School is underway, and that means it’s time for your phone to be a buzz with the mommy group chats again. We are fortunate to live in a time where instant access to all things school-related is at our fingertips, whether it’s the school’s Facebook page or a parent GroupMe. Parents have these digital platforms to ask questions and communicate, but at the same time, parents are using these platforms to demand answers and complain, potentially creating a toxic environment that can spread like wildfire. If you have kids in school, you are probably part of said digital parent forums, whether it’s school official or created by a mom. Either way, don’t make the mistake of becoming that parent. The forum should be used to remind parents of upcoming school events, class reminders, provide a safe space to ask questions, and offer an opportunity to socialize and bond with other classmates’ families. If you find yourself doing anything else, you might be a toxic school mom.
As someone who has been part of multiple school systems, I have been in my fair share of parent group chats (both official and unofficial). And, quite frankly, I didn’t even realize I was drinking the Kool-aid and adding to the toxicity myself, until I joined a new school group chat that completely outshined all others I’ve ever been part of. I’d like to offer my personal experiences of how to recognize toxicity in a parent group chat and what you can do to keep the peace and positivity.
You might be a toxic school mom if…
1. You complain.
If at any point your comment takes a jab at the school/school personnel or is worded in a way to persuade others to agree with you about your personal opinion, then you’re dropping little nuggets of toxicity into the group chat. This is not the place to vent. None of the parents in the chat are making official school decisions. If you’re complaining to this group, you’re most likely hoping to persuade others to agree with you, subconsciously or consciously, and you’re potentially building an army against the institution that is solely there to help and protect your child. Any complaint or concern should be brought directly to the school itself, NOT the parents. If you think you’re venting, you’re not. Lean on a close friend or reach out to one individual parent you can trust to privately vent. This large group space is not the place to air out your grievances.
2. You take a screenshot.
If you’re taking a screenshot of this private parent forum, then stop right there! You are most likely sharing it with someone who is NOT in the group, and if that’s the case, they don’t need to be privy to any of the private information that was shared. This is potentially turning you into a gossiping monger. If this parent space can’t remain safe, then parents can’t feel free to ask questions for fear of others judging them. What happens in the group chat, should stay in the group chat.
3. You find yourself siding with Karen.
First of all, there are two sides to every story, right? Secondly, why are you catering and encouraging the negative Nancy? She shouldn’t be using this space to vent. Thirdly, If you are going to be easily persuaded on a school topic by what a parent has to say and not the teachers or school staff themselves, you probably shouldn’t be making many important decisions. Don’t drink the Kool-aid!
4. You confront a fellow mom in the group chat.
As someone who hates to be wrong herself, this one has proven to be quite difficult but still, a must. If someone does complain or says something you don’t like, the group chat is NOT the place to settle your differences. I mean, don’t get me wrong, it might make for great entertainment for those who know better, but take it to the DMs or not at all. Confrontation brings out opposing parties and, in these groups, we’re all on the same side here.
5. You belong to a mom clique and not a mom group.
There is a very fine line between a clique and a group of friends, and as a huge advocate of having your go-to circle of mom friends, I’m also huge on making sure you’re not turning into a mom clique. Being inclusive and using the digital platform to invite other moms from time to time to your social outings proves you are anything but toxic. Always sticking with the same exact moms on all of your social outings and never looking to expand might make you toxic. Don’t get me wrong; you can absolutely have your close circle and still not be mean girls, but don’t forget that there are many moms in this group chat who have something in common with you — they’re part of the same school. Strengthen the school community by expanding the mommy troupe.
So, whether you unexpectedly find some truth in this article or find yourself nodding in agreement with what I said, let’s be aware of the signs of going down that toxic road. The Digital Age has spoiled us and might’ve even blinded us a bit, but knowing the signs and recognizing them is a great first step in keeping the peace not only within the group chats but within yourself as well.