18 Aug Dialogue with Dignity: A Path to Support
SFLI teaches students “Dialogue with Dignity”, a concept which emphasizes dignifying those you seek to defend by dignifying the person you’re speaking with. This week, Francesca was asked to write on what SFLI’s teaching of Dialogue with Dignity means to her.
Dialogue with Dignity is the most difficult concept for me.
I can easily show that I am Pro-Life by doing my best to help student mothers, but talking about abortion is continuously nerve racking.
I always fear that I am not giving a just argument. I tend to get heated and judgemental because I know where I stand and have the mentality that everyone should just listen to me. I need to use Dialogue with Dignity, and just be able to talk.
Dialogue with Dignity is something I implemented in my previous post on how to talk to someone whose parent had an abortion. It is not just about abortion, but a way to speak in almost every essence of your life.
Dialogue with Dignity shows you have to have a conversation in a reasonable way while helping the other person think about their reasonings.
Listening is the most important aspect. It might seem obvious that you need to listen while having a conversation. But it is not that easy! Most people like to either take over a conversation or just listen and not contribute.
The best way to talk about these things is to let the person you’re conversing with speak, ask questions, and not avert the conversation to focus on you. My fifteen-year-old sister once told me that I have a habit of gearing the conversation towards myself. Do not do that! I am a black and white thinker with hardly any gray. But if I say, “abortion is wrong,” who cares? Pushing your stance will not make a difference.
Dialogue with Dignity is often taught as a concept to be implemented in a discussion on Pro-Life vs Pro-Choice views. But this is something you can use within a conversation with a woman who’s found herself pregnant, as well. If you encounter a girl who is pregnant or questioning her stance, meet her where she is at.
Why do you think she is Pro-Choice? Why would someone identify as Pro-Choice? What struggles might she be facing? Why would someone decide to go through with an abortion?
These are not simple questions. Speak to her on multiple levels. Do not use just science. Do not use just emotions. Find something in between.
When you are in a difficult situation, what is your greatest desire? For me, it is being supported.
In a difficult situation such as an unplanned pregnancy, scrutiny is being thrown around.
Stick to your values, but do not hate a woman for contemplating abortion. If she has approached you, she did not come for criticism, she came seeking advice.
Acknowledge that she is in a difficult situation complete with struggle and pain. You can recognize the struggle and still support her. Let her know that she is important, even if she does not feel that way.
An important thing to not overlook is professional resources. Refer her to a pregnancy resource center, doctor, or someone else with experience. Do your own research. She might not have taken the time, or might be in such shock she hasn’t thought about those things.
She needs to remember to stay in the best health possible, not just for her child, but also for herself. If you do not always know what to say, that is okay. These are tough conversations to have. You may never be actually ready, but do your best and you’ll make a positive impact.
Francesca is a summer intern with Students for Life of Illinois. She studies Community Health with a concentration in Health Care Planning and Administration with the plans of Dental School at the University of Illinois – Urbana-Champaign.