There are some topics online that are better left avoided. After all, you know that no matter which position you take, someone is going to push back. The “mommy wars”, which are really directed at all parents, are the stuff of both legend and reality. Companies produce ads parodying the viciousness of the opposing sides to almost every parenting decision that has to be made.
The Internet and social media have made connecting with other parents easier, and simultaneously, harder. It is now possible to ask a question or do a search online and get answers from all over the globe. While that makes it harder to connect and meet with local parents for play dates, it does make it easier to get a variety of opinions and resources.
So what happens when you are the one put on the defensive?
Unfortunately, those opinions are sometimes strong, even aggressive. And that would put any well-meaning new parent on the defensive. After all, it doesn’t feel good to be attacked, especially if you are genuinely looking for input from others who have been there, done that.
The truth is that high school bullies sometimes grow up to be adult bullies. And then they become parents and nothing has changed. There will always be those who choose to insist that their way and their opinions are the right and best way. They will aggressively pursue that logic, to the detriment of others. It is no different than the grade school or high school bully.
So what do you do?
The easy advice is what all of us will tell our children at some point – just walk away. But we also all know that it isn’t really that simple. Online attacks are vicious, even more so because the attack is behind a screen. The best way to handle online bullies is to follow these tips:
- Make sure your social media profile privacy settings are as strong as possible. This is particularly important if you share pictures of your children (and is good advice in general). But bullies like to dig through profiles to find more information to add to their attack, don’t give them the ammunition.
- Consider your question before posting. By this we mean, don’t use the Internet for information you should really be looking to a professional for. Your child’s doctor, or your own, teachers, and other professionals in your life are the best resource for a lot of your questions, and they know you and your child best.
- Use the ‘unfollow’, “leave group”, and “block” buttons judiciously. The Internet is vast and amazing; leaving one group does not mean you will never find support anywhere else ever again. If a particular thread becomes inappropriate, unfollow it. If a particular person is especially hostile, block them. You have nothing to prove by enduring online bullying.
You have nothing to prove
You are an amazing parent – even if you don’t think you are, even if you have no idea what you are doing, even if you were peed on right before you threw your hands up in the air, sat down on the floor, and cried while reading this article. Those who would bully you online are doing so from a place of their own insecurity, and it is no reflection on you, your parenting, your family, or the love you have for your child. At the end of the day, you are working to be the best parent possible for your child, no one else’s. And your child knows they are loved.
So ignore the bullies, and keep being your awesome self.
Meaghan Grant works with families to explore their options and help them to discover their own strength through pregnancy, birth, and the postpartum period. She is a Certified Labour Doula, Postpartum Doula, Childbirth Educator, and Postpartum Placenta Specialist. As co-owner of Toronto Family Doulas, Hamilton Family Doulas, and Family Doulas of Ottawa, she is committed to providing judgement-free support of all birth and parenting choices.