The internet is ripe with parents searching for advice and sharing their vast knowledge and opinions openly. That is kind of the beauty of the internet. It is literally the vast expanse of knowledge available to us at our fingertips. And yet here we use it to share Cat mems and parent-shame. Don’t get me wrong, I certainly can appreciate a well-crafted cat meme. What I have more of a problem with is the mom-shaming and other horrible habits that the internet has bred.
Can we agree that there is some sort of internet etiquette that needs to be adhered to? Why is it that people feel okay to bash strangers and call them names because they choose to give their kid juice in a bottle or place them in daycare? I don’t believe that is the “safety or anonymity” that the internet allows. In fact, there is no one that is truly anonymous on the internet. If you want to be anonymous, the best thing to do is bash people in real life in the Wal-mart Parking lot and make a quick get-away. On the internet everyone in “known”, each transgression can live eternally and words typed with or without much forethought often come back to haunt people.
I have a general rule that I lived my entire life – If you can’t say something to a person’s face then you shouldn’t say it all. Two things have come from my living this way. 1 – people are sometimes genuinely shocked at what I am willing to say to their faces and 2 – I am not an asshole or shit talker making people intentionally feel bad. I actually carefully choose what I say to and about people because I always think “would I be able to tell this person this horrible thing to their face?” Sometimes the answer is yes but often it is no.
I think with the internet and the open forums for discussion people feel free to say what they’re thinking (or say things without thinking, whatever the case may be) because they feel like they are justified by telling this person “to their face”. And while that might be true, they are having the courage to say things to someone – they are leaving out an important element; it’s not face-to-face. It is in front of literally the whole world and therefore is inappropriate. Dirty laundry doesn’t need to be aired for all to witness, even if you are strangers in a Facebook parenting group.
I think people need to start asking themselves if what they’re about to say they would say to that person in a dark alley alone. Because I don’t think lots of folks would. Would you tell a stranger on the street “You shouldn’t have kids if all you do is put them in daycare. There are people who would love to have kids but can’t and you just put yours in daycare.” [Actual comment in a parenting group that I am a part of.] These horrendous things are actually said, or typed, to another person.
This goes far beyond a disagreement between parents over breast or bottle, cloth or disposable, organic or commercial body wash. People have really strong opinions about all those parenting norms and more. This is action rooted in insecurity and basically amounts to bullying. People get defensive and hurt. WOmen, other moms, telling someone they shouldn’t have kids because their parenting is different is just atrocious behavior.
I cringe, literally, when I read those words. Which is quite often to be perfectly honest.
Imagine that parents feel it is okay to judge other parents with such harsh words when we are all just really doing our best. And sometimes our best is freakin’ awesome. Each time I see such hateful parent shaming and mom judgment being passed I think to myself how fragile the parent on the receiving end may be. Post- Partum depression and anxiety are very common and I can’t imagine already feeling like I wasn’t good enough to be literally told that I wasn’t good enough by some internet stranger that I looked to for support.
The appeal of online parenting groups and mom forums is that you can find solace and friendship in like-minded persons. The niche specific group traverse the internet from Moms of Boys to Big Families, First time Parent’s, Adoptive Parents and more. There is a forum for sharing and support for every family dynamic and parent that exists today. It is within those forums made just for us that we are supposed to feel safe and welcome. Those forums are supposed to be places of sanctuary for exhausted and frazzled parents on the verge of their next breakdown. Parenting is hard. It is a difficult and scary situation whether you have one or many children, they are terrifying littcreaturesres that cause us to need actual help from people often.
It is really unfortunate, to put it milidly, that these parenting support groups are superficial with their support. It is really harmful to parents to be involved in such petty and hateful internet fueds over their parenting methods.
Mom Shaming is practically a culture. There are the parent group Mean Girls that outright out to shame parents for their choices for their own children. Then there are the passive-agressives that want to help you but only if they are able to passive aggressively demean your parenring and child -rearing in the process. There are the ones who have no help to offer – only *HUGS* and *Prayers* but wont “stand up” and defend you when the pack attacks you over your choice of day-care/formula/car-seaat.
How are we supposed to teach our kids to be better? How are we supposed to justify what we are judging others on?
Why is it that people, whether they be strangers or people you know, feel their place is to tell you how to do your thing? It is really NOT OKAY for anyone to judge what you are doing with your children unless it is outright illegal. If it is morally questionable, maybe. But if you’re doing the best you can with what you’ve got then people need to butt out.
Minding one’s own business is difficult I suppose, but I think trying a new hobby could help. Being an asshole on the internet is not an acceptable hobby. Stop parent shaming and care for your own circus.