Friday, August 23, 2013

7 Things to Keep In Mind When Joining an Online Mom Group

I have been a member of several online mom groups over the years. In fact, I wrote about What Online Mom Groups Have Taught Me a little over a year ago when I could not peel myself away from the computer. I forced myself to leave that mom site (kicking and screaming, might I add) because my blood boiled way to damn much over what these women posted. I have since joined a smaller, tamer one, but good grief, the similarities are countless.

Why join an online mom group? There are several reasons:
  1. To "meet" other moms, even in a virtual setting.
  2. To create a support system.
  3. To get or give advice about motherhood.
  4. To feed the little drama monster that lives deep down inside you.
If you have never been a member of an online mom group, you should- just for the experience. Whenever you get a group of women in a small space (even a virtual one) that inevitably includes at least one woman in each of the following categories: opinionated, under-sexed, over-hormoned, catty, bitchy, naive, controversial, know-it-all, know-nothing, crazy, and/or has-to-be-the-center-of-attention, the result is pure anarchy. If you can manage to sit back and view it all as your own personal soap opera, it's fun. If you find yourself getting sucked into the drama, it's time to leave.

When making the decision to join an online mom group, there are definitely some things you should keep in mind:

1. Think before you post. This applies to posting a question or posting an answer to someone else's question. Ask yourself if the advice or statement you are about to give is worth the possible 23 women who will take offense to your statement and berate you. No subject is safe. Not even if you want to post about a horrible serial killer who was just arrested and how thankful you are that the streets are now a little safer. Chances are, one woman's cousin's brother's next door neighbor's hair stylist's baby daddy was a serial killer, and she'll let you know that serial killers are people with feelings, too, and your statement was rude and hurtful.

2. Posting pictures of naked kids is NOT cool. I don't care if your kid has a rash right next to their junk- take the kid to the emergency room or google that shit. Under no circumstances are you to post a picture of
your kid, spread eagle, on a public group site, with a caption of, "What is this rash? Should I be worried?" Chances are it's a diaper rash, and not only have you just exposed your child to goodness knows who on that site (seriously, is everyone really who they say they are online?), but you could be accused of child pornography. And no, adding a bright blue clip art flower to cover their junk doesn't help the situation much- it just causes people to feel uncomfortable.

3. Read back a little before you ask a question. Chances are, if you are a member of a local group, and are asking something about the local area, whatever question you have as a newbie has probably already been answered within the last week. We members who keep up with the group on a daily basis get pretty tired of getting asked what time Target closes or what the phone number for the local clinic is. Google before you ask. It takes the same amount of time.

4. Don't post a conversation starter and put "And Go!" at the end of it. If you want to get people talking, that's great. For the love of all that is good in this world, please do not write, "Favorite movie... and go!" like we are a bunch of racing dogs waiting for the bunny on a stick to appear. I understand that you are opening the floodgates for the millions of answers you think you'll get, but all you do is anger my sarcastic side that wants to answer, "The Notebook, and stop... acting like we're jumping to answer your lame ass question!" 
Houdini didn't like time-out, either.
Pic from Houdini Tribute

5. Try and remain as neutral as possible. Motherhood is subjective. What works for one family or mom may not work for another. So, when giving advice, try and remain as neutral as possible while being helpful to the original poster. For example, if someone asks for advice on what to do when their kid can figure out how to undo the knots they put in the ropes that they tie around the kid to keep him in the corner during time-out, don't immediately jump on them, telling them they are a horrible mother for tying up their kid. Simply state that maybe time-out in the corner doesn't work for their kid anymore, and they should explore other options such as having the child count to 100 to calm them and get them focused more. And then let child protective services determine whether or not she's a horrible mother...

6. Just because you are an adult doesn't mean everyone else is. Sure, you joined a mom's group. Sure, most of the women on the group are, statistically speaking, over the age of 18 (or damn close to it). This does not mean you are to assume everyone is an adult on that site. While you can debate a point of difference with another mother and speak eloquently and only state facts, you do have to accept the possibility that the person on the other end's only defense is to call you a bitch and then call your mama a bitch. 

7. The more kids you have, the more of an "expert" on parenting you are. This seems to be a tried and true point in mom groups. There will be one mother on there who has 27 kids, and even though she doesn't have custody of 13 of them, 4 of them have various broken bones at that moment, 2 of them are missing outside somewhere, 7 haven't had baths in 5 days, and none of them are wearing clean clothes, she knows more about parenting than anyone, including pediatricians, child psychologists and you, and she lets everyone know with every question asked. Nevermind that your 2 kids have never been in trouble, are in the tops of their classes, are rarely sick, are functioning members of the community and are very well behaved- that doesn't mean squat in these mom groups. She has you trumped because she physically gave birth to 27 kids, even though, technically, that last one just kind of fell out of her.

If you can keep these 7 things in mind, I'm sure your mom group experience will be a positive one. Just sit back, let some of the other moms answer questions, get called names, and pick each other apart like vultures on a deer carcass, and laugh your ass off. But, if you find your blood boiling on a daily basis, and it's getting harder and harder for you to hold your tongue from lashing out at stupidity, believe me when I say it's time to leave the group. The Honeymoon Phase is over, and your personal soap opera has run its course. If you stay, you end up becoming one of those drama mamas, and we definitely don't need any more of those in the world.

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