Internet Etiquette in the Mommy Wars

Welcome to the February 2012 Carnival natural viagra pills of Natural Parenting: Respectful Interactions with Other Parents

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have focused on how we can communicate with other parents compassionately.


We’ve either all been there ourselves or we’ve watched it unfold on our screens.  Those heated interchanges online when you are so sure you are right and the other mother is just as sure you are wrong.  Have you ever stopped to wonder, “Is this really the gauntlet I want to throw down?” “Exactly what kind of an example am I setting here?”

“The internet isn’t written in pencil, it’s written in ink.”  The Social Network

Credit: Jem Stone used under Creative Commons License

All of the internet is in ink – Facebook, blog comments, forum interchanges and email.  Everything you put out there is still there down the line when your tech-savvy teen or your new boss finds your old comments on “breastfeeding vs. bottle”, “cloth or disposable diapering” and your debate “to circ or not to circ.”  Whether you like it or not it is all still there waiting to be discovered.  So what is a parent to do when they desire to defend their views against the attacks of another?  Here are a few things I’ve learned over my time navigating the virtual playground.


  1. Make sure you read the posted rules.  Most forums, blogs, social networking sites and email clients have codes of conduct.  They remind us what language is appropriate, whether advertisement is allowed and how things will be monitored.  If you come across a site that doesn’t it always helps to keep the rules of other pages in the back of your mind.
  2. Do not engage trolls. Unfortunately there will always be someone who isn’t happy unless everyone else is miserable.  Those are the “trolls” they visit pages that they have no business being on and offer up points of view that they know will get a rise out of someone.  It is the internet – like I said before – it will always be there.  If you start to feel steam coming out of your ears – stand up and take a walk.  You can always come back and reengage the conversation once the troll has given up.  If nobody bats an eye at their inflammatory comments – they leave.
  3. Are you really going to change this person’s point-of-view?  Do you really care? You don’t know these people and they don’t know you.  If you rationally state your opinion or provide facts/links and they still don’t sway to your side of the fence – it isn’t the end of the world.  Unless you want to come out looking like the bully it is always best to mind your manners.  Once is enough.  It is unnecessary to try to drill your opinion into someone else’s head.  Besides when people come across it later – they are more likely to consider your point-of-view if you don’t look like a March Hare shouting at the wind.
  4. Know your “Nettiquette” There are little ‘social cues’ that have been invented to help us get our points across or to help read the intent of others.  However, sometimes we forget those.  ALL CAPS = yelling, period.  Emoticons help to relay your mood and can work wonders if you are a practicing sarcastic.  Use spell check and always reread what you wrote before you send it.

The best piece of advice I can offer is that while you might have “been there, done that!” and found what works best for your family, it really is not the be all and end all of parenting.  You might like to think that your way is the only way to parent but just as you have learned that what worked with one child did not work with your next – the same applies to other families.  There is no cut and dry out there – but that shouldn’t mean that we cannot share advice or offer up our anecdotes from our own hard earned lessons.  Just remember parenting is about support – not competition and it certainly shouldn’t be cause for harsh words or ultimatums.

Here are two examples of how I have decided to handle disagreements from my discussions on the internet:

  • Article: “Really, My Breastmilk is Turning to Water!?” I wrote this in response to a Facebook interaction I was having. Instead of getting into an argument, I took it out of the social media forum and put my reaction on my blog.
  • Blog Carnival: “I’m a Natural Parent – BUT…” In response to a series of heated Facebook interactions about less then “perfect” natural parenting, I am collaborating with Natural Parents Network to bring you a brand new blog carnival!
  • How have you navigated heated discussions on the internet playground?


    Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

    Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

    (This list will be live and updated by afternoon February 14 with all the carnival links.)

    • How to Respond Respectfully to Unwanted Parenting Advice and Judgment — At Natural Parents Network, Amy (of Peace 4 Parents) offers some ways to deal with parenting advice and criticism, whether it’s from your mom or the grocery store clerk.
    • Judgement is Natural – Just Don’t Condemn — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama shared her views on why judgment is unavoidable and why the bigger issue is condemnation.
    • Four Ways To Share Your Parenting Philosophy Gently — Valerie at Momma in Progress shares tips for communicating with fellow parents in a positive, peaceful manner.
    • When Other Parents Disagree With You — Being an attachment parent is hard enough, but when you are Lily, aka Witch Mom, someone who does not enforce gender roles on her kid, who devalues capitalism and materialism, and instead prefers homeschooling and homesteading — you are bound to disagree with someone, somewhere!
    • Mama Bashing — Lucy at Dreaming Aloud reflects on the hurt caused on the blogosphere by mama bashing and pleads for a more mindful way of dealing with differences.
    • Accentuate the Positive — Joella at Fine and Fair shares how she manages interactions with the parents she encounters in her work as a Parent Coach and Substance Abuse Counselor by building trusting relationships and affirming strengths.
    • The politics of mothers – keys to respectful interactions with other parents — Tara from MUMmedia offers great tips for handling the inevitable conflict of ideas and personalities in parenting/mother’s groups, etc.
    • Trying to build our village — Sheila at A Gift Universe tells how she went from knowing no other moms in her new town to building a real community of mothers.
    • Internet Etiquette in the Mommy Wars — Shannon at The Artful Mama discusses how she handles heated topics in the “Mommy-space” online.
    • Parenting with Convictions — Sarah at Parenting God’s Children encourages love and support for fellow parents and their convictions.
    • How To Be Respectful Despite Disagreeing On Parenting Styles… — Jenny at I’m a Full-Time Mummy shares her two cents’ worth on how to have respectful interactions with other parents despite disagreeing on parenting styles.
    • Public RelationsMomma Jorje touches on keeping the peace when discussing parenting styles.
    • Navigating Parenting Politics — Since choosing an alternative parenting style means rejecting the mainstream, Miriam at The Other Baby Book shares a few simple tips that can help avoid hurt feelings.
    • Hiding in my grace cave — Lauren at Hobo Mama wants to forget that not all parents are as respectful and tolerant as the people with whom she now surrounds herself.
    • Carnival of Natural Parenting – Respectful Interactions with Other Parents — Wolfmother at Fabulous Mama Chronicles explores how her attitude has changed regarding sharing information and opinions with others and how she now chooses to keep the peace during social outings.
    • Empathy and respect — Helen at zen mummy tries to find her zen in the midst of the Mummy Wars.
    • Not Holier Than Thou — Amyables at Toddler in Tow muses about how she’s learned to love all parents, despite differences, disagreements, and awkward conversations.
    • Nonviolent Communication and Unconditional Love — Wendylori at High Needs Attachment reflects on the choice to not take offense as the key to honest and open communication.
    • Respectful Parenting As a Way of Life — Sylvia at MaMammalia writes about using her parenting philosophy as a guide to dealing with other parents who make very different choices from her.
    • Homeschooling: Why Not? — Kerry at City Kids Homeschooling shares how parents can often make homeschooling work for their family even if, at first glance, it may seem daunting.
    • If You Can’t Say Something Nice… — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now tells her philosophy for online and offline interactions … a philosophy based primarily on a children’s movie.
    • Different Rules for Different Families — Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children discusses how differences between families affect our children, and how that can be a good thing.
    • Respectful Interaction With Other Parents — Luschka at Diary of a First Child shares the ways she surrounds herself with a like-minded support network, so that she can gently advocate in her dealings with those whose opinions on parenting differ vastly from her own.
    This entry was posted in Parenting. Bookmark the permalink.

    32 Responses to Internet Etiquette in the Mommy Wars

    1. Pingback: How to Respond Respectfully to Unwanted Parenting Advice and Judgment | Natural Parents Network

    2. Pingback: 10 Tips to Communicate Respectfully, Even When You Disagree – - LiveNewsX - Live News AggregatorLiveNewsX – Live News Aggregator

    3. Pingback: Different Rules for Different Families « living peacefully with children

    4. Oh the trolls. When will everyone remember to ignore them?! I think their main mission in life is to start pointless online bickering.

      • It is so hard because they are excellent button pushers and target us with such inflammatory comments that it can be hard not to take the bait at times. I’m getting better at it though.

      • Amy Willa says:

        I am the absolute worst at handling (or, rather, not handling) trolls. Never had one in particular on any of my posts (by bloggity blog is too small and filled with joyful followers!) . . . but when the Target Nurse-In was going on, I got successfully baited into a couple of rounds on FB with a couple of trolls, and had to be reminded that there were trolls, not random ignorant people in need of education on the topic of breastfeeding. Getting my panties all twisted up (as my hubs likes to tease) is what they’re trolling around for – that I’m not going to “save” them from their ignorance 😉

        I’m getting better and better. . . but I’m still learning.

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    8. Jessica A. says:

      The trolls! They definitely get me heated! I try my best to avoid confrontation at all cost, but there are times where I have let the trolls get the best of me and inappropriately blasted them lol! Can’t really take it back, but I definitely tend to stay away from it now as much as possible.

      • Don’t worry Jessica it just takes practice. Sometimes the best thing to do is get up take a stroll and come back. If you are still mad see if you can word your reply in a non-confrontational way. Use “I” statements and the like.

    9. Pingback: Hybrid Rasta Mama: Judgment Is Natural – Just Don’t Condemn

    10. Sheila says:

      That last idea — to take your arguments off public forums and onto your own blog — is a great one, and one that helps me a lot. I’m easily frustrated by Facebook debates, especially when no one seems to be listening (oh, wait, that’s all of them) and especially when it’s with friends. It’s so much easier to lay out all my arguments, once and for all, in one convenient space that I have control over … and then walk away. It’s much easier to let go of an issue once I’ve had my say. And I rarely get debates on my blog. People are much more respectful there than on Facebook, for whatever reason.

      • Yes it makes me feel better too because then I’m not hijacking someone else’s page and I get to say my peace and be done with it. I think social media is easier to get heated with because it is more instantaneous. Here we lay out our view and people generally only follow us if they agree with us most of the time. Our little “safe-zone”

    11. Pingback: Respecting the Parenting of Others: Quieting Judgey McJudgerson | Monkey Butt Junction

    12. Pingback: Finding your mama-groove: 5 ways to Eliminate Judge/Be Judged Mentality | MudpieMama

    13. Pingback: The politics of mothers – keys to respectful interactions with other parents | MUMmedia

    14. I LOVE this post!! Honestly, such a great perspective of being respectful too! I agree that so so so many times when I see something on a board my first reaction is “I MUST COMMENT!” Ha! But you’re right, almost every time you won’t actually “convert” the person who made the comment, and will only anger myself in trying. Such an important reminder and very creative and thoughtful angle! Thank you mama!

      • You are welcome. I think a lot of us feel the need to defend but it usually only results in our getting our feathers in a tussle. We should educate but we can do that in our own time and in a way that people can relate to outside of the heated discussion.

    15. Thanks so much for tackling this subject! It can be so hard to stay respectful online when other people are NOT being, but I agree it’s important to follow your values there as much as anywhere else.

    16. Wolfmother says:

      The best advice ever is to simply share your piece and move on. You cannot change another person’s mind by force or sound arguments even. People are responsible for using the information they come across how they want so all you can do is offer it and then let it go. Otherwise you look ridiculous getting your panties all twisted over something that can never get resolved!

    17. Pingback: Respectful Interaction With Other Parents | Diary of a First Child

    18. Momma Jorje says:

      I think taking a breather to calm down in any discussion that gets you steamed is always the best bet! Great advice altogether!

      • Amy Willa says:

        If only I could remember to do that more often. I think when Abbey and I go to Michaels tomorrow to get things for her “Thinking Jar” (the mason jar with glitter, water, and glycerin that you have the child shake and watch the glitter all fall down in order to calm down and think about a situation) . . . I’d better get supplies to make a “Mommy thinking Jar” too 😉

    19. Ellie says:

      Nicely written

    20. I love how you put it “You might like to think that your way is the only way to parent but just as you have learned that what worked with one child did not work with your next – the same applies to other families. ”

      Even within our own family, the same way might not be working for the next child! So true! And yes, just do the best we know!

    21. katie says:

      I’ve seen good relationships go bad over internet squabbles. It’s so sad and completely unnecessary. If you can’t type anything nice, don’t type anything at all.

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