God and man.

The first thing that I cannot abide is being patronized.

Not long ago, a man I know, not well but well enough to recognize what he was doing, was singing my praises. Interspersed with his ravings about my abilities, he kept saying, “Now, be assured, I am not patronizing you,” which meant, of course, that we both realized that he WAS trying to patronize me. It was at that point that my concerns about this person were confirmed and that trusting him would not be possible.

What is it about being patronized that is so harmful, so offensive? Perhaps it brings temporary peace, in that someone is being appeased, but in reality it conveys distain for who you really are as a person. If you are a transparent or genuine enough fellow, you set yourself up for being patronized, which is probably my problem, Pollyanna that I am. Since you allow people to see who you are, you are an easy target for those who would seek to use you for their own ends.

Patronize: be condescending, demean, denigrate, undercut, belittle, talk down to

The antonym is respect.

Which brings me to my second pet peeve.

If there is anything that will get my dander up, raise my blood pressure, and leave me sputtering for words, a rare occasion for sure, it is seeing someone purposely cast doubts upon someone’s own abilities as they seek to accomplish their personal goals. Parents can be terrible culprits of this, brushing aside even the most impossible of dreams that their children dare to dream. Control freak church leaders and business managers can set the tone for everyone when they do this.

I cannot stand it when I see someone who is vulnerable, who is in desperate need of her own personal cheerleader, being manipulated for another’s personal benefit. I have had much experience with this, of watching people play upon the fears of another in order to further their own agenda. It is ugly, especially when it shows up in Christian circles.

Disparager: being a bummer, a pessimist, a cynic, a wet blanket, naysayer, misanthropist, a gloomy Gus

The antonym is encourage.

All of which, brings me to my real anger of the day. Last spring I heard of a small Christian school in my area that was trying to access the homeschooling conference so they could hand out information about what they could do for homeschoolers. I had a disconnect, as did the homeschooling leadership who refused their access. It made no sense for a school to be at a homeschooling conference. I mean, did they think they could snatch one of the dazed moms who was struggling with baby/toddler/teenager/laundry burnout and promise to make her life easier by offering her the opportunity to pay them so she could haul all her books to their church basement and homeschool there, in what they were calling a parent/teacher cooperative? This school then purchased a mailing list from someone who had the names of local homeschoolers and promptly sent out a couple mailings soliciting students for their school. At that point, I was still willing to give the school board of this school the benefit of the doubt, to put the best construction on their actions. There were other homeschoolers who talked with me who were angry and upset but we all took a wait and see position.

Then I received a postcard yesterday from this school which read:“It’s Last Minute Panic Time! Are you wondering if you can make it through another year of home schooling?” And then it continued with information about applying to their school. At that point, my dander was way past up.

Why would anyone, especially a Christian, purposefully play on the fears of a homeschooling mother, of someone who has chosen to give her life for her children, who is already overwhelmed as it is in most cases? There is no excuse for this marketing tool and these people ought to be challenged.

My day is coming….stay tuned.


At 6:47 AM, Blogger kristen said...

I totally understand what you are saying, and believe this school could have terrible motives, but the upper school of the school DH teaches at has a few open spots and opened it up to homeschoolers who want to enroll in a class or two (logic, science, etc.) They always have ads in the local homeschool magazine because they are still relatively new (6th year) and a lot of parents just don't realize there's a local Classical Christian school option. *shrug*

At 3:47 PM, Blogger prairie girl said...


I know the kind of school you are speaking of and I think it is wonderful when homeschoolers have those sorts of options. Exploring those is options is different than adding to a mom's fears, which is what I believe this school did by sending out the postcard. That has been confirmed even more since I have heard from other moms who, like me, were insulted by these tactics. We all know where the schools are, public and private, if we choose to stop homeschooling.

My frustration with this particular school, particularly after I spoke with the headmaster, is that their plan is to market their school to burned-out homeschooling moms and they have no qualms about their methods. I explained to him that most moms who want to quit really need to have an older woman come alongside them and be an encouragement to them. They need to feel valued at what they are doing, they need to get their households organized, they need a nap. They DON'T need someone to plant seeds of doubt.
What was his response? He told me that I ought to send any moms I know who are struggling to them. He didn't get it at all!



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