Blogger Vicky Charles, who writes Single Mother Ahoy (opens in new tab), asks 'what's the deal with this new trend for calling our kids names on social media?':
I’ve seen so many people posting photos of their children lately making a mess or doing something otherwise inconvenient, calling them names or similar. With the return to school has come numerous posts with people drinking Prosecco or cheering to celebrate their kids’ returning to school - am I the only one who enjoyed having their child around over the last few weeks?
Firstly, I understand that the people making these posts are probably not doing it because they actually hate their children; they’re doing it for a laugh… but then, if you’re making fun of your children to get a laugh isn’t that pretty bad? I mean, would you do that with a stranger you saw in the street? Perhaps you would, I don’t know.
Or, here’s another one: what if you caught your child calling another child names, either behind their back or to their face? What would you say to them? I’m betting you’d talk about treating other people with respect, about not talking behind someone’s back… and yet, you’re not prepared to practice what you preach?
Would you allow someone else to say these things about your child? Would you say these things to your child’s face? I’m guessing not. So why say it behind their back?
When we call our kids names on social media it can foster a sense of camaraderie among other parents who feel the same. I understand that many of us need that from time to time. I am a single parent; I know as well as anyone that sometimes spending a lot of time with your child can be mentally taxing.
It can be hard work to be a parent, and sometimes you feel like shouting, Just shut up; I don’t effing care about Paw Patrol! But you don’t. Because this is parenting, and whether we realised it at the time or not, this is what we all signed up for.
I do sometimes post on social media when I’m having a bad time; but I choose my words carefully. It’s the difference between “I’m having a hard time right now” and “my kid is being a dick.”
For me, although my daughter’s actions can sometimes be exasperating, they are the normal actions of a six-year-old. She’s not being a dick; she’s being a child who doesn’t yet have a full grasp on her emotions; doesn’t understand that she needs to sleep or she’ll feel worse tomorrow; doesn’t understand that all that incessant fidgeting might be slightly irritating to Mummy.
It’s not that my child is doing anything deliberately to irritate me, or even that she’s doing something that’s not to be expected; rather it’s me, having a problem dealing with normal behaviour.
A while ago a radio show contacted me to ask for my opinion on a celebrity mum who had said that being a stay at home mum was absolutely mind-numbing. Although I understood where she was coming from, I couldn’t help feeling sorry for her children.
Although I am sure she doesn’t get up in the morning and tell her children she hates to spend time with them, there will come a point where they could feasibly find the dozens of column inches devoted to her outburst - and feel quite upset that their mother felt this way when taking care of them. What will her response be then? “It was just banter”?
The thing is, it’s not banter. Not for me, anyway. When you complain that your child is being a dick on social media, you invite others to join in. Which you might think is great; it provides a sense of community and we all feel like we’re not alone in feeling less than rainbows and butterflies all the time. But can’t we do that without speaking in derogatory fashion about our children?
Why not make an effort to choose your words more carefully, to take a breath and to note that you are the one having a problem in your response to your child’s behaviour? It might not make for such an hilarious, pithy, potentially viral post - but it is more respectful to your children.
And, by showing this approach, you can use your influence online to encourage other parents to try and do the same.