As a writer, feedback is a nearly daily fact of life. As a writer with a mission and a message, negative feedback is par for the course. So it's no surprise, really, when irate readers send in their complaints about my serialized stories. Those of you who followed the controversy over Shattered Glass will know what I mean when I say that it seems some people would rather bury their heads in the sand than face reality--and solutionize.
I think it is admirable when people ostensibly have pious and worthy aspirations in voicing their opposition to my work. However, I question the basic premise of the prevailing argument which says: "Why hang out dirty laundry in public?"
How else are you going to motivate someone to get that laundry clean?
Is it scandalous to admit that there are problems in our communities? Does it take away from the beauty and purity of our Nation, from our strength and growth when we call attention to issues that need to be addressed? How does it help the thousands who are suffering from abuse, which is what my current serial, Charades, discusses, by pretending it does not exist? Is it right to bury our heads in the sand and hope the problem goes away, rather than deal with it gently and sensitively through the wonderful vehicle of fiction?
Can not our hearts be firmly rooted in heaven even as we lift our heads out of the sand?
My husband is one of the wisest people I know. I guess it's a good thing that I can say that after twelve years of marriage, huh? :-) Well, he's also a really talented psychologist and that makes for lots of very interesting discussions between us. The other night, he told me such a fascinating thing I thought I'd share it with all of you. We were discussing anxiety disorders, especially in children, and how they develop and are treated. Well, apparently, a research study involving monkeys showed that anxiety runs in families (talk about yichus, lineage!). Anxious momma monkeys are more likely to have anxious baby monkeys. And guess what! Anxious baby monkeys are more likely to be eaten!
But here's the good news: when the mother monkeys did not indulge their babies' anxious behavior and reacted by pushing them to face their fears instead of molly-coddling them, the babies actually recovered and raised their own survival rates!
I found this really interesting. As a parent, I often struggle with the balance between love and discipline; when to be soft, when to be firm. Oftentimes, the most loving thing to do is to not indulge a child's wish to be held, consoled, and enabled, especially when his or her behavior is potentially damaging. Of course, even when pushing a child to face fears, it's important that parents be supportive, encouraging, loving, and kind, but sometimes, as painful as it is, to give in would be to subject the child to emotional, physical, or spiritual danger.
Have you experienced this?
About Riva Pomerantz
I'm a freelance writer, widely published in several magazines including the internationally-distributed Ami Magazine and Mishpacha Jewish Family Weekly. Riva's work also appears on the award-winning website www.aish.com, amongst others. You can buy my books here.