Mom on Mom Violence

by Jasmine Carlson on June 9, 2010

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Mom on mom violence. It’s everywhere. It’s on message boards. It’s in magazines. It’s in our life and the lives of our friends.

374268661_c63d40d3b5There seems to be something horrible happening. Mom on mom violence is virtually everywhere. I have recently been so saddened to see mothers tearing each other apart over all kinds of mothering choices such as breastfeeding, home birth vs. hospital birth, natural eating, sugar or no sugar before a year, extended rear facing vs. turn ‘em around when it is legal.

I was recently on a discussion board where I thought I belonged, why did I think I belonged? Well I am a mom, I have a toddler, I want to talk to other mothers, especially other mothers who are AP and who believe in raising their children “naturally”. I wanted advice. I wanted to help other mothers. But even more than that I wanted to share with other mothers the joys and hardships of being a mother. I wanted to be a part… a part of being a mom with other moms. I wanted to know I was not alone. I was criticized, de-moralized and censored by the board moderator (for no other reason than something I said didn’t jive with what they thought I should say). I could believe it.

I was watching a discussion on Facebook between some mothers and could not believe how everyone was telling everyone else how it should be and how their experience was not as authentic as the next mother because they had not done things the same way as said mother.

I was discussing extended rear facing vs turning a child at a year with some mothers and was told what a terrible mother I was and how I valued my own comfort over the safety and security of my son.

Even though many of these things “shouldn’t” be taken to heart, I “should” be a solid rock and be confident in my mothering but every time mom on mom violence happens I leave disappointed, angry and sometimes hurt.

I thought being a teenage girl was bad and it was but it is a whole different ball game playing with the big girls.

I have experienced mom on mom violence. Have you? Tell us your story.

Jasmine is a co-housing, home birthing, missions minded, community living mama with a passion for fierce writing. She blogs.

Photos from: http://www.flickr.com/photos/aussiegall/374268661/

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Jasmine Carlson (49 Posts)

Jasmine is a community living mama with a passion for fierce writing and fitness. She her way on Team USA by fitness coaching. Shaping Her. (www.shapingher.com) Join the conversation at (www.facebook.com/ShapingHer)


{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

Chavelamomela June 9, 2010 at 7:21 am

I think you’re overreacting here. Seriously. Violence about Breastfeeding, Extended Rear Facing, and givingsugar before a year? THESE are the things that you’re arguing over and determine what makes you a “good:” parent? Sure I’ve seen people get passionate about it (myself included) on forums, discussion boards, Facebook, and blogs. But I wouldn’t call it ‘violence’ – that is very harsh.

How about – Do you spend quality time with them, hug them when they hurt, try not to scream, read with them, and listen to them?

Sure, we all are big advocates for safety, good nutritional foundations and health. But more than that, most importantly, our relationships with our kids matter most.

FYI, I am a home-birther, extender breastfeeder, co-sleeper, extender rear-facer mom, but this is not who defines me. Ultimately, when our kids are out of diapers, the foundations and patterns we established when they were little, and the basic security, communication, and love we give them is what matters most.

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jess June 9, 2010 at 7:28 am

my background: single working mother of medically fragile (special needs) child. Prenatally diagnosed.

i was on an AP-oriented FB page, and the moderator linked and attacked a product she determined to be anti-attachment and detrimental to child development. the other commenters quickly jumped on and attacked this product and any users. this was a product i used with with my daughter when she was in the NICU/Special Care Unit when she was hospitalized at birth, and a product that a friend of mine had researched and bought me as a gift when I was pregnant to help me get through the tough times of my daughter’s expected hospitalization.
i’ve found that mothers will attack each other and their choices, rather than support and encourage each other in being the best parents they can be in their situation with their resources, choices, and circumstances.
it is sad, really, and I wish it were different.

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sol June 9, 2010 at 7:29 am

oh yes!!! it hapened to me too, i normally go to this spanish web about AP and most on the times its very helpfull….until i posted something that they considered “wrong” and that was it…..im stil in shock, nonestly, in a way i like the feel im not the only one experiencing this kind of violence.
after what hapened to me i started to pay more atention and this is going on often. like this girl who is having problems at home with her husband (apparently he is not helping her at home and with the baby) and all these other women are telling her to leave him! and the moderator are going nuts too!!! telling everyone whats possible to discuss and whats not (subjets like politics or religion are totally banned, despite the masive impact the may have in a famili life)
anyway, i love reading this and the blog.

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Laura June 9, 2010 at 7:47 am

Yep. i joined a mothering forum and posted in the breastfeeding section an article about how formula companies pushing their product in the 3rd world is causing many infant deaths and illnesses. It also went into detail about how breastmilk protects our babies and is basically the most natural and healthy food for them.

All I put with the article was a little comment about how it will make breastfeeding mothers really proud of the amazing job they’re doing doing at possible low times.

The reactions i got were incredible!! Most mothers who commented had either breastfed for approx 6 months, had tried Breastfeeding and felt it wasn’t right for them/baby didn’t want it/not enough milk etc. or simply chose not to. Most comments were along the lines of the article being patronising and giving mothers a guilt trip for not being able to breastfeed. The article was from a scientific magazine and very fact based so I really don’t think guilt was the authors intention!

The comment that really sticks in my mind was one that said breastfeeding means neglecting your other children while you sit for hours on end, stuck in the house with a baby hanging off you in loads of pain. I found this comment very insulting, said so and then went on to say most women who have problems with breastfeeding have actually been failed by the NHS. Could I say that? No I bloody couldn’t! All of a sudden they were saying I was trying to force my opinions on others and guilt trip mothers who couldn’t do what I found very easy (I actually struggled through months of pain and latch problems but they weren’t going to listen to that!) and was told rather bluntly to go to an AP forum if I wanted to talk in that way. (sigh)

If I had wanted to guilt trip anyone, force my views etc I would have posted it in the bottle feeding section! i certainly wouldn’t have said women were being failed by the NHS.

Needless to say I left the forum for good!

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Ayesha June 9, 2010 at 7:57 am

Sure, it’s sad but everywhere. It’s the nature of women. Put a bunch of women together and you can gaurantee a cat fight. You know how we women joke that men compensate for things they lack in by bragging about the things they have? Well, we women aren’t much different. It may very well be in our genetic code to put other women down to make ourselves appear better at motherhood.
Don’t take it to heart. For good hearted women, this is a good experience on how to weed out insecure, negative women from our lives. By the way, I’m also a crunchy mom who chose to turn my daughter around earlier than kindergarton because of not only my comfort, but also because I knew my daughter was bored out of her mind not being able to see and interact with us.

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Robin Liberman June 9, 2010 at 9:18 am

Great post. Yes, I see this more often than I expected before becoming a mother. It surprises me. Especially in the types of circles I see it in. I understand the feelings, I understand being judgemental. I have felt angry and been judgemental myself. It is a defect I have. I think it somehow makes women feel more convinced of their own parenting styles when they attack those different than them. I am all for passion and conviction, just not at the expense of hurting others. And, I’m with you on the car seat.

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mamapoekie June 9, 2010 at 9:35 am

Yep… I get it about every other week on my blog when I speak my mind. To the point of anonymous commenters telling me that bad Karma is devoiding me of future spawn.
There’s a lot of bitch on bitch going on, and no matter how hard we try, how gently we weigh our words, there will always be one that is misread, one that feels wronged, because she doesn’t adhere to what you are saying…
I wrote about it a while back
http://mamapoekie.blogspot.com/2010/05/us-vs-them.html

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Kristina June 9, 2010 at 9:38 am

Thank you Jasmine. It is hard work to mother our children and be the parents we strive to be and we need the support of other moms. There are also times when other moms need us and we have to be there to lift them up. It is one thing to be passionate about your parenting choices but it is another to judge others for their very different choices. Let us all try a little harder to be kinder to each other. That other parent that you completely disagree with may be more open to your opinion if it is mixed with a dose of kindness. She may walk away considering your choice as something she might like to try. If she is defensive at first it is probably in reaction to the way she was treated by someone else and we can choose not to take it personally. It is not always easy but it is always worth the effort!

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Meg June 9, 2010 at 11:25 am

I am so happy I found this! I have expierenced that type of violence, and I’m only 7 months pregnant with my first child.
When my sweet husband and I were planning to get pregnant I began talking to other moms I used to be friends with. At first the conversations were fine and “normal” and then as our try date got closer and closer that changed. These moms began to, in so many words, tell me the only way to parent is their way. The only way to birth is their way. “If you really love your baby then you’ll ___________” That was their response to any questions I had re: birth and parenting styles. I found only critisism. And the things these moms would say about other mothers! It was heart breaking. Needless to say I began to seek out new relationships and cut ties with the old ones. I love homebirth, natural parenting, AP, unschooling, homeschooling, birth center births, radical parenting, really I love birth and the special relationships between parent and child! What I have needed is the freedom to learn what we want as a family and the support in making our decisions. After all what goes on between me and my baby is about us. It took a lot of time for the wounds to heal and for me to gain my confidence back as a woman and a soon to be mommy. And at this point I am happy with the women I have in my life and look forward to meeting more. As far as mom on mom abuse goes, it is not welcome in my life anymore!!!

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Amber June 9, 2010 at 1:16 pm

I wouldn’t say that I have experienced mother-on-mother violence, exactly. But I have seen it happen, and it makes me deeply uncomfortable.

I think it’s important to remember that we’re all just doing our best, in the context of our own families. No, we might not always see eye-to-eye. And that might mean that we’re not a good fit for being best friends. But it doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be courteous or respectful.

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Stacey June 9, 2010 at 5:04 pm

I’ll admit that I’ve engaged in this type of “behavior” where I’ve felt personally attacked for my choice of parenting. One specific bout of arguing was over baby wearing. I read a post on fb from a fellow fb friend and found what she said to be very unsetting and insulting. I let her know how I felt in a straight forward way. The other mothers were very much in support of her and it went back and forth. I ended up personally e-mailing her and offered an apology/agree to disagree. We’ve both accepted that we parent very differently and that our views on most issues are vastly different but that we don’t want to judge one another (at least not out loud!). Since then things have been fine and I found that we have actually been cordial and supportive of one another. I do think with some kindness and a bit of diplomatic conversation, it is possible to see eye to eye about what’s at the core of it all….that we are all Momma’s trying to do our best and whatever way that is and whatever way works for you, might not work for me and THAT’S OK!! To each her own!

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Melissa June 10, 2010 at 8:23 am

I think it’s a bit dramatic to be calling this violence. It is not violent.

I have been the target of some criticism online, I have been attacked and flamed, but I would not call it violence. It has only made me more confident in my mothering. I have thicker skin now and those critical comments don’t hurt me as much.

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Stephanie Petters June 10, 2010 at 11:16 am

This is so disheartening to read and it is sad that we attack each other for our decisions even though we are all trying the best that we can. Even though we are making decisions that resonate with our family regardless if they resonate with another family. We should value courage in honesty and just validate each other. This is why I am so thankful that API’s forums are respectful of each other and do not do this. They honor each other’s opinions and have a true discussion that is empathetic and supportive. I hope you can at least find some support in API’s forums which are truly supportive of each family and decisions they make for their families.

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Hannah June 10, 2010 at 4:40 pm

This is precisely the reason I avoid message boards. It is violence, emotionally degrading and horrible to face.

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Catalina June 10, 2010 at 4:57 pm

Oh yes! I’ve seen it happen when my kids were younger [they're in their teens now]. Moms can be extremely judgmental and instead of being supportive. I have to admit, I used to turn my nose up to SAHMs who would put their kids in childcare centers for a couple of days a week just to get a break from them. Now looking back, I know I secretly was envious and desperate for that little time to myself. I felt guilty for asking for help when I would get overwhelmed. No more! I’m much more happier and grateful for the ability to ask for help when I need. Funny how time changes how you look at things.

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Brooke @ Parenting from Scratch June 10, 2010 at 7:03 pm

I know that this can happen “in real life,” but it clearly happens more often on the web. It’s amazing how free we are to say whatever we want on any topic at all (whether or not we have any idea what we’re talking about). But this freedom absolutely comes at a price. For the “attacked,” the price can be hurt feelings and a sense of self-doubt. For the “attacker,” the price, I think, is on a deeper level. It’s damaging to the psyche to have such negative feelings toward someone, and even more so to take those feelings out.

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ericka June 10, 2010 at 9:04 pm

i too was banned from a certain group; it was one for child care providers. the original post was that the person couldnt believe a mother would choose to be AP. their comment? “how could an educated person think that this was ok?”

i tried explaining that as an AP parent, i didnt consider myself uneducated and wrong, just simply following my instincts, that i knew my son and what he needed, and didnt see any reason to ignore that; the same way that i would know what my husband needed and give him that too.

needless to say i was completely trashed, smashed and bashed, and banned from posting on the group. the moderator would not only not respond to my emails about the harassment, but would also not remove the offending posts.
i wrote to the owner/operator of the website company, they said the comments had been removed. however, im assuming because i was banned, i couldnt see that it had been removed, i dont know.

its horrid!! i cannot believe someone would actually say that in public. “how can an educated person be AP?”
in my opinion, typically the most educated people ARE AP because they have researched and educated themselves about all the options!!!
infuriating.

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Michele June 11, 2010 at 2:43 am

have experienced this – live it almost every day – except it isn’t just Mom on Mom, it’s family on Mom, it’s husband on Mom, it’s friends on Mom.
From my own Mom – not so much violence – but a difference of opinion – that I’m just trying to be ‘different’.

I didn’t get abuse from a Mom board I was on – but essentially my questions were largely ignored…

Another board I am ‘sort of’ on, access issues abound for some reason. I’ve been flamed a couple of times because of my beliefs that children are to be cherished, not ignored. I didn’t have a child to ignore him.

I try to support my decisions for no sugar – which entails making separate foods for my son from the family – and my OWN PARENTS accuse me of being a ‘fuddy duddy’ (at his birthday party) and not only razz me in front of friends but my own son, who ‘wants sugar’ but doesn’t know why. (and these are people trying to convince me to change my diet bc of family diabetes? go figure?)

Other decisions – accused by my Dad that I am going to ‘sleep with’ my son until he’s 21. Outright angry at that one.

Friends who are moms have saddened me because they have experienced the traumas of some of the issues I am defending – and they defend THEIR decisions to the hilt – and no longer speak to me.

My own Aunt stopped talking to me because I was still BF my son at 13 months. That hurt for a while because she was the one person in the family I could talk to about my parents and other issues. She has now distanced herself from my Mom, and the rest of my family, though I don’t think she has told them why. or maybe she has, because my Dad made a point of bringing up that HE doesn’t believe in BF past 6-12 months.

Mom on Mom INFLUENCE and JUDGMENT wrecks a lot of good practices and intentions for children – simply because of that age old ‘this is how it was done, this is how I did it, this is how you do it, you’re wrong if you don’t do it that way’. I think it is more violence on the child because they are the ones harmed by the fallout and falling out of Moms and families.

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Michele June 11, 2010 at 3:21 am

…sorry about the repost – but the car seat – I SO have to agree about keeping baby rear-facing a LOT longer. It’s not about being able to see my son.

It’s about being an EMT, knowing the laws of physics, and knowing just how strong those neck muscles ARE NOT in a situation of being rear-ended, nevermind a crash.

The body is supported. But in a highway crash – ie: you stop for traffic but the person behind you isn’t so conscientious – is deadly because your baby’s HEAD – which snaps forward (sorry for the graphics here but that IS what happens) is not supported.

And if you think people get uptight about not turning your kid around at 1 year (or whatever poundage they weigh in at), think how uptight they would be if baby weren’t ‘free to look at his world’ because of a safety restraint on their head (just giving a for -instance).

Statistics? yeah, I’ve been handed a bunch of statistics. By the ‘MOM’ who was my child’s pediatrician until this year who even OFFERED ME TIPS ON HOW TO STOP BREASTFEEDING AT AGE 1! Like I was over the limit or something.

Statistics don’t bring a baby back after a crash.

Cars should be totally redesigned for the WHOLE family – and that includes feet room for keeping baby rear-facing much, much longer.

And if your child is not learning social behavior because they are rear-facing all the time, then maybe there’s too much time spent in the car.

OY. If I had more time, I’d expand even more on this topic. I think I put enough here at 0500 hrs though.

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Annie @ PhD in Parenting June 14, 2010 at 8:16 am

What I’m unclear on is where things turn from discussion to disagreement to judgment to violence. I think it is a slippery slope and I think all of those things do exist, but I also think people often interpret disagreement as being something more serious than that. I don’t believe all parenting decisions are equal, but that doesn’t mean that I judge or would be violent towards people who make other choices. I might, however, in an online discussion, express my disagreement.

With regards to message boards, I was a moderator on a message board that did not allow debate of certain topics. I was a way of ensuring that the board did not devolve into heated debates on topics that the board owner (whose “home” it was) felt strongly about, one way or another. I think it is fair for people to set down rules for their own websites.

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Dani Arnold June 18, 2010 at 2:33 pm

it absolutely IS Violence! Violence isn’t not just physical force- it is also emotional and mental and psychological. I can not even count the number of forums, chat boards, facebook groups etc I have left due to this type of violence. and some of these I was administrator or moderator of!! In the end one of my best online friends and I started our own forum and made it known that we wouldn’t tolerate ANY attacking or back stabbing or malicious comments at all.
I find it very sad that women, and people in general, find the need to justify themselves by inflicting others with hate and intolerance.

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The Cloth Diaper Connection June 30, 2010 at 5:00 pm

I see this all the time. I frequent a few different forums and I see moms bashing each other all the time. I really don’t understand it. Maybe moms feel like they can just say whatever they want because they are able to hide behind their computers. It’s really sad, and I for one dont participate in it.

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