Friday, April 20, 2012


I know that I am constantly hearing about cyberbullying on the evening news, in movies and in the newspaper.  It is a huge problem right now!  Kids can be so mean, so immature and so unaware at what they are doing could have serious consequences.

As a mom to three little girls I have witnessed a less obvious kind of cyberbullying(at least it is cyberbullying in my opinion).  I think that women, moms especially, are most times the ones who are involved.  Of course, I could be totally off base here, but this post is going to cover my opinions and feelings on this matter.

I have seen, first hand, moms who have been at social gatherings where they have received unsolicited advice or questions that seem a bit unwarranted.  They take these comments and they then turn them into facebook comments and blog posts, and explain that these people just don't "get it".  They don't give the right advice, or ask the right questions.  Then starts the pack mentality.  All of the other moms out there who feel like they, too, have been given unsolicited advice will post the questions that they were asked or the advice they were given.  Everyone will then agree at how silly this person at the party was for ever opening their mouths to ask such questions.

To be fair, I agree that unsolicited advice or intrusive questions about your family can be irritating.  Sometimes you will hear the same comment over and over again and it begins to grate on your nerves.  Those are some of the things that you just have to deal with as a mom.

However, in my experience a lot of these "advice-givers" are older women, women without children, or people who aren't used to a particular situation or circumstance.  Older women raised their children in a different era and they did things differently.  A lot of the questions that I received were from people who hadn't experienced what I was going through at the time and maybe were curious or maybe just didn't understand my situation.  We should all remember that someday we will be the older women trying to give helpful advice to a new generation that will, undoubtedly, do things differently.

Let me give an example. There was a time after I had my first daughter that she was about three-four weeks old and I was going stir crazy.  I had been on a very long amount of strict bed rest at the end of my pregnancy, I had a difficult birth, and since it was winter time, we had been very cautious and were trying to keep her away from germs for as long as possible.  However, on this day, I just needed to get out!  So, I packed up my daughter, my diaper bag, my husband and we headed to wal-mart for a few things that we needed.  It was so nice to stroll through the store and just be somewhere besides on the sofa at home.  An elderly woman stopped me to see the baby and she then told me that I shouldn't have her out when she was that small.  Back in her day they didn't take babies out until they were at least six weeks and that I shouldn't have brought her out in public yet.  Honestly, I was taken aback at how forward she was.  I just quickly explained that it was our first outing and that I felt that she would be just fine for the short amount of time we had her out of the house.  That happened to me nine years ago.  Many other pieces of advice have come my way since then.  I have also had many questions about decisions we have made as a family.  But you know what, as strange as it may seem at the moment, I never really did dwell on those comments.  Sure, I would sometimes vent to my friends about a weird thing that happened, or I would call my mom and tell her a funny story about a woman in the mall, but it rarely went further than that.

When a person openly points out something someone said or asked and then makes it sound silly or stupid, it makes me feel bad for the nameless person who has to see that post.  Maybe that person had no idea how their question or comment came across.  It very possibly could have been an innocent statement that they now feel foolish about.  Like it or not, that kind of stuff can make a person feel self-conscious.  It can make them over-think and worry about things they may say in the future.  If you didn't like what a person asks you about your family or your life, then you should probably take it up with them personally.  Maybe you should take unsolicited advice with a grain of salt and just move on.  When everyone has a good laugh at someone else's expense, that is bullying.  It is much easier, and doesn't feel as "wrong" to do it online when the victim remains nameless in the post.  That is exactly what I have seen happen.  It makes me sad.

I think that most moms, in general, are doing the best they can.  I think that most people innocently make comments or ask questions and don't realize how they may come across.  Sometimes people have a life experience that makes them wonder why we do the things we do.  We will never fully know because we haven't walked in their shoes.

I think that the internet has a wonderful way of bringing like-minded people together.  It can make us all feel accepted or understood in some way, many times with people we will never meet.  But I don't think it should be used as a tool to make a person feel like they have been singled out.

No comments: