Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Lessons from Dr. Laura

Anybody who knows me AT ALL understands that I am not a big Dr. Laura fan, for many reasons. I find the woman shrill, condescending, judgemental and hypocritical to the extreme. So why on earth would I choose to listen to a book on tape from this harpie?

Well, it happened like this: I was in the library picking stuff out, and I was tired of all the murder mysteries and espionage they had on the shelves. I was hungry for something meatier. So I was cruising the non-fiction aisle and was disappointed to find very slim pickings available there on CD. My library has a bit more available on tape, but my car does not have a tape player. I commute about 40 minutes each way every work day, so I like to keep a steady stream of books to listen to during that time.

As I perused the stacks I saw I had already listened to most of the good stuff available. So, as I do in many elections, rather than picking the best choice I found myself looking for the least bad.

Then I came across the book "Bad Childhood, Good Life" by Dr. Laura.
I decided that rather than listen to something "fun" for me, I could kill two birds with one stone by giving myself something to hear during drive time and doing a bit of research for my teaching job. Right now I am in the process of putting together a list of resources on family relationships for the Sociology of the Family class I teach online. So far I've listed things like The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman, The Seven Principles For Making Marriage Work by John Gottman and Nan Silver, Twenty Things Adopted Kids Wish Their Adoptive Parents Knew by Sherrie Eldridge and Daughters of Madness: Growing up and Older With a Mentally Ill Mother by Susan Nathaniel. I've been wanting to broaden the list, to put a wide variety of sources for my students to choose from to write a report on, not just books that I happen to like. So I thought I'd give Dr. Laura a try to see if her stuff would be suitable for the assignment I'm planning.

Uh, yeah. That IS true. Honest. I really AM teaching a class online and I really DO need to gather a few more resources for that list... however I also heard some voice whispering in the back of my head that maybe there would be some good stuff in this book for me too.

ARE YOU NUTS? I say to that little voice. Something GOOD from DR. LAURA? Get real. The woman is (insert whatever critical expletive suits you and you get the idea of the internal dialogue I had going on.)

So the "serious sociologist" in me began listening to the book in a very evaluating way. I can't stand her voice. She IS shrill. She DOES sound condescending. ICK.

But when I get past the voice and let the WORDS sink in...I have to admit that quite a bit of what she was saying made sense. Some of it feels true. Some of it feels healing. Some of it feels very valuable. Even coming from Dr. Laura.

I still don't like the lady. I still disagree with her on many points, some of them vehemently.

But I can't just toss out this book as the product of a fame hungry nut case. There seems to be quite a bit of value here.

Which got me to thinking about the way I tend to give credit to messages from sources I like / approve of and discredit messages from sources I don't like / disapprove of before I ever really listen to or openly consider the message itself.

HMMM... I think there's a lesson for me there.

1 comment:

Mimi said...

My Aunt gave both my mom and my sister "The Care and Feeding of Husbands" for Christmas (why she didn't feel I needed one is something to ponder, but I digress).

Anyway, while leafing through it, I found the same thing - I very, very, very, very much disagree with her delivery and her judgementalism. However, she does have a lot of wise things to say. It's just a job to separate the wheat from the chaff.

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