Mama Drama — Make It Stop!

I’ve just come from Facebook, where I was reading a conversation on, ironically, a gentle parenting page. Within the first 10 comments, I saw two instances of mom-on-mom sniping, so I stopped reading. Earlier this week, the sniping abounded on the Facebook page of a local mom’s boutique shop; the owner posted a picture of a new product — a newborn onesie with easy access ports for checking on the umbilicus and on the circumcision site — and it started a huge argument among page fans about circumcision. I hate the sniping. I just hate it. We’re moms. We’re already doing the hardest job there is, and for the most part, we’re doing it without the close circle of female relatives that our ancestors had. This “aunting” that female relatives did was beneficial to both mom and baby, because it gave a new mom the advice and support she needed, and also provided for baby’s care. In many ways, our Internet acquaintances and friends are the new “aunts,” and I’ve seen and experienced instances of tremendous mom-to-mom support online. I’ve also seen sniping, cyber-bullying, and plain rudeness. Why? What’s the point? We all make different parenting decisions, so the fact that someone does things differently is no reason to call them out. We’ve all — let me say that again — we’ve ALL made really bad parenting calls, but in the vast majority of cases, our mistakes are honest and made with the best of intentions. Thankfully, our kids are resilient and they do just fine, despite the blundering. What a mom needs when she reaches out is support, not criticism. Those doing the criticizing might think they’re doing the mom a service by “improving” her parenting, but I’ve yet to meet a mom who benefits from more guilt. Please, can’t we all just support each other as best we can? Can’t we offer advice gently and with love? Can’t we at the very least abide by that ages-old maxim about what to do if you don’t have anything nice to say? If nothing else, by keeping our mouths shut when we might be tempted to snipe, we do our OWN kids a tremendous service, through modeling non-judgmental, kind, humanistic behavior. What a lovely way to raise a child.

 

Why do you think the mom-bullying is so prevalent on the Internet?

 

 

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32 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Jem
    Oct 21, 2011 @ 08:12:38

    It’s not limited to the Internet, I’ve seen it offline too.

    Worst case online though was a gentle parenting page advocating the harassment of a mum who’d just lost her baby son not long after he’d been circumcised. The circumcision was irrelevant, he’d got a fatal condition anyway.

    I’m anti-circ but that someone to stoop so low as to harass and attack a mum who’s just lost her kid? Just… wow. Disassociated myself from that page/website etc and haven’t been back.

    Reply

    • SquintMom
      Oct 22, 2011 @ 05:30:52

      Oh, wow. Can I ask which gentle parenting page, so that I can also disassociate myself (if I happen to be associated)?

      Reply

      • Jem
        Oct 23, 2011 @ 08:17:53

        drmomma.org + the peaceful parenting facebook page

      • Jen
        Nov 01, 2011 @ 18:14:14

        PP NEVER attacks mothers as a way to promote genital integrity. As a guest writer for PP I know this. I wrote this article for PP directly addressing the incident with the boy who didn’t make it through a circumcision. In reading you will see that no one attacked his mothers, only questioned the doctors who knowingly ignored AAP protocols that infants with heart conditions should not be circumcised for a full year and under general anesthesia. http://www.drmomma.org/2010/10/who-are-you-calling-intactivist.html Remember, PP has a lot of followers so the comments on the FB page do not necessarily represent the views of the blog owner. Many contributors to PP actually have circumcised sons and I myself lost a child so I am certain that nothing I have ever written every attacked another mother who lost a baby.
        -Jen-

      • Lauren
        Nov 01, 2011 @ 18:37:59

        Totally false. PP did not EVER attack that mother, simply shared the story itself as another tragedy of routine infant circumcision. Rumors about PP help no one.
        BTW, what part of a baby bleeding unchecked for nearly 7 hours is acceptable?? Any tiny baby, regardless of a heart condition, would not have survived.

      • Kelly
        Nov 01, 2011 @ 23:52:55

        The ugly rumors attacking peaceful parenting and “DrMomma” really need to stop. Lies were started by two individuals in favor of circumcision who happened to use it as a means to discredit and hurt an organization that has, from the beginning, advocated for parents coming in from all walks of life for help and assistance.

        DrMomma.org started the “Keeping Future Sons Intact” group, that exclusively works with parents whose sons are circumcised, some who have lost babies as a result, and others who just want to find some healing later in life, as grandparents even. The individuals who started the organization have enormous open arms for mothers who lose their babies for any reason, and they would never, ever attack or hurt a grieving mother. Several of them have lost babies or children of their own, so to spread these lies further is not only counterproductive, but hurtful all over again to a group of amazing, compassionate people.

        I’d beg those who believe such ridiculous lies about peaceful parenting to just read the original post for themselves. It was posted after a friend of this mother’s came to peaceful parenting seeking help. http://www.drmomma.org/2010/10/baby-dies-from-circumcision-surgery.html

        They do call out the doctors who should have acted in ethical ways according to AAP protocol, and offered to help the parents obtain legal representation if they wished (they had legal justification to sue the hospital for their son’s life if they had chosen to do so), yet there is nothing but love and compassion for the parents in this situation.

        As someone else mentioned, there are almost 33,000 people on the peaceful parenting Facebook page, and it is a site read by over 400,000 each month. So if some rude comment comes from someone out there, it in no way can be contributed to peaceful parenting as a whole, and especially not to “DrMomma.”

      • SquintMom
        Nov 02, 2011 @ 00:31:40

        Thank you for helping to provide another perspective. I suspect that the original commenter was not trying to say anything about “DrMomma” herself, but was instead saying that it was on that particular site (presumably in the comments) that she saw some nastiness being propagated. Certainly, the comments on a blog do not necessarily reflect the blog author’s views and opinions, and I’m sure that’s something of which we’re all aware. Some bloggers (myself included) work to prevent comments from getting too out of control, while other bloggers allow commenters to take the discussion in any direction they wish. There are benefits (and drawbacks) to both strategies. I suspect that Jem was saying something to the effect of, “Hey, look, REGARDLESS of how the PP site ‘officially’ feels, there was some nastiness in the comments, so if you don’t want to read nastiness, avoid that site.” That’s a reasonable thing to say, and isn’t a black mark against PP or “DrMomma” in the least. I don’t know for sure that that’s what Jem was saying, but that’s how I took it, and I’m hoping (particularly given the purpose of this particular post!) that we can all give each other the benefit of the doubt?

  2. Alice Callahan (@scienceofmom)
    Oct 21, 2011 @ 21:41:06

    Thanks for writing about this! I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately and am working my way up to writing a post about it for the Mom Pledge. I didn’t spend much time on parenting forums until these last few months when I started blogging. I too have been shocked at how much nastiness I’ve found. I just moved to a new city and figured that joining some local online groups would be a good way to meet other moms, but now I’m afraid to run into some of them in person! The anonymity of the web enables it, I think. If we meet another mom in the park, we spend some time getting to know them before we start handing out advice. By the time we realize that we may have very different parenting philosophies, we may already really like them or at least see their humanity, so we either choose to ignore it and be friends or just go politely about our own business. Online forums allow us to skip all the niceties and go right to the nastiness. I’m really discouraged by it. And I hate to say it, but I have seen the most ungentle treatment of other mom on the so-called “gentle” parenting forums. Frankly, I hate the monopolization of the words gentle, attachment, and natural. Our mothers got to use those words all the time without having a set of parenting principles assigned to them. Sorry I’m ranting:) I clearly need to write my own post about it!

    Reply

    • SquintMom
      Oct 21, 2011 @ 23:21:53

      I totally agree that the anonymity of the Internet fosters this sort of thing to a greater extent than we see it in person. Case in point, I rarely have trouble with students in my campus (university level) classes. In the online courses, though, I will occasionally get horrible emails from students. It’s as though they completely forget I’m a human with feelings. Further, they make the assumption that I don’t care at all about them (and that they shouldn’t therefore care about me) before launching into their diatribe. Still, mom-on-mom nastiness does exist in the “real world” too. I am having a heck of a time finding a local group of like-minded women to spend time with. For a while, I was going to a babywearing group and really enjoying it, but the women there found out I was pro-vax, and they “unfriended” me on Facebook and basically disinvited me from participating in the group any longer. Yikes! I’d have to agree with you that it’s the “gentle” parents I’ve met who are among the most self-righteous, but by the same token, I know of other women who’ve had terrible experiences with “conventional” parents (I hate these labels), particularly where it comes to making rude and inappropriate comments about extended breastfeeding. Just noticed, by the way, that there’s a “Mom Pledge” badge. I’m going to add it to my site.

      Reply

  3. Maureen
    Oct 23, 2011 @ 22:53:34

    THANK YOU FOR THIS POST!!! I have trouble finding facebook groups about parenting that don’t completely condemn someone who isn’t completely crunchy. When I put my views out that don’t completely condemn circ, vaccinations, bottle feeding, etc, then I am attacked viciously. I’ve left a lot of groups because of the sniping. Thanks again… hope this gets around.

    Reply

    • SquintMom
      Oct 24, 2011 @ 01:51:13

      I hope so too. I find it frustrating to be attacked by “crunchy” groups because I vax, and also find it interesting (and frustrating, and telling) that so many “conventional” parents automatically assume I’m going to judge them for not breastfeeding, etc.

      Reply

    • Kimberly Oberklaus
      Mar 02, 2012 @ 19:21:14

      This is why I don’t talk about some things in regards to my parenting and how I go about doing it. For instance, my husband and I, after lots of thought, research and discussion, decided to get our son circumcised. Only a handful of my closest friends and family know that we had this done because I am, for the most part, a crunchy mom and obviously this practice is not in the crunchy mom arena. I don’t feel that I need to personally defend my choices and I certainly don’t need to be condemned as a parent for doing doing so, as it was not an easy decision for me to come to.

      The “mommy wars” are getting ridiculous. I have friends from all walks of life, who all parent and do things in their household that are different. I have friends who do things in their house that I wouldn’t do in mine and vice versa. I certainly don’t condemn them for doing things differently than I do (unless, of course, they are doing something that will harm their children).

      Thank you for posting this in such a great way.

      Reply

      • SquintMom
        Mar 02, 2012 @ 20:11:04

        And, at least in my mind, what your son’s penis looks like is no one’s business but you and your husband’s…and your son’s. Good for you for going with your heart, even though your social circle may have suggested that your instincts were wrong.

  4. Audrey
    Nov 01, 2011 @ 19:04:30

    I understand what you are saying but you chose a terrible example. Genital cutting is not a “parenting” decision.
    Think about it this way. If somebody from another culture came in talking about the wound on her daughter’s genitals from her circumcision, would you be like, oh! You have a different parenting style than me!
    Or would you just be thinking about that poor baby girl for being born into a genital-cutting culture?

    Reply

    • SquintMom
      Nov 01, 2011 @ 23:02:40

      I don’t think it’s a terrible example at all. Circumcision is still a very important part of several major world religions, and while there are no medical organizations that support it for medical reasons, neither do major medical organizations in the US condemn it for medical reasons. In fact, the AAP’s stance on circumcision is that it’s neither necessary nor harmful. As such, I think it’s a PERFECT example of a parenting decision that many people in the US struggle with, for which they do not need to be condemned or bullied.

      Reply

      • Audrey
        Nov 01, 2011 @ 23:41:10

        Sorry, “God told me to” is NOT a valid reason for violating another human’s rights. Religious freedom is a personal freedom – not a free pass to do anything you want to OTHER people. This is well-established in American case law. For instance, parents aren’t allowed to marry their 12yo daughters off to 40yo men who already have several wives because of religious freedom, yet they will claim this is court (google Warren Jeffs). In fact, when a father converted to Judaism and wanted to have his then 9yo son circumcised, yet the son objected, the mother took him to court (google Misha Boldt). When the boy finally gave his deposition, he said he did NOT want to be circumcised, and he did not want to be Jewish. The judge sided with him.
        Which begs the question, how does an infant circumcision serve the boy’s religious freedom? How would you like it if somebody else marked THEIR religion in YOUR flesh without your consent? Even if it was your parents. Shea Levy provides a compelling example: http://www.beyondthebris.com/2011/06/to-mohel-who-cut-me.html
        “For the rest of my life, I will have to live with a penis that was cut in the name of a covenant I did not agree to with a being I do not believe exists.”
        Just because medical organizions in this country – a cutting culture – do not find it to be harmful, that does not mean the case is closed. Many countries have found the opposite, like the Netherlands, which strongly condemns it. South Africa has even outlawed it. Studies have connected it to everything from erectile dysfunction to personality disorders. Not to mention the loss of tens of thousands of nerve endings and up to 15 square inches of erogenous tissue, which leads to the greatest harm of all (besides the resulting infant deaths each year) – the fact that many adult men resent the decision that the parents made for them and there is nothing they can do to change it.
        I’m pretty sure you like having all your body parts. Men deserve the same option.

      • SquintMom
        Nov 02, 2011 @ 00:27:37

        Hmmm. I thought long and hard before approving this comment, not because I disagree with you (I choose not to disclose my personal opinion on circumcision), but because you’re coming dangerously close to indicting the women who choose to circumcise (and that runs counter to the ethos of both the post and of this website). While there are people who are upset about their circumcisions, there are also those who are not upset about them, and the absolute SCIENCE bottom line (and this is a SCIENCE blog, not a human rights blog) is that there is no SCIENTIFIC evidence that circumcision is helpful, and there is no SCIENTIFIC evidence that it is harmful. I realize that some people (on both sides of the issue) feel strongly, and I want to make sure this website is always respectful of others and their parenting styles. It’s really not reasonable to say, “We should be supportive of the parenting decisions of others, UNLESS THEY DECIDE XYZ” (unless, of course, XYZ is either illegal or has been scientifically proven to be harmful). In this country, circumcision is legal, and is neither supported nor indicted by the medical establishment. As such, it IS a parenting decision. Those who don’t circumcise don’t need to like that others do, but the whole point of this post was to say that the beating up of moms for making different parenting decisions (than one might make oneself) is harmful, and needs to stop. I was hoping to express, through this post, that we might all come to a place of mutual respect and understanding of the hard work we all do and hard decisions we all make as moms. Further, even if all we’re agreeing upon is to disagree, that we might do so peacefully and kindly.

        I appreciate your comments and encourage you to keep reading posts and keep commenting, but please remember that I not only abide by the Mom Pledge, I hold my commenters to it as well, and I won’t approve comments that I fear will make any other reader or commenter feel bullied.

      • Annette
        Nov 02, 2011 @ 01:26:02

        You haven’t done your research if you have the temerity to state that “there is no SCIENTIFIC evidence that it (circumcision) is harmful.”

        The removal of tissue containing nerve endings attached to the brain removed prior to a need is a harmful act.

        If you are discussing the long term damage, or even the short term damage it still applies that the medically unnecessary removal of erogenous tissue is a harmful act. Much the same as removing other genital parts. It changes the function of the male genitals.

        If you know what the foreskin does, what it is made up of, and the complications of surgery on an infant when it isn’t indicated, you would concur that it is HARMFUL.

        YOU haven’t taken the time to do the scientific research on the subject, or you have done a myopic and very brief search of the AAP.

      • SquintMom
        Nov 02, 2011 @ 01:30:40

        Can you please cite for me the scientific study to which you refer when you imply that there is scientific evidence available? I would love to read the article, but as I’ve done a thorough search of the medical literature to absolutely no avail, it would be great if you could help me out here.

        I want to add that I am not supporting (nor am I condemning) circumcision, so your inflammatory language in suggesting that I have done a “myopic” search is uncalled for. Circumcision is, no doubt, an unnecessary medical procedure. Note that I did not say “wrong,” I said “unnecessary.” “Wrong” is a value judgment, while “unnecessary” is a matter of fact. While circumcision is medically unnecessary, however, I can tell you that (based upon my thorough search of the literature, and I look forward to seeing what you’ve found that I was unable to) the evidence against it is circumstantial and experiential, not scientific. I say that not as a mother taking a position for or against circumcision, but as a trained scientist.

        Let’s all please remember that the ethos of this post is to REDUCE mom-on-mom nastiness. It’s interesting to me that while I have not taken a stand on circumcision except to say, “Hey, let’s not judge,” I’m being personally and professionally (since my scientific integrity has been called into question) attacked for my (non-)stance. What does this teach us?

    • Shasta
      Nov 02, 2011 @ 08:53:18

      It appears you feel strongly about this topic.
      However, as best as I can tell the point of a circumcision is to leave the sensitive tissues in place, while removing excess tissue. As opposed to a “female circumcision” for which you refer, which I believe would be akin to cutting off the end of the male genital. Yes there are risks, as there are risks to putting a child in car. From my brief google search circumcision MAY have caused 100 US deaths (anti-circ website) last year, while car crashes accounted for over 2500. I understand though that this is obviously a very personal decision.
      Additionally, I’d like to see the data on personality disorders which can be traced to circumcision. I hope this statement was in jest.

      Reply

  5. vicg
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 02:08:44

    i think anyone who has parents, has had parents, can talk. there is no “SHUT UP” about human rights and the quality of life. when you are granted authority over another person, that’s a great deal of responsibility. its a sad, disgusting, sick, twisted world, where babies are being commercially sexually abused, and its considered a parental choice..

    Reply

    • SquintMom
      Nov 02, 2011 @ 02:33:05

      Oh, heavens. I hope I didn’t give anyone the impression that I was asking them to “shut up” about human rights! I merely said that *this blog* is about science, which is why I limit myself to expressing scientific facts, rather than opinions (which I have in spades incidentally!) Yes, of course ANYONE can say ANYTHING they like. I do want to keep this blog respectful, however, which is why I’m careful only to post comments that are respectful of other mothers. I would agree with you that commercial sexual abuse is a terrible thing, though I don’t see where that is related to what’s being discussed here.

      Reply

  6. Michelle
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 03:02:56

    I’d be careful not to put too much faith into those “studies” that “suggest potential benefits”. Ask yourself this, are we seeing any “studies” that show “potential health benefits” for the removal of any other healthy body parts? Why not? Because only self serving special interest groups with a vested interest in “preserving” forced genital cutting are desperate to embed this practice into the fabric of the American culture. Why? To blindfold the masses so they’ll see “nothing wrong with it”. Science doesn’t necessarily trump basic human rights.

    Reply

    • SquintMom
      Nov 02, 2011 @ 06:01:03

      I’m trying to figure out what you’re referring to here. I don’t think anyone has referred to studies that “suggest potential benefits.” As far as I know, there are NO scientific studies that suggest potential benefits of circumcision. Nor are there ANY scientific studies that show medical harm results from the practice. I’m sorry if I’ve missed something, but I think you may have misread what I (or someone else) said.

      Reply

  7. Tarah
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 04:13:55

    I have talked about this subject (the whole mommy wars on the internet thing, not the circumcision) a lot with my friends lately. I hardly never ask for advice on any parenting pages or anything any more because even when I think I have found a group of individuals with the same parenting style everything still turns into a war. If I mention anything on my own facebook page like “my son won’t sleep tonight” it starts an all out war about whether or not I should let him cry it out. I have to actually post a disclaimer before I say something that no arguments will be tolerated on my facebook page. It is pretty ridiculous.

    Reply

    • SquintMom
      Nov 02, 2011 @ 05:57:10

      That’s a tough experience. I’ve had the same happen to me, which is one of the reasons I feel so passionately against the mom-on-mom bullying.

      Reply

  8. Jessica
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 04:59:28

    Dear Squintmom,
    I couldn’t help but laugh and share some of these comments with my husband. I think the passion of finding a “non-jundging” mom has just died in your blog. You might as well bring up religion and politics.
    Sincerely,
    Squintmom Reader Jessica

    Reply

    • SquintMom
      Nov 02, 2011 @ 05:52:27

      Well, I did my best to let the fur fly, while still moderating out those comments that I deemed simply inappropriate. You wouldn’t believe some of the ones I didn’t approve! I want to allow for debate and conversation, but I really, REALLY want to try to keep the atmosphere here respectful. But respectful doesn’t mean vapid, so I do think it’s ok for things to get edgy!

      Reply

  9. Catherine
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 05:34:59

    Wow!

    Am not going to weigh in on the circ conversation except to say that it is not actually outlawed in South Africa. There is an initiation process that involes circumcision that isn’t allowed but hospital, post birth circumcisions are allowed and the decision is left to the parents.

    (I am South African and have a one year old son so the above is factually correct.)

    Reply

  10. Anne
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 06:24:11

    Let me first out myself as one of those who say, ‘I am totally non-judgmental of you as a parent – unless of course you choose to circumcise your son!’ But I also remain appalled at women’s ability to snipe and bully other mothers when, in reality, we are all doing the best we can.
    Just another note on the state of circumcision in South Africa: yes, it is not outlawed here, but the decision is further complicated by claims that circumcision cuts the rate of HIV transmission. [More here: http://www.doctorsopposingcircumcision.org/info/HIVStatement.html%5D This, then, makes mothers consider not only the risks to their newborn, but also their responsibilities — valid or not — to the future. All very similar, in my mind, to the debate over the MMR vaccination, where so much of current behaviour and debate is based on studies which have been totally discredited.

    Reply

  11. Jem
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 07:57:00

    Oh deary me.

    For the record, I donated money to DrMomma’s anti-circ info campaign and so was a close follower of the posts etc surrounding the above controversy.

    A lot of the material that confounded my choice to step away from the page and site is no longer available. However, you can see above the ‘jump first, ask questions later’ mentality of many of the followers and this reaffirms my decision.

    Reply

  12. Trackback: Taking The Bull By The…(In Support Of Moms Who Circumcise) |

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