Bullying … one of those things that I thought was over once you finished high school … and it was. Until I entered motherhood.
But bullying now seems to be an art form – not the general “give me your brand new Impulse deodorant or I’ll flush your new shoes down the toilets” (this really happened!) Bullying now seems to have taken on a passive aggressive nature – the type where someone smiles at you while actually saying something really nasty and you generally don’t realise how horrible the comment was until you’ve after the moment has passed.
This type of bullying is relentless. I am not only talking about children at school, but about being an adult and in particular a mother. Online parenting groups are now so common, because it is easier with a new bub to have instant access to other mums. It helps us avoid the loneliness of the first few isolating months of motherhood. My question is – are they actually helping us or leading to us being isolated even more?
I say this as I was in an online mothers group until just before my daughter was 2. We all came together in the early stages of pregnancy through an online forum and took our private group to FB as it was easier to access. We all shared our ups and downs, progress photos, issues with our families, work and general hating of anyone who wasn’t pregnant. It was our safe place.
As we all started to have our babies it was amazing. We shared so many different kinds of births, we learnt from others first hand of what was going to happen. We shared some real lows with women who had terrible births or unwell bubs. We were there together with kind words, sending gift hampers and there to listen. As our new babies were brought home and we were feeding through the night, there was always someone online to fill that empty void. They helped break up the hideous noise of the breast pump, share lactation cookie recipes and provide advice on how to relieve wind from the most stubborn bubbas. I learnt so much from these women during this time and without them I think I would’ve lost my marbles.
For the most part, there were minimal issues and when they did arise we tried to sort them out as rationale women. But then the competition started – whose baby was harder, who made their own baby food, whose partner was least supportive, how many ‘activity’ groups you attended, what age your baby walked. With the competition came the judgements and all the mums who were suddenly ‘experts’ (and trust me, they sound so convincing with their confident answers, they had me sold!) It got to the point I didn’t have the courage to ask a question, or try and help someone else by responding to their posts.
In a world where technology is everywhere and it is so easy to connect with others, why are these connections becoming so negative. When I see online parents, so often women abusing other women about the way they parent, how they dress, how many kids they have and even what they feed their children, my question is WHY? Why do you need to tell someone who you do not know how to parent, how does what they feed their children affect you? Do these women have self-images issues, been bullied in the past, have nothing better to do than make people feel horrible about themselves?
Now we all know the suicide rate is increasing year to year. I would love to see the stats on how much it has increased since social media was launched. My point here is no-one ever knows what the person behind a keyboard is actually going through, if they are seeking advice from strangers they must need some help, why make them feel so insignificant and a failure of parent just for the sake of it. The age old saying of “if you have nothing nice to say, say nothing at all” needs to be re-iterated to everyone. If you generally have supportive information to give, then give it, but nothing ever good comes from ‘that way of parenting is wrong’ conversations.
As long as our children are loved, feed and kept safe then we should embrace how others parent and if we don’t like it then move on, scroll past, don’t get involved. It’s got nothing to do with you.
BE KIND! You never know what someone else’s battles are and there is not one parent who couldn’t do with some gentle support on a regular basis – no matter how they ask for it.
Written by Jessica Mullins from One Resilient Mum