One of the most common things I see on social media mom groups is “Should I tell her she’s doing it wrong?”
My answer is nearly always no. You should not.
Don’t get me wrong. I get that 90% of the time, this question is rooted in good intentions-moms wanting to “help out” other moms that may or may not know that some action isn’t following a recommendation by a manufacturer, instruction manual, doctor, book, etc.
I understand why I’m probably in the minority but here’s my reasoning: would you walk up to a stranger in a park and tell her she’s parenting the wrong way? Would you poke your head in a stranger’s car and ask to inspect her car seat installation job or proper strap placement? Would you ask a twin mom to explain the logistics in meeting any of her babies’ needs at the same time and then tell her that the methods that work are dangerous? Have you ever told someone it seems she can’t handle things so she should *just* hire someone to help?
Did you EVER see your mother’s generation do that kind of thing? Probably not.
We continually have a discussion amongst our team members about the protective shield that social media affords us. There seems to be something about a keyboard that allows us to sling opinions without affording the receiving party any benefit of the doubt. Ok, great, but here’s the thing: we can’t all be perfect parents all the time. Not everyone is afforded the luxury of having every aspect their life together. These are real people on your screen. People with emotions and feelings. People that make mistakes, have bad days, get stressed. I’ll give you a few examples.
Here’s an Instagram photo I posted of us feeding the girls a few months ago. Names blocked to protect private accounts.
Now, do you really think I was out of arm’s reach at any time? I got the recall email too, which is why I don’t walk away from them like I did with my first kid. If you actually read the recall, it was due to people walking away, and the babies coming out and falling off of elevated surfaces. I choose to use my judgment and not walk away from my kids as I feed them in a manner that works for us. Her comment was from a good place. It was. BUT, I also know she’s never faced the logistics of trying to feed two babies the same age at one time alone, while also getting a toddler to eat a meal within a reasonable amount of time. If I fed all of them on the floor, I’d potentially get some comment about how there’s a scientific fact that families who all eat a table together are more bonded, blah, blah. Darned if I do, darned if I don’t.
A friend took her boys to the park to watch their big brother play soccer. She left the baby in the carrier, but loosened his straps so he could breathe a little easier while they enjoyed the nice weather. They were on a blanket, and there was clearly a field and some trees in the background. The comments came. “I hope you fixed his straps before you put him back in the car.” “I’m concerned – that’s my big anxiety trigger – you know it should be tight and over his chest, right?” Seriously? Whatever happened to “Hey, look at those adorable kids on that beautiful day where they are all happy after they’ve been having a rough patch of life. I’m glad they’re finally having a good day.”
I realize that there ARE clueless people out there that need guidance, and some that appreciate the feedback. I won’t necessarily go so far as to say “mind your own darned business,” but if you truly feel compelled to comment, may I suggest doing it privately, so as not to make that person feel publicly shamed and turn the photo into a debate forum?
Do YOU stop and inspect every photo you take for possible parenting infractions that will be scrutinized by anyone that sees the photo? I would guess not. You probably think, “Hey, look at this funny or cute thing my kid did. Aunt Susie would love to see this.”
Don’t you think that’s all most people are doing when they share photos?
My point is this – if you see a parent “doing it wrong” in a picture they’ve shared on the internet, try to take a minute and give that mama some grace. Has she gone four days without sleep? Did her toddler push down his chest strap in protest? Has that mom exhausted every other option, only to find that the thing that works isn’t exactly orthodox? Is she doing everything alone? Did she have trouble adjusting the straps on her carrier so the carry is a bit off? I can go on forever. Haven’t we all had off days?
We’re all real mamas here. Let’s do unto others as we would have them do unto us.