As parents, and moms especially, we label ourselves and each other: SAHM, Working Mom, co-sleeper, sleep trainer, breastfeeder, formula feeder, cloth diaperer, anti-vaxxer, helicopter mom, free-range parent, boy mom, girl mom, special needs mom, mom of multiples, granola mom, soccer mom, room mom, PTA mom. The list goes on and on. The use of many of these labels have come to carry heavy judgement – judgement that social media seems to entitle you to express outlandishly at every opportunity. What if instead of the laundry list of labels, we all ditched the judgement and just used one? A common label that unifies us, instead of dividing – PARENT. What if we all agreed to support each other and follow The Parent Commandment: Respect Thy Fellow Parent.
The Parent Commandment
Treat others the way you want to be treated.
And yet, somehow, in today’s modern era of social media, mommy blogs, and online parenting communities, that very rule, which we beat into the heads of our children on a daily basis, seems to have fallen sadly by the wayside. It seems as though we as a collective group of parents, and moms in particular since women seem to be the worst perpetrators, need to be reminded with the adoption of The Parent Commandment: Respect Thy Fellow Parent.
So Much Mommy-Hate
I couldn’t stand idly by and keep quiet any longer (as my friends all laugh, because when do I ever keep quiet!?!). Over the last week alone, I have seen mommy hate rear its ugly head one too many times. In response to this article on infant sleep, I witnessed Facebook commenters accuse parents who sleep train of ‘committing child abuse,’ ‘being selfish,’ and ‘abandoning their parenting duties.’ Yesterday, a highly followed and respected fellow kids activity blogger was ripped to shreds for alleged gender discrimination all for sharing what should have just been a helpful post about eliminating ‘boy’ foot odor.
And if you think those aren’t so bad – how about this mom who posted to a local community forum to return a winter hat she found at the local playground, only to spawn a tirade that lasted days because she called it a ‘boy’s hat’. And then there are just the outright ludicrous, like this atrocious group, who last week actually shamed women who had c-sections claiming women who give birth vaginally are ‘superior.’
You can’t make this stuff up. And as I said, those are just the most egregious examples I have personally encountered over the last week. In a world that increasingly preaches tolerance and acceptance, we seem to be moving toward the other extreme, at least online.
Bullying and Social Media
With the proliferation of the internet and social media, there are more forums and readily available resources available for parents than ever before. That should be a great thing, right? However, all too often, instead of being places of support, many moms feel the need to jump all over post authors or fellow commenters for mere differences in style or opinion. I’ve seen some of the worst occur in What to Expect communities, where first time pregnant mothers looking for support and answers are welcomed to the world of mommyhood in a manner fitting of a Mean Girls sequel, Mean Moms.
Cyberbullying is now a well documented, researched and in some instances, criminal act. According to Enough is Enough, an organization dedicated to making the internet safe for children and families, “95% of social media-using teens who have witnessed cruel behavior on social networking sites say they have seen others ignoring the mean behavior.” We ask ourselves where children learn this behavior. As parents, it is our job to set the example.
Our children are listening as we chat with other parents during preschool drop-off and pick-up, or over a glass of wine during an afternoon playdate. When you mandate that your child friend you on Facebook, remember they are following and watching you too. As social-media using parents, how many of us have witnessed cruel behavior on Facebook and just ignored it… or worse, joined in on the attack?
Follow The Parent Commandment
So today, I ask all of you to pledge to follow The Parent Commandment. Respect thy fellow parent. Let’s end mommy wars, hate and shaming. Instead of judging another parent for choosing to parent differently than you do, respect their decision and support them as a fellow parent. If you see a parent attacked or attacking on social media, put a stop to the judgement. We are all entitled to express an opinion, but that doesn’t make any one better than another, and it can be conveyed without heirs of superiority. If you see a parent struggling with a tantrum-ing toddler in Target, offer a comment of empathy or a helping hand in support instead of a sidelong glance of judgement. We have all been there! Parents, at least 99.9% of us, all want the very best for our children. We make decisions based on what we know in the moment, and what we think is best for our family based on our family circumstances.
I created Playground Parkbench because I was inspired by how generous and supportive other parents were in real life. Want a recommendation for a double stroller? Ask the mom with two under 2 at the playground. Overwhelmed by registering for your first baby? One of my girlfriends who had a 1 year old offered to go with me to filter through the list. Looking for a great mommy and me class? Ask the other parents at the library story hour. I wanted to foster the same type of community online for both my local community, for parents who might be new to the area and not know anyone, and for parents everywhere, who may not have been lucky enough to be pregnant for the first time with all their closest friends.
Birthing a child doesn’t instantly make me, or anyone else, a parenting expert: I learn from each experience, other parents – and lest we forget, every child is different – so I learn from each child too! I share advice based on my parenting successes and failures, in the hopes that it will help others… but by no means is it the only option, or opinion, out there!
As part of the pledge, I encourage you to confess all your labels, no judgement, and discard them in favor of one… PARENT.
I am a SAHM, who if you asked me before kids, said I never would be.
I am mother to two girls, who love tutus, pink, shoes, and sparkles, as well as bugs, dinosaurs and puzzles.
I exclusively breastfed for 12 months…
and when I overproduced, I donated the excess to moms who needed it via HumanMilk4HumanBabies.
I cloth diaper…80% of the time… and 3 years ago would have said anyone who CDs is crazy!
I spoon-fed mostly jarred purees to Big M and did baby led weaning with Lil’ M.
I sleep train and use pacifiers.
I delivered two babies vaginally with epidurals.
I am a preschool room parent.
I let my kids watch TV and use technology.
I am a dance mom (who wishes she wanted to play sports too).
I am addicted to my crockpot.
I feed my kids organic strawberries alongside store-bought chicken nuggets.
I overdo holidays and throw overly planned, themed birthday parties.
I am a mommy blogger, Pinterest mom, #WAHM, #kbnmom and #instamom.
But above all… #IAmAParent.
I hope you will join me in pledging to follow The Parent Commandment. Confess your labels alongside me and adopt one single unifying label, #IAmAParent. Share it with an image that best depicts you as a parent today on Facebook or Instagram (tag me @PGPBMeghan #IAmAParent), or leave your pledge in the comments below. I will compile all the images and label confessions (anonymously, if you prefer) to be shared in a future post!