I’ve written before about how fantastic I’ve found online parenting groups in helping me to muddle my way through the early days of raising my little boy. I’ve found them to be incredible sources of wisdom about the little things and places where I can gripe about how many times he was up last night and not get “Well, you knew what you were signing up for”. There have been many days where I’ve read blogs written by fellow Irish Parenting Bloggers when they’ve expressed their frustration or written about their days of everything going wrong and I’ve laughed hysterically or cried along with them, thanking every god out there that it isn’t just me, it isn’t my child and I’m not a bad Mammy because it is happening to other people.
This is a tough job. It is certainly the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I’m a woman who likes her sleep, and her own me-time, and I used to live for being able to go off and do my own thing when the urge struck me. To now have this little person so dependent on me being there all the time has been a time of massive change and it hasn’t been the easiest transformation into some semblance of SuperMammy by any stretch of the imagination. For this reason, I’ve become dependant on these other women online who share my experiences and understand where I’m coming from.
For this reason, I’m even more dismayed by what I’ve been noticing lately in some of the communities I’m involved in. Other parents judging rather harshly the parenting choices or the actions of others, and quite blatantly making them feel like crap about themselves, their children and their parenting skills. Of course, I’ve already seen this with the “Formula is feeding your baby poison” brigade from when I was giving up breastfeeding, but as he’s growing older it is starting to seep into more and more of the groups that I’ve frequented. It seems that it is their way or the highway, which is all well and good if you know what you’re talking about and it is for genuine reasons (i.e., deliberate trolling of threads) that you wish others not to contribute, but unfortunately it is the starter-outers, the new mothers, those willing to take a look and see if they like what is being discussed coming from other points of view – it is those who bear the brunt of the harsh words and the tone of superiority coming from some of those posters.
I’ve seen posts put up by frustrated mothers venting which wound up in their parenting skills being called into question. Not on. Mothers giving what I would consider helpful advice about baby wearing and the types of carriers recommended for hip health in infants, who get the internet version of screamed at by others for “being superior” despite the helpful tone of their post. Again, not on. We’re all walking down this road together but it seems that some people feel they can only get ahead by knocking others into the mud. It’s bad enough enduring the looks and judgement of non-parents when you have your screaming teething child in the shop, but to get the same type of criticism from people who really should know better, who have been in your shoes, that is another thing altogether.
As I’ve said in a previous post, I was interested in baby wearing, it just didn’t work out for us after a few months as E has inherited my need for personal space (and kicking room). I found these parenting groups a fantastic help with that, I was able to ask questions and bounce ideas off others. When it came to weaning, I started out down the traditional route of purees. After a bit, I started gaining a bit more of an interest in Baby Led Weaning, after seeing it mentioned by a few other parenting blogs. Like everything, I looked for Facebook groups of likeminded parents, and this is where I hit a wall – it seemed that in some of these groups, certain individuals (not all, but a fair few) looked down on any one who spoon fed, used purees or started their baby earlier than 6 months on solids. Without even commenting once on the page, just from reading responses to others and comments in threads, I felt as if I couldn’t ask questions without facing the judgement of these fellow parents. That isn’t helpful – if you’re open to learning and asking questions, you shouldn’t be shouted down just because of where you’re coming from – whether that makes you a breastfeeding parent, formula, puree or BLW, baby carrier or (gasp) a mammy who puts her baby in the buggy…
It’s like we’re all back in school again in some respects. Again, I re-iterate that for the most part these groups are a fantastic resource, and definitely I can say they’ve made many a diabolical parenting day better for me; whether it was providing a fix to a problem I was having, reassuring me that something was normal, or merely providing a safe haven to vent. It is just a pity that the minority in some cases can use negativity and harsh judgement of others to ruin these for others; to make others feel like crap and doubt their abilities more than they already do.
We’re all in the same boat, all in the glasshouse, but some feel it a good idea to throw stones. Lay off each other, if you can’t say something nice or productive, don’t say it at all, and judge not lest ye be judged – it IS that simple.
Hanging out on Facebook.