Social media brings out the best and worst in mums.
Online mum groups can be a wonderful way to connect with other mums. You can ask for advice, seek out friendships and look for other experiences and perspectives on motherhood. Most mums are lovely, helpful and non-judgemental.
More often now though when mums reach out, desperately seeking advice, the comments are hurtful, unhelpful and extremely rude. Mum shaming is very common, even if it is not always intended in an unkind way. Lots of mums choose to post anonymously to avoid being judged and criticised.
Here are the five different types of Mums you can find on social media. How many have you encountered?
1. The Above And Beyond Helpful Mum
I want to start with the good. Because most mums are supportive of other mums. Luckily they make up the vast majority of group members.
The beyond helpful Mum will answer your question with insight, thoughtfulness, links to helpful articles and even an offer of a DM. It is because of the vast majority of these Mums that we keep going back to online Mum groups for help, friendship and advice.
2. The Superior Mum
The superior mum is convinced her way of parenting is best, and that her children are a reflection of it, and all other mums should take her advice.
Meanwhile their kids are probably just normal. No pressure little Milly.
I recently saw a post on social media from a desperate mum looking for advice on ways they could encourage their toddler to eat more vegetables. A superior mum responded by saying, "My child has always eaten vegetables because I fed them to her from the start. We have never had an issue."
This response was completely unnecessary. Because a) it's too late to go back now, and b) She didn't answer the question.
Superior mums also seem to be very opinionated when it comes to breastfeeding. I saw one mum comment on the post of another mum, who was asking for advice on what type of formula to give her windy newborn, by saying "You should not be giving your baby formula at all. You should be giving him breast milk. Then you will not have any problems with gas."
Sigh. You can think what you want about other parents and the way they parent. But the moment you give your unsolicited opinions a voice, you could be creating a lot of anxiety for another mum.
3. The Self Promoting Mum
Diet pills. Essential oils. Work from home and earn huge dollars. Mums who have been sucked into an MLM scheme and believe pestering other mums will help them to support their family. They will send you a direct message to your inbox promising to cure you and/or your children, or make you a six figure earner in your pyjamas. I feel sorry for these mums, who think they need to work for an MLM to have work life balance.
I am all for mums hustling to find work life balance. But unless we are directly asking for personal recommendations (e.g. I am looking for essential oils, is anyone on here selling them), then please don't bother the mum who is just looking for well meaning and no strings attached friendship. You're probably breaking the group rules by contacting her, too.
4. The “Please Don’t Listen To Her!” Mum
This may be very controversial. I believe that everyone has the right to raise their child the way they choose. Within reason. I react very strongly when I see other mums give bad and/or dangerous advice in online mum groups.
When the advice goes directly against SIDS guidelines, medical advice and just plain common sense, I feel so frustrated. Recently I saw a post on a very popular mums group from a first time, sleep deprived and desperate mum asking how she could stop her 4 month old baby from rolling in her sleep. Most mums (correctly) suggested unswaddling her, always laying her on her back, and rolling her gently back to that position when she moved.
Some mums started recommending sleep wedges and rolled up towels to stop baby rolling which go directly against what SIDS guidelines advise. It then becomes the burden of the very busy, usually unpaid moderators to step in and delete or turn off comments to put an end to the dangerous advice.
5. The Sad Mum
These are the ones who post anonymously most often, with questions about divorce, separation, custody, cheating partners and domestic violence. They are embarrassed and desperate.
These posts often provide answers to help them find shelter, support and free legal advice, which is amazing. Mums groups are the only place some women can share their problems and find solutions, and that is the beauty of them.