Musings from the ever-changing, ever-amazing and occasionally ever-baffling Fort McMurray, Alberta.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Mean Mommy Mafia

They are out there, lurking. And by lurking I mean they are on various Facebook pages and chat rooms and online forums, just hanging around waiting to pounce on the unsuspecting. They aren’t online predators looking for victims, though. They are the Mean Mommy Mafia, and they are looking for other mommies to harass.

You likely think I am being melodramatic, except that as a mom who has been using online parenting support forums for almost fifteen years I have some experience in this regard. I have visited a variety of online groups and forums that are created by moms to support moms, and almost every single one of them is plagued by at least one member of the Mean Mommy Mafia, the mom who enjoys belittling the parenting of other moms in order to prove her supremacy in the mothering business.
I was on a local Facebook page recently when a triple-M member appeared. Her primary goal? To harass a young mom who was clearly upset and feeling a bit unsure and working on building her confidence as a parent. While the other moms offered advice and support and understanding the triple-M Mom went on the attack.

I tried to maintain my silence at first, and by the time I waded in and realized the nasty nature of the triple-M Mom I was left trying to maintain my dignity as my comments became sharper and sharper. I have very little tolerance for women who attack other women, and particularly those moms who attack other moms because the hardest thing about being a mom isn’t the kids. It’s the other moms.
No matter what you do it seems there is someone there to tell you how wrong, bad or misguided it is. Being a mom is like being a target for unsolicited advice, and while most of it is well-meaning some of it is just meant to be unkind. The triple-M Moms specialize in the latter kind of “advice”, the kind that undermines your confidence and erodes your parenting self-esteem.

I found myself messaging the young mom being attacked, offering my support to her because I realized the young mom is likely young enough to be my daughter. I can only imagine how enraged I would be if someone did this to the Intrepid Junior Blogger as a young mom. You see it takes time and experience and support to build your skills and confidence as a parent, as no one is born with these and they only develop as you parent. Those moms who reach out to other moms need to be supported, encouraged and embraced so they too can build their confidence and skills and one day be the moms offering their support and encouragement.
But this is not the role of the Mean Mommy Mafia. The Mean Mommies, who I suspect may well have been the Mean Girls in high school, exist to deride the parenting of others in order to elevate their own. I have come to suspect they are the ones who are most insecure in their own skills and abilities as parents and thus need to make others feel badly in order to make themselves feel better.

The Mean Mommy Mafia member was banned from the local Facebook page as it should be, and several other moms came together to support the young mom who had simply looked for support and advice and reassurance, as the vast majority of moms often do as we understand better than anyone else how difficult being a mom can be some days. No matter how often you ban them, though, the Mean Mommy Mafia is out there, lurking, and perhaps they always will be.
It reminded me that some people carry with them a lot of baggage which can show itself as false bravado and confidence as betrayed by their willingness to undermine others, as those with true courage and self-worth have no need to engage in the derision of others. It also reminded me of this clip from The Simpsons, as while some people carry that baggage some others – including some members of the Mean Mommy Mafia – are, in fact, just jerks.

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