The Mom Pledge: Do Unto Others, Even Online

I found this because its founder posted a lovely comment on my post about breastfeeding bullying. I got on board right away! Part of me wants to include fathers, but, you know what? I haven’t seen too many dads go for the jugular when commenting on each other’s parenting practices. So, as I sit here, 9 weeks pregnant, watching the baby I nanny thrill herself with her new ability to make reach out and grab onto her toy (it makes a crinkly sound! whoa!), I solemnly swear that even when someone, somewhere insists that I am up to know good, I will be kind.

I am a proud to be a mom. I will conduct myself with integrity in all my online activities. I can lead by example.

I pledge to treat my fellow moms with respect. I will acknowledge that there is no one, “right” way to be a good mom. Each woman makes the choices best for her family.

I believe a healthy dialogue on important issues is a good thing. I will welcome differing opinions when offered in a respectful, non-judgmental manner. And will treat those who do so in kind.

I stand up against cyber bullying. My online space reflects who I am and what I believe in. I will not tolerate comments that are defamatory, hateful or threatening.

I refuse to give those who attack a platform. I will remove their remarks with no mention or response. I can take control.

I want to see moms work together to build one another up, not tear each other down. Words can be used as weapons. I will not engage in that behavior.

I affirm that we are a community. As a member, I will strive to foster goodwill among moms. Together, we can make a difference.

I want to talk a little bit about each one of these points.

Leading by example: I firmly believe that the best way to encourage others to change unhealthy habits is to model the healthy version of a behavior. You may notice, if you go through the 100+ comments on my bullying post, that I have chosen not to engage in insulting the woman who attacked me. I was upset because she didn’t know me but assumed that she knew enough to tell me “You’re not trying hard enough” and to imply that I’ll be a terrible mother. I’d rather not do the same to her by saying I feel sorry for her kids or calling her names. (This does not put me above a good, enthusiastic F*** YOU! – entirely appropriate.)

Pride, Integrity, Leading by Example: I see two sides to this. On the one hand, insecurity and fear, secret or not-so-secret fear, cause us to lash out. My biggest fear about motherhood is that I will be selfish. If I can manage to have enough pride in my own mothering, I hope to avoid interpreting some blog post that has nothing to do with me, personally, as a blogger calling me selfish. Understanding that I feel pressured or sad or disappointed and not lashing out, but rather, feeling those feelings–that is something I want to model. That is integrity, because it is honest. On the other hand, pride in our families allows us to write about all this, put it online and face the consequences bravely. There is no community if nobody speaks up. Talk, talk, talk, and someone will thank you for proving that she is not alone! I want to model that, too–no shame. Speak up.

Respect for other’s choices and healthy dialogue: I have been working in child care for long enough to have learned that not even the family that looks perfect is not and that every mom does the best she can and still feels like she’s not doing a good job half the time. Even if I want to change someone else’s mind about some child rearing decision, it strikes me as counter-productive to start the conversation from any place other than one of respect. Nobody makes a real change because they have been shamed into it. My mind has been changed, and only through a healthy dialogue. This is how learning happens.

I think I covered the cyber bullying thing…

A platform for those who attack: Not here. I consider myself a mental health blogger, and as soon as the discussion stops and turns into ridicule or stubborn repetition, I stop it. Thankfully, it has only happened once, and on the old site for this blog. Oddly, I was also accused, then, of being inflexible for not stopping my meds and meditating my way out of anxiety. (I happen to know quite a bit about certain meditation techniques, since I grew up in a family that meditates, and I also happen to know that my Guru, a true Indian Guru, was not against Western medicine.)

I want to see moms come together: Rather selfishly, I want a supportive community so that I can feel better about my go at parenthood. It’s going to be hard. There’s going to be guilt. There will be joy. I want to share it all. Moms, especially moms who are sensitive to the issues we’re talking about today, make for one helluva nurturing community. I want that for me. I don’t want sharp words directed at me. So it just follows that I will nurture others and keep my words soft.

I do affirm that we are a community. There has never been a time when women mothered alone. Parenthood is not a job that can be done in isolation. The very idea is absurd. My sister, a developmental psychologist, learned at a professional conference (you’d be surprised at how much of that field is about primate research) that mama gorillas who are ostracized before their babies are born never learn to breastfeed properly. Without the community of other primate mamas, they can’t do it. Their baby’s die. Obviously, with all this technology and our huge brains, we should be able to do what a gorilla can’t. But why? Why not sit in a circle and help each other feed, entertain, stimulate each others’ babies? Why not take a few minutes to tell a struggling mama that she’s doing a good job? It doesn’t have to be this hard. I refuse to contribute to any model of parenting that says we should go it alone.

One Comment

  1. So glad you have joined our community! This is a great post. And you are absolutely right – moms need to be part of a supportive community. Why not indeed?

    I have thought about including dads, but I haven’t seen them attacking each other online either. 

    March 28, 2012

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