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Wednesday, November 8, 2017

How to Respond to "You Must Be Busy" and Other "Helpful" Comments About Your Large Family

We have four children. 

Those four words just caused you to either: a) gasp in horror; or b) shrug your shoulders. This article is mostly intended for those who shrugged their shoulders, although the gaspers may also learn a little something, too.  

You know when it's coming, big family. You can see it from a mile away. They're looking at you, sizing you up, literally. Silently counting. One-two-three-four-five-six-seven-eight. Then the questions and comments begin. 

"Wow...You're busy!"
"Is this a day care?"
"You know what causes that, right?"
"Are they all yours?"

I'll not belabor all of the examples of insidious inquries from the inept because you'll hear a new question you haven't heard before on your next trip to the grocery store. I have come up with a few responses I think you'd do well in adopting the next time you come across one of these opinion-givers at Costco. More on that in a minute; first, a little perspective.

First of all, have some grace. They most likely are not intending to say something stupid; they likely just can't help it. They probably aren't aware that historically, a family of six is not a very large family. In fact, they probably haven't done much traveling or reading, so they may not know that in most of the known world and for most of history, the family unit included extended family, which makes a family of six seem rather puny. Remember these people, who happen to be quite vocal in their ill-informed opinions, don't have a historical or global perspective, so when they see you toting four children, they think you may as well have a hundred. So, be kind. "Two and Half Men" only has one kid on that show, and that's probably their main point-of-reference as to what reality can and should look like. They've been living a very sheltered life, so have some compassion before you respond.  

Couple the narrow perspective with —how do I say this tactfully?—a big mouth, and this provides wonderful unplanned opportunities for discussions with total strangers about your family's size! Keep in mind, though, that this commentary on your family's size is not typically provided as an actual comment, but rather in a thinly-veiled interrogation by making a point through question-asking. (As a bit of an aside, in my experience there are only two topics on which complete strangers feel carte blanche to provide an opinion to me, a total stranger: my family size and my glorious mustache. Stay tuned for the mustache article.)

Sometimes you feel gracious in responding; it's truly a curious person, and you have your head on straight that day. My wife and I have taken the approach of trying to use these times as a teaching opportunity for the meddling question-asker inquisitive person. Here's a sampling of some grace-filled responses you could provide.

The Gracious Responses
1. I think what you meant to say is, 'Wow, you are truly blessed to have all of these kids.' Thank you. I agree with you. We are so blessed.
2. I AM busy. Would you mind giving me a hand with the dog food?
3. Children are a blessing from the Lord. I am truly blessed. 
4. Nope, not a day care; just one big happy family. 

...And other times, perhaps being a little less-than-gracious is the best you can muster. Pull these out only when a biting, snarky response is better than the alternative, a smack upside their head. 

And the Not-So-Gracious Responses
1. I'm sorry. Do I know you?Why are you providing me unsolicited opinions about my family size?
2. In what world is that an appropriate question for you to ask a total stranger? (Usually in response to the unbelievably inappropriate question about whether you’re familiar with how the reproductive system works.)
3. That's a very post-modern, western view of the world you have. Are you wholly unfamiliar with family size during the last several hundred years in the US or at any time, including now, around the world? We homeschool every day, and I'd be happy for you to join us any time! 
4. I hadn't really thought of it until you said something, but you're right, this IS a lot of kids. Are you willing to take some of them? In fact, this one—Jimmy: front and center—is kind of a pain. Maybe you could whip him into shape for me? 
5. Of course I know what causes this! Wild, crazy sex with my awesome husband! 
6. No, they aren't all mine. I've actually never seen any of these kids before, but I wanted to make my Target trip MUCH more difficult, so I rounded up as many random kids as I could and brought them with me.

Of course I provide the snarkier responses as tongue-in-cheek, but come on people! Enough is enough.

And now to the inquisitive stranger: If you're shocked because someone has a different-sized family than you, perhaps your view of the world is smaller than it should be. Below are some appropriate ways of responding to my large family instead of asking me inane questions; the answers to which are, quite frankly, none of your business.

Appropriate Ways to Respond to Me and My Large Family
1. Offer to take my grocery cart from my full-size Econoline van to the cart return.
2. Smile. 
3. Tell me I'm doing a killer job at raising my kids—after all, none are currently bleeding or choking each other out. 
4. Tell me I'm blessed beyond measure. 
5. Give me a thumbs up or a high five. 
6. Pray for me! You can see that I need it. 

Oh, and stop counting us; you’re not nearly as slick as you think. We have a lot more eyes on you than you have on us. 

If you have other great things you like to say in response to these kinds of questions, comment below so we can all learn from each other! 

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Tuesday, October 17, 2017

An Open Letter to My Multi-Level-Marketing Friends

Dear MLM Business Owner Friend,

I write this out of love and hope that you will take this to heart so that you will know what your non-multi-level-marketing ("MLM") friends think about your business. 

Right up front, I want you to know I'm happy that you have a business and you're working hard at making it grow. Good for you. I sincerely hope you earn enough to one day quit your day job and focus on your passion.   

Having said that, you're driving everyone crazy. 

Seriously, the MLM model is built on using your friends and family to build your business. To be fair, the Pareto principle probably applies here. Maybe you're part of the 20 percent who are being appropriate in relationships, not posting every other hour on how amazing your product is on Facebook and Instagram. Odds are, though, you're part of the 80 percent ruining it for everyone else and you've already been unfollowed on social media more than you can imagine. 

Take an honest examination of yourself. Does the following describe you? Here are some ways to know if you're not doing your MLM business well and are part of the 80% who are alienating their friends and family: 
1. When you meet new people, you think of them as prospects, not possible friends. 
2. Your friends have stopped returning your phone calls because they think you might be selling them something. 
3. From your personal Facebook account, you are posting more about your MLM than anything else. 
4. When you're not posting on Facebook about your MLM business, you're only posting to create a buffer between your MLM posts. 
5. You use "Buffer" to post on Social Media. 
6. You're feeling VERY defensive right now, reading this letter. 
7. The only parties you throw are ones that involve people coming to your house to become a distributor or purchase products.
8. You belong to an organized religion that expects proselytizing, yet the only proselytizing you do is about your product. 
9. You sell Plexus. (Sorry, but for some reason, Plexus sellers appear to be the biggest offenders.) 
10.  The only friends who "like" your MLM posts are other MLM sellers, usually from the same company. 
11. You refuse to look at the cold, hard facts that literally 99% MLM businesses DON'T MAKE ANY MONEY.
12. You've created a list of everyone you know in order to try to find 7 people to do what you're doing. 
13. As you're reading this, you have said to yourself, "No, I'm just trying to help people because this product/scheme is SOOO amazing!" 

By the way, the you get seven people in, and they get seven people in, and they get seven people in scheme doesn't work. You run out of people on earth in only 12 cycles of that. Do the math. 

I'm not just here to complain, I have some solutions: 
1. Be honest up front. If you're going to ask me to coffee to pitch something to me, give me an opportunity up front to say no. 
2. I miss seeing pictures of your kids and your thoughts about life. Let the ratio of personal life versus business posts be 10 to 1. 
3. Don't "friend" people on Facebook because they are a prospect. We're smarter than you think. 
4. Understand that most people that hate MLMs do so because they've been burned by friends who have done it wrong in the past. You're probably not going to change that. 
5. Apologize if you haven't done it well in the past. Be specific and seek out the person you've alienated.  
6. Take a good, honest look at the cost/benefit of your business. Less than 1% of MLMers make any money at all, ever. Is the risk of alienating friends and family worth your odds of making money? 
7. Stop telling yourself that you're doing this to help people. That's called volunteering. You're working to make money. If you truly were doing this to help other people make money, remember you'd need 100 people in your downline to have one person make money. The other 99 people won't ever make a thing. See #11, above. 
8. Create a separate Facebook business page, so friends who want to follow that aspect of your life can do so. 

Remember, it's never too late to reverse course like R&F reverses aging and Plexus reverses fat gain so you can eat what you want and still look like a superhero. Okay, that was a cheap shot. I'm sorry.

But I'm not sorry for telling what EVERYONE is thinking but is afraid to tell you. 

Real friends tell the truth. Hopefully, after having built your MLM, you still have some left that will be loving enough to gently post this on your wall--you know, the one with only pictures of people defying age and gravity and sickness of all kinds. Sorry again that was mean. But then again I'm not sorry. This needed to be said. I'm mad and I can't take it any more. 


                                                                                  Everyone on Earth

P.S. Check out this cool picture I found online!