Sunday, April 19, 2009

Don't Feed the Bullies

I hear so often stories from mothers claiming that they "know all about something."

"Let me tell you how to potty-train. I had 3 kids! I know all about that."

"Let me tell you why breast-feeding is horribly painful and difficult and why every woman who claims it is easy for her is LYING. I had 2 kids and we had a terrible time nursing. I know all about it."

"Let me tell you why whatever it is that you're doing differently than I did is wrong. It's wrong because it's not what I did and I feel the need to validate my own experience by proving that your way is incorrect."

I can only live my life. You can only live yours. We cannot profess to completely understand each other's situations, but we can attempt to be supportive and empathetic. Being supportive does not include a condescending attitude. An empathetic person would never negate my emotions simply because they don't fit in with what YOU experienced.

I wish people would think for a few moments before hitting publish. If only more bloggers would picture the faces of the actual people that would be reading their words; Is it their intention to offend? Is it their desire to make someone's day rotten? To hurt their tender, new-mom feelings? If not, then please remember that life never has one absolute answer to any problem. There is no such thing as an "expert" at this parenting gig. If your kids grow up and still love you? Then I consider your parenting experience a success.

If it is their intention to hurt other parents, then I send those bloggers my sympathy. It must be a horrible thing to feel so insecure about your own decisions and life that you need to strike blindly at your fellow human beings. I imagine that people who write as they do are also the ones who felt the need to steal lunch money from the smallest children in the class. They were probably the girls who picked on me for not needing a bra until 7th grade. They were the girls who started rumors about another teenager, simply because they wanted to divert the attention from their own actions...

I won't read you if you're going to be mean and condescending. I encourage all of YOU to do the same.

Don't feed the bullies.

21 comments:

L~ said...

sounds like you read something that wasn't too kind...it's never wrong to speak up for what you believe in your heart to be true. Thanks for this post.

Immoral Matriarch said...

Well if you don't want to read me anymore then fine! You didn't have to blast me publicly like this!! :P

Dana said...

Great post...I hope I never wrote anything so closeminded as that which you speak of. I don't think I have though....I'm definitely no expert and I'm well aware of that fact! LOL I can't even manage to successfully produce stink free socks from the laundry room. Geesh, I have 5 boys, you'd think I'd know JUST how to do that by now wouldn't you? Again....great post!

Hannah said...

Thanks for the reminder. I generally don't like to read blogs like that, as they make me feel like I suck. But I know I don't! It's difficult enough being a parent without reading stuff that makes you feel bad and second-guess yourself. Everybody's children are different, so even if somebody *was* an expert (although I agree with you that nobody really can be) their advice might not work in every situation. I don't mind people giving well-meaning and kind advice, but when it comes across as arrogant, that's a real turn-off. I won't read them, either.

Marie said...

Ahhhh, women, we can be mean and spiteful some days, can't we?

I hope it wasn't me, I suspect not since I haven't blogged much.

I agree, don't read whoever anymore. I took someone off my google reader who bummed me out too much, and I even know her IRL.

OHmommy said...

eeeekkkk... what happened T?

anymommy said...

"Let me tell you why whatever it is that you're doing differently than I did is wrong. It's wrong because it's not what I did and I feel the need to validate my own experience by proving that your way is incorrect."

That's exactly it, in my opinion. You put your finger directly on the reason that this happens. I hope you weren't hurt by anyone's insecurity.

Heather of the EO said...

You've got me completely curious as to what you read that fired you up.

It's SO true that none of us is an expert. When I encounter parents that think they are doing it the one and only right way, I have trouble hiding my smirk.

Tracey - Just Another Mommy Blog said...

Nothing in particular has offended ME lately. It's just a culmination of reading posts by women (and men too!) who profess to know all the answers. I hate it when someone makes a broad statement without acknowledging that just because it was true for THEM, it won't be true for everyone.

Also, I would never link to someone who was being rude or mean. Because THAT? Would be mean. And I try reeaaaallllly hard to only do things I'm proud of. Don't always succeed, but it's a goal I aspire towards!

Badness Jones said...

Well said! And I hope that I was never inadvertently one of the bullies....

Before I had kids I had all kinds of ideas about parenting, all kinds of things I would never do. I've since broken every single one of my own 'rules'. Every family is different, every child is different, and you can only do what works best in the moment.

(and completely off-topic - a long time ago I posted about meatballs with salsa and cranberry sauce and you replied about grape jelly and chili sauce, can you e-mail me with specifics? I made about a zillion homemade meatballs yesterday. Thanks!)

CaraBee said...

Gosh, now I'm worried that I'm a blog bully! I hope not! I agree with you, though. I don't know if you read The R Family Diaries, but she wrote a post the other day about a similar situation. What is it with people? Why do some people need to break people down to make themselves feel better.

the mama bird diaries said...

Great post. Being a know-it-all aint cool.

Don't Lick The Ferrets! said...

You go girl!! If we spent as much time supporting one another as we do judging one another, we would get a lot more accomplished. No two moms are the same, no two kids are the same. Different does not equate bad/wrong. It's just different! Great post!!

stella said...

I recently made this mistake. There is a new Mom I know and she was complaining about sleepless nights and her baby only taking 20 minute naps and only sleeping in Mama's arms. I suggested that she let the baby cry it out and now she doesn't talk to me much anymore...oops!

I really meant it from a good place because an exhausted Mom becomes a bitter martyr Mom that feels like a slave to a 15 lb tyrant. But I do see that sometimes it is best to just keep my big fat mouth shut. :D

Nap Warden said...

Well, I know you aren't talking about me...I am in a constant state of lost. The last thing I consider myself is an expert...on anything...maybe TV;)

sheila said...

Gosh I hope it wasn't me. Sometimes I give an opinion and maybe that's over the line. Although, I don't think I'm 'bully-ish'. At least I hope not.

Anyhow, you are right in your post. Good to keep people grounded I think

Lis Garrett said...

Oh geez. Um, yeah, I was THAT parent who wrote an entire series of potty-training and tantruming posts because, well, I think I have a lot of experience with both. Am I an expert? Certainly not. And I hope I didn't come off as sounding as though my way is the only way.

Where would Root & Sprout (or the majority of publications) be, however, if the parents who submit the articles didn't profess to be experts, even if just a little bit? I'm confident, though, that the articles I publish are nothing but well-intentioned and considerate advice.

From the responses you've received, it sounds like most moms are a little guilty of espousing what works for them with regards to parenting. But I agree with you that there is a difference between good-natured advice and hurtful comments.

Tracey - Just Another Mommy Blog said...

My friends, there is a big difference between offering advice or commiserating with other moms that nothing works for everyone, and being condescending towards a mom who is trying to figure out her child.

Beck said...

This immidiately sent me reading through my archives, wondering (in my completely self-centered way, but hey, I AM a blogger)if was based on something I'd written recently. I dunno, still.
But I do think that each of us (well, most of us) have areas where we're really strong as mothers, and what's wrong with speaking from those spots, instead of endlessly listing how we're not good as mother? Someone writing that they think they're an expert on making homemade baby food, let's say, doesn't devalue me.

Beck said...

On the other hand, I have read some really douchey blog posts (not by you, mind) so I KNOW what you mean. But someone feeling like a good, competent parent doesn't make me feel too threatened, either.

Mommy Works Online said...

One of the great things about the Internet is it brings moms together, where they can share experiences and, hopefully, benefit from these shared experiences. Unfortunately, some just want to make others feel small. I hope I never post something that makes another mom feel bad about how she chooses to parent.

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