Posted in (All Posts), Autism, Family, Rants

If you can’t say something nice: “parent-shaming” vs. “over-sharenting”

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.

March 18

Screen shot 2015-07-24 at 7.06.55 PMOn 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.)

March 22

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.)

11083605_10153780111914408_8099246672263440142_nI 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:

March 24

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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:

Stop shaming parents on social media

“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.”

PhotoMy 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.

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4 thoughts on “If you can’t say something nice: “parent-shaming” vs. “over-sharenting”

  1. I don’t think you have anything to apologize for Angela. It’s your posts to your friends and therefore you get to decide what goes on them. If someone does not agree with that we’ll that’s fine they are entitled to their opinion and judgement. Not all parents/people are going to agree; however, I think it makes her look bad to shame other parents and tell how she does things; like it is the right way.
    I really appreciated your posts. In a social media world where we often only see the best of people’s lives I find it refreshing to know I am not the only one who has struggles and that yes children are challenging, not just mine! Why does everything have to be so fake, where we only show how wonderful and talented our children are. That’s not real life and it is misleading.
    When things were particularly hard in our home it used to depress me to look at FB. It made me feal resentful to see how perfect everyone else’s lives were. I know that’s silly but that’s how I felt.
    So Angela, please continue to be real and honest. I am sure there are many like myself who appreciate it. ♡Electra

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for this, Electra. I’ve been feeling so bad about it for such a long time. It’s so nice to hear that you actually welcome the news that is real. Some people feel the need to project a perfect image all of the time, but that’s not me (nor is it you, from what I can see!) I’m not ashamed to be real, and if it helps me to connect with other people, all the better! I will, nevertheless, try to edit myself. i will attempt not to share anything that could humiliate her. I love my child and I take the bad with the good – that’s life!
      Thanks for your comment, Electra. You made me feel so much better xoxo

      Like

  2. I know the feeling of seeking comfort and wanting to know if everything will be okay. My husband is autistic and while he doesn’t throw temper tantrums anymore, he is able to stop talking and check out completely mid conversation. I’ve learned this is because he is either feeling anxious, unsure of what to say or do, or he is experiencing a sensory overload but it can still hurt. Sometimes it’s hard because you want to reach out to others and know it’s okay, but not everyone understands or is able to see it from your perspective, unfortunately. Either way, the passive aggressive attack was unkind and unnecessary. If you don’t like it, don’t follow or at least offer the humility of saying it privately one-on-one.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow, teenydot, I can’t even imagine being married to someone like my Zoë! You must be a strong woman! Thank you so much for reaching out to me and sharing this part of your life with me. I guess you must know how it feels to not be able to share, or when you do share, people just don’t quite get it. They love us, and they try, but it’s not the same if you haven’t lived it yourself. Am I right?
      Thank you for your kind words. All the best to you and your family. ❤

      Like

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