Social media has long been the place where people post about the “picture-perfect” lives they wished they had from spotless houses to perfectly behaved children to Martha Stewartesque meals. It has led to the invasion of sanctimommies, mommy wars and flat out mean people thinking that hiding behind their perfectly edited profiles gives them the right to pass judgment on every parenting moment shared that they deem to be a deplorable, neglectful or just irresponsible. The sad part is so many parents out there believe all this sanctimonious crap and think they are the only ones barely getting through the days and screwing things up on a regular basis. Well let’s be honest, no parent is perfect no matter what you see on social media. We are all screwing it up in one way or another….We get it wrong, we don’t know the answer, accidents happen and tried and true parenting techniques don’t work for everyone.
Day in and day out, I am constantly seeing people ripping parents to shreds on social media over some parenting moment they deemed unacceptable. One mom disciplined her daughter for what she felt was manipulative behavior and she wanted to nip in the bud right away. One of the commenters on the post went so far as to call her a B*tch. Really?!?!? Another video of a mom dealing with a toddler having a terrible tantrum in a parking lot went viral and people were quick to call her an awful mom only for her response to surface days later sharing that her son was recently diagnosed with Autism. People still lacked empathy and continued to judge her and tell her everything she was doing wrong as a parent. I have seen comments ranging from judgy misinformed statements to actual threats of violence. And I can’t tell you how many times I have seen someone post a video of someone else’s child that they deem to be misbehaving in some way only to shame the child and parent.
Granted, when someone makes their parenting life public they open themselves up to public opinion. However, people see a snippet of someone’s life and they suddenly think they can pass a sweeping judgment on that person’s parenting skills. I myself have experienced it when a photo of mine went viral and I was called a terrible mom and a dirty cow all over a photo that showed a millisecond of my life.
What is it about social media that makes people think it is okay to speak so horribly about others? Is it the level anonymity or the lack of person-to-person contact you are granted on social media that makes people think it’s ok to say anything that comes to their minds? Whatever happened to not saying anything if you don’t have something nice to say?
Don’t get me wrong because there are some situations that really are horrible parenting examples and deserve scathing judgement. But, more often than not, what we see on social media only offers a small snippet of someone’s life with little to no context that makes it easy to jump to conclusions and come to swift judgments. I won’t sit here and pretend that I never read an article or social media post and judged the person or situation. Then I remember when I was a first-time mom and I turned from my then 5-month-old just to grab a diaper to my left and he flipped off the bed or the time that my toddler decided to bolt into the street before I even knew what was happening. There was also the time I screamed at my boys because one of their many senseless fights that ended with flour all over my kitchen and a broken hand mixer… And the time my little princess fell right in front of me and fractured her leg. And that’s just naming a few incidents and parenting mishaps that have occurred over my parenting lifetime but I think you get the point.
I know there are some of you are reading this while sitting in your perfectly clean houses, clutching your gleaming white pearls and gasping because you would NEVER do such “horrible” things. But I am here to tell you if you haven’t already, you will. There will be accidents, your children will put themselves in danger faster than your brain can process, you will lose your cool and you will make parenting decisions that not everyone agrees with. What I think we as parents can do for other parents is be honest with ourselves about our own mistakes and imperfections and instead of tearing people to shreds, we can offer up a little empathy and understanding, not only on social media but also in real everyday life.
Elisha Beach is a stay-at-home mom to four kids and four step-kids…Yes, you read that right—eight kids. She is a wife, home cook, taxi driver, herder of children, terrible housekeeper and founder of The Mom Forum.
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