It’s real. It’s there. And we make it worse for each other.
As a parent, you would think our biggest support would be other parents. We are all right in the thick of it, going through it together. The sleepless nights, the tantrums, the poo nappies, the work-life balance, the ups and downs, the struggles and the happy times. Parenting is hard, yet so rewarding, and we have so much to learn from other parents who have been through it all.
The Internet Is Magical
The internet is a magical place. I have three children now: Cassie (4), Vivi (2) and Elliot (2 months). We suffered two miscarriages before we had Cassie and it was devastating, but I found comfort from other mums online who had been through the same thing. It’s been over 5 years now and we all talk every day, sharing stories, venting and offering support. I honestly don’t know how I would have made it through this journey without them.
I started joining more and more groups on Facebook when I first had my daughter. I thought the more support I had that I could reach out to at all hours of the day, the better. I joined babywearing groups and learned the different types of carriers out there and found what worked for us, I joined local groups and went to meet ups with other mums in the area, I joined a ‘nub’ group and had fun guessing the sex of our babies. There is a group for everything, and while they can offer so much support, I have also seen so much negativity and bullying.
Your Decision Doesn’t Make Another Mum’s Wrong – No Mum Shaming
Motherhood is full of tough decisions: breastfeeding vs formula, co-sleeping vs cot sleeping, purees vs baby led weaning and so on, and we all do the best job we can, making the right decisions for our family. Yet, somehow the internet has empowered women to stand up behind their screens and attack other women on their choices. They bully other parents.
I have seen it all. Mums attacked for introducing a bottle to their baby, being told that ‘Breast is Best’ and they are increasing their child’s risk of SIDs. Mums attacked for asking how to sway for a particular sex to settle their desire to finally have a girl/boy, being told they should be thankful to get a healthy child and nothing else should matter to them. Mums attacked for choosing a cry it out method to settle their baby, being told they are cold and damaging their baby for the long term.
It seems we all know best in this day and age, and we don’t want to offer advice to other mums, we want to shut them down and tell them they’re wrong. We mum shame. And it’s truly horrible to watch.
Would we walk up to a mum bottle feeding at the shops and yell at her that ‘breast is best’ and that she is putting her child at risk? Most people wouldn’t. There is something about being protected by the anonymity of a screen that gives these women the power to speak out and attack. The internet has given rise to the bully, protected through the screen.
I’ve sat back and watched it for the past four years, feeling sick with every post. We have no idea what that mum on the other side is going through. With postnatal depression a real issue affecting so many of us, it seems the attacks from the online world could be enough to push a mum or dad to breaking point.
No To Mum Shaming And Bring Back The Community
It’s time to turn things around. The ‘it takes a village to raise a child’ mentality has been lost in modern society and we need to bring it back. We won’t always agree with another parent’s decision, just like they won’t always agree with ours, but that’s the beautiful thing about parenting: there are so many different ways to do it, you just have to find what works for you.
It’s time to stop the mum shaming and bring back the community. If you see a mum online asking for advice or looking for help, take the time to respond in the kindest way possible. I can assure you, it will make her day. All it takes is a minute of your day, but can have such a profound effect on a struggling mother.
Parenting can be a lonely journey, and the internet truly is a wonderful place to find support, as long as we stop the mum shaming, cut down the bullies and stand up for each other.
Be sure to visit Felicity on her social media platforms and her wonderful site to read more.
Felicity is mum to her two daughters, Cassandra (3.5) and Vivienne (21 months) and her son Elliot (2 months). Her passion is the parenting industry and creating a community where everyone feels welcome no matter how they choose to parent. It is this passion that led to the creation of The Baby Vine.