Five questions I want to ask mean mothers online

Why are some mums so hard on others? Where is the support?

Spend some time on the internet and you’d be forgiven for thinking that mothers were uniformly vicious, judgmental and harsh when in real life they are often sympathetic, helpful and generous.

Why are we so hard on each other online?

The things that are said in parenting forums sometimes have to be seen to be believed. There are things typed that would never be said in person. Hurtful things. Mean things. Unnecessary things. Stupid things.

Are the people posting these things horrible people? Have they had a few too many wines when they bash them out on their keyboard? I cannot understand what would drive someone to make another mother feel small or make them feel bad about their choices.

And even if they somehow can convince themselves that what they are saying is fair and reasonable, do they really think that they will change the person they are commenting on by being mean? There’s not many times where I’ve been blasted and made to feel terrible and then adopted the advice I was given in that manner.

While I have been helping parents settle their babies for 20 years, I still learn new things from parents and I still feel like the most important part of my job is listening and researching. Each person needs an approach that fits with their unique situation and point of view.

Obviously, I don’t endorse taking actions that are unsafe or unhealthy but there is a vast range of parenting styles which are all fine, will all produce happy and healthy children and which can be the subject of criticism or endorsement.

So this is what I want to ask mothers being harsh online:

1. Is what you are saying kind?

If it’s not, why are you saying it at all? What purpose does it serve to belittle someone? Be kind. It’s simple but for Pete’s sake, just be kind.

2. Is what you are saying helpful?

If it’s not genuinely going to help that person – and you’d have to be pretty sure – then maybe hold it in.

3. Have they really asked for you advice?

I know sometimes parents post on forums and explicitly ask for advice but often mothers are just sharing because they want to put it out there or they want support, not necessarily advice, especially not harsh advice. Maybe they don’t need your advice.

4. Are you 110% certain that you’re right?

And that you’re right for their situation and their baby? And that you know all the facts? And that you haven’t made a mistake?

5. Are you really in a good position to comment?

If you haven’t walked a mile in their shoes, you may not know what they’ve gone through. If you haven’t experienced their situation, your advice may not be that helpful. And are you in a good frame of mind to be commenting? Are you tired and snarky? Are you angry about something else? Do you come with baggage?

Let’s give each other a break and share our strength together.

I was, and still am stunned at how easy and quick Jo’s method was for getting my daughter to sleep through the night. – BabyBliss parent

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