When to STFU and When to Comment: A Guide on being a Decent Human Being.
The internet parenting forums are a place where common sense and decency seems to go off to die, and then two seconds later someone gets offended by that statement 😉 I have always tried my best to navigate this landmine-filled place as best as I can, but it seems other people still have difficulties. So I’ve compiled a handy cheat sheet to follow with several scenarios. If your answer isn’t the one that’s in bold-face type, then you’re doing it wrong.
1. You come across a post from a mother who states “I’m letting my baby cry it out” or some other statement that implies a choice has already been made. She is asking OTHER moms who have done the same thing what methods worked for them. You don’t believe in Crying it Out; you’re a Co-sleeper. You know all the benefits of co-sleeping and yes, you do feel sorry for those babies who are left to cry. However, this isn’t YOUR child. Do you…
a) Scroll past without leaving a comment and don’t give it another thought
b) Leave a comment stating the harm of crying it out and tell this mom that she needs to stop immediately
c) Mention that you have no advice because you didn’t/couldn’t do this to your own precious baby and how much “better” your way is
2. You come across a post from a mother who asks “what are the risks/benefits of this method vs a different method? I want different opinions so I can figure out what will be best for me.” Do you…
a) Get into a lengthy argument with everyone in the forum who disagrees that YOUR way is the BEST way
b) Provide the information requested, based on the research YOU did, and explaining WHY your way worked for your kid, but leave the decision up to the mother and respectfully stay out of any wars raging in the comments section
c) Tell the mother that all the other ways are stupid and she just needs to do what YOU did, regardless of whether or not it will actually work for her
3. You come across a post from a mother who is asking for advice on an unnecessary induction for just being past her due date, but she is just being told to “do what the doctor tells her”. She doesn’t want to do this and wants to know her options.
a) Tell her that YOU were induced and it was horrible/the best thing ever, and to just suck it up because a healthy baby is all that matters
b) Scroll past; you don’t have any evidence to help her, just experiences or anecdotal stories as to why she needs to just suck it up and do what the doctor says
c) Provide her with the evidence, link to articles supporting this evidence, and let her know that it is always her decision, because you DO have information to share. Then you offer to give her more info if she’d like and let her make the next move.
d) Get into a lengthy argument with everyone else in the forum who disagrees with you, ignoring the original poster’s questions and not posting any helpful information other than opinion.
4. In a forum where people are discussing natural birth/opting out of unnecessary testing etc, of which you share their views, someone who clearly DOESN’T pipes up and attacks you, saying you’re “killing your baby”. Do you
a) Call her an ignorant bitch and proceed to tell her off for daring to question you, then getting into a lengthy troll-war with her that results in name calling and mother shaming.
b) Respectfully tell her that it’s your choice and the choice of every other mother who has commented thus far, and that you all have done your research and feel this is the right decision. If prompted further, you continue to present the evidence, your perspective, and tell her she’s free to disagree, but based on your evidence you and other women still feel that what they are doing is not harming anyone.
c) Ignore her.
5. A mother has posted an innocent question about home birth or some other “controversial” issue AND a choice has clearly been made. You notice the commenters are being very mean to her, not supporting her at all, and ignoring her question entirely. You have information that will help her, and you don’t want to leave the poor mama thinking that she’s wrong for what she feels is right for herself and her child. Do you
a) Tell off everyone in the forum who is shaming her
b) Post the information she’s looking for and treat the post as if you were directly speaking to her (ignoring the haters)
6. You come across something that is incredibly offensive to you. You seriously can’t EVEN! Do you…
A) Immediately comment about how sick everyone agreeing with it is
B) Scroll past and hope the admins take care of it soon
7. You see a picture of a mother breastfeeding her child. You know it’s technically allowed and that it’s not actually “offensive” but you don’t want to see it. Do you…
a) Immediately post about how disgusting all these breastfeeding pics are or comment on the photo itself
b) Scroll past and ignore it
c) Complain to the admin about yet ANOTHER breastfeeding picture and demand they remove it
8. After being in this forum/group you’ve noticed that nothing supportive is ever acknowledged and it’s a toxic and nasty environment. You’ve had enough! Do you
a) Post a lengthy “goodbye” post calling everyone out for their nasty behavior and announce you’re leaving
b) LEAVE THE GROUP
As you can see, it’s really not that difficult to navigate the forums and NOT be an asshole. But when in doubt, please keep referring back to this cheat sheet. Hopefully those who WANT to be decent human beings will benefit, and those who obviously don’t, well, now you know that you’re an asshole. Feel free to comment about how offended you are by that statement while the rest of us ignore you 😉