Don't Let the Illusion of the "Mommy Wars" Create the Mommy Cyberbullies. We Can Do Better.

The Mommy Wars would largely dissolve if we all remembered that we are on the same side.  We have kids that we love, and we want to raise them right.

When did it stop being so simple?

The media, the politicians and the corporate world all play a part in it.  But we, the mothers, are just as accountable.  We let the media divide us and conquer us every time that we respond to provocative commercials and magazine covers with a rush to condemn mothers who make different choices than we do.  We turn mothers into "Others."

With the rise of blogging and tweeting and Facebooking, we now have access to an incredible amount of support and information from each other.  But there is a downside to this wealth of sharing, and it comes in the form of the Armchair Judge.

Everyone is a judge.  There are now two parts to every online story.  There is the story itself-- be it a photo, a video, a blog post or a news article.  And then there is the comment thread, which increasingly looks like an excerpt from a textbook on cyberbullying.

It is hard to reconcile the image of thousands of loving mothers sitting at their computers, engaging in verbal warfare with each other over topics such as breastfeeding, potty training, circumcision, sleeping arrangements, and gender nonconforming children, to name just a handful.

Factions form, pitting commenter against commenter, as groups of self-righteous mothers take sides and essentially begin bullying each other online.  Is this what we want to teach our kids?  How to attack people who do things differently than we do?

Civil disagreements often disintegrate into personal attacks that leave mothers in tears.  Parenting is challenging enough, and we all have moments of doubt about whether we are making the best possible decisions for our kids.  Who needs a bunch of strangers on the Internet stoking the coals of parental insecurity?

Better we spend our time building each other up than tearing each other down.  If you find yourself in an online battle, and the Armchair Judges are making you feel miserable, it is time to unplug their power source -- in every possible way-- and leave that conversation.  Do not go back online to see what "they" are saying if it upsets you.  You have agency, and you have the ability to stop reading and attacking.

And then remember how much better you feel, so you can teach your kids how to walk away from unpleasant online encounters.

Let’s bring civil back.  Let’s bring respect back.  Let’s stop turning mothers into others.  The next time you find yourself tempted to take the bait, walk away.  Go read a book to your kid.  Be the loving mom you are, and leave the cyberbully behind.

Give your time to the child you know instead of to the stranger you judge (or to the stranger judging you).  You are good enough, mom enough, woman enough, friend enough, and you don't need to prove it to the Internet.

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