So, you had a kid and decided to join a parents Facebook group. Then you joined another (about car seats). And another (about meal planning). Then you joined four different buy/sell groups, a buy nothing group, a discipline group, a crafting group, five different local neighbourhood groups, two sleep tips groups, a baby-wearing group, and at least one group that is mostly moms posting pictures of rashes and other moms telling those moms to seek medical advice.
Welcome to the jungle! You thought your newsfeed would be full of helpful tips, supportive comments and a real sense of community, and sometimes it is. But there’s also probably a lot of drama and even some bullying as parents disagree on appropriate snacks, the price of the stroller you’re trying to sell, and whether time outs are necessary or make your child feel abandoned.
When you’re on the receiving end of the shame or judgment, parents Facebook groups can feel like they’re full of, well, dicks.
WATCH: Photo series aims to end mom shaming. Story continues below.
“I once made a post in a mom group asking if a couple apples cut up was a good snack for my four year old who was in a PM preschool class, three hours of school total. I was a single mom making minimum wage and apples were all I had,” Ottawa mom Sarah Pratt told HuffPost Canada.
“The moms tore me apart; they insisted my child would be ravenous the whole time because she didn’t get enough. I already felt like a garbage mom and they just made it worse.”
We asked a local mom Facebook group the most dick moves they’ve seen by other parents online. Within two hours, that post had 200 comments (and they’re still rolling in). Based on these comments and our own experiences in parents Facebook groups, here’s how not to be the absolute worst:
Don’t: Gloat about sleep
Cool, your baby sleeps like a dream. That’s great. Good for you, honestly. You know who doesn’t want to hear about it? The parents of a baby who doesn’t sleep. Especially not when they’ve tearfully posted asking for advice about their kid who wakes up every one-to-two hours overnight.
Here’s how not to be a dick in the comments:
Don’t: “I feel your pain. My baby goes to bed at 7 p.m. but wakes up at 5:30 a.m.! I’m so tired! What do I have to do for him to sleep in?!”
Do: “I’m so sorry you’re going through this.”
Even better: Resist the urge to comment. Leave it to the other mombies who’ve been there and can actually offer advice.
Don’t: Shame choices different than your own
Want to start a mom war? Post a question about circumcision, ear piercing, formula feeding, sleep training, pets, when to go back to work (if at all), and wait for the shamers to come out. People seem to fall onto either side of battle lines on these seemingly divisive topics.
If a parent has already made their decision about something you disagree with, and is asking a question (“Advice for pain control for my little man after his circumcision?”) or looking for support (“We’re on night one of sleep training and it’s so hard. Tell me there’s a rainbow at the end of this!”), here’s how not to be a dick in the comments:
Don’t: “Sleep training will give your child attachment and abandonment issues. It’s natural to parent in the night. Go pick up your baby, Mama. He’s only little for such a short time.”
Do: “Good luck/Thinking of you!”
Even better: Keep scrolling. They asked for support, not opinions.
Caveat: If you see a parent posting about something legitimately concerning (like thinking of skipping their baby’s vaccines because they’re afraid) or illegal (asking if it’s OK to skip the car seat just this once, for instance), feel free to calmly offer them some evidence-based knowledge. But this is better done in a private message. No one wants to feel publicly shamed for simply not knowing something.
Don’t: Overshare photos
If you haven’t tried to discern whether Brenda’s kid’s rash is sun stroke, hives, or chicken pox in your community Facebook group, are you even a mom?
We get it. When you’re in a panic, sometimes a photo is the easiest way to ask a question. But before you post, ask yourself: do all the other parents in your Facebook group really want to see Lucy’s raging diaper rash/your mucous plug/the vomit you’re trying to wash out of your car seat? Chances are: hard no.
And unless you’re posting in a group specifically dedicated to people trying to conceive where this is the norm, resist the urge to post a positive pregnancy test pic. These can be extremely triggering for those struggling to get pregnant or experiencing a loss.
Anyway, here’s how not to be a dick:
Don’t: Post a photo of your kid covered in puke.
Do: Ask, “Any tips to help with car sickness?”
Even better: Talk to a medical professional.
Don’t: Push your MLM
There’s nothing wrong with having a side shuffle. Having a passion project and earning some extra income are both great things. But resist the urge to sell or recruit in your parents Facebook group, OK? ESPECIALLY unsolicited!
Some groups might have a business thread, and you can hock your Doterra and Arbonne there. But we all know what’s up when someone asks for discipline advice and you slide into the comments with an essential oil reco. Just don’t.
Here’s how not to be a dick with your MLM (multilevel marketing) biz:
Don’t: Try to push your products on people who aren’t asking for them.
Do: Respond when someone specifically asks for a rep in their area.
Even better: Join a group specifically dedicated to your biz, or create one.
Don’t: Offer unsolicited/unrelated advice
You know how hard you grind your teeth when a family member randomly tells you that it’s too cold to take baby for a walk/co-sleeping means you’ll never sleep alone again/your baby is too young for daycare?
Don’t be that dick in your Facebook group. If someone isn’t looking for advice, or is asking about something else entirely, don’t offload your opinions. Once, we asked a question about picky eating and jokingly mentioned that our toddler was trying to live off hot dogs (for the record, he’s since moved on to meatballs). And one mom commented that, FYI, hot dogs are carcinogenic. Cool. Cool.
So, let’s say a breastfeeding mom is taking a work trip sans bebe and asking for pumping advice. Here’s how not to be a dick:
Don’t: “You should never leave a breastfeeding baby.”
Do: “I’d pump the same times you’d normally breastfeed to keep your supply up!”
Even better: “WOOHOOOOOO HAVE FUN!!! ORDER ROOM SERVICE! YOU’RE FREEEEEEEE!”
Don’t: One up/Sanctimommy
Parenting is wonderful, but it’s also hard, and we’re all in the shit together. Sometimes we just need to vent about how our kid won’t sleep/bites her sister/refuses to get dressed/made eye contact with you then pissed on the floor (*cough* not that this happened to us...). Or maybe we need to complain about the mental load, and how our partners just don’t understand the pressure we feel.
Now is when parents need support! This is not the time to a) comment on how if you think the terrible twos are bad, wait until you get to the teen years, b) tell us about your wonderful, supportive spouse, c) tell us parenthood is a gift and we should enjoy every minute.
NO ONE WANTS TO HEAR IT, REBECCA.
Here’s how not to be a dick when someone is ranting about their partner:
Don’t: “You have it easy. Try being a single mom.”
Do: “Oof. Sounds rough. Hang in there, mama!”
Even better: ”What’s your address? I’m coming over with cake.”
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