Has Social Media Turned Us Into Judgy Parents?

OK, so if you read the title, and thought ‘I was always judgy’ then yeah, social media hasn’t affected you. I just have a feeling that with the huge surge in blogging and social media, otherwise non-judgemental folk might be morphing into judgy monster parents.

Parenting is a huge deal, of course it is. There’s nothing more precious than our children and we all want to do our very best by them. So we look around and we try various methods, accept advice, bring up our children.

That should be the end of the story, right? Nope. Because it seems not everyone has an each to their own attitude, and I think sharing so much these days exacerbates that.

Back in the days when I was little, well, even just a few years ago I guess, much of what we did with our children was behind closed doors and in places that no-one could see. People would still have had their views on how best to bring their kids up, of course, but they weren’t being constantly told or shown what other people were doing.

Instagram shows us so much with the glimpses into every day life (or not ‘real’ every day life, as the case may be). A blog post or a Facebook update gives us an insight into people’s parenting, or a full-on in your face rant about it. So now we know what she’s doing, is it what I’m doing? Do I like that she does that? Oh no, I can’t believe she does that.

Everything is out there for all to see. And I think that when that happens, there are always going to be people who have to comment and judge.

You’re not actually bottle feeding are you? Please tell me your daughter doesn’t have a dummy? You co-sleep? You let them cry it out? You don’t? You put your child in a pushchair? You wear your baby? You send them to nursery at how many months? You keep them at home with you, but what about their socialisation? You feed them that? They’re still in nappies at what age? Look at the mess in your home! I’m sure you get the idea.

Why do we do this? Because it’s right there in our faces. We’re constantly confronted with what people are doing with their own children, and it can make us pause to reflect on whether we would do that, too. So yes, we may make judgements. Cursory, most likely, and in most cases, quietly and without really giving it any further thought. But we still judged, albeit fleetingly. Once it’s all out there, it’s unlike when you share things with your friends as strangers or mere acquaintances are seeing what you’re up to. The chances are that they have less of a filter than those we love, or some may simply be gunning for an argument. The problem is, of course, that they’ve only seen a glimpse, and it’s just a glimpse that you’ve chosen to share for whatever reason at that moment.

There are always those who go that bit further, offer their opinions, write persuasive articles on why their way is the ‘right way’, or just plain insult another parent. I am not a fan of blog posts telling me what I should do with my own children.

I don’t like the judgemental element. Parenting is a tough enough gig without having to feel defensive about what we do. I absolutely think we should be talking about what works for us, sharing personal stories, successes and failures. It’s great to hear about, often useful, and contributes to a little solidarity. If we share something asking for an opinion, or something deliberately controversial that we’ve done with our kids, then yes, expect some fallout and expect to hear things you may not like. But generally, if you’re just there doing your best, it’d be nice to feel more supported than judged, wouldn’t it?

What do you think? Has social media brought our parenting more sharply into focus?

The Reading Residence

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22 thoughts on “Has Social Media Turned Us Into Judgy Parents?”

  1. Unfortunately there have always been opinionated sticky beaks who think their way is the right way. As you say, in the olden days things were done behind closed doors, but now so much of our lives is photographed and documented on social media, so open to scrutiny. I agree, it is best to support rather than judge – for anything xx

  2. Oh I could not agree more. I like to call them the judgey moos. I had a bit of a rant a while back as it really bothers me. If people aren’t living a harmful life and aren’t endangering their kids, then people should hush a bit. Obviously now and then I see something I wouldn’t do but I shrug and think ok. We’re all different. Fab post lovely xxx

  3. I’m not sure it’s specifically social media, but probably to do with the fact that reality shows along with social media are kind of asking for judgement (with reality shows they rely on people judging). Unfortunately that’s carried over to judging normal people on the street rather than just those who’re effectively asked to be judged.

    I do think that mothers need all the support they can get. I have to admit I’m probably quite judgemental, but more in the ‘I wouldn’t do that’ camp. But I wouldn’t give my opinion on it unless it’d been asked for, and I’d say ‘I found this worked’ rather than ‘you should do’. Every child is different and it’s the parents that know their child and what works for them. I don’t like dummies, but if they do the job and work for that child, then that’s the parent’s choice, not mine.

    1. Ah, that’s a good point, it is a society shift. I do think there’s a world of difference between I found this worked and you should do.

  4. I think social media can be a bit of a double-edged sword in that respect – yes you will get people who are quite judgmental and like to give their opinions but I’ve also found it wonderful with regards to support, particularly when I was struggling with postnatal depression. I am sure I have moments of passing fleeting judgments on other people’s parenting style (I’m only human after all!) but I try not and my approach to parenting has generally been if our children are happy with what we are doing and we are happy, why is it anyone’s elses business anyway? Every child is different, every set of parents is different and different things work for different people.

  5. I’m not sure that it is the rise of social media that has made people more judgmental about parenting, but rather makes it more ‘acceptable’ to be judgmental. I remember a few months back when a blogger was criticised for the themed packed lunches which she made every day for her son. The lunches were beautiful, but certainly not something I would have the time or inclination to create. But I wouldn’t dream of judging her for it, as it really is none of our business, and if her kid ate it, then her time and effort was well spent in my view. Yes, we all meet judgmental people who give us unwanted advice about parenting, or make us feel inferior as parents, but as long as I get the cuddles from my sons and even the teenagers say ‘I love you Mum’ without being prompted, I know I’m doing ok. Great post as per usual!

    1. Interesting distinction, I see your point. And yes, as long as our kids are happy, we’re ok, they’re the best judges. Thank you.

  6. It’s an interesting call to make as a blogger too… Are you going to stick your neck out there and write poignant opinionated pieces about parenting – that will probably get much more interaction (love and hate) – just because they’re going to get more attention! Or are you sticking with the safe track – the all inclusive – the non-judgemental…?
    I really don’t feel it’s my place to tell anyone how to do parenting. I’d like to tell everyone it’s flipping hard and WELL DONE to everyone who thinks their doing ok even 50% of the time! Seriously, WELL DONE!

    As to social media, when faced with an image I usually find myself answering one question directly: Staged? Real Life? And both have their place, but there’s a lot of freedom in putting them into that perspective 🙂

    1. It is indeed. Opinionated pieces definitely get some interest, but at what cost? I don’t want to tell people what to do, who am I to judge? And yes, it’s hard work, so well done! Oh yes, staged and real life are fun to call x

  7. Fab post and its something I think about a lot as a blogger and I hope I don’t come across as judgemental or self righteous, I think we are all trying our best to find the right way to parent our children and sharing can help but I don’t believe we should all do it the same way. What works for one child (and parent) wont always work for another. Interesting parallels to social media and I wonder whether we are more judgemental or more that people just have an easier way to voice their judgements now! Xx

  8. Now I’m desperately trying to think if I’ve ever written a preachy post – hope not! Most of my “advice” is based on “please avoid what I did / do at all costs”. I think the anonymity or at least distance created by SM allows people to be much more judgey pantsy – or rather, they may have thought it in a real life situation, but would be unlikely to say it to you, whereas online, people are much bolder. Very interesting post. Have a lovely weekend! x

    1. Ha ha, not that I’ve read! I think you’re right, and it requires less thought to add a comment, send a quick tweet. Thanks, you, too x

  9. I hate being told what to do in general but especially when it comes Boo, I am a firm believer that mummy and daddy know best. I think we should all try to support each other, every families journey is different we can’t know everything so we shouldn’t judge other people/parents.
    I think people with opinions would be sharing them anyway but social media has opened the gates for opinions to be shared more, and also people say things on social media etc that they probably wouldn’t say to someones face?

  10. I think there are two factors at play. Social media is by its nature about bite-sized chunks, which means we take in and judge snapshots of other people’s lives in tiny portions, which lends itself to quick (and often incorrect) conclusions.

    And social media also gives us much greater ability to editorialise our lives and broadcast it to a wider audience. It used to be that our closest friends got to see the real us, warts and all. But now everyone in our vague circles gets to see what we want them to see, and it’s easy to look at other people’s feeds and feel jealous about how perfect their lives might be – the ‘Bragbook’ phenomenon, if you will.

    Is this worse than the good old days? I don’t know. It’s certainly different. But I do think that a lot of people haven’t yet caught up with the ability to view social media through a different set of filters so that we don’t end up feeling inferior to everyone else.

    1. Ah, that last point that you make is so true. I do see things that way, but maybe a more than average exposure to blogging and social media has helped me get there? You’re right, though, many don’t which can be hard.

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