Wednesday, 1 August 2012
Is The Moral Highground The Right Direction?
When I was growing up I was always taught to "take the moral high ground" in an argument. This was supposed to make me feel grown up and that I had done the right thing. I would try to make the peace even if I felt that it was really the other person who was at fault!
However as I get older I do wonder if this really makes sense. Do people actually appreciate it? Do they even realise you are doing it? Or do they just see it as an admission that you were wrong in the first place and that they were right?
I'll give you two examples of things that have happened to me that have caused me to re-consider if taking the moral high ground is the right thing to do.
The first was an argument I had with my mother in law whilst pregnant. We had never got on well but when she reduced me to tears at 20 weeks pregnant I decided that enough was enough. I didn't want to cause a family feud but I also didn't want to be around her any more until she apologised and promised to behave better in the future. However she didn't see it this way. She thought that I was just being over the top and "hysterical" and said that she had nothing to apologise for. So I kept my distance and I was happy to do so.
The trouble was that my husband really wanted us to be friends (or at least civil, friends was probably a bit too much to hope for), he wanted his mother to see our baby and asked me if I would make the first move. For his sake I decided to do it and emailed his mother a friendly email asking to meet up and tried to make the peace. But did I do the right thing? I think she just saw it as an admission that I was in the wrong and she was right all along. She never did properly apologise for her behaviour. In fact her behaviour towards me has remained pretty icy.
The other event that occurred was when my sister in law (are you spotting an in-law pattern here?) sent me an extremely vindictive email full of lies and accusations and criticising my parenting and even my children.I wrote a big long email back but then decided I didn't want to stoop to her level so sent a short, restrained reply instead. I've always regretted this though. Although I'm pleased I didn't descend to the level of a Jeremy Kyle show, I also feel that she was allowed to get away with her behaviour and I would probably feel a lot better for letting all my anger out rather than trying to keep it in.
I'm still undecided though. Is taking the moral high ground the way forward or does it ultimately do you no favours?