Jen posted a video on Instagram about a month ago and it’s been one of our most commented on posts. It’s also been on the receiving end of the most judgement. It’s a pretty simple video – Jen is putting her incredibly exhausted 5-year-old on her back in an onbuhimo. This is real life, it’s rough and ready. It’s the first time he has been in an onbuhimo and it takes them some time to work it out. (You can watch it here!)
Most of the comments have a similar theme –
“He should be walking”
“You should force him to walk”
“That’s creating a lazy child”
“Why would you do that”
Behind the fairly short real life video is the small boy who had spent 9 hours in holiday club, having walked there, walked from the club to the park, played at the park, walked back, walked from the club to the library, done activities there, walked back and played some more and was now faced with walking home. He was beyond exhausted and Jen brought a new carrier to try rather than his favourite carrier – cue one sad little boy.
The video has been getting snide or downright rude comments every single day. Generally, we are in favour of more comments – but this time the judgement has been draining. Jen and I have answered each one calmly, and explained what is happening but still some people felt the need to tell us why this was wrong.
When we get comments like this we wonder – do you think you are going to change our mind? Do you think about the effect your words have? The presence of most comment sections on the internet suggests not (I always read the comments, sorry!).
Does it make people feel better to pass public judgement on someone who is doing something differently to them? Does it help anyone to comment on something which has no bearing on their life?
There are instances where it can be important to make a
judgment call and comment – where safety is an issue or where someone else’s
actions impact your life then there are times when it’s appropriate. You may
want to understand better why someone is making that decision,
and we are always happy to talk about that!
But with most parenting things – is there any need? If you don’t parent in the same way as someone you encounter on social media – and there are as many ways to parent as there are parents, so doubtless you will never find anyone you totally agree with – do their choices impact you?
When I first became a mum, I heard these comments as direct personal indictments on me as a person and as a mother and a throwaway comment could bring out so much anxiety. Now, I am happier in my choices and far more confident in them so it’s unlikely that I will lose sleep – but I am not the only person who will see them.
A comment telling us that we are making our kids lazy is seen by thousands of new mums, who are already worrying that they aren’t doing it right. Potentially it knocks their confidence in making choices which can support them and their family. Potentially it makes them concerned about the reactions they will get when out and about. It can be incredibly easy to knock the confidence of a new mum.
A comment saying that children that age should walk is seen by parents of kids with disabilities, with additional sensory needs, with a whole range of reasons why carrying might be a valuable and useful tool for their family. These families have plenty of stigma to contend with, a negative comment just adds more.
Our two families carry our children regularly and the children are 6, 5, 4 and 3 years old. There are a range of reasons why we do so. We hear that some people don’t like it, but frankly we don’t care. Our families find carrying an incredibly useful tool and it’s one we will continue to talk about and showcase.
But next time you’re thinking about putting a comment on someone’s post, think about who it’s for. Think about who might see it. Think about all the unintentional effects – and think about whether the person you are targeting with it is going to feel the impact you want them to feel. Spread a little love instead.