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Are Mothers The New Cyber-Bullies?

bullies

When I fell pregnant, I was overjoyed to be finally part of the club. So happy, I just wanted to share the whole experience with other mums. I had my girlfriends but I stumbled upon loads of closed mummy facebook groups online, a place where I could keep my anonymity, but be part of a supportive community. A place where I could talk about being a “mummy” to other mothers… sure what can go wrong?

At the 20-week scan, I couldn’t wait to find out the sex of my baby ,its a girl woohoo… I couldn’t wait to share. I logged on and I posted to a facebook mummy group “ yippee… I just found out I’m having a girl!! So excited, “I have a pal for life.”””……. Two minutes later “… ten comments under mine. The first one being “so if you were having a boy, it wouldn’t be a pal???… another one was “you can’t be so sure , your having a girl, my cousins, friends sister was told she was told that too , she painted everything pink, bought a small fortune in dresses and had a boy, (just imagine)… another one sniped in “ I’m a mother of 3 boys, my boys are my pals, so what do you mean?

I spent “what was meant to be one of my happiest” days trying to defend my first comment. Ok so I could have worded it better, but .. when I shared the news with my friends and family, that’s what they said, you will have a pal for life, I just didn’t think it would offend…

I licked my wounds and got on with my pregnancy, and was extra careful, with what I shared with the “mummy” facebook groups.

Baby arrived and I had a fairly emotional experience trying to breastfeed, to cut a long story short, it just didn’t work out for us. I was craving a bit of support and flippantly posted to a mummy group “ Breast wasn’t best for us, it didn’t work out, would any of you recommend a good formula, that’s easy on baby’s tummy”…….

My god, it was like a bomb exploded

In the space of ten seconds there was a barrage of comments, (ok so maybe I could have worded it better, just like before) but these comments got really abusive in a short space of time. “Breast is always best, why would you give up so soon on your baby? was the first” it escalated really quickly and got quite personal. I sat reading my phone, feeling numb with my newborn, in my arms in floods of tears. ,I was a new first-time mother and felt like the worst mother Ever….. it was bad enough not being able to it, but these comments made me feel like a useless mother.

From then on, I decided not to share anything with the mummy groups, but have a scout in the background and observe. I witness another mother on the other side of the breastfeeding debate get a barrage of nasty comments too … She posted a photo of her last breastfeed with her toddler and said “I’m going to miss this so much” it seemed to me like it was a special moment she wanted to share. The comments flooded, below her photo were downright degrading, you wouldn’t have seen it on the Donald Trump campaign trail . One saying “breastfeeding a toddler, that’s just wrong on all levels”… hinting that it was borderline child abuse!!! Seriously what is wrong with us, that we have to knock another mother’s choice, I get it… we are passionate about breastfeeding, but come on,,, if our babies are getting fed and we are trying our best by them, sure that can only be right… some mothers got very hurtful, very quickly and in the end the mother deleted her photo, i thought to myself, how low and sad she must feel, to then feel the need to delete the photo..

Different parenting styles like, Discipline and guidelines versus gentle parenting is another topic that can bring out the “wee people that live under bridges” on both sides. I’ve witnessed some mothers exercising the “gentle parenting” approach with their children, being not so gentle on fellow mothers, accusing rules and guidelines as child abuse… and then I’ve also saw, mothers that disagree with “gentle parenting” call it barely parenting, picking holes in eachother…

I’ve also watched Baby led weaning mothers tear strips of each other (putting it mildly)..… A mum in one group posted a photo of her 11-month-old eating a happy meal,, ok I’m extremely passionate healthy food for children, (its the backbone to my blog) but in this case it was a treat on a day out. The abuse that was hurled at her was outrageous, you would swear she was giving the child “hard drugs.. the 11-month-old was feeding her self.. just on that occasion it wasn’t “corn on the cob”, so she was branded as an irresponsible parent..

What has happened to us? Is it because we are behind a screen and its a closed group. Is that making us braver?

Would we walk up to a mother in the street and shout our parenting opinions at her?

Just because a mother’s parenting style is different than our , doesn’t make them wrong and us right… debate is fantastic… but whens its a barrage of abuse and its personal, it’s cyber bullying no matter what age you are… we all vulnerable, when it comes to our children… and just want to feel we are doing right by them…

What happened to women supporting women , we are all unique, let’s embrace it. Why do we have it in us, to bring a person down a peg or two… is it a pack mentality? Does it make us feel better ,to think we know better?

“Mummy groups” have their place, of course they can have a positive impact too, but If you’re feeling fragile needing advice, a bit low or unsure about the daunting task of being a mother

, talk to your loved ones, the real guys that know you and care about you, if you want to remain anonymous talk to your gp… if a group is making you stressed, feeling belittled, putting you down…press that button… Leave Group…

whats your experience of “mummy” closed FB groups?

get in touch, whether it be positive or negative I’d love to hear from you…

Originally published at oneyummymummy.com on October 16, 2016.

Jolene Cox
Jolene Cox
Jolene has worked in the childcare sector her whole life, but when it comes to parenting she's winging it like the rest of us. Her passions are creating family food on a budget by day, and swigging a glass of red while writing her parenting stories by night. You can also find her hanging out at her Award-winning parenting and food blog One Yummy Mummy