Social media can be a great place to connect with other people, until you do, say, or write something that other people disagree with. Than social media becomes an evil cesspool of vermin that can cause you to spiral into depression and despair. We see it every day. Someone makes a horrible mistake like posting a picture of themselves kissing their child on the lips, gets photographed in the paper wearing a baby carrier incorrectly, or allows their preschooler to wander off into a gorilla cage and the parent shaming begins.
We have all gotten use to the comments from the Sanctimommies, those mother of the year contestants who are perfect, have perfect children, and find parenting to be easy as baking a homemade sugar free, carb free, gluten free, all organic apple pie. We have interacted with them at PTA meetings and have stalked their Pinterest boards long enough to know that they are only trying to help in their own all-knowing judgmental way.
We have even learned to accept advice from our childless peers without kicking them in their special places, because we can secretly giggle behind their backs at how very naive and clueless they truly are. Did you hear the one about the lady who said her kids would never wear shirts with cartoons characters on them? Yep, that was me before I had children. Today, I shipped my son off to school wearing a Minecraft t-shirt. I waved to him and blew him kisses as I stood on our front porch wearing my amazing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle t-shirt. There is truly no shame to my game.
What none of us should get use to or accept is the behavior of the internet momsters. These are the people who take parent shaming way too far. The ones who hit below the belt. The ones whose comments and judgements can do nothing but hurt other people. They don’t bring anything positive to the conversation.
We also need make sure that we are not letting our emotions turn us into internet momsters. Sometimes good people get caught up in the drama and type things without really thinking about how the person on the other side of our message will feel. The first step to prevention is to be able to identify internet momster behavior. So here are the top behaviors that make someone an internet momster.
Internet Momsters Accuse Other Parents of Not Loving Their Children.
We have all seen these type of comments. “I could never let Susie ride her bicycle in the street, because I love her too much.” “Mothers who bottle feed are just selfish and don’t love their kids that much.” These comments are pure bull crap! If you tell me you love your kid more than anyone else loves them, I’ll believe you. If you tell me that I don’t love my kid or that I don’t love my kids as much as you love your kids because I make different parenting choices than you, I am going to want to hurt you. There are two responses when a mom reads something like this. She is going to be angry and/or she is going to start doubting herself and start thinking maybe she really isn’t giving her child all the love that they deserve. Both of these feelings are unhealthy. If you type something like this and you make someone feel this way you are not trying to help them or their child, you are just being an asshole and attempting to make yourself feel superior about your parenting skills.
Internet Momsters Tell Other Parents That They Are Doing Such a Bad Job Their Kids Should Be Taken Away!
Sometimes kids need to be removed from an abusive situation. If you call child services on the mom who posts a video of herself burning her son with a cigarette or on the dad who tries to pimp his daughter out in the local buy/sell/trade group you are doing the right thing. However, if a child isn’t being physically, emotionally, or sexually abused or neglected and you make comments about how the child should be taken away from their parents, you are truly taking things too far. I can’t tell you how many times I have seen comments like, “someone needs to take those kids away from her” or “CPS needs to get involved” when the situation clearly wasn’t an abuse or neglect situation. Everybody, even moms, are capable of having a bad day or making a bad decision. The mom who made her toddlers watch as she gave their toys away might not have been making the best disciplinary decision, but her kids don’t need to be removed from the home and she doesn’t need to be investigated for child abuse. From other pictures on her Facebook page it was obvious that her kids had more toys than they needed, were loved, and they were so young that they probably forgot the entire situation shortly after it occurred. It truly amazed me how many people were claiming that these children needed to be removed from her care. There are already enough kids in the foster system. We don’t need to start taking kids away simply because their mother Facebook shamed them when they are not even old enough to use Facebook anyway.
Internet Momsters Say Horrible Things about Other People’s Children.
This one angers me more than any of the others. I fully understand that Mama Bear comes out when we think our children are being treated badly. However, if the person you are angry at is another child you really need to put your claws away. Recently, on a friends Facebook status she wrote about a situation asking for advice on what to do because a kid in her son’s kindergarten class stole his juice box and his feelings were hurt. Her status was kind and she didn’t make any disparaging remarks about the boy in question. She was simply asking for help from more experienced parents. The comments came rolling in. People accused this five year old boy of being a bully and a juvenile delinquent. He obviously must come from a bad family and there must be some sort of abuse going on at home that lead him to steal a juice box. His future was going to be very bleak so don’t waste acts of kindness on him because he most likely was just going to prey on other children all year and needed to be stopped now. A lot of the comments offered great advice, but the ones that demonized the child and his family really made me angry. The truth is the kid is a kindergartener. He may not have even realized he was stealing or doing something wrong. My son cut a little girls pig tail off in Kindergarten. Chopped it right off with his scissors. He wasn’t trying to bully her. He had recently got a haircut and wanted to try it out. He just got a bad idea and followed through. He is almost 13 now and isn’t a bully, he has a bright future, and loving parents. Kids do stupid crap. It’s our job to teach them right from wrong, not treat them as if they are evil.
Internet Momsters Threaten Other Parents with Violence or Hell.
“Someone needs to beat that mom’s ass for letting her son go into that Gorilla cage.” “I hope you know that you are going to hell for breastfeeding in public.” These are direct quotes from comments on recent Twitter posts. Just let them sink in. How would you feel if they were directed at you? If you can have that much anger towards someone else for a mistake that they made that didn’t directly affect you or a parenting choice they made that was different than yours, the person who has a problem is you. Please step away from the keyboard and seek professional help.
If you do any of these things. Please, just STOP! The world will be a much better place with one less internet momster and you will be a happier person without the negativity. If people post these kinds of things on your social media statuses or website page posts, delete them. I don’t care if it lowers your engagement or angers your internet momster of an aunt. Make your social media page a safe place for other people by getting rid of the truly hateful and unnecessary comments. Parenting is hard! It is hands down the hardest endeavor that any human can undertake. The propagation of the species is so important that we should create a supportive environment where we help each other to successfully raise each new generation. How many of the examples that I used in this article are things that you do? Do you kiss your kids on the lips or let them ride their bikes in the street? Do you bottle feed or breastfeed in public? Has your toddler ever wandered off or has your kindergartener ever done something mean? It’s time that we fight back against the parent shaming. We need to pick up our virtual pitch forks and force away the internet momsters that make social media such a scary place for parents. Because if you don’t stand up against them now, you never know when they will be coming after you or your kids!
Tiffany O’Connor is a mom to two amazing, energetic, and fearless boys. She is married to her high school sweet heart and has three college degrees. Her hobbies include watching TV shows about zombies, hiding in her hot tub with a bottle of champagne, and writing all about her misadventures parenting in a “man cave” at #Lifewithboys.