Why do some mums abuse others online for the choices they make?

Oct 31 • Featured, Uncategorized • 915 Views • 18 Comments on Why do some mums abuse others online for the choices they make?

Yesterday a lovely mum I know found herself being abused by people she’d never met, online. The reason? She’d dared to explain how she breastfed her baby and topped up with formula milk. Some of the women in the facebook group where she’d shared her experience didn’t approve, to put it mildly.

I’ve never understood why some women think it’s alright to have a go at others for the choices they make in raising their children – health, nutrition, childbirth, childcare, education.

So, for example, I don’t agree, particularly, with home education. But I’m not going to have a go at you if that’s the way you’ve chosen to educate your child; IT’S NONE OF MY BUSINESS and IT'S YOUR CHOICE.

I also don’t agree in taking a holistic approach to children’s health – but that’s probably because I’m the mother of an asthmatic and I’ve seen what happens when they lose consciousness after an attack (that doesn’t mean I don’t believe in complementary medicine. I’m a great believer in the power of manuka honey, for example. But in my opinion it should never be an either or.)

I don’t agree with not having any pain relief during childbirth – if you can get through it without then good for you, but please don’t make anyone else feel  as though they’ve somehow failed because they did it a different way. And I certainly don’t agree with having a go at women who don’t breastfeed. And that's not because I'm poorly educated, or no one has ever 'explained' it to me; it's because I understand that mums need to be able to make their own choices.

Criticising – and I mean really criticising – other mums for the choices they make – unless you really think they’re putting their children in danger – isn’t helpful or useful. Something happens to some women when they’re behind a computer screen which means they think they can say what they like to others and sod the consequences. Would they say it in real life? Somehow I doubt it.

written by Liz Jarvis


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18 Responses to Why do some mums abuse others online for the choices they make?

  1. amyp says:

    Thank you sweetie it was horrid, but if that is what you get for being honest i think it is so silly!!! I cannot believe i got slated for sharing how i breastfed freddie and to be attacked by a breastfeeding group whilst i am still breastfeeding is utter nonsance. I don’t believe in critisim, being a mum is dam hard and we should all be praised for what we do, no matter how we do it. A happy healthy baby is the final goal and how we get there doesn’t matter. I wrote about topping up because mums should not feel guilty and all i wanted to share is that you can do it your own way. xxxxxxx

  2. Nicki Cawood says:

    Another excellent post! We are very much on the same page. I get so pee’d off justifying my life choices to people. From staying at work when Kieran was born then changing my mind and staying at home, from choosing to bottle feed, not once but TWICE as we are Bottle feeding again this time, to having a csection this time, even though consultants agree it is not a bad idea. Seriously- my body, my family, my choice. Like you I am not going to agree with everyone else’s views on the world, parenting, work or food but neither am going to tell them they are wrong, or despicable because they are different to mine. I mean, really, my sense of self-importance isn’t quite that big! Sigh, free speech , although a wonderful thing, can be an awful weapon when people don’t really think or care about how they use it.

  3. Jaymee says:

    I went through hell trying to feed Dyll. After a traumatic pregnancy and a birth where we both nearly didn’t make it I was clinging to being able to breastfeed. But he was too sick, and wouldn’t latch. We tried everything, and had help from many different people, but he just wouldn’t latch. I expressed as much as I could, but my milk dried up within a fortnight, just as he figured out what to do. I was devastated, and tried every single suggestion to get my milk back. I tried 4 different types of tablets too, all to no avail. I was so depressed I looked to a community for help. Suddenly I was being told I must be lying as there is always some way to get your milk back, I was even called lazy and a bad mother. As if I didn’t feel shit enough. Luckily, I found another community who were very supportive and reassured me that I had done everything that I could have and all I could for Dyll. I’d love to see what these breast nazi’s say if their milk was to ever suddenly dry up.

  4. Kirsty (imperfectpages) says:

    I agree with your general sentiment and I wholeheartedly agree that Amy is lovely and only ever writes with the best intentions. However, I think you’ve represented this situation in a biased way. Those women weren’t saying "she was wrong to top up with formula". They were saying "topping up with formula doesn’t encourage milk production and shouldn’t generally be recommended as a way to continue breastfeeding". Also, as the article was published on a bottle manufacturer’s site they were concerned about the motives of the publishers. I know that Amy wrote the article in good faith as her personal experience, but to be honest I’m not 100% sure of the motives of those running the site. Perhaps they do want to promote breastfeeding, but a story of soomeone topping up with formula perhaps isn’t the best way to do it, given that formula top-ups rarely end up with a return to exclusive breastfeeding (even though they did in this case). I hate to see women criticising other women’s choices, but I love to see people critically assessing information and sources and promoting evidence-based science over anecdote, which is what I think was happening in this particular case. I’ve posted this from my phone so haven’t been able to proofread – I hope I’ve been clear and haven’t offended. To reiterate, Amy, I think you’re doing a wonderful thing breastfeeding little F and I think that talking about your experience is commendable.

  5. Liz (LivingwithKids) says:

    Thanks for commenting Kirsty. I also think it’s important to remember that scientific evidence isn’t necessarily what some women consider when they’re making choices, particulary when it comes to emotional wellbeing.

  6. Vicki says:

    I have three boys and have been on several different forums – I think the key idea is that you choose a forum where you feel supported, not judged or criticised or bullied. I have left several forums because I have found the tone of some mums unacceptable as they seem to be on some kind of power trip with regards to their views and have seen mums openly abused and called names – sometimes quite visciously. I have strong views about certain subjects, but they are my views and am careful not to force them upon others or judge people – it is unkind and very stressful for the recipient. New mums are a total target in my experience for some forum goers – the term precious new born makes me want to cringe – used as a way of sneering at new mums and their concerns over their baby’s welfare. It undermines the exact reason why forums were set up – to support new and experienced mums. I think a little better judgement all round by users and those giving out advice is required. I also think that some forums have the most bizarre rules and little cliques which exclude many other mums which is the fault of the website, not necessarily the users! THe people who run the sites need to take more responsibility. Facebook is different – I do know people on facebook who have changed their name/left because of abuse. I would suggest finding a group of mums locally at a playgroup, postnatal group or singing group who you can actually meet and make real friends with. Vicki (Bespoke Baby Room)

  7. Kathleen says:

    Here here Liz, great post. I’m a HCP and we are encouraged to provide our patients with evidence based practice. All well and good but like new mums, they don’t fit into the researchers neat little categories. Mums should do what is right for their families and we should big enough to respect them for it.

  8. New Mummy says:

    I get so annoyed when other mums judge because you decided to bring your child a certain way or do something different to them. I’m an bad mum I had a c-section, didn’t breastfeed and did controlled crying with her and * obviously* that has had a bad effect on my happy, healthy, intelligent child. I write a post early in the year on Mumstop called I don’t Care, the blog doesn’t exist any more I think I will re-post it on New Mummy

  9. English Mum says:

    Too right, Liz. And it’s not just the mums either. My lovely cousin (and Dad blogger), Moon, got really viciously attacked on Twitter after mentioning that he and his wife didn’t co-sleep but put their baby in his own cot to sleep. I mean, seriously, is it anyone else’s business where his baby sleeps? It’s the old ‘hiding behind the computer screen’ thing again – I doubt they’d criticise people for their choices if they were face to face.

  10. honkers94 says:

    Quite rght too! Mums are such an easy target and I for one (as a single mum of two dyslexic children) have had my fair share of criticism- one would almost think their dyslexia was down to how I have raised them!! I was even criticised by one of my daugter’s teachers for alowing her to ride as it was a dangerous sport!! What I do know is that my children are delightful, intelligent and good natured as well as being healthy acive youngsters! As parents we all make choices (and mistakes) but it really has nothing to do with anyone else providing they are happy healthy children – I would suggest that the support goup highlighted here is anything but !a support group if thats the response of some of its members.

  11. Modern Dilemma says:

    I think women hiding behind their computer screens are especially unkind and hurtful but it’s the one’s in "real life" which hurt the most. The one’s who look you in the eye with their patronising/pitying/dismissive/superior attitude and then comment & judge upon your choices as a parent. With 3 kids and 12 years of being a mum, I’ve decided recently that the hardest part of being a parent is the judgemental and unpleasant behaviour of other adults in relation to your own parenting decisions. The kids themselves are a breeze in comparison. Why do so many people, especially women it seems to me, want to humiliate and belittle other mothers? Where has the support and kindness gone? Where have the good manners gone? I don’t think I will ever understand these women. Great post and sorry to hear your friend had a bad time. I suppose "pick your sharing moments" is the lesson for us all. MD x

  12. Kathleen (mummywalker) says:

    It is online bullying of another form. It would be interesting in a way to analyse why these people feel they can abuse people online. Do they have no control over their own lives and choices? Do they themselves feel inadequate? Do they have narcissistic tendencies? The people who do these things online would never approach you in a pub and say these things. The same with the people who give a disapproving look. Its all very well tutting under your breath but say what you’re thinking, have the balls to enter intelligent conversation and debate, don’t just judge. We all learn from each other and our children. If you have happy, healthy children this is what we should all be thankful for. I think there’s something in a really really old book. Those who cast the first stone etc etc. We are all fabulous and doing a great job. End of x

  13. Chib_ibi says:

    Such a great blog and so good to seelike minded people commenting here as well. It’s inspired me to write blog myself 🙂

  14. Jane says:

    I had twins 5 years ago, c section (emergency but everyone presumed I was elective), bottle fed (couldn’t breast feed but tried but everyone presumed I had chosen formula) did Gina Ford by the book. Interestingly tho because i had two people left me along, my girlfriend and I shared a midwife and health visitor and they actually told her she was damaging her child by choosing to establish a routine and not feed on demand. When they popped up to my mad house I had Gina ford clearly on display I explained I was doing a routine and that my children were upstairs in their own room sleeping and not in with me and they said it was great i was coping so well and of course I had to have a routine because I had twins! Wierd how I wasn’t damaging my two babies…. Similarily I got chatting to a lady at a baby bouncing thing and she commented on my lack of boobie feeding and didnt i feel I should have expressed milk but when my friend returned with baby number 2 and she realised I had twins she instantly declared of course I was bottle feeding and that was find because with twins bottle must be best!!!!! Bloody hilarious! My view is let people be, if you co sleep go for your life – if you shut them in a light deprived room to sleep then no problems either….. For my third beautiful bambino, she slept with me for 6 weeks, is exclusively breast fed at six months because I managed to crack it this time and is still a gina ford baby with a little bit more flexibility – and man do I get the abuse for doing a routine this time round! As I imagine all the mum’s that comment on this blog do, I love my kids to bits and do what I feel is right for them and my family. I am sure I will get bits wrong that will haunt me when they are teenagers but I am happy to live and let live so lets just all let each other be! Cracking post btw – sorry for long comment!!!! Jane http://www.northernmum.wordpress.com xxx

  15. This Mid 30s Life says:

    It really bothers me when women don’t support each other. We’re all pretty much in the same boat, so why rock it? This post was spot on. We all have different views and ways of parenting, after all, life would be pretty dull if we all did the same thing.

  16. Gigi (MumsRock) says:

    Awful – but what do we expect with the Breastapo infiltrating every corner of our world – one of our lovely writers wrote about this need to dictate the lactate. It’s odd, damaging and very very counter-productive. If anyone is interested here’s the link to the post hope that’s okay Liz? (by Fi Star Stone) http://www.mumsrock.com/articles/speed-parenting/rock-guides-to-life/denise-van-outen-and-the-breastapo

  17. Natalie(Bambino Goodies) says:

    As always Liz, bang on point. One of the things I decided to do after judgement day with my NCT group was not to put myself at the mercy of being judged by people who have no business judging me. That’s why I’m not a member of any forums and if I happen to get into a conversation with someone, I know I’d put them right back in their box if they started up. I see women judging others because of breastfeeding versus formula, weaning with mush vs baby led weaning, injections and the list rolls on. I’ve come to learn that if you’re going to talk about breastfeeding or formula, as Gigi said, be prepared for the Breastapo – they’ll ride your ass like Zorro. Online there are too many judgemental women that are loose with words and lack a total regard for tone. Too competitive, too pathetic, too eager for pseudo power. The best thing we can start doing is not justifying our choices – that leaves no room for discussion and we can stand behind our decisions instead of letting strangers rip them apart.

  18. Ali Davies says:

    I think the important thing to remember if you get criticised/come under attack online or offline is that it isn’t about you. It might feel like it is about you but anything anyone else says or does is about them – their values, fears, jealousies, opinions, mindset, standards (or lack of!!!), insecurity etc etc . It can feel like it is about you but fostering a mindset of not taking things personally can help. It can feel hard a hard thing to do but learning how to not take things personally is very liberating.


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