When I was pregnant with my youngest, I joined an online forum for moms with babies due in the same month. Having not had a child in nine years, I thought that being a part of the mommies group would provide information and occasional support. What I instead learned was how judgmental and downright mean other mothers could be, especially behind the safe barrier of the keyboard and computer monitor. What was supposed to be a forum for support more often than not was a cliquey high school for pregnant grown-ups full of high horses and big-belly internet gangstas.
With social media being 1,000 times more popular than it was way back in 2008, the mommy meanness only continues to get worse. Now in addition to hiding behind their own typed words, the new “mommy wars” are shielded behind memes using other people’s words passed around again and again.
But it doesn’t really have to be this way. Before you post that next blog comment or tweet, think about these new rules for moms when posting online.
If you can’t be respectful, be quiet This goes back to that good old “If you can’t say anything nice don’t say anything at all” that we all learned as kids. At some point you will see something online that will upset you. If you can’t address it like an intelligent adult without name calling, then don’t say it. Keep in mind that your nasty words will be hanging around wherever you typed them for, oh, eternity, so in addition to plain good manners, there are other reasons why you would want to keep it to yourself.
Respect that your decision isn’t every mom’s decision Some moms will be SAHMs and some won’t. Some will breastfeed, some won’t. Some will spank, some won’t. Be secure enough in your own decisions to make them without tearing someone else’s down. We are all mothers, doing the best we can with what we know and the tools we’ve been given. Instead of wasting your reproach on pregnant moms that eat lunch meat, save it for the ones that sell their babies for crack (because they do exist).
And at the same time….
Don’t always feel that you have to defend your decisions This goes for online and irl. Someone may think something that you’ve done is ridiculous. You don’t always have to care. Learn to say “That doesn’t work for my family.” The end. Judge me or not. Blog about it, Facebook it, go tell a friend. But that’s why these are my kids and not yours.
Stop fishing for a pat on the back Instead of having your baby in a hospital you climbed Mt. Everest with your one-year-old strapped to your back to have your baby at the top and fed your whole family with vegetables that you grew while you were up there. We get it. You’re superwoman. The truth is, all of us have our own unique challenges that we face as parents. We don’t need to always play the “this is why I’m a better mother than you” game. Validate yourself and know how strong you are without trying to look for confirmation elsewhere
Stop typing in all caps Just, for the love of God, stop.
Do you find that the internet turns women into mean moms? What other rules should I add to the list?