So a few months ago, I posted some things on facebook that I probably shouldn’t have. I had a couple of weak moments, and I am totally willing to accept that maybe cooler heads did not prevail. I became one of the many “over-sharers” of the Internets. My bad. Nobody’s perfect.
On the day in question, my twelve-year-old was acting more like a two-year-old. She was protesting my parenting decisions, but her derpy attempt at a tantrum was just as riveting as OJ Simpson’s slow-speed car chase.
During her “silent tantrum,” my child (who is 5’8”) followed me from room to room lying at my feet to show her displeasure at not being allowed to play on her iPad.
My darling husband and I have numerous parenting challenges, not the least of which is autism. Sometimes I feel really alone with what we go through, so I was seeking comfort from my friends and fellow parents. This event seemed pretty tame in comparison to many we’ve had. I wasn’t thinking about whether Zoë would want those pics out in the world for all to see. It was selfish of me; I freely admit that now. However, to furnish a back-story, I’ve chosen to share the photographs again. (I’m sorry, Zozo. Momma loves you.)
A few days later, my child fell ill. Zoë has Type 1 Diabetes, and she was suffering from a pretty serious bout of DKA (Diabetic ketoacidosis.) DKA happens when a diabetic’s blood sugar is running high due to insufficient insulin. The body uses all available water to try to dilute the sugar in the blood. Then, unable to break down the sugar to use it for fuel, the body begins to burn fat in an attempt to make energy. Ketones are chemicals that the body creates when it burns fat for energy or fuel. Ketones can make you very sick. The side effects of ketones in the blood include nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain.
Zoë had all of the symptoms, but it took us a couple of days to figure it out. In the meantime, we thought she had the stomach flu and were very nervous because we had tickets for a trip to Disneyland less than a week later. (We had been planning the trip since the previous October.)
I posted a picture of Zoë with a bucket to her poor little face and a caption that read “Why, stomach flu, why? Don’t you know we’re going to Disneyland soon?” It was not a vain attempt to brag about the trip or to get attention. I just wanted someone to tell me she’d be fine, that it was a quick bug and that other people were getting it, too. Again, I was seeking comfort for myself without much thought to how she would have felt.
What I did get was more than I’d bargained for. Sure, lots of people sent good vibes our way, and Zoë pulled through (after a visit to Children’s Hospital) but then I saw a little post buried in my newsfeed. It was written by someone relatively close to me. She railed against what she later referred to as “Sharenting” and I felt I was at least partly targeted in the rant, which read as follows:
To the parents who think it appropriate to post complaints about their children, pictures of them when they are sick, updates on their puberty status…you know who you are.
- When my children argue, I see it as an opportunity to teach them emotional awareness and expression, problem solving and leadership skills, not an opportunity to complain about being responsible for taking on the role of mentoring them.
- When my child is ill, I see this as an opportunity to show them tenderness and compassion, not an opportunity to snap pics and post them online.
- When my children enter complex developmental stages, I see it as an opportunity to extend some empathy & give them some tools for coping, not think, “This will be my next FB post”
Before you rant publicly about how much your children annoy you, ask yourself, “would I want someone in a position of power over me posting negative statement about me.”
Before you post a picture of your child’s face buried in a bucket, ask yourself, “Would I want my son or daughter posting this of me?”
She had some really good points, but I felt attacked nonetheless. We spoke directly to this person, saying it wasn’t fair to post a blanket statement on facebook passive-aggressively blasting another person, but we were assured that the rant had nothing to do with my posts despite the references to “puberty,” “complex developmental stages” and “a child’s face buried in a bucket.” You be the judge.
It has been quietly simmering inside me since March. Then, today, I read an article about a relatively new social phenomenon: “Parent Shaming.” Just as many people will feel free to flip someone off while inside a car, other people hide behind the anonymity of social media and lash out at others, judging their parenting choices and calling them out for what they deem to be parenting infractions. (“You know who you are.”)
When I read the free Vancouver 24 Hours newspaper on the train this morning, I felt like Bianca Bujan was speaking directly to me. She writes:
“I frequently witness virtual attacks on moms who reach out for parenting advice on social media forums. Moms who ask for recommendations on baby feeding, sleep challenges, vaccines, work issues, circumcision, and more are called out as bad parents because the commenters don’t agree with the decisions they’ve made.
Public shaming of parents on social media has quickly become a trend in the digital world.
It needs to stop.
It’s not uncommon for parents to fall victim to unsolicited advice. Family, friends, and even strangers often feel compelled to share their opinions on the parental decisions of others. But while everyone is entitled to their own opinions, criticizing someone for the choices they’ve made in a public space is unfair and disrespectful. …
There is nothing to gain from sparking controversy online over varying opinions, parental mishaps or a faux pas. Parents make mistakes, and are their own worst critics. They don’t need strangers to worsen the blow when they’re having a challenging moment. …
When it comes to communication, we mustn’t forget the age-old euphemism: If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”
My thinking is, I shared something I shouldn’t have. I didn’t deserve to be called out publicly. If you don’t like something someone has done, have the guts to speak to them in private. I have learned from this little incident, and I will definitely think twice before sharing next time, but I’m not sure that was the right way to go about it. Nevertheless, I stand corrected.