My wife and I don't agree. I mean, a friend. I mean.... January 23, 2011 7:48 AM   Subscribe

AskMe question appears to have intentional misrepresentation of situation, discussion ensues. Jessamyn asked us to get it out of the thread and yet it seems there is more to ponder. So, here we are.

Was leotrotsky's question asked in bad faith or not? He thinks no, others (including me) think yes.
posted by pineapple to Etiquette/Policy at 7:48 AM (204 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

I dropped him a note yesterday and told him he basically gets to never do that again and remain a member of the community. I decided not to delete the question because a lot of people had answered in good faith.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:54 AM on January 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm not all grar-y about this, because I truly think it's a gray area (therefore perfect for MeTa). Did leo's qualifier in the original question really qualify the situation?

I just don't think so. I think many people would have answered very differently with the whole picture. As hot soup girl said eloquently,
"I agree that the way the question misrepresents the players in your situation is absolutely going to skew the answers. A qualifier like 'setting aside the issue of "our house, our rules" and the potential presumption of the friend' isn't going to make any real impact on how people respond emotionally; it's natural that people here will want to reassure you and defend your parental rights against the criticisms of an interfering third party.

The objections described in your question aren't the abstract parenting theories of a meddling 'friend' who has scant opportunity to observe the feeding methods in action, they are the convictions of a stay at home parent who has more information about the children in question than anyone else on the planet. Mrs leotrotsky is qualified to comment not only on Mr leotrotsky's theory, but also the way he implements it, which may or may not be more authoritarian or controlling than how he presents it in his question. I say this only because using the word 'forcing', and saying it 'makes her sick to her stomach' are strong reactions which shouldn't be dismissed."
So, does framing it as "a third party thinks X about our child-rearing choice Y" versus the real scenario of "my spouse thinks X and I think Y" give the AskMe audience enough information?
posted by pineapple at 7:55 AM on January 23, 2011


Sorry, jessamyn, cross-posted... if you think the MeTa is not a good idea, please delete. I thought it would be, since the OP was back in the thread just now and focused on the meta side. Thought we could use a steam valve for the inevitable derail.
posted by pineapple at 7:57 AM on January 23, 2011


The OP doesn't seem to grasp the fact that (sing it with me if you know the words, kids!) framing matters. A marital dispute over childrearing is a hugely different question than one about a "friend" offering unsolicited opinions on childrearing.

The thing is, people are always trying to fudge or at least obscure details in their questions because they're afraid of the kind of responses they'll get. For example, all the anonymous relationship questions in which the asker deliberately uses gender-neutral pronouns throughout, because they think they'll get less biased answers that way. It's understandable, but silly and defeats the purpose and usefulness of the site. And yes, bad faith. If you're concerned about the kind of responses you'll get, you can always ask anonymously, and if you're asking anonymously there's no reason not to be completely honest about the details (so long as they're not personally identifiable).
posted by Gator at 7:57 AM on January 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


I was pretty irritated I spent time answering it in good faith and felt pretty deceived. And frankly wouldn't mind my answers disappearing if the thread disappeared, since my answers obviously have nothing to do with the real question.

The question could have been asked anonymously, or as, "Which way is preferable for raising a child who doesn't have food issues/isn't a picky eater, or is there a preferable way?" (With or without appending "my wife and I are having a disagreement about it.") Part of my grar is that the question didn't HAVE to be deceptive and could have easily been asked in a "neutral" way that didn't involve the marriage, if that was important to the OP.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:58 AM on January 23, 2011 [5 favorites]


My feeling generally is that if you concoct some confusing framing to your question because you don't trust the AskMe community for whatever reason, you keep that to yourself for the duration of the question. You do not come back to the question later and say "Oh hey I didn't trust you guys so I made the question into a similar question. Now let me talk about the conclusions I drew for our actual situation."

We can't make people tell the truth. We can tell them we require them to not play some sort of "gotcha" game with the community.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:10 AM on January 23, 2011 [21 favorites]


I felt decieved as well, but more to the point, my answer basically became unuseful. The question was predicated on the impression of a united household, and that's because of language like this: "In our household we expect....we also expect...." The suggestion that language makes is that all parents are in agreement, but the close friend has introduced a doubt which the parents, together, want to check on, and the question "are our rules reasonable" applies to a situation in which the home is a united front.

The actual question is a completely different one. There is not a united household, there is an intra-household debate, and at least one party to that debate has much better information about the child's diet and the child's experience than any friend possibly can. The question, then, is not really about feeding practices - it's about the debate.

The sad twist is that there was really no need to set up a phony situation in which to ask the question 'is this approach to child feeding a reasonable one?' Hell, you don't even have to mention the attitude of the spouse. Including details about one party in the issue who is "sick to her stomach" and opposed to "forcing" introduces an attention to that person and her reactions, not to the child or to reasonable expectations for meals.

This, to me, indicates that the issue isn't "what rules about eating are reasonable," but "which person is right," and that's a completely different question. If you want to ask what food rules are reasonable, Eyebrows McGee's phrasing would have totally taken care of it. But for the best answer of all, putting the situation out there straightforwardly would have been the best approach of all. I'm not sure why there is a worry that the context of marriage would skew the answers badly. This situation can't even happen outside the context of the partnership to raise a child - presumably, views from people who had similar household debates would be more useful, not less useful, than the answers that were actually offered.
posted by Miko at 8:16 AM on January 23, 2011 [11 favorites]


I don't think the question was asked in bad faith at all. Poor taste, maybe, inexperience, possibly, but:

I dropped him a note yesterday and told him he basically gets to never do that again and remain a member of the community. I decided not to delete the question because a lot of people had answered in good faith.

is, IMHO, a huge over-reaction.

And really, it's not a math question. There isn't a RIGHT or a WRONG answer, there's "Right for me" answers, which is how everyone answered, which are perfectly cogent to the question regardless of framing. He wasn't asking how to deal with the friend, he was asking for peoples experiences with their children. He even asked people to "set aside the potential presumption of the friend", because he knew that here at MeFi he'd get "OMG DTMFA" answers instead of anecdata about food.
posted by TomMelee at 8:33 AM on January 23, 2011 [6 favorites]


He even asked people to "set aside the potential presumption of the friend", because he knew that here at MeFi he'd get "OMG DTMFA" answers instead of anecdata about food.

But if that's what he wanted, why introduce a "friend" character at all?
posted by Miko at 8:34 AM on January 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


I told the OP to 'Ignore the friend." I would not have told the OP to ignore the spouse.
posted by COD at 8:41 AM on January 23, 2011 [10 favorites]




With regard to the more to ponder bit, yeah, my impression was that leotrotsky just made a mistake, not that he acted in bad faith. The mistake being not realizing how the framing of this particular topic will change the answers. Obviously his intent was to just to keep it neutral, and the bit about "our house" and the presumptuousness of the friend was an attempt to steer the answers toward the food debate and away from whether the friend was being interfering (which was irrelevant since it was really his wife).

I've used "friend" before instead of "husband" (or instead of "sister" or "mom" or whatever) to try to keep personal relationship out of it, and to protect the innocent. It doesn't seem like an abuse of askme to me; it just went badly this time because this question was about child rearing.

Well, that, AND that changing the framing halfway through the thread is kinda asking for trouble.
posted by torticat at 8:44 AM on January 23, 2011


is, IMHO, a huge over-reaction.

I'm aware that people are going to feel that way. We have a few meta-jobs in addition to just keeping the site running and one of them is keeping the peace, generally. This is not a place where people holler at each other and start fights, for the most part (I'm aware there are exceptions). Sometimes this is because of who posts here and sometimes this is because the guidelines of how we'd like people to interact with each other and how we enforce them.

So sometimes we moderate the site not for our own personal feelings [i.e. "I don't like that you did that here"] but because it becomes a site issue if people treat the site in certain ways. Our goal is to not have AskMe threads become larger issues on the site outside of the thread themselves. So, it's important that questions at least appear to be asked in good faith. While we can't ask people to actually ask in good faith, we can outline what a bad faith question looks like to us and ask that people not do that because it upsets the community and causes extra work for us and spreads bad feelings all around.

If this had been the first time we'd seen this sort of thing from this account I would totally agree with you that yeah, everyone deserves a second chance, etc. It's not. We're now in "final warning" territory.

Again, ask whatever sorts of questions you want to ask. But, if you're employing some sort of fiction for whatever your own purposes are, that's part of your question and should stay there. I'm not that psyched about that situation, but it's what you chose. Changing the details of the question partway through changes the context for many people [if possibly not for yourself] and annoys people. It's disrespectful and we'd prefer that people not do it.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:45 AM on January 23, 2011 [12 favorites]


F*ck me. I strongly agree that the framing should be kept to oneself. If I had any idea that mrstrotsky would post an updated comment changing the rules, I never would have posted the initial framing in the first place.

I so did not want to put the community in the middle of a parenting disagreement.

I should have posted it anon.
posted by leotrotsky at 8:48 AM on January 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


I felt decieved as well, but more to the point, my answer basically became unuseful.

OH NOES!
posted by yerfatma at 8:49 AM on January 23, 2011 [3 favorites]



Mrs. Trotsky has her own account.

Ha. Maybe that thread is why trotsky tried to keep the marital aspect of the disagreement out of this one.
posted by torticat at 8:50 AM on January 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Actually, she does not appear to have her own account, but feels free to pop in and out using her husband's. Dude, fork over the five bucks so she can have and use her own separate account. That would solve a lot of problems right there.
posted by Gator at 8:52 AM on January 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


There've been plenty of relationshipfilter questions where someone says, "Person X thinks Y. Person Z thinks not-Y. I'm one of these people, but not telling you whom. Which of us is right?" That sort of framing would have worked just fine here, and it would not have involved lying at all.

Of course, a lot of time, you want to give advice that is specifically designed for a particular person. "I think my roommate should do the dishes, but he doesn't. Who's right?" sometimes needs to be answered in a dramatically different way from, "I don't think I need to do the dishes, but my roommate thinks I should. Who's right?" even if your actual, objective opinion is exactly the same.

My personal pet peeve is when someone comes in with some sort of relationship advice and then, after a very long and emotional thread in which I try to provide help, says, "I've been sharing these answers with my significant other!" If I knew ahead of time that both parties would be reading the advice, I would have framed it in a way to talk to both parties, not just the one who posted.... But I understand this particular brand of grumpiness is probably unique to me.
posted by meese at 8:53 AM on January 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


Oh wait, that linked comment confused me. She does have her own account, just doesn't seem to use it much.
posted by Gator at 8:53 AM on January 23, 2011


The issue is that the marital interactions between you and your spouse matter quite a bit when it comes to the quality of your child's life. These things do not exist in a vacuum. If some particular method of parenting makes your partner unhappy to the point of physical illness, that in and of itself will negatively affect your household and your child.

So I suppose you could have asked it without "revealing" the underlying disagreement but the answers wouldn't be helpful to you. You can't separate your marriage from your child. It does not work.
posted by the young rope-rider at 8:55 AM on January 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


When James Frey revealed that he made up the facts in "A Million Little Pieces," the entire planet freaked out and Oprah rendered her garments - and I could not for the life of me see what the big deal was. The accuracy of the historical record had nothing to do with whether the book is good or not. So you spent some time posting a real answer to a fake question: where's the tragedy here?
posted by Saucy Intruder at 8:56 AM on January 23, 2011


OH NOES!

I note this because useful answers are the goal of AskMe, and because it's true for others whose answers also were well intended but became unuseful.
posted by Miko at 8:57 AM on January 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


" So you spent some time posting a real answer to a fake question: where's the tragedy here?"

There's no tragedy. It's annoying but the OP whose question did not get good answers is really the person who missed out.
posted by the young rope-rider at 9:03 AM on January 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


I followed the question with great interest because it's a popular topic of conversation between my wife and I about our own picky eater daughter. To have it revealed that the "friend" was the asker wasn't a big deal to me because the question is pretty basic about the two points of view on feeding children and I didn't pick up any emotional involvement of "family" vs. "friend" when reading responses. To me, the question, answers, and conclusions are the same if you change descriptions to mirror reality.

That said, I totally understand this weird behavior could be seen as deceptive and past transgressions point to this possibly happening again and we wouldn't want to encourage that because on some level it's an abuse of trust and the community to be less than truthful in your questions and interactions here.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 9:03 AM on January 23, 2011 [6 favorites]


Maybe leotrotsky can post it to Quora?
posted by fixedgear at 9:10 AM on January 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm finding it interesting that this couple "likes" to engage in their disagreements right on AskMe. This isn't the first time one of them has revealed themselves coming from the opposite direction in a thread. It's like AskMe is their own little Jerry Springer show.
posted by fuse theorem at 9:24 AM on January 23, 2011 [16 favorites]


So you spent some time posting a real answer to a fake question: where's the tragedy here?

Things can be frustrating and a violation of folks' expectations about their investment and time and energy into answering a question without it being a tragedy.

This place gets by in large part on the relative good will of everybody involved in the asking and the answering; obviously things are never going to be perfectly transparent or perfectly amicable as far as the site dynamic, but in general the idea that everybody is on pretty much the same page as far as how this place works is important. One of the big assumptions there is that the asker isn't taking people for a ride with the way they've framed their question. When people do get that feeling, it's pretty understandable that they're bothered by it.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:26 AM on January 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


Gator writes "For example, all the anonymous relationship questions in which the asker deliberately uses gender-neutral pronouns throughout, because they think they'll get less biased answers that way. It's understandable, but silly and defeats the purpose and usefulness of the site."

What difference do the genders in any anonymous askme make?

Saucy Intruder writes "So you spent some time posting a real answer to a fake question: where's the tragedy here?"

Because some people are answering questions to help people rather than to, I don't know, see their words appear on the screen or participate in the GRAR. Like jessamyn said if you feel the need to obfuscate your question with false details, for whatever reason, then the onus is on you to not reveal your falsehood.
posted by Mitheral at 9:32 AM on January 23, 2011


I confess that my (now deleted) AskMe about a "friend" who had a crush on "me" was actually about me having a crush on Ann Landers. I am ashamed on many levels.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 9:35 AM on January 23, 2011 [21 favorites]


Gender frequently makes a difference because men and women are different, have different problems, different resources available to them, are treated differently in various environments, etc. It's just the way of the world, whether we like it or not. Pretending otherwise, even from a place of sincerely wanting everything and everyone to be equal, is naive, I think.
posted by Gator at 9:37 AM on January 23, 2011 [7 favorites]


Why does it matter? I have a hard time imagining a good answer that'd be correct when this was a friend's idea but incorrect when it became a parent's idea being evaluated. Especially since this wasn't anything nuts — a suggestion like that just as well could come from some friend.

Are we not allowed to lie on MetaFilter?
posted by floam at 9:42 AM on January 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Why does it make a difference who the debate is between? It's good for children to be "forced fed" or it isn't.
posted by grumblebee at 9:43 AM on January 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


What difference do the genders in any anonymous askme make?

If your question has anything to do with normative expectations of other people or receptions by other people, people can give you some good guesses at why a certain thing might be a certain way that will be more culturally on-target if gender is included. People are welcome to not include that information if they think that AskMe commenters will just pile-on for whatever reason. But since it's usually more difficult to obscure gender than to include it, the very act of obscuring it becomes a data point in the question, sometimes that in and of itself can be distracting. That's part of the [always limited] data available with the question.

But a straight relationship has a different cultural context in the US (for example) than a gay or otherwise non-traditional relationship. Similarly a child being bullied in school will be dealing with different assumptions from others based on whether they are male or female. So if people want to leave that off, again, it's their choice. But to many people that sort of thing matters. And in our dream world people could process that information without bringing a lot of other baggage along with it, which I think is what people object to. We do pretty well, we could do better.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:43 AM on January 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's like AskMe is their own little Jerry Springer show.

I don't think that's a polite way to refer to the situation at all, but maybe a good discussion about how their MeFi useage overlaps is in order, as there has been some confusion about who is posting and why at times and how it might affect the other person; and this last instance seems to be Mrs. Trotsky using leotrotsky's account without his knowledge (although maybe implicit permission to use the account exists, who knows). It's lead to some awkward situations for them, and at this point, the community. In the end though, it's not so much my business as theirs, but it does lead to some confusion and potential irritation for those who are observing.
posted by SpacemanStix at 9:45 AM on January 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


Are we not allowed to lie on MetaFilter?

You are strongly discouraged from transparently lying to the userbase. Whether that means you choose not to lie or you make damned sure that whatever lies you feel the need to tell are kept to yourself and internally consistent doesn't matter so much, in that either way it does not become a disruptive thing and make people feel bad about their good faith interactions with you.

That's about all of it. This is not a question of personal morality, it's a question of community expectations. The expectation is that folks will not, whatever their motive, do things that come down to fucking with their fellow users' heads.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:45 AM on January 23, 2011 [7 favorites]


leotrotsky, I don't like being dragged into martial disputes.

But since we're here, I have to say this: cornflower blue in the living room, with that couch, really?!

and you're running Windows on all the machines?! My God, that's child abuse!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:53 AM on January 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


Miko's response interests me. Miko, sorry to put you in the spotlight, but your reaction gets to the heart of something that's confusing me.

leotrotsky's actual question was this: Setting aside the issue of 'our house, our rules' and the potential presumption of the friend, are these reasonable rules to have, or are we setting up our kid for food issues in the future?

So leotrosky is asking us to set aside the "politics" surrounding the question and just say whether or not his child-raising choice is (or isn't) healthy for the child.

Now, he totally lied about the nature of the politics, but, still, he specifically asked us to not consider it when answering his question. I DO think it's weird that, if he didn't want us to consider it, he included it at all. But I'm still capable of doing what he wants.

Similarly, if someone says, "My friend has really degrading posters of women all over his wall. He's hung them up with masking tape. Please disregard the content of the posters and just tell me if the tape is going to damage the paint-job underneath," I can do what he wants. I may not want to. I may be really offended by the posters. I may wonder why he included that information in the first place. But I am STILL capable of answering his question. Yes, it may damage the paint job.

Which is what AskMe is for.

I am not suggesting that this MeTa is inappropriate. I am not crazy about members lying to us, and I think that's worth discussing. But as I see it, there are two things going on and we're mixing them up.

1. Is it okay for members to lie to us?
2. Does the lie -- IN THIS CASE -- impact how one should answer the question?

I don't see how this lie makes any difference, but Miko (and others disagree). And I'm like to understand their reasoning.

Presumably, the lie wouldn't make a difference in certain extreme cases:

"I lock my child in his room for six weeks at a time and refuse to let him out no matter how much he screams and cries. My friend says that's bad parenting. Is it?" Presumably, we'd all answer yes, and that answer wouldn't change if the friend turned out to be the wife.

In other cases it's murkier: "I think my kids should spend time with my wife's parents. My friend disagrees. Is it important that kids get to know their grandparents?" If, in this case, it turns out the friend is the wife, that's important information. Why doesn't she want her parents and her kids to be together?

I'm trying to understand where this question stands on that continuum.

Upthread, Miko wrote "my answer basically became unuseful. The question was predicated on the impression of a united household..."

Again, the question is this: "Setting aside the issue of 'our house, our rules' and the potential presumption of the friend, are these reasonable rules to have, or are we setting up our kid for food issues in the future?"

The question posited two approaches to feeding children:

1. force your kids to eat (at least a few bites of) things they don't want.
2. let your kids eat what they want (within reason?)

Here's what Miko wrote in the thread: Miko said, "You are doing fine. Your friend should raise his or her children the way they want to..."

Sorry for being so pedantic, but if Miko is answering the question -- "are we setting up our kid for food issues in the future?" -- it sounds like she's saying, "No. Forcing your kid to eat stuff she doesn't like is not going to set her up for future food issues." But it also sounds like she's saying, "Your friend is ALSO not setting his kid for future food issues, even though he ISN'T forcing his kid to eat stuff she doesn't want." So Miko's advice is that forcing or not forcing doesn't make any difference.

Now Miko has found out that the leotrotsky and his wife aren't in agreement about this issue. Which, she feels, invalidates her response. So is Miko saying, "It's okay to force your kid and it's okay to not force your kid, because neither approach will lead to food issues. But it's NOT okay for a husband a wife to disagree about this. That WILL lead to food issues"???

That's possible. Inconsistency in a household can sometimes lead to problems with children. I'm just trying to understand -- in this case, not as a general rule -- how people think leotrotsky's lie changes anything in terms of whether or not force-feeding is good or bad for children.
posted by grumblebee at 10:22 AM on January 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


grumblebee, your question is a fair one. So that I don't have to litter in the thread with a re-paste, what are your thoughts vis-a-vis the comment from hot soup girl that I quoted in my first comment?

It seems to me that it directly answers your question, but I might be wrong?
posted by pineapple at 10:34 AM on January 23, 2011


IMHO, a huge over-reaction.

In mine too.

Saying "That was a bad idea, please don't do anything like that again" would be reasonable.

Saying "Do anything like that again and you'll be kicked out" is what seems an over-reaction.

There is a way that the people who get fighty or outraged on Mefi get their way, because it seems that in the interests of peace anything that might provoke them is ruled off-limits. What should be off-limits is the unrestrained outrage, and disproportionate fightiness itself.

The people who make the most noise are not necessarily representative of what the community as a whole feels.
posted by philipy at 10:41 AM on January 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


This is what leaps out at me from hot soup girl's response:

"it's natural that people here will want to reassure you and defend your parental rights against the criticisms of an interfering third party."

It may be "natural," but it's not answering the question. That was how I felt about what Miko posted in the thread.

leotrotsky: are we setting up our kid for food issues in the future?

Miko: You are doing fine. Your friend should raise his or her children the way they want to.

Not answering the question.

But it's very possible I don't understand Miko's answer.

I sounds to me like hot soup girl is saying, "Yes, it's true that people weren't answering the question. But it's natural for people to not-answer-the-question in certain circumstances, and you (leotrotsky) created one of those circumstances."

I don't actually think it's that hard to answer questions or move on if you can't.
posted by grumblebee at 10:41 AM on January 23, 2011 [1 favorite]



The question posited two approaches to feeding children:

1. force your kids to eat (at least a few bites of) things they don't want.


No, it didn't ask this at all. The question asks whether making dessert contingent upon the kid's trying a few bites of dinner before rejecting it is likely to cause problems down the line. It seems fairly evident to me that "We" / Mr. Trotsky doesn't regard this policy as force-feeding, and Mrs. Trotsky does. It seems fairly likely that Mr. Trotsky would categorically reject any suggestion that force-feeding is ever a good idea.

It also seems evident that Mr. Trotsky tried to maintain his deception as the mods have indicated is necessary in such situations, but that he was undermined by his wife who posted from his account. Now he's received a warning from the mods that he'll be kicked out of the community if he does it again, even though he didn't do it this time (his wife did). Furthermore he seems to be in some agony over the fact that his private marital dispute has been dragged out into the limelight despite his best efforts. I feel for the guy.
posted by jon1270 at 10:43 AM on January 23, 2011


Strictly speaking, the question didn't talk about "forcing" the kid to eat, grumblebee, just ensuring that they tried a bite of something. It was the spouse's perception that that was forcing the kid to eat.

Likewise, several people answering responded coming from a childhood of being forced to finish the plate, or being served the same thing for breakfast the next morning.

Those are a lot more extreme positions than the OP posted, I think.

There is a continuum of (what most people think) are acceptable behaviors wrt kids and mealtimes. I think both "try a bite" and "you don't have to eat anything you don't want to" are both on that continuum, whereas probably being served lima beans for breakfast if you didn't try them is not. I may be wrong. Thus, Miko (for example) can state quite reasonably that either mode of parenting (the OP's or the "friend's") is fine. What is less fine is parental tension around mealtimes, which was germane to the callout.
posted by gaspode at 10:48 AM on January 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


Fair enough, jon1270. But this...

"The question asks whether making dessert contingent upon the kid's trying a few bites of dinner before rejecting it is likely to cause problems down the line."

Is also a question that, presumably has a yes/no answer. Or the answer may be "it depends on the kid."

It MAY be the case that the answer is "it's unlikely that the kid will be adversely affected as long as both parents are on the same page about it. But if the two parents disagree, this will likely create a discord that will mess the kid up." If that's what Miko and others mean, fine. I'm just confused about what they mean.

Bottom line, I'm trying to understand the difference between these two questions:

1. My wife and I disagree about child-rearing technique X. Is X good or bad?

2. My friend and I disagree about child-reading technique X. Is X good or bad?

People are saying that the lie (or finding out the truth of the lie) changes valid responses to the question. I'm asking how.
posted by grumblebee at 10:48 AM on January 23, 2011


Thus, Miko (for example) can state quite reasonably that either mode of parenting (the OP's or the "friend's") is fine. What is less fine is parental tension around mealtimes, which was germane to the callout.

Okay, this makes sense to me.

I was responding in the spirit of "the original question still holds."

In our household we expect our toddler to eat the same food as we eat, or at least eat a certain number of bites before leaving the table. ...Are these reasonable rules to have, or are we setting up our kid for food issues in the future?

THAT was the question Miko answered. And it sounds like she thinks it's okay to do this or to not do this.
posted by grumblebee at 10:52 AM on January 23, 2011


Grumblebee, I think that's a perfectly valid question.
posted by jon1270 at 10:55 AM on January 23, 2011


It's the question that was asked.
posted by grumblebee at 10:57 AM on January 23, 2011


Why does it make a difference who the debate is between?

One is a stay at home parent, who's more active with the child's meals and arguably has a better grasp on the kid's personality and what will work best for them.

The issue isn't about what parental eating method is best, either one could work or fail, depending on the child. As a parent, it's critical that you understand your kid's personality and craft strategies and rules that will help of "fit in" with that personality and the large goal of growing and teaching a responsible human being.

The framing of the question is incredibly naive and manipulative and the mods are exactly right to discourage the crap in strong terms.

Frankly, the parents need a strong talking to, because they're not presenting a united front and one of them is undermining the other after agreeing to present a unified front, without telling their spouse. A lot more communication and a little less "I HAVE AN AGENDA BECAUSE MY WAY IS RIGHT, DAMMIT" would be great.

The moral of the story: Don't lie on AskMe, even if you think it's for good reasons. But if you do, don't fucking tell the community you're lying. Jesus.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:58 AM on January 23, 2011 [18 favorites]


I don't actually think it's that hard to answer questions or move on if you can't.

I think people generally want to feel that they're investing whatever they do to AskMe under the pretences of helping the poster with a particular issue. I think that people feel a little less easy about that when they've been deliberatively misled, even if that has no bearing on the actual question or answer itself.

To put it another way, I have an ex-friend who used to white lie about things relating to their personal life. These lies didn't impact me in any way, nor would they change my views on things, but they did make me feel that the time I spent consoling them on various things which turned out to be untrue was wasted. I stopped helping that friend because I never really knew whether what I was helping them with was actually the real deal or not, and while it didn't cost me anything, it still was a lousy feeling when you're showing real empathy to question if it's valid or not.
posted by dflemingecon at 10:58 AM on January 23, 2011


I think people generally want to feel that they're investing whatever they do to AskMe under the pretences of helping the poster with a particular issue. I think that people feel a little less easy about that when they've been deliberatively misled, even if that has no bearing on the actual question or answer itself.

I agree with this, which is why I said I felt this meta is appropriate and that the matter should be discussed.

But I think it's a separate issue from whether or not the revelation invalidates answers to this particular question.
posted by grumblebee at 11:01 AM on January 23, 2011


Yes, but the framing was inaccurate in a way I thought was significant.

I really didn't mean to offend. If I did, please accept my apology.
posted by jon1270 at 11:01 AM on January 23, 2011


Yes, but the framing was inaccurate in a way I thought was significant.


Significant how would you answer? In what way?

You didn't offend me, jon1270. I think it's an open question as to whether or not the friend/wife thing changes anything significant in terms of answering the question. Miko, Brandon Blatcher and others clearly think it does. I wouldn't say I clearly think it doesn't. I just don't really get their point of view.

Like most people here, I dislike being lied to. But that's a separate matter.
posted by grumblebee at 11:05 AM on January 23, 2011


People are saying that the lie (or finding out the truth of the lie) changes valid responses to the question. I'm asking how.

It would change the correct answer for those who see the world mostly through a relationship lens.
posted by Brent Parker at 11:08 AM on January 23, 2011


a question that, presumably has a yes/no answer

Well, but that presumption removes all context, and context almost always matters in human relations questions. There are very few questions of this nature that can really be answered with a binary yes/no answer. It's not like asking for book or therapist recommendations.

"We like to use bondage in the bedroom, but a friend thinks this is humiliating and degrading. Is it?" If the friend is actually the wife, would you answer differently? One version of the question presumes a united couple that's perfectly happy with an arrangement that seems to be working fine for them, but an outsider has raised doubts and they'd like some objective input. The other version of the question reveals a fundamental conflict about a very serious subject that needs to be resolved in order to maintain/restore harmony in the home.
posted by Gator at 11:10 AM on January 23, 2011 [17 favorites]


Why does it make a difference who the debate is between?

Another point, beyond the pragmatics of lying and how it affects the question, is that the way that I choose to answer a question to someone depends an awful lot on whether I think a third party I'm talking about is in the same room. Mrs. Trotsky was in the same room, but we were invited to respond as if we were critiquing an anonymous third party. It's not fair to not know that.

I'm not too torn up over the deception, and I do understand how it came about. But at the same time, I'll affirm that this kind of thing is almost always never good for communities, and usually because people don't understand the potential fallout it causes in terms of long term trust. It's not the end of the world, but it's not "no big deal" either.
posted by SpacemanStix at 11:10 AM on January 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


People are saying that the lie (or finding out the truth of the lie) changes valid responses to the question. I'm asking how.

I can't imagine it does change the actual answer, but when I think about it, if two friends were arguing publicly over how to raise a child, I might jump in, however if a couple were arguing publicly over how to raise their child, I'd be a lot less likely to get involved.

That might be a silly social convention, but linked above is another example where leotrotsky brought a marital argument to AskMe with the intention of us solving it (and his wife found out, and suggested he talk to HER about it), and that might make people a little uneasy to get involved, if they knew that.
posted by dflemingecon at 11:10 AM on January 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


This kind of question does not exist and did not arise from laboratory conditions, and you can't just assume away a fundamental aspect of the way that this question arose -- which is that the person who was taking the opposite position (and saying that the asker's question made her feel "sick to her stomach" - or was that invented, too?) is a stay at home mother, whose basis for holding an opinion of a particular approach to childrearing - as expressed in the unique circumstances of her own child, with whom she spends umpteen hours per day - is going to be significantly superior from even a friend. I may have been the one who triggered jessamyn's response in thread; I e-mailed the mods about this because I thought it could be corrected relatively simply.

The fact that any real world circumstance could be altered to a significantly different hypothetical, which could in itself produce a valid question, does not answer the question as to whether that kind of silent alteration should be allowed.
posted by chinston at 11:13 AM on January 23, 2011


"It also seems evident that Mr. Trotsky tried to maintain his deception as the mods have indicated is necessary in such situations, but that he was undermined by his wife who posted from his account. Now he's received a warning from the mods that he'll be kicked out of the community if he does it again, even though he didn't do it this time (his wife did). Furthermore he seems to be in some agony over the fact that his private marital dispute has been dragged out into the limelight despite his best efforts. I feel for the guy."

I agree with this. I feel bad for the guy too, and his wife clearly needs her own account.
posted by pineapple at 11:13 AM on January 23, 2011


What I mean is that mischaracterizing the original question that way is significant to the broader discussion. I'm not sure it makes any difference to the specific aspect you are addressing.
posted by jon1270 at 11:14 AM on January 23, 2011


Actually, the more I think about it, the more there is a case for invalidity:

In the framed question, Leo + Wife have child 1, who is raised way A.

Friend + Spouse have child 2, who is raised way B.

In this scenario, saying "you should raise your child however you want" is valid because each child can be raised a different way. It put the emphasis on the parents' choice, not whether A or B is more valid.

If, however, Leo wants to raise child 1 way A, and Wife wants to raise child 1 way B, then the person who said "raise the child however you want" no longer presents a valid option for how the child gets raised. So for the answerer, they've now presented an invalid option inadvertently, only because they were lied to in the framing of the question.
posted by dflemingecon at 11:18 AM on January 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


and his wife clearly needs her own account.

She has her own account; as noted above, this is not the first time they have had a dialogue via AskMe (about which I make no judgments). It is somewhat strange that she posted using his account for this thread, though.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 11:19 AM on January 23, 2011


Yes, mrstrotsky has her own account.
posted by chinston at 11:21 AM on January 23, 2011


Well, but that presumption removes all context, and context almost always matters in human relations questions. There are very few questions of this nature that can really be answered with a binary yes/no answer. It's not like asking for book or therapist recommendations.

I'm wondering if this is true in this particular case. I purposefully didn't answer the question (even before the lie was exposed), because I knew I didn't have a relevant answer. My parents let me eat whatever I wanted and never forced me (or even pushed me) to eat anything I didn't want to eat. And I'm a 45-year-old picky eater. But MAN is that ever anecdotal!

In theory, at least, one could answer this question more objectively. So I was waiting for someone to pop in with something like this:

"The University of Maryland did a study in 1983. They interviewed 1000 people from various background and asked them about their current eating habits and also about how strict their parents were about them eating what was put in front of them. It turns out that 72% of adults raised by strict parents are open to exotic foods, whereas only 14% of adults raised by lax parents are willing to experiment when eating." [In case you're skimming, I made up that quote. IT'S NOT REAL.]

THAT would be a good answer TO THE QUESTION ASKED and it would be good regardless of whether or not the friend was actually the wife.

I can even see how, in theory, anecdotes could help. If 300 people answered the question, and almost all the picky eaters said they were raised by lax parents and almost all the adventurous people said they were raised by dinner-table disciplinarians, that would at least somewhat replicate my fictitious U of Maryland study.

Again, it would be useful info regardless of the friend/wife thing.

Issues surrounding harmonious homes and parents-being-on-the-same page MAY be relevant to this specific question. Or maybe not.
posted by grumblebee at 11:27 AM on January 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


In this scenario, saying "you should raise your child however you want" is valid because each child can be raised a different way. It puts the emphasis on the parents' choice, not whether A or B is more valid.

No, it's not valid. Because the QUESTION was specifically about whether A is better than B.

The QUESTION doesn't "put the emphasis on parents' choice." It puts the emphasis on whether A or B is more valid.

You can say, "That's question doesn't make sense. But if you're answering the question, you have to choose A or B -- otherwise you're not answering the question."
posted by grumblebee at 11:32 AM on January 23, 2011


> I sounds to me like hot soup girl is saying, "Yes, it's true that people weren't answering the question. But it's natural for people to not-answer-the-question in certain circumstances, and you (leotrotsky) created one of those circumstances."

No, that's not what I'm saying at all. I'm saying people are going to answer the question. They're going to answer the question as described, which includes the detail that the person with the objection is an outside observer with no stake in the outcome, limited opportunity to observe the situation, and no authority. Leotrosky's approach, as he describes it, sounds quite reasonable—and yet the objector is very perturbed by it. If the objector is merely a meddling friend, they can be disregarded; if they're the primary caregiver and spouse, they cannot.

Unlike your hypothetical example (where the photo on the poster does not affect the stickiness of the adhesive attaching it to the wall), emotional responses are inescapable when answering this question. People will, consciously or unconsciously, give more credence to the parent than the third party. There are many ways to raise children that are more or less valid. Your made-up example is about physics, but this question is about interpersonal relationships (the relationship of the parent to the friend, and the relationship of the parent to the child), and realistically, that will impact people's answering approach. People aren't robots; it's not unthinkable that the goodwill Mefites feel towards each other to make them want to reassure each other about their parenting choices. You can argue that people should answer as if the extraneous information wasn't in the question, but it was in the question. People respond to questions as a gestalt; asking them to disregard the information you gave them doesn't mean they will, or that it's reasonable to expect them to.

[To be honest, I don't feel strongly about this issue, but I do feel you misconstrued my comment.]
posted by hot soup girl at 11:46 AM on January 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


So, does framing it as "a third party thinks X about our child-rearing choice Y" versus the real scenario of "my spouse thinks X and I think Y" give the AskMe audience enough information?

No, the former (false) statement does not give the AskMe audience enough information. A married couple disagreeing over how to raise their child, who belongs equally to both of them, is very, very different than someone who's not in the family but is just a "friend" telling the parents how to raise their child. The answer to one will likely be very different from the answer to the other.
posted by John Cohen at 11:51 AM on January 23, 2011


But if you're answering the question, you have to choose A or B -- otherwise you're not answering the question.

Not at all. The correct answer might differ based on what your criteria for evaluating 'better' is. If your criteria is 'the child grows up to eat a wide and varied range of foods', then one answer might be correct. If your criteria is 'your child grows up with an increased sense of self-efficacy', then the answer might be quite different.

FWIW, I'm siding with Mom Trotsky.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:04 PM on January 23, 2011


I'm more bothered about the account sharing between the trotskys than anything else in this MeTa, which is full of stuff that doesn't quite pass the smell test. I was under the impression that sharing accounts was generally forbidden (obviously with exceptions for emergencies, which the AskMe question isn't). I know there are a lot of married couples on the site and my understanding is that most of them don't use the site that way. Am I totally off base or does the account sharing present a separate issue?
posted by immlass at 12:05 PM on January 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


hot soup girl, I am sorry I misinterpreted your post.

There are many ways to raise children that are more or less valid.

See, I don't get what "valid" is or how it pertains to the question. For instance, I think it's LIKELY, though not definite, that my parents' lax approach made me the picky eater I am today. But I also don't think that my picky-eating is a problem. I think it's okay for me to be a picky eater. So if the question was, "is it valid to raise kids the way my parents raised me?" and if "valid" means "will my kids, in general, turn out okay?" then your remark about validity would make sense to me.

But that wasn't the question. The question was:

In our household we expect our toddler to eat the same food as we eat, or at least eat a certain number of bites before leaving the table. ...Are these reasonable rules to have, or are we setting up our kid for food issues in the future?

There's nothing there about validity. IF I'm right in my hunch that my upbringing led to my pickiness, then it's TRUE that my upbringing led me to have food issues. I DO have food issues. The fact that I think it's okay that I have them -- not ideal maybe, but not a tragedy -- is neither here nor there in terms of answering the question.

Maybe I'm misunderstanding what you mean by "valid."

The question wasn't "is it okay to be strict about food." It was more specific than that. It was "does being-strict lead to food issues?" Valid responses to that are, "Yes, because..." and "No, because..."

"It depends, because..." may be valid, too.

If the answer is "it depends on whether or not the two parents are in agreement," that's an interesting claim. And it may be true. But I'd like to hear it elaborated on.

I think it's likely that a certain number of people were hearing the question as, "I'm worried that I'm a bad parent" and their answers were something along the line of "There, there. You're not a bad parent." That's an understandable, caring response. But it's not answering the specific question asked.
posted by grumblebee at 12:19 PM on January 23, 2011


grumblebee, I know you're a very literal-minded person (I am too, though I think to a lesser extent), but as I was trying to say to you upthread, such strict literalism about THE QUESTION isn't always the best or most helpful way to go when it comes to human relations questions. It's not "how to hang a poster" or "recommend a book about X" or some other practical question. The literal question in this case was "are these reasonable rules to have, or are we setting up our kid for food issues," and the question of reasonableness relies heavily on context.
posted by Gator at 12:33 PM on January 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


Fair enough, Gator. I am still guessing that strictness about food DOES have a measurable effect.
posted by grumblebee at 12:34 PM on January 23, 2011


People saying that jessamyn's reaction was too harsh seem to have missed her comment that the Trotsky couple have pulled bullshit like this before; this wasn't an out-of-the-gate response.
posted by tzikeh at 12:34 PM on January 23, 2011 [8 favorites]


mrstrotsky has her own account.

Got it. I never saw that; I thought her anon question had been posted from leotrotsky. It makes this comment even hinkier.

hot soup girl: sorry if I dragged you into something you'd rather not have been, here in the MeTa. Your comment in the original AskMe really hit the nail on the head of why I was bothered by the "friend" framing and the in-thread revelation, and it seemed better to share your words than to try and rephrase.
posted by pineapple at 12:46 PM on January 23, 2011


grumblebee, when you present the question stripped of all context about the relationships between people, then yes, it does sound as if the question were asked without any such context.

But, of course, the question did have that context. If you want to post a question about the food issues you're talking about, in the abstract, with no details about who's taking what position and the relationships between them, go ahead. That question could be interesting, but it wouldn't be the same as the question that was posted.
posted by John Cohen at 12:47 PM on January 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


Frankly, the parents need a strong talking to, because they're not presenting a united front and one of them is undermining the other after agreeing to present a unified front, without telling their spouse. A lot more communication and a little less "I HAVE AN AGENDA BECAUSE MY WAY IS RIGHT, DAMMIT" would be great.

Yes, absolutely, especially given that they've played out their disagreements on AskMe before -- it gives the impression that there are some pretty fundamental issues regarding communication and conflict that aren't about food issues or law school or whatever the proxy disagreement may be.

I hope (and I say this without snark) that either of the Trotskys will consider an AskMe question sometime about how to work on those issues, rather than trying to use (manipulate?) AskMe to gain some sort of leverage in a particular fight. It has the air of trying to game the community, which is disrespectful to us and -- more importantly -- unlikely to provide any healthy, workable, lasting solutions for them.
posted by scody at 12:53 PM on January 23, 2011 [9 favorites]


grumblebee, you're asking us to answer questions assuming frictionless elephants on infinitely inclined planes if someone frames their question about moving an elephant that way. That isn't actually making AskMe work better; it's rules-lawyering.

The right answer to "How do I move my elephant? Assume a frictionless elephant on an infinitely inclined plane" is "You will not be able to move your elephant without taking friction and the actual inclination of the plane into consideration."

The right answer to "What is the correct approach to feeding a child when the two parents disagree?" is "You and the other parent must find a solution you're both willing to participate in, or it will be very confusing and disruptive to the child."
posted by Sidhedevil at 1:01 PM on January 23, 2011 [5 favorites]


Well, the revelation actually made me feel a lot better because we're a 'she can eat what she wants' house and when everyone piled on and said 'oh, not, it's way better if the kid is forced to eat three bites, otherwise she'll grow up refusing to eat anywhere but Ruby Tuesday's' I felt like we weren't doing our duty getting her to explore the delights of roasted eel sushi or braised asparagus spears.

I actually shared it with Mr. Llama in an Oh Noes We're Horrible Parents sort of way. Then I made her some chicken nuggets and fries.

My big dream with this kid -- I'm serious -- is that one day she'll eat oysters with me. Mr. Llama can't even look at me when I eat oysters. Baby Llama is my great hope.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 1:03 PM on January 23, 2011 [4 favorites]


it sounds like she thinks it's okay to do this or to not do this.

No, that's not how I meant it. I actually don't think it's okay to set up dessert as a reward and withhold it if a child refuses food, and that's what I said. What I meant instead was that a friend should raise their child however they want to, which is none of anyone else's business unless she asks, and stay out of the realm of critiquing the united parenting styles of a couple that she knows, unless they ask. It's not that I meant that the friend's way is fine and the couple's way is also fine, it's that I meant they should observe clearer boundaries about who makes parenting decisions within one household - especially because, to all appearances, the parents in the question were united in their approach to getting children to try a variety of foods. They asked "is this reasonable" and I think it is reasonable, with the exception that any other reward or punishment hinge on whether or not the child eats the food. In other words, it seemed to be a question of "do we listen to our friend about our already-made, shared parenting decision? Or do we listen to ourselves? And is our shared policy reasonable?"

What's odd to me is that the OP structured the question so as to introduce these pretend politics between the friend and the couple, and then tried to ask for answers "setting aside the politics..." which is essentially impossible given the framing. If the politics are not of interest, the better way to ask the question is "Is it reasonable to require our child to taste everything on the table and then be rewarded with dessert?"
posted by Miko at 1:03 PM on January 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


It certainly is a fascinating case study in knowing what your question is and removing the extraneous. If the question is, "Are there any studies that correlate the parental strictness or laxness at the dining table with eating disorders of any stripe and/or pickiness later in childhood or adulthood," that question can be asked in one sentence without the framing of a disagreement (with whomever). On the other hand, if the question is "How can my wife and I see eye to eye on developing good eating habits for our child when we had very different upbringings," then that, too, can be asked succinctly. I don't presume to know what the question was in this case (though I'd like to know the answer to both of these formulations).

I think AskMe is pretty evenly split between too much information and too little information.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 1:05 PM on January 23, 2011


And yes, if there's visible tension and disagreement between parents about what the child must eat, that is a fantastic way to develop some issues around food.
posted by Miko at 1:05 PM on January 23, 2011 [5 favorites]


People will, consciously or unconsciously, give more credence to the parent than the third party.

But don't you think this is what leotrotsky was trying to avoid? I think he was trying to get as objective an answer as possible to the question of whether requiring a kid to try new foods will cause food issues later in life. He didn't want answers like, "It's the kid's mom; listen to her." He wanted facts (or maybe, anecdata).

I think the question was framed prejudicially in his favor; but then, he ran it by the wife first, so not too much can be made of that.
posted by torticat at 1:16 PM on January 23, 2011


Meh, the account sharing: they have a computer that's logged into MeFi as one of them, never log it out. Whatever. She surfs, wants to answer, but it's logged in as him. I don't think it's that much of a problem considering she clearly identified herself as her-not-him.

Also, he did say they discussed the wording of the question before he posted it, so it's not like they're having it out on AskMe, Jerry Springer style.

This is an interesting thread as far as the fictional details strategy goes, but there's no need to invent drama to be all het up about.
posted by ctmf at 1:19 PM on January 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


> Maybe I'm misunderstanding what you mean by "valid."

Yes, I think so, and I also think you're reading more into this word than I intended. All I meant was: there isn't a binary right or wrong way to raise your children, so unless the OP's approach strikes people as clearly abusive, they probably won't exhort him to change his parenting style to suit the opinions of an interfering 'friend'. The OP asks, 'are these reasonable rules to have', and as described, they don't seem completely unreasonable. I don't think people are saying 'There, there—you're not a bad parent' as much as they're saying, 'No, the rules aren't unreasonable, so ignore the unsolicited opinions of your meddlesome friend'. But, as COD says, most people wouldn't say, 'Ignore the opinions of your spouse', particularly if the spouse's approach is also 'reasonable'.

IF I'm right in my hunch that my upbringing led to my pickiness, then it's TRUE that my upbringing led me to have food issues.

I don't disagree with you in spirit, but I'm not sure your hunch is conclusively true. Some people's food issues might owe more to nature than nurture: people do taste food differently, and our desire for novelty seems to be, at least in part, influenced by genetics. I'm no expert, but I gather that the influence of genetic vs environmental factors in food preferences is still an open enquiry.

The question wasn't "is it okay to be strict about food." It was more specific than that. It was "does being-strict lead to food issues?" Valid responses to that are, "Yes, because..." and "No, because..."

Your rephrasing changes the meaning considerably. The OP's question is actually, 'Are these reasonable rules to have, or are we setting up our kid for food issues in the future?'—this is quite different from 'does being-strict lead to food issues', because the OP doesn't consider his rules to be strict. His spouse does, and her opinion counts because she's the child's primary caregiver.
posted by hot soup girl at 1:20 PM on January 23, 2011


In fact, if they're jointly asking a question, I think it's better that her amplifying info be posted under the OPs account, so it gets the highlight bar.
posted by ctmf at 1:22 PM on January 23, 2011


What a bizarre kerfluffle. Praise to jessamyn for sorting this one out appropriately.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:24 PM on January 23, 2011 [6 favorites]


"Why does it make a difference who the debate is between? It's good for children to be "forced fed" or it isn't."

Absolutely not true. Kids are different, families are different. There is very little general advice that works for every parent and every child.

The opinion of one (or both) parents that a particular strategy is harmful to a child is very important information to have. Some children will not be harmed by certain parenting techniques while some children will suffer tremendously from those same techniques.


Example:

My older sister hated playing by herself as an infant and toddler. She would become very upset, occasionally to the point of vomiting, if she wasn't within visual range of a familiar caregiver. However, she slept through the night and napped on a schedule from a very early age, leaving my parents a lot of predictable time to get things done independently. Would you say it would be appropriate for them to leave her in her playpen to scream and cry alone while they napped or did chores around the house?

In contrast, I enjoyed playing by myself, and would happily play alone from a relatively young age. I didn't sleep through the night for a very long time, and napped much less than most babies. Would it be appropriate for my parents to leave me in my playpen so they could nap or do chores around the house?
____

If you just frame that as "is it okay to leave a 6-month-old in a playpen while I nap or do chores?" then important context about the way it affects the child in question (and the parents) is missing.

In this question, we essentially got "is it okay to treat my child this way? My wife and I both think it's fine." which indicated that no one close to the child thought it was harmful. "It makes my wife sick to her stomach" gives a very different picture of effect it might be having on that individual child and family and yes, it changes the advice.


Although I should point out that I thought his methods were not brilliant even if both parents agreed to them.
posted by the young rope-rider at 1:33 PM on January 23, 2011 [5 favorites]


torticat > But don't you think this is what leotrotsky was trying to avoid? I think he was trying to get as objective an answer as possible to the question of whether requiring a kid to try new foods will cause food issues later in life. He didn't want answers like, "It's the kid's mom; listen to her." He wanted facts (or maybe, anecdata).

If the OP wanted objectivity, he should have omitted the deceptive framing entirely, and asked for research or anecdata or best practices. His 'parent vs friend' fiction made objectivity much less likely.
posted by hot soup girl at 1:36 PM on January 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


"My big dream with this kid -- I'm serious -- is that one day she'll eat oysters with me."

I used to refuse such kid staples as french fries (!!). No seafood. No orange juice. No milk without chocolate sauce in it (LOL). I went through a period where my diet was almost exclusively:

--Pasta with melted butter
--Rice with soy sauce
--Corn
--Chicken tenders
--Saltine crackers

After many battles over food (sometimes I'd vomit because many things were genuinely disgusting to me) my parents gave up and just gave me whatever.

Toddlers and young children go through picky phases. It's totally developmentally normal.

Now I eat a decent variety of foods and have no problem trying new things.
posted by the young rope-rider at 1:38 PM on January 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Why does it make a difference who the debate is between?

Because it's not a debate. It's an ideological parenting struggle.
posted by 23skidoo at 1:44 PM on January 23, 2011


OP doesn't consider his rules to be strict.

Darn old words.

Sorry, I didn't mean "strict" in a pejorative sense. I meant it in a relative sense -- relative to letting your kid eat whatever she wants.

I would not let my kid play in traffic. If, because of that, someone called me a strict parent, I would disagree, assuming they meant "unfair" or "too regimented." In my opinion, it's not "too regimented." It's as regimented as it needs to be. But if they meant, "strict compared to someone who lets their kids play in traffic," then, yes, that word applies to me.

I was just trying to come up with a quick label to apply one of the two approaches.

Your rephrasing changes the meaning considerably. The OP's question is actually, 'Are these reasonable rules to have, or are we setting up our kid for food issues in the future?'—this is quite different from 'does being-strict lead to food issues', because the OP doesn't consider his rules to be strict. His spouse does, and her opinion counts because she's the child's primary caregiver.

Ah, I see a problem. The question, as actually phrased, doesn't make sense -- not if you take it literally. The "or" implies a binary situation: EITHER our rules are reasonable OR we're setting our kid up for food issues in the future. Which is it?

Depending on how you define "reasonable," the answer could be "Both are true. You are being reasonable AND you're setting your kid up for future food issues." This might be the case if what they were doing was normal parenting in our culture. For instance, I think public school harms most kids. But I don't think parents are unreasonable for sending their kids to public school, because that's the norm in our culture. It's reasonable to assume that what almost everyone does -- and what experts tell you to do -- is a good thing. Even though (in my opinion) it happens to be wrong.

Since I couldn't parse an apparent EITHER/OR question as a POSSIBLY-BOTH question, I assumed that leotrotsky was using "reasonable" to mean "unlikely-to-lead-to." I interpreted the question as "Is this parenting style likely to lead to our kid having a healthy relationship with food or is it likely to lead to food issues."

It didn't occur to me that there were other possible interpretations.
posted by grumblebee at 1:49 PM on January 23, 2011


Why does it make a difference who the debate is between?

Because it's not a debate. It's an ideological parenting struggle.

Can you explain the difference to me? Isn't an ideological parenting struggle a kind of debate?

1. To consider something; deliberate.
2. To engage in argument by discussing opposing points.
3. To engage in a formal discussion or argument. See Synonyms at discuss.
4. Obsolete To fight or quarrel.
v.tr.
1. To deliberate on; consider.
2. To dispute or argue about.
3. To discuss or argue (a question, for example) formally.
4. Obsolete To fight or argue for or over.
n.
1. A discussion involving opposing points; an argument.
2. Deliberation; consideration: passed the motion with little debate.
3. A formal contest of argumentation in which two opposing teams defend and attack a given proposition.
4. Obsolete Conflict; strife.

Are you saying that there wasn't an argument going on with two opposing points of view? A conflict is not a debate when it's "fought" using "weapons" other than words. For instance, a rock fight isn't a debate. But doesn't this conflict being fought, at least partly, using words?

I don't get it.
posted by grumblebee at 1:53 PM on January 23, 2011


Meh, the account sharing: they have a computer that's logged into MeFi as one of them, never log it out. Whatever. She surfs, wants to answer, but it's logged in as him. I don't think it's that much of a problem considering she clearly identified herself as her-not-him.

It's less stinky because she mentioned she was doing it, but it still smells bad, especially given the history dredged up in this MeTa. It erodes confidence in the identities of users. Pseudonymous identity is real identity; just because your "name" is a handle doesn't mean people don't expect the same person or group to be behind it every time. If the Metafilter rule/social contract is that I post from my own handle and my husband posts from his own handle (if he joins), it should apply equally to everyone. If that's not the deal, then I misunderstood and I'd like to be told so I can adjust my expectations of who is behind individual usernames accordingly.
posted by immlass at 1:56 PM on January 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


grumblebee, you now seem to have drilled all the way down to a vein of "connotation vs. denotation" in the discussion. As someone who is also frequently very precise and literal in my conversations, at least in real life, I'm starting to just kind of shake my head here. It's a question of human relations, and you're like, "THESE RESPONSES DO NOT COMPUTE FOR SUPPLIED PARAMETERS. ERROR! ERROR!"
posted by Gator at 2:00 PM on January 23, 2011 [6 favorites]


It's less stinky because she mentioned she was doing it, but it still smells bad, especially given the history dredged up in this MeTa.

It's also weird that she replied earlier in the thread under her own account, without identifying herself as the OP's wife, but as if she was offering a neutral datapoint (though her username should have been a tipoff, I guess).
posted by Gator at 2:03 PM on January 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


Because it's not a debate. It's an ideological parenting struggle.

Can you explain the difference to me? Isn't an ideological parenting struggle a kind of debate?


You can win a debate. You shake hands with the opponent or cuss them out, but either way, you don't have to go home with them, sleep next to them or spend, at the least, the next few months or years and potentially the rest of your life with them.


You can win an ideological struggle, but create friction in your marriage by doing so.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:03 PM on January 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


Well, but that presumption removes all context, and context almost always matters in human relations questions.

But it's a "food and drink" question. The poster even went to extra mile to try to keep the human relations crap out of it.
posted by floam at 2:04 PM on January 23, 2011


Well toddlers aren't robots, nor are parents, so you can't really keep "human relations crap" out of a question about a parenting disagreement, no matter how you classify it.
posted by the young rope-rider at 2:13 PM on January 23, 2011


Gator, I understand that human-relations are complex. If someone asked, "Should I dump my boyfriend?" I wouldn't be saying, "There's a right and there's wrong answer? Obviously, it depends on many things particular to the people involved."

In this case, you're interpreting it as a human-retaliations question and I'm not. I mean, of course it INVOLVES humans relating, because it's about a parent (or parents) relating to a child. But I assume you would agree that SOME such questions are cut-and-dry: "Is giving your kids cigarettes likely to lead to them getting sick?"

Sorry, I know people hate it when I bring up extreme examples. I'm just trying to give a sense of how I see the spectrum these questions are on. My cigarette question involves humans-relating-to-one-another, but I doubt you'd call it a human-relationships question. I doubt you'd say, "It depends on the parents and kids in question. We'd need to know a lot more about them before answering."

Now, we had an interesting thread recently about Chua, the "Tiger Mom." I was very hard on her. I think her style of parenting is abusive. If she posted here and asked if "is what I'm doing reasonable or is it likely to lead to problems?" I would feel very confident saying "it's likely to lead to problems."

But to be 100% honest, I don't think Chua's approach is necessarily going to be devastating in all cases. To some extent, it DOES depend on the specific kids and parents involved -- much more so than with cigarettes. Still, I feel pretty comfortable saying "telling your kid that she can't go to the bathroom until she plays her piano piece perfectly is bad parenting." There are exceptions, but that's a generally good answer. I might qualify that answer with an "in general" or an "without knowing more about you and your kids," but I still stand by it.

Now, if someone asked, "Is it bad for me to let my kids watch four-hours of TV a day?," I'd feel much less secure about answering with generalities. To me, THIS is a human-relations question of the sort you are talking about. WHAT are the kids watching? Are their parents sitting with them WHILE they're watching? Etc. There's a lot of gray.

So, though I may be wrong, I'm guessing you and I just classify the food-question differently. To me, it's in the Chua category. I don't feel like I have an answer, the way I do with Chua, but I feel like an answer EXISTS. And I feel like it's probably one that does work for MOST -- not all -- kids. You may feel differently.
posted by grumblebee at 2:17 PM on January 23, 2011


You can win a debate. You shake hands with the opponent or cuss them out, but either way, you don't have to go home with them, sleep next to them or spend, at the least, the next few months or years and potentially the rest of your life with them.

Are you defining "debate" as "what one does on the debate team"? Because in that case, you're right. But my wife and I have been known to debate things. And we DO have to go home with each other and sleep next to each other.

I think this is just coming down to what arbitrary meaning you assign "debate," and I'm sorry if I was confusing earlier. I DIDN'T mean "an idle, intellectual argument." I meant "a conflict."
posted by grumblebee at 2:19 PM on January 23, 2011


a human-retaliations question

Best typo ever.
posted by RogerB at 2:22 PM on January 23, 2011 [9 favorites]


But it's a "food and drink" question. The poster even went to extra mile to try to keep the human relations crap out of it.

But it's not really a "food and drink" question, despite leotrotsky's (mis)labeling -- it is, in fact, a parenting (and therefore a human relations) question. The question was not for child-friendly recipes. It would be like labeling a dispute about a borrowed book as a "writing & language" question. It mistakes the subject of the disagreement as the issue, rather than the disagreement itself.
posted by scody at 2:24 PM on January 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


Are you defining "debate" as "what one does on the debate team"? Because in that case, you're right. But my wife and I have been known to debate things. And we DO have to go home with each other and sleep next to each other.

No, I'm defining debate as something more rationally done, as opposed to an ideological parenting struggle which can be the very definition of not rational, especially in this specific case where one parent is "sick to their stomach" about the other's parenting style when it comes to food.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:26 PM on January 23, 2011


Well toddlers aren't robots, nor are parents, so you can't really keep "human relations crap" out of a question about a parenting disagreement, no matter how you classify it.

"My wife is a Christian Scientist who doesn't believe in using medicine or doctors. Our son is running 105 temperature and vomiting. My wife says he'll be fine if we just stay home and pray for him. I think he's more likely to get better if we take him to the emergency room. Who is right?"

Okay, there IS complexity to this SITUATION. Maybe an emergency-room visit will lead to mom being so upset that she divorces dad. But that's not the question. The question is will prayer or medicine be more likely to help cure whatever is wrong with the kid.

I guess an interesting topic for discussion is when should you just answer the literal question asked? when is it okay to answer it and maybe ALSO go into some of the surrounding stuff? and when should you ignore the question and just focus on the surrounding stuff?

I'm betting we're not all on the same page about that stuff. And I doubt we even tend to agree on what constitues the question and what constitutes the "surrounding stuff." This question was especially fraught, because leotrotsky gave us information than told us to ignore some of it. That was a confusion even before the whole lie thing happened.

My tendency is to say, "Okay, since you asked me to, I WILL ignore the stuff you asked me to ignore and just answer the question you asked me to answer." Others disagree.
posted by grumblebee at 2:28 PM on January 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


One common definition of "debate" is "to dispute or argue about," which needn't be rational. This is why sometimes people say "we were having a RATIONAL debate." They're differentiating it from non-rational debates.

In any case, I doubt it's worth "debating" this any more. You and I just define the word differently. And even if your definition is more standard than mine, it's not what I meant. I meant "conflict." I'm sorry if the word I used to express that was confusing. My bad.
posted by grumblebee at 2:31 PM on January 23, 2011


Dude, whats with all the caps?
posted by Admira at 2:33 PM on January 23, 2011


The poster even went to extra mile to try to keep the human relations crap out of it.

Another way to look at it: the OP introduced loaded human relations crap into the question, then asked responders to ignore the human relations crap. After all, the OP is the person who stated that a friend found [his/her] parenting choices to be sickening. That's a hard bell to unring, which is exactly why I didn't chime in on that question: I couldn't answer it without considering the apparent (but intentionally inaccurate) framing.

And in doing so, as others have pointed out above, the OP failed to convey a crucial piece of information to responders: that at most or all mealtimes, one parent is feeling sick to [his/her] stomach and maybe being persuaded to parent in a way that is contrary both to [his/her] instinct and considered opinion. And that's a key piece of information if the real question is "are these reasonable rules to have, or are we setting up our kid for food issues in the future?"

Having parents jointly agree to enforce the rules the OP describes is one thing; a parent overriding another spouse in a question that evokes such a powerful visceral response (a response which the child is likely seeing) and creating tension at every mealtime? That's something else, something that seems potentially much worse for the kid (which is the crux of the question) and also for the parents.
posted by Elsa at 2:36 PM on January 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


a parent overriding another spouse

And of course I meant "one parent overriding the other parent."

posted by Elsa at 2:37 PM on January 23, 2011


"My wife is a Christian Scientist who doesn't believe in using medicine or doctors. Our son is running 105 temperature and vomiting. My wife says he'll be fine if we just stay home and pray for him. I think he's more likely to get better if we take him to the emergency room. Who is right?"


Ah, a question that has an answer that will be the same for every child. Not the kind of parenting question I'm talking about.
posted by the young rope-rider at 2:44 PM on January 23, 2011


Dude, whats with all the caps?

Me?

It's how I indicate italics in an ascii environment. Yeah, I know there's html here. Sorry, it's an old habit that stems from my advanced old age. I started using computers back in the punch-card days. I spent five years posting to message boards via a CRT hooked up to a mainframe. And my first computer couldn't even type lower-case characters.

When I wrote books, I have to do a find/replace when I'm done, converting all all-caps words to italicized words. If I italicize as I go, I lose my train of thought.

Even given that, do I overuse italics? (Or pseudo-italics?) Possibly. Sorry. I write like I SPEAK. And I'm probably really ANNOYING when I speak. But you'd have to ask my friends about that.
posted by grumblebee at 2:46 PM on January 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


His "misrepresentation" has nothing to do with the question. I don't see how anyone, including the mods, gets off on being outraged by it. The question is about the kid, not the marriage.
posted by spaltavian at 2:47 PM on January 23, 2011


The question is about the kid, not the marriage.

Yeah, no. When you have a really fundamental parenting issue (i.e., getting the kid to eat) in which the parents disagree with each other, when they fail to present a united front to the child, and when one parent is at the table getting physically ill over the conflict... the question is about the marriage AND about the kid.
posted by scody at 2:51 PM on January 23, 2011 [4 favorites]


No. The question is absolutely, one-hundred percent about the kid. It is irrelevant that there are other issues going on here, and what you think it important is beside the point as well. There was a narrowly defined question and if you find you can't answer it, don't.
posted by spaltavian at 2:56 PM on January 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't see how anyone, including the mods, gets off on being outraged by it.

Well, this should be a lesson to all of us that, though we all read the same thing, our brains interpret it in different ways.

floam: t's a "food and drink" question.

scody: it's not really a "food and drink" question

TomMelee: it's not a math question. There isn't a RIGHT or a WRONG answer.

grumblebee: The question wasn't "is it okay to be strict about food." It was more specific than that. It was "does being-strict lead to food issues?" Valid responses to that are, "Yes, because..." and "No, because..."

mathowie: To have it revealed that the "friend" was the asker wasn't a big deal to me because the question is pretty basic about the two points of view on feeding children and I didn't pick up any emotional involvement of "family" vs. "friend" when reading responses. To me, the question, answers, and conclusions are the same if you change descriptions to mirror reality.

Miko: ...my answer basically became unuseful. The question was predicated on the impression of a united household ... The actual question is a completely different one.

floam: The poster even went to extra mile to try to keep the human relations crap out of it.

Elsa: Another way to look at it: the OP introduced loaded human relations crap into the question


A Metafilter, divided against itself.
posted by grumblebee at 3:00 PM on January 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


It is irrelevant that there are other issues going on here,

Would that it were so simple. You think it is; other people think it isn't. Just like one parent thinks rewarding trying new foods with dessert is okay and one doesn't. Hence, AskMe, and now meTa.
posted by rtha at 3:03 PM on January 23, 2011


Exactly: the question is about the kid. And the kid is being affected by factors that were intentionally omitted from the question: the ever-present tension (so powerful that one parent says it makes her "sick") that occurs during family meals. That's a very powerful aspect of the central question the OP was asking, and which the OP chose to withhold.

I'm not remotely "outraged" (your word), but I do think it's an important point in considering the question the OP asked, and the intention omission of that information (and the OP's substitution of a very different dynamic) means the question didn't get many pertinent or accurate answers.

Grumblebee: I didn't introduce the phrase "human relations crap," but quoted someone else. In fact, in my response I intended to alter it to "human relations issues," since "crap" is so loaded a term, but by a slip of the keyboard, I failed to edit it.
posted by Elsa at 3:06 PM on January 23, 2011


I'd say that parents who pick public fights with each other on internet forums, misidentify themselves and their partners, and swap usage of their online accounts confusingly have more important issues to worry about then whether their child might be a picky eater.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 3:06 PM on January 23, 2011 [8 favorites]


No. The question is absolutely, one-hundred percent about the kid.

Ah, right. Who cares if mom is miserable! How could that possibly have an effect on her very young child? How could she possibly know more about her own child than some strangers on metafilter? How silly we all are to consider parents knowledgeable about their own children! How ridiculous to link their well-being to their toddler's well-being!
posted by the young rope-rider at 3:07 PM on January 23, 2011


Elsa, I think that's clear in my post where I quoted you, because I first quoted floam coining the term "human-relations crap." Then I quoted you using the term he coined (and disagreeing with him).
posted by grumblebee at 3:09 PM on January 23, 2011


The added context absolutely changes the question of whether the child is likely to develop issues around food based on (what we now know is only) Dad's policy. WE have a policy that the kid has to try a few bites of whatever we serve is an entirely different situation than is it good that mealtime for the child is the battleground for a power struggle between Mom and Dad, and someone feels annoyed or distressed whether the kid eats or doesn't eat the offered food.
posted by moxiedoll at 3:09 PM on January 23, 2011


Exactly: the question is about the kid. And the kid is being affected by factors that were intentionally omitted from the question: the ever-present tension (so powerful that one parent says it makes her "sick") that occurs during family meals. That's a very powerful aspect of the central question the OP was asking, and which the OP chose to withhold.

See, what I'd say is that the SITUATION is about the kid. The SITUATION includes the tension between the parents, etc. But the situation is not the same as the QUESTION.

I basically feel like the question is too narrow, in that getting an answer to it will probably not be as helpful to the OP he thinks it will. But, still, his question is his question.

Similarly, if someone writes, "My husband is beating me because I talk to other men. He calls that cheating. I don't think it is. Does just talking to other men count as cheating?" there's clearly a loaded situation going on.

And to literally answer the question may not be the most helpful thing to do. Still, if you write, "You need to get to get out of that house ASAP and get to a shelter," you're not answering the question.

Maybe it's good, in that case, to not just answer the question. But, still, not answering the question is not answering the question.
posted by grumblebee at 3:16 PM on January 23, 2011


The added context absolutely changes the question of whether the child is likely to develop issues around food based on (what we now know is only) Dad's policy

But he didn't ask about whether the child is likely to develop issues around what we now know is Dad's policy.

"I have a million dollars. How should I invest it?"

If you later find out that I only have a thousand dollars, it's NOT correct to say that my actual question was "I have a thousand dollars. How should I invest it?" That wasn't my question. Maybe that should have been my question, but it wasn't. If you feel it would be more helpful to me to answer the thousand-dollars version, that's fine. But don't do that and then claim you're answering my original question, because you're not.

What you can do is say, "I think your question is problematic, so I'm not going to answer it. Instead, I'm going to answer this question, which I think is the one you should have asked..."
posted by grumblebee at 3:21 PM on January 23, 2011


which is that the person who was taking the opposite position (and saying that the asker's question made her feel "sick to her stomach" - or was that invented, too?) is a stay at home mother, whose basis for holding an opinion of a particular approach to childrearing - as expressed in the unique circumstances of her own child, with whom she spends umpteen hours per day - is going to be significantly superior from even a friend.

In other words, like a lot of folks, you're unable to answer a question about children and food, preferring to answer a question about SHUT UP STUPID MAN MOTHERS ARE ALWAYS RIGHT.

Gee, I wonder why someone would feel the need to try to anonymize the details.
posted by rodgerd at 3:21 PM on January 23, 2011


"PUNY HUMANS! YOUR NUANCED USE OF EARTH LANGUAGE IS CONFUSING TO MORBO! COMPLEX HUMAN INTERACTIONS GIVE MORBO GAS! MORBO WILL CRUSH YOU WITH HIS MIGHTY LITERALISM! MWA-HA-HA-HA-HA!"
posted by Gator at 3:25 PM on January 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


He asked are these reasonable rules to have, or are we setting up our kid for food issues in the future? Whether the rule is reasonable OR sets the kid up for food issues will vary, for many answer-ers, on whether the parents are in happy agreement or not.
posted by moxiedoll at 3:25 PM on January 23, 2011


That's a weird take on things, rogerd.
posted by rtha at 3:27 PM on January 23, 2011 [5 favorites]


grumblebee, I favorited your questions for several reasons, primarily because I appreciate the emphasis on answering the question asked rather than addressing more personal matters. That said, I do think it matters.

The question -- "are these reasonable rules to have, or are we setting up our kid for food issues" -- hangs heavily on "these rules" and "our kid." The OP began to define "these rules," but ambiguity still remained in phrases like "the same food as we eat" and "a certain number of bites." Alcohol-filled truffles? Intensely-bitter dandelion greens? Nine million bites? We have to guess whether ambiguously-defined rules are reasonable.

We know even less about "our kid." Yet we are asked to guess what might give that child issues. The kind of empirical study you point to may or may not apply, depending on whether this child and these rules are adequately represented by the experiment's design. In short, this is a very difficult question to answer due to the ambiguities of the question.

Therefore, it is highly prudent to consider the counter-argument -- what evidence exists to suggest these rules are unreasonable or could give this child food issues? Is the evidence strong enough to overcome the evidence we have in favor of the asker's position?

First, what evidence supports the asker? One, on the face, what he describes sounds okay. Two, it appears both parents agree. Three is the natural presumption in favor of a longstanding Mefite.

So we turn to the reliability of the evidence against his position. One, it's a friend, presumably more distant from the child in question. Two, the friend is giving unwanted advice that contradicts the parents' decisions, a breach of etiquette that might suggest they're not reasonable. Three, they have a very visceral reaction, and while as an outsider I do care when I see strangers mistreat their children, it also makes me momentarily wonder if they're a bit unhinged for being just that concerned (but this last one could also suggest the mistreatment is egregious, so I'd flag it as needing more investigation before putting it in one column or the other).

On balance, I would find in favor of the asker. However, that calculation would change entirely knowing that the evidence against the OP came from the stay-at-home mother.
posted by salvia at 3:28 PM on January 23, 2011 [8 favorites]


Whether the rule is reasonable OR sets the kid up for food issues will vary, for many answer-ers, on whether the parents are in happy agreement or not.

I think harmonious parents are SUPER important, and a house with tons of discord is likely to lead to all sorts of problems. Though I do think that there are differences between the outcomes of liberal upbringings and conservative upbringings (and -- PLEASE -- I am using those terms very loosely), they're nothing compared to the differences between consistent and inconsistent upbringings.

That said, I don't see a big difference between these two situations:

1. Dad "forces" food. Mom is upset about it.
2. Dad is totally lax about food. Mom is upset about it.

When discussing that situation, isn't it sensible to factor out one issue or the other? At least at first. You can get to the situation you factored out later.

Either, it's "The important thing is you're disagreeing" or "The important thing is whether or not you're forcing food." Since the latter is closer to what the question was about, it's the one I'd choose to focus on. Even though I think the former is more key to the situation in general. It's not the focus of the OP's question.
posted by grumblebee at 3:32 PM on January 23, 2011


That's great, grumblebee. I just wanted to be absolutely clear about that, because I feel bad about calling another community members words as "crap," even by repeating the phrase.
posted by Elsa at 3:35 PM on January 23, 2011


Wow. I feel really stupid. I've been spouting off about how there's probably at least a somewhat objective way of answering this question (outcome of being strict about food vs being lax about food), even making up a fictional study, and yet I forgot about the existence of google.

Researchers examined the eating habits of 5,390 pairs of twins between 8 and 11 years old and found children’s aversions to trying new foods are mostly inherited.

The message to parents: It’s not your cooking, it’s your genes.

posted by grumblebee at 3:37 PM on January 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


So, whether that study is definitive or flawed or whatever. Why did no one -- including me (and all the other "answer the question" people) -- think to look it up?
posted by grumblebee at 3:41 PM on January 23, 2011


I did refer to genetic factors in a previous reply to you, grumblebee.
posted by hot soup girl at 3:47 PM on January 23, 2011


Oops, sorry. Missed it, hot soup girl. I guess I'm going out of my way to offend you, ignore you and misrepresent you tonight. Sorry.
posted by grumblebee at 3:48 PM on January 23, 2011


People probably didn't look it up because the question was not "what causes food aversions?" but "will this cause Issues in the future?" and "is this Reasonable?" A much bigger research project.
posted by salvia at 3:49 PM on January 23, 2011


The message to parents: It’s not your cooking, it’s your genes.

Message to AskMe: If it's genetic, then it TOTALLY matters whether the two people arguing over a child's eating habits are a parent and a friend, or both parents.
posted by 23skidoo at 3:55 PM on January 23, 2011


salvia, you're right. The question does have a bigger scope. My point is that it didn't occur to most of us to look it up.

One answer to the original question is, "I don't know if it will cause other problems, but this study suggests that your approach won't likely lead to your kid being an adventurous or a picky eater."
posted by grumblebee at 3:57 PM on January 23, 2011


I agree with salvia; the way the question was set up made it much more likely that answers would be in favor of the poster. I dare say a lot of askme questions are being asked in order to settle some dispute and often that is not mentioned-- nor does it really need to be, as it seems to me. It's also probably very common that a poster will, consciously or unconsciously, frame a question to get the answers they want. But to introduce this "friend" really stacks the deck. Why didn't the poster just say, "Which is better? To require kids to eat a bite of everything, etc,. or not? Please share opinions and experiences." Honestly, I can't think of a reason to make up the story about the friend unless you want to get a certain kind of answer. This gives me the feeling that people are kind of being tricked into giving answers to bolster the poster's position. It's not at all clear to me what utility this would ahve for the poster, since clearly his partner is fully aware of what's being posted. But that is the sense I get.
posted by BibiRose at 3:57 PM on January 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Maybe leotrotsky can post it to Quora?

Or Yahoo answers: "How is babby fed?"
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:58 PM on January 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


O sei parte del problema, o sei un bugiardo del cazzo.


Mi scusi ma doveva detto.


posted by clavdivs at 4:08 PM on January 23, 2011


Unless those picky eater children were separated from their parents at birth (if not sooner) the idea that the genes can somehow be separated out from other parent-caused environmental factors is ridiculous.
posted by Obscure Reference at 4:49 PM on January 23, 2011


The study in question was performed by having parents and children fill out questionnaires, then applying some sort of statistical analysis to their answers. Like Obscure Reference, I am extremely skeptical that such a study could possibly isolate genetic factors from environmental ones. That said, I do not have the methodological background to make any serious claims to that effect. Here is the full study if anyone is interested.
posted by jon1270 at 5:07 PM on January 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


> Oops, sorry. Missed it, hot soup girl. I guess I'm going out of my way to offend you, ignore you and misrepresent you tonight. Sorry.

I'm not offended, grumblebee. I think we just process and analyse things very differently.
posted by hot soup girl at 5:14 PM on January 23, 2011


Rodgerd, try reading what I wrote instead of your own feverdreams.
posted by chinston at 5:34 PM on January 23, 2011


It's also weird that she replied earlier in the thread under her own account, without identifying herself as the OP's wife, but as if she was offering a neutral datapoint

Ug, that was really not cool. It's like an anonymous asker answering their own question to try and lead other answers in a certain direction, although more transparent.

It reads to me like mrstrotsky felt like she was being misrepresented and/or attacked by the answers so jumped in to clarify. And to be fair, I think she was misrepresented at least a bit. The situation as presented made her a meddling outsider and really downplayed her concerns. All of which shows how the framing of a question is actually important to getting answers that are useful to the situation.

Grumblebee, your list of how a bunch of different people are responding differently to the question and the situation is just another piece of evidence that the framing of the question matters. If leotrotsky only wanted a consensus on what is the best way to present food to a toddler then he could have asked that without all the relationship stuff, both real and made up. He could have even given details of his specific toddler without ever mentioning his wife or the food rules in his house, if people thought that would be helpful. He made it about the people by adding stuff about the people, misleading stuff which changes the framing of the situation as it happens. Expecting people to ignore all that is silly, that's just not how humans work.

All this quibbling about the true question and the relevance of details and whatever is pointless, the extra framing and information you put in a question is always going influence both the answers given and how those answers are received by the asker. This has been shown here time and time again.
posted by shelleycat at 6:37 PM on January 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


Unless those picky eater children were separated from their parents at birth (if not sooner) the idea that the genes can somehow be separated out from other parent-caused environmental factors is ridiculous.

Have you heard of twin studies? They aren't perfect but can give very good clues about the contribution of genes and environment to complex behaviours. Throw in some of the newer genetic association studies and, actually, we can start to tease apart how these things work.
posted by shelleycat at 6:39 PM on January 23, 2011


Glad I'm not in the Trotskys marriage.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 7:10 PM on January 23, 2011


It's also weird that she replied earlier in the thread under her own account, without identifying herself as the OP's wife, but as if she was offering a neutral datapoint (though her username should have been a tipoff, I guess).

Wow, she really did do that. That's sounds manipulative use of AskMe and the community.

It reads to me like mrstrotsky felt like she was being misrepresented and/or attacked by the answers so jumped in to clarify. And to be fair, I think she was misrepresented at least a bit.

She supposedly ok'd the wording of the post.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:14 PM on January 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Grumblebee, your list of how a bunch of different people are responding differently to the question and the situation is just another piece of evidence that the framing of the question matters.

Well, I definitely agree it's a bad idea to frame a post by saying, "Here's a bunch of information. Now please ignore that information."
posted by grumblebee at 7:16 PM on January 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


the young rope-rider: Ah, right. Who cares if mom is miserable!

That wasn't the question. Right or wrong, the crusading isn't relevant. This isn't hard.
posted by spaltavian at 7:33 PM on January 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


My advice to mrstrotsky is to get a new account, with a username that does not link so conspicuously to her husband's. As soon as she chimed in with the neutral-seeming support for letting children eat what they want, I figured the "friend" was really the "wife," or else why even care enough what the "friend" thinks to ask the question? That, plus the not-so-anonymous law-school-exams question, is enough that I'd give myself a Brand New Day, even though it doesn't seem like one is being required here.
posted by palliser at 7:55 PM on January 23, 2011


When playing Solitaire (aka Klondike) on the iPod, a move can be undone as follows: hold the center button down and simultaneously scroll back and forth several times using the click wheel.
posted by dephlogisticated at 8:00 PM on January 23, 2011


After this bizarre question, I try to avoid answering the trotskys' questions. I don't think it's cool to repeatedly use this community to add to your marital drama.
posted by grouse at 8:00 PM on January 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


Glad I'm not in the Trotskys marriage.

Except that with comments like this, you are. Which is why "a friend" vs. "my wife" makes a world of difference in the question.
posted by maryr at 9:08 PM on January 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


So, whether that study is definitive or flawed or whatever. Why did no one -- including me (and all the other "answer the question" people) -- think to look it up?

Speaking for myself, I didn't go Googling because I've spent a lot of my life reading information, both scientific and anecdotal, about people's food issues, and have also spent a lot of my career in being involved in direct childcare including around mealtimes, and I don't think it's the kind of question that can be anywhere near resolved by offering a single study.

"Food issues" aren't limited to whether a child becomes picky or adventurous. That is the least of it, and I agree, it can have very little to do with what was offered to eat. The phrase "food issues," for me, takes in a wide range of potential concerns which extends to pathologies like anorexia, binge eating and bulimia, body dysmorphic disorder, food addiction, exercise bulimia, disordered eating, OCD eating, etc.

These are all pretty complex disorders and it's never easy to say they can be traced directly to a single set of parental rules around food, because often actual food plays only one part in the development of a pathology. However, if you delve into accounts of eating disorders, there is a strong correlation with tension around food, food as comfort, food as reward, food as challenge, or food as enemy. It's this disagreement within the home that could create the kind of tension, irregularity, and unpredictability that could give rise to more serious issues.

For instance, kids in this scenario can learn to play the 'mommy-daddy' game in which the indulgent treat of being able to have whatever you want is associated with freedom, the more liberal parent, and a lack of tension or even a joyful secrecy and collusion with the indulgent parent; meanwhile, the "rules" become associated with the stricter parent, more structured situations, conflicts and resentments about having to eat things you don't want and being deprived a reward, and a lack of personal freedom - not to mention the awareness that in a parental power struggle, one person holds the upper hand. Extrapolating these associations into adulthood, and compound them with the standard of 'dessert is reward', and you have a great recipe for a person who associates overindulging in comfort food and sweets is a wonderful reward for a difficult day, week, or month, and feels resentful at the thought of a balanced diet, foregoing 'rewards,' and approaches every meal with the internalized voices of the two disagreeing parents warring with one another, every bite a fraught one.
posted by Miko at 9:13 PM on January 23, 2011 [8 favorites]


If you do Google "eating disorders" + "causes" it's not hard to find many secondary articles listing "Negative family influences," "family patterns and problems," "family influences," and "family relationships" as among the significant causes of eating disorders. And not that the risk factors are never as concrete as "parents made the child taste everything on her plate," but more about issues of control, comfort, and power that are not in the food itself, but are the dysfunctions of the family itself, expressed through food.

That's why it's important whether this is within the family or not.
posted by Miko at 9:22 PM on January 23, 2011 [5 favorites]


When James Frey revealed that he made up the facts in "A Million Little Pieces," the entire planet freaked out and Oprah rendered her garments - and I could not for the life of me see what the big deal was. The accuracy of the historical record had nothing to do with whether the book is good or not.

Well, no. But the book was terrible, as most memoirs are. It was marketed as a "true story of redemption" and most people who did buy it bought it for the "human interest" of a guy who redeemed himself, not because they thought it was great literature. It was marketed on false pretenses. A work of fiction on the same subject, marketed that way, would not have sold 1/100th as much.
posted by drjimmy11 at 10:32 PM on January 23, 2011


Oprah rendered her garments

Into food?
posted by drjimmy11 at 10:33 PM on January 23, 2011


Into glue, mostly, but yeah, also some dollar store catfood.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 10:37 PM on January 23, 2011


>Except that with comments like this, you are. Which is why "a friend" vs. "my wife" makes a world of difference in the question.

No. I'm already married. Discussing someone's marriage doesn't in any way, shape, or form enter me into it.

NO WAIT "MY WIFE IS FUNNY" -- YOU READ THAT RITE? NOW YOU'RE IN MY MARRIAGE GOTCHA!!!1!!1!eleventyone!
(I keed, I keed)
posted by Joseph Gurl at 10:54 PM on January 23, 2011


Yeah, but if you'd asked "is my wife funny" and I said "yes it sounds like she is" and she showed up saying "no he just lied to make me sound funny!" then I'd be all "uh, wait, why am I in the middle of this discussion?"
posted by salvia at 11:08 PM on January 23, 2011


Right, but that's not at all what I was saying.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 12:27 AM on January 24, 2011


Glad I'm not in the Trotskys marriage.

Yeah, say the wrong thing & next you know BAM! Icepick in the head.
posted by UbuRoivas at 1:21 AM on January 24, 2011 [4 favorites]


Finally SOMEBODY said it.
posted by chinston at 4:39 AM on January 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'd give myself a Brand New Day

Looks like that may be happening; her account is disabled now.
posted by Gator at 5:34 AM on January 24, 2011


Good deal. I look forward to her contributions under her new user name.
posted by stet at 8:19 AM on January 24, 2011


Hope they feed the kid first, though.
posted by Namlit at 8:21 AM on January 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


Right, but that's not at all what I was saying.

Right but the original topic was the trotskys, and twice they've asked us to weigh in on a dispute between themselves, then had some portion of that discussion between themselves in the thread.
posted by salvia at 8:38 AM on January 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Looks like that may be happening; her account is disabled now.

I think it's more likely that she was hurt by the community response here, and decided to leave. leotrotsky indicates he's taking a break, too. Some legitimate concerns expressed here about what happened, but I wonder if we could handle some of these things better, such that people don't feel publicly shamed by the process. I mean, basically things like this turn into a big case study about people who are members of the community, often as if they aren't here reading along.
posted by SpacemanStix at 8:46 AM on January 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


Well, people are at least partly responsible for their own meltdowns, you know? Yes, people are sometimes jerks and that sucks, but we're all in control of how we ourselves act and respond. The trotsky's behavior, to the extent that it was out in the open on the site and visible and problematic to the rest of the membership, is at least partly responsible for the public nature of the "case study" that ensued here. A little more care in how they chose to participate in the site in the first place might have meant this MeTa (and the attendant chastisement from the mods) never happened. You act up in public, you can expect people to stare.
posted by Gator at 8:54 AM on January 24, 2011 [4 favorites]


To add to Gator's point, I think the conversation here would have evolved differently if leotrotsky and mrstrotsky had been participating in it. (There is the one remark made, but we never heard directly from mrstrotsky as to why she took the actions she did, or from either of them as to why this seems to be a trend with them, or why they are leaving the site.)

Of course it's fairly safe to assume they are reading along... but by choosing to watch silently, and choosing not to weigh in or clarify their intentions or offer any illumination as to why this seems to be a pattern of behavior, they lose the opportunity to shape the dialogue. leotrotsky is not new to MeFi (or to MetaTalk for that matter)... surely he knew how this thread was likely to go.

And in the absence of the trotskys' input, the rest of the commenters here have speculated as to motive and a host of other things.

I'm sure that feels rather icky if you are the ones being second-guessed and speculated upon... but I'm not sure what alternative we were left with in the face of a discussion where a site user's motive and intent were primary issues, but the user remains mostly silent.
posted by pineapple at 9:34 AM on January 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


I just can't help to feel a bit peeved if I am asked a question and all of a sudden I find that I was tricked into taking sides in a domestic escalation. In contrast to the question's headline, I fear their kid's trauma won't have anything to do with food.

I see the reactions here as a variant of Toyota's commercial tune from the late seventies: "you asked for it you got it."

[Both alternatives given in the original question seemed straw-manny to me in the first place. The force-thy-kid-to-at-least-take-one-bite shtick is humiliating, and a "reward" with dessert is the silliest non-pedagogy I've seen in writing for quite a while, whereas an occasional prompter like "try this again, I cooked it differently" would surely not make a kid "sick to her stomach", and whereas having food available for the kids "upon prompting" is - besides impractical - downright silly.]
posted by Namlit at 9:41 AM on January 24, 2011


"Silly" quota filled for today. Yay. Where is my proof-reader?
posted by Namlit at 9:43 AM on January 24, 2011


Some legitimate concerns expressed here about what happened, but I wonder if we could handle some of these things better, such that people don't feel publicly shamed by the process.

Not a hint of "Whoops, our bad, apologies" or "Sorry, not quite sure how this works" or even "huh?" just a disregard and uncaring for the impact of their actions on the community, its workers or its members.

Metafilter can be pretty lenient and forgiving, but the community doesn't respond well to be being used, lied to or manipulated and that's not a bad thing.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:55 AM on January 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


I think anyone who follows online forums at all has got to know that creating a "moving target" discussion like that is going to suck people right in, and that some of those people are going to get hot and bothered when the terms are changed. For me, when someone asks a question and then starts giving out crucial information in bits and pieces, there's almost a compulsive desire to find out what's really going on. That may sound cold here, where it's a situation that is possibly affecting a child, and of course I would want someone who's in the Trotskys' position to get good advice. And that they'd be willing to take it, of course.

I certainly don't wish the Trotskys any harm, and I don't think they really meant anyone else any harm. I just think they ran afoul of a certain online dynamic in a way that's pretty predictable.
posted by BibiRose at 10:02 AM on January 24, 2011


Metafilter can be pretty lenient and forgiving, but the community doesn't respond well to be being used, lied to or manipulated and that's not a bad thing.

Chastising people for not adhering to community standards is fine, but openly speculating on and making fun of their marriage is another thing entirely. Way out of line. I'm pretty disappointed in this thread.
posted by painquale at 10:07 AM on January 24, 2011


Metafilter can be pretty lenient and forgiving, but the community doesn't respond well to be being used, lied to or manipulated and that's not a bad thing.

I couldn't agree more. I'm just wondering if our default response was such that it didn't feel like it would invite a redemptive conversation for those who might, under better circumstances, be willing to try and make it right. From an outside perspective, our discussion 1) took a close look at their parenting techniques; 2) called into question their ability to communicate well as a couple; and 3) accused them of dealing dishonestly with MetaFilter. Some of these points need some exploration, but it's a lot to wade into when you weren't expecting it. And in the end, the way that we bring it up may make it feel like it just isn't worth it. Even if everything were to get resolved in the end, I wouldn't necessarily feel good about friends who throw an intervention to point out my myriad faults. Especially if it seems to take place in the other room, talking about me, while I listen in.
posted by SpacemanStix at 10:18 AM on January 24, 2011


I agree that we could try to take a kinder tone.
posted by Miko at 10:57 AM on January 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


The child clearly needs to be taken from the parents and become a ward of Metafilter.

Which, whoa. How weird would that be.
posted by everichon at 11:00 AM on January 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


An interesting Rousseau-ian proposal.
posted by Miko at 11:01 AM on January 24, 2011


It could happen! The Truman Show 2: MetaFilter Boogaloo.
posted by Gator at 11:06 AM on January 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Chastising people for not adhering to community standards is fine, but openly speculating on and making fun of their marriage is another thing entirely. Way out of line. I'm pretty disappointed in this thread."

Take that up with the people who did the actions you find objectionable, I say. To paint everyone here with the broad brush of your disappointment is pretty short-sighted. Or lazy.

We're in MetaTalk; it's not like you can't directly call out those commenters whose tone didn't meet your needs.
posted by pineapple at 11:10 AM on January 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Am I the only one who sees a painquale byline and it scans as pineapple at first?
posted by pineapple at 11:12 AM on January 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


<>Am I the only one who sees a painquale byline and it scans as pineapple at first?

It drives you bananas doesn't it?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:15 AM on January 24, 2011


I agree that we could try to take a kinder tone.

Not a bad idea at all, the collective community could have probably handled this better instead of getting so peeved. Sure, the other parties could have done better too, but ultimately we're only able to control our individual selves.

In the future, I'd suggest we (me included!) just politely remind the person what the standards are here, how their actions could be viewed negatively, leave the door open for questions or clarifications and let it.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:19 AM on January 24, 2011


>> It drives you bananas doesn't it?

Totally scrambles the melon.

>> In the future, I'd suggest we (me included!) just politely remind the person what the standards are here, how their actions could be viewed negatively, leave the door open for questions or clarifications and let it.

I'd suggest there are quite a few people who already feel that their participation in MeTa was exactly this.

Again, while a couple folks went for the cheap lulz or got shoutier than they may have intended, the majority of this thread was MeFites behaving in good faith. Remember that the most impassioned statements, by and large, were from people who helpfully answered leotrotsky's question... and then came here to share how they felt after getting the whole story.

I'm not really seeing why we should beat ourselves up that much. I think all parties involved could stand to "think twice, post once"—but that's just good practice across the whole site. I'm simply not willing to say that any one set of people is more poorly-behaved than another in this situation.
posted by pineapple at 11:32 AM on January 24, 2011


(which may be your whole point, BB, and I'm just cherry-picking hairs to split at this point)
posted by pineapple at 11:35 AM on January 24, 2011


In the future, I'd suggest we (me included!) just politely remind the person what the standards are here, how their actions could be viewed negatively, leave the door open for questions or clarifications and let it.

I totally agree, but the trouble with MetaTalk is that it's usually more than a norms question. With this one, we did have the basic community-norms question ("is making up a pretend situation OK to do? probably not") but then there's also usually a bit of carryover debate about the substance of the question (here, more discussion of whether the rules are reasonable) and then meta-discussions (what was the actual question? does it matter to the result what the framing was? how would it be different were the framing different?) and so on. Most of those ancillary questions seem OK to me, but when the specific user history comes up, and it gets personal, maybe we could back off there. But I don't know; even that could circle back to a norms question ("is it bad to use the site as a tool in intrapersonal debate when more than one user is in the same social unit IRL?").
posted by Miko at 11:38 AM on January 24, 2011


I was under the impression that sharing accounts was generally forbidden (obviously with exceptions for emergencies, which the AskMe question isn't). I know there are a lot of married couples on the site and my understanding is that most of them don't use the site that way. Am I totally off base or does the account sharing present a separate issue?

There's at least one account openly shared by a married couple. Has been for a long time (I see comments from "wife of" as far back as 5 years ago), so I guess it must be allowed.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 1:18 PM on January 24, 2011


There's at least one account openly shared by a married couple.

As near as we can tell there is exactly one account where that sort of thing takes place more than "almost never". And 445supermag's wife, to the best of our knowledge, always mentions when she's the one commenting. I've seen it happen with other accounts maybe a handful of times. This is not, at all, what was happening in this case. There's a difference between things that are allowed [i.e. not "we will ban you" forbidden] and things that we don't prefer but that happen anyway.

If people specifically sign up nowadays and say "this account belongs to Bob and Janet Smith" we'll tell them to not do that. But if Bob Smith has an account that his wife occasionally uses to comment in this sort of way, that's okay with us.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:23 PM on January 24, 2011


Thanks for the clarification, jessamyn. I wasn't looking for further mod action on this case, but a statement of general principle since it looked to me like what was going on in the thread violated the site guidelines as expressed in the FAQ (specifically here), in particular because the wife has/had her own account. Your comment has answered my concerns about this specific matter.
posted by immlass at 1:45 PM on January 24, 2011


(which may be your whole point, BB, and I'm just cherry-picking hairs to split at this point)


Well, orange you berry fighty today? Let's just squash this, right here and now and maybe some good vibes will sprout.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:58 PM on January 24, 2011


Take that up with the people who did the actions you find objectionable, I say. To paint everyone here with the broad brush of your disappointment is pretty short-sighted. Or lazy.

I can be disappointed in a thread without being disappointed in everyone who contributes in the thread. I liked grumblebee's side discussion, for example. But a few bad apples can ruin the whole pie. I said what I found objectionable: people who speculated on their domestic situation and child-rearing and mocked them. Those people made it a thread that I would not be happy to show to a non-Mefite.

I read pineapple as painquale sometimes!
posted by painquale at 2:07 PM on January 24, 2011


Those people made it a thread that I would not be happy to show to a non-Mefite.

You know, that's a pretty fair description.

painquale, maybe we could sub in for each other sometimes. With the P_ _ _ _ _ _ LE construction plus an I and N in there, we're pretty much the same handle anyway. So, like if you're really busy I could show up in a thread, and there would be an understudy note in the playbill: "Tonight, pineapple will be playing the part of painquale."

Or it might get really messy and spawn a MeTa about mistaken identity and then we'd all be crushed under the weight of the irony.
posted by pineapple at 2:44 PM on January 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think this thread is an example of how things can go well with decent framing. It's clear that it's about a difference in opinion between a married couple and it asks which opinion is reasonable, but also lays out the options in a non-emotional manner with a clear question to answer. All the answers focus on the opinions without any discussion of the relationship. I realise it's not comparable because how on time you are for something is nothing like as complicated or emotional as how to bring up children, plus it's clear that they aren't fighting about it. But I still like how they were able to insert the personal details in a way that didn't derail the question at all.
posted by shelleycat at 3:35 PM on January 24, 2011


painquale, maybe we could sub in for each other sometimes. With the P_ _ _ _ _ _ LE construction plus an I and N in there, we're pretty much the same handle anyway.

Sure! That sounds peaceable, and it's plausible on principle. You paint a palatable pastorale. (It's a paintable pastorale.)

\me goes on wild trolling spree that generates two MeTa threads, directs complaints to pineapple.

Good thing there's no user named pedophile for us to be confused with.
posted by painquale at 3:46 PM on January 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


I favorited that so hard that I broke my mouse. And my desk.

PLAUSIBLE!
posted by pineapple at 3:53 PM on January 24, 2011


Lucky you're so pleasable.
posted by maryr at 5:18 PM on January 24, 2011


Plaudable, for sure.
posted by salvia at 6:47 PM on January 24, 2011


Seeing as I'm being criticized for failing to participate, I wanted to drop a quick note before heading out.

I have already participated in this thread here. The reason I've held back since then is that this cuts pretty close to the bone, and it makes it difficult for me to be measured in my response. I have no interest in having a bunnyfire-style personal implosion in a metatalk thread. Seeing as I've already pissed off the mods, I don't wish to aggravate them still further. Jessamyn generously gave me slap on the wrist here, and I want to respect that.

I've been a member of Mefi since '02. I try to be a productive member of the community. I don't threadshit, pick fights, or bring drama. I have no interest in conducting an argument with my wife, or anyone else for that matter, in a public forum. In the previous AskMe thread posted by my wife, my sole contribution to the thread was to ask to take the conversation offline and out of the green.

In the question that is the subject of this metatalk thread, I used the language of 'friend' because I thought that it would be a more neutral framing, and would avoid getting metafilter in the middle of my marriage ...trying to avoid what had happened the last time in an AskMe thread. So it wasn't the best framing? Well, f#ck me, I'm not perfect and hindsight is 20/20. I certainly wasn't trying to willfully deceive the community, or trying to game it for a reaction.

I certainly didn't know or expect that my wife would jump in mid-thread on my account and change the rules of the question, pissing everyone off and setting off this whole train-wreck. She's not as familiar with Metafilter or its rules, and didn't understand the full implications of how this action would be perceived by the community.

We're sorry that our behavior has caused community members to feel deceived or misled, it was not our intent. (Here I speak for both myself and my wife, who has decided to shut down her account)

For those who have taken this thread as an opportunity to take potshots at me, my wife, or our marriage ...well, that wasn't particularly kind or helpful, and I hope that others in life show you a greater degree of consideration than you've shown us.

O.K., I'm done. The kid's asleep, and I'm headed outside to make a night-time snowman with my wife.
posted by leotrotsky at 7:19 PM on January 24, 2011 [6 favorites]


>Right but the original topic was the trotskys, and twice they've asked us to weigh in on a dispute between themselves, then had some portion of that discussion between themselves in the thread.

Which is why I'm glad I'm not in their marriage. They have some things to work out.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 7:22 PM on January 24, 2011


I apologize for that.
I wrote it without thinking very clearly.

Sorry to both Trotskys. That's dirty pool and you certainly deserve better.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 7:29 PM on January 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


What difference do the genders in any anonymous askme make?
How else are we supposed to figure out whose fault it is?
posted by planet at 8:15 PM on January 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well, I for one feel bad for not speaking up earlier, because I agree with those saying that this isn't that big of a deal. I can totally understand the "my friend" white lie. Have none of you changed a detail to avoid a slew of distracting complexity? In real life, if someone said, "my friend" and we later found out it was their wife, I think most of us would understand the desire to protect their privacy. Even if it changed how we'd answer the question, well, if anyone misses out, it's the asker. I presume they thought about how it would change the responses and were okay with that.

Anyway, trotskys, those are my actual opinions, and I apologize for (a) not taking the time to voice an opinion in your favor, and (b) that the contributions I was motivated to make for whatever "ooh, fun, a logic debate" reasons actually sent the opposite signal.

I don't second-guess the mods, because I see a small fraction of what they have to deal with. But I think philipy said something important here: "There is a way that the people who get fighty or outraged on Mefi get their way, because it seems that in the interests of peace anything that might provoke them is ruled off-limits. What should be off-limits is the unrestrained outrage, and disproportionate fightiness itself." When I ask "what is the worst that can happen now that we know these new details?" the parts that seem like actual problems are not people wanting to revise their answers, but things like "what does this really mean??" drama-seeking. We could turn our efforts toward curtailing that (I certainly have some of it myself).

I definitely question the occasional outrage about people not respecting our answers. Remember the questions by... I'm forgetting the woman's name... a young college student who was dating an older guy, the consensus was DTMFA, she didn't, and people were upset that their answers were disrespected or something? Here, a detail got changed, and it might have changed people's answers... and people feel like they have a right to be really upset? I don't think askers owe us much of anything. We should keep in mind, we're giving answers here because we want to. I mean, why do you guys spend your time on AskMe? Me, I hope I'm helpful, I try to be helpful, but also -- I just enjoy it. Each question is a different little puzzle. If I spent my time pondering a puzzle that differed just slightly from God's* own reality... who cares? I bet for 75% of human relations questions, there is a detail that, were it in the question, would change people's answers.

The interesting challenge is: given that we don't have all the details, how do we give answers that aren't inadvertently causing harm in the world (e.g., telling someone that it's okay to do X when doing X is causing harm to someone else)? That's where I do understand those who are upset, because an answer of "disregard the friend" feels oppressive and harmful when it's revealed that the friend is actually the wife.

Anyway, I should have said all of this much earlier in the thread, but for whatever its worth at this point, I join those who say "what is the big deal?", apologize for my delay, and also apologize that in my legalistic wranglings with grumblebee above, I may have suggested I did think this was a big deal.

* or the Flying Spaghetti Monster's
posted by salvia at 8:21 PM on January 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


also I will work to curtail typos, particularly of the its/it's variety...
posted by salvia at 8:23 PM on January 24, 2011


Seeing as I'm being criticized for failing to participate

Not by me. At least, I hope it didn't come off that way. My goal here was simply to point out that when the subject of a MeTa chooses not to weigh in or be part of that discussion, the opportunity is lost to shape the public opinion. I still respect that choice, even if it might not be one I'd have made. (Can't say, though.... you're spot on that anyone poking at my marriage might inspire me to stay far, far away from anything with "metafilter" in the URL)

I truly appreciate your input just now. I for one found it quite useful—to hear from the horse's mouth that the whole thing was a mistake, and not an attempt to mess with MeFi, as it were. I have revised my original opinion and I don't think you asked the question in bad faith.

I'm not sorry that I started the MeTa, because I feel some of the discussion was useful—and I think that a case where an AskMe is going off the rails around a site policy issue is a textbook case of a needed MeTa. But I am sorry that starting this gave others a platform to take personal potshots, and I'm impressed at how graciously you addressed them (I doubt I'd have been so civil).

But mostly, I hope you and the mrs. found some useful input from others in the original AskMe, and I hope you won't be gone from MeFi for long. Believe it or not, this is not that egregious of a site faux pas in the minds of many, many people... and it will be forgotten and forgiven before you know it.
posted by pineapple at 9:05 PM on January 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


"Friend" or parent hiding behind guise of friend--didn't matter to me. I would have answered the same way and stuck to the question at hand.

To me, it depends on the child and their health needs. I was anorexic. Doc said "if she's that picky let her eat what she wants when she wants. At least she's eating."

And I do the same for my child. He LOVES food so I'm always cooking for him first then us. Usually he wants our food too. I let him try a bite. For the most part he's living on fruit/veggies anyway so obesity isn't a high concern.

But if the question is is the OP being shady and a coward? Yes. Either say hey me and my husband disagree or don't say anything at all. The whole "friend" thing is stupid when you use your own login. Use anon.
posted by stormpooper at 9:39 AM on January 25, 2011


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