|The judgmental moms from the show New Adventures of Old Christine|
About 10 years ago, when I was pregnant with my first child, I did what was natural for me then and sought out advice and information online. I found an online community of other mothers who were set to deliver their first child at the same month as me. I joined the due date club and shared stories, pregnancy aches, advice and tips with my fellow “Due in July” moms. We formed a bond and eventually took our community to a private bulletin board where we would be able to share more intimate details and photos with one another.
It didn’t take long, but that loving and nurturing sorority we formed eventually fell victim to what I have come to learn is very common of mom communities even today. With so many people with different in real life (IRL) personalities, quirks, idiosyncricies, and other characteristics, it was inevitable that there would be some clashes and that some moms’ decisions would be judged by other members of the group negatively.
Recently, a Facebook friend of mine who had a baby a year ago posted on one of my statuses about how judgmental and condescending she found some of her mom sisterfriends in online communities were and it swiftly reminded me of my experience. Don’t get me wrong, the positives and benefits of these online networks far surpass the negatives, but the negatives can have lasting effects and have women second guessing their abilities to be a good parent.
In general, there were three kinds of moms:
1. The Oversharer or Joiner. These moms had long opinions on every issue and would comment on most topics. They often gifted other members long soliloquies of advice. Most of the advice was positive and well-meaning. They were well liked on the board and more often than not were given moderator status because of how involved they were in the community.
2. The Judger. These are the moms who believe what they believe about pregnancy, labor, delivery, birth and child-rearing and will make no qualms about telling those who disagree about themselves and how wrong they are. A mom in this category will tell any mother who decides she will not breastfeed, doesn’t want her baby to room in with her after delivery, will give her child a pacifier, will circumcise her son, has decided to combine nursing with bottlefeeding, does not think organic foods are necessary, has resorted to laying her baby on the tummy during the day so the baby could sleep longer, doesn’t know how to swaddle, will not homeschool, etc is a horrible mom and obviously doesn’t care enough about her baby to do the best for him or her. These moms are usually the ones caught in the middle of discussions of controversial topics.
3. The Driveby. These are the moms who pop in and out of the community. They share tidbits of information here and there and leave the other moms questioning their commitment to the group and or details about what information they have shared. At some point, some of the other moms may vote to kick her out of the community.
It was interesting for me to discover that over 10 years after I was a member of an online due date delivery community that the same “issues” that affect these groups still exist. I guess it should be expected since the online world is really just a microcosm of the real world. There too, personality clashes are likely within intimate circles of friends and colleagues bonded by a common experience.
It’s too bad that the pregnancy and motherhood experience has to be tainted by the sometimes overly judgmental world of online mom communities. Live and let live should be the mantra. After all if you consider all the things our parents did with us that would be looked down upon today by several moms, you’d wonder how we all turned out as normal as we did.