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Dear Moms: Let’s do away with the “Dear Mom…” Facebook vent

by Meagan Francis on May 6, 2013

Dear Mom on the iPhone, #DearMom

I see it every day.

“Dear mom whose rambunctious son knocked down my toddler at library storytime…”

“Dear dad who didn’t notice your daughter climbing out of the shopping cart…”

“Dear mother who was on her iPhone at the playground…”

Vague, one-liner complaints aimed at random strangers have become a staple of status updates, tweets and blog posts, a way to vent frustration while also – let’s admit it – feeling a wee bit superior to other moms and dads at times.

True, you don’t have to look far to find examples of bad, sometimes dangerously bad, parenting. Sometimes another person’s actions inconvenience us, or may even hurt us or our children. So what’s wrong with venting?

I’m guilty of my own vent-y one-liner rants about random people such as the woman who sent me the bad PR pitch and the UPS guy who didn’t knock before leaving the “not at home” slip stuck to my door. And maybe, once in a while, a clueless parent who inconvenienced me.

I never gave it much thought until recently, after reading a “Dear moms who: ____” post that left me squirming in my seat and fighting off the urge to defend myself for having once done something similar. I knew the post wasn’t about me, specifically, and yet…it could have been.

Dear Mom with the kid throwing a tantrum in Target...it happens to the best of us. #DearMom

Here’s the thing: Chances are good that, at some point in time, we’ve all done something that might end up the subject of somebody else’s passive-aggressive “dear mom” post.

Sure, the writer might be addressing the specific woman she saw cutting in the school pick-up line in her post, but guaranteed, a bunch of us read it and think “Is she talking about me?”

Has my child ever bowled another over at a playground…maybe without me even noticing (maybe because I was texting!?) Probably.

Have I ever snapped at my child in the checkout line? Almost certainly.

We all do things we regret. We all mess up. We all fail to live up to our own standards. Every single one of us has harmed, or inconvenienced, or just disappointed, another person with our actions.

It sucks to be on the receiving end of bad behavior, and it can be grating to watch somebody who appears clueless or rude, even if it doesn’t directly affect you.

But venting to all 1000+ of your closest friends doesn’t do a thing to fix the situation. The person who did whatever made you angry will almost certainly not see your post (unless if you’re writing a vague post aimed at one of your friends, which is, like, passive aggression to the extreme.) Instead, a bunch of other parents, who may or may not have ever done something similar, will read it and wonder if it refers to them, or if they’ve done anything like it to deserve a vent.

Dear Mom who gave in to the whining child in the checkout line...I've been there. #DearMom

Of course there will be times that we’ll find ourselves rolling our eyes or inwardly groaning at other parents’ behavior. I think that’s only human. But we also have the ability to send a text to a friend or tell our spouses later if we really need to complain, rather than using our social networks as sounding boards.

If an issue is really important to us, we might write a detailed post educating other parents on how ______ affects our families or kids. That approach is so much more likely to start a conversation and change behavior, anyway, rather than just inviting a flurry of pile-on complaints and defensiveness.

Dear Mom in the restaurant with the rambunctious toddler...hang in there. #DearMom

I think we have a real opportunity to create a kinder and more supportive social environment by weighing carefully what we broadcast.

And in the spirit of Mother’s Day, I would love for us to collectively change the meaning of the typical “Dear Mom…” status update.

What if we replaced those “dear so-and-so” vents with supportive messages that any mom can relate to? What if we thought back to a more difficult time in our lives – maybe one where we faced each trip to Target with anxiety over a potential meltdown or did a bad parking job at school pick-up because it always happened during baby’s nap time and we were desperate not to have to get out of the car – and remembered that sometimes, we all make choices that other people might not approve of?

What if we approached those annoying moments with compassion, a sense of empathy, and perhaps some words of support for other moms who are where we’ve been?

Dear Mom struggling to get the double stroller through the door...let me help. #DearMom

Let’s try it. This week, I’d love for you to share one of the Dear Mom graphics in this post on your social networks. Let’s turn the “dear mom…” vent on its head and open up a real conversation about the mistakes we’ve made, the things that bug us and how we can all be part of the solution. If you’d like, tag your posts with #DearMom and/or our Twitter handle @thehappiesthome so they’re easy for us to find and share!

And let’s take it a step further – why not chime in with your own supportive “dear mom” idea? You can leave it in the comments here, or in our discussions on Facebook and Twitter.

To a mom in a tough place, criticism can feel so awful, but simple words of support and understanding can mean so much. I’d love to see these helpful messages spread to counter-balance the negativity that’s out there, and with your help we can really make an impact.

You never know how big a boost they might give a fellow imperfect, but trying-her-best mother in your life.

Dear Mom whose kid knocked my son down at the park...you handled it really well. #DearMom

Note: After writing this post and sharing the images on Facebook and Twitter, I stumbled across a post at The Mom Pledge with a very similar mission to this one! I really respect Elizabeth’s mission at The Mom Pledge and wanted to make sure to call attention to her post…and the fact that she used the hashtag first! If you want to write your own “Dear Mom” post, I encourage you to join in the linkup at The Mom Pledge!

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{ 44 comments… read them below or add one }

Tragic Sandwich May 6, 2013 at 10:47 am

Yes, yes, and yes. I want to start using these right away!

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Shell May 6, 2013 at 11:10 am

I love this. We all have hard moments as moms. And it’s unfair for others to judge based on that one moment- they have no idea what’s really going on or what all led up to that moment that they are judging. Sharing one of these now!

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Meagan Francis May 6, 2013 at 5:36 pm

Thank you Shell!

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Veronica May 6, 2013 at 11:38 am

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I needed to read this at this exact moment in time.

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Susan May 6, 2013 at 1:37 pm

I recently blogged about people passing judgment on my parenting and really wished others can kinder to moms especially if they don’t even know us to criticize us. I really like this and will link up for Dear Mom. Hope you don’t mind me sharing too, http://ajugglingmom.com/please-dont-judge-my-parenting/

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Meagan Francis May 6, 2013 at 5:36 pm

Thanks for sharing, Susan!

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Jenni Chiu @ MommyNaniBooboo May 6, 2013 at 2:23 pm

Yes.
Love.

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Space Norman May 6, 2013 at 4:15 pm

Why do moms feel it necessary to intervene when a kid gets knocked down at the playground? Kids have been getting knocked down at the playground since the beginning of time. Learning how to deal with it on one’s own is a critical life skill. Unless there’s a huge difference in age, weapons involved or a real safety issue … let your kids figure this stuff out on their own.

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Meagan Francis May 6, 2013 at 5:35 pm

I don’t disagree, Norman, but sometimes “handling” a situation like that can just mean taking a deep breath and not freaking out. It might also mean talking to a particularly rambunctious child about being a little more careful around smaller children. I’m all about letting kids do their thing on the playground, but sometimes I do feel inclined to step in when things get out of hand and there are little ones involved. That said, there’s no point judging the mom of a kid who knocks another down. All kids get crazy sometimes!

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val May 6, 2013 at 4:25 pm

Meagan, I feel blessed you are in my life! It’s difficult to affect big change, but if everyone who reads this shares it and *lives* it, what a positive impact this could have. You know I totally agree that a serious issue should be addressed in an educational and non-confrontational manner. We have all been “that” mom at some point. Addressing this issue by reacting with kindness speaks volumes to our children. Also, it’s an excellent example of how we can unite as women.

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Meagan Francis May 6, 2013 at 5:36 pm

Aw, thank you Val. Yes, you’re right, some things do need to be addressed, but it’s the kindness and willingness to put ourselves in another mom’s shoes that makes all the difference.

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Tracy Carson May 6, 2013 at 8:05 pm

Dear Mom that I secretly judge; for being skinner (or more over weight) than me, for having the trendiest baby bag and Rolls Royce of a stroller, for feeding your kids different food than me, for raising your children with different values or beliefs than my own, for being different, and for just assuming when I should instead ask questions…I AM SO SORRY.
We are all in this together and we need community more than criticism (whether silent or not). Next time I am around you, I promise to invite you to coffee instead of dismiss what could be a really beautiful friendship.

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Meagan Francis May 15, 2013 at 4:25 pm

This is lovely.

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Jackie Charley May 7, 2013 at 10:05 am

Brilliant! Will definitely use the graphics.Solidarity is so healing …

A few weeks ago I was so blessed by a friend of mine when we were out having lunch. She’d spotted a mum in the corner of the restaurant with one toddler and one at-breast baby, looking slightly overwhelmed with cups, stroller, toys etc. My friend said she couldn’t leave until she’d told this mum what a brilliant job she was doing breast-feeding in public when so many people disapprove. They had a brief but supportive chat, while I just felt blessed to have a friend who’s not afraid to share her love and affirmation of someone she didn’t even know!

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Meagan Francis May 15, 2013 at 4:27 pm

I love that story! I used to make a point of giving nursing moms at restaurants a supportive look, thumbs-up or a quick “good job, mom!” because I know how uncomfortable it can be to wonder if people around you are judging you. I haven’t been as tuned-in lately (maybe because I’m past the nursing stage myself) but this is a great nudge to start paying attention again!

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Allie May 7, 2013 at 12:46 pm

YES !!!
This gave me chills because who of us hasn’t been that one getting the looks?

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Peg May 7, 2013 at 1:35 pm

Dear Mom of a very tall child,

I heard what those people said about your child’s tantrum. They think because of his size, he’s so much older. His feeling and reactions are age appropriate, and I am right there with you.

Mom of an 11 year old who is 5ft7 and who is still very much a little boy

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Tara May 10, 2013 at 8:23 am

Yes! Thank you Peg! My sweet 3 year old is as tall as many 5 and 6 year olds, and it stinks when people try to hold her to expectations based on her height.

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Elizabeth May 7, 2013 at 1:55 pm

Dear mom whose kid is having a screaming fit on the floor of Target,
It was my kid last week.

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Russ (The Stay At Homer) May 7, 2013 at 3:44 pm

I LOVE this! I seriously spend way too much time being judged by my own children…for not pouring enough cereal, for forgetting to close the refrigerator door (“Dad, you are so mindless!”), for requiring them to clean their room (“Dad, you are such a mean dad!”), and for shaving my beard off, (“Dad, you are ugly! Grow it back!”) The last thing I need is for someone I don’t even know to judge me for something they see in a 30 second window.

Your idea is brilliant, and I, personally, would much rather scroll down and see a graphic that makes me smile, than one that makes me roll my eyes and shake my head.

Thank you!

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Ana May 7, 2013 at 3:47 pm

Oh THANK YOU for this! I absolutely cannot stand those “Dear mom….” posts—even the judge-y blog posts that go to the trouble to explain WHY its so wrong to ignore your kid for 2 minutes. Save the judgement for when you truly know the whole story (or just…save it altogether, in fact!). We all have been there/will be there/but for the grace of god are going there right now….kindness & forgiveness is never a bad response. I will never forget the times a fellow mother has not only cut me a break but leaned over and helped me replace the trash my son pulled out of the can in the doctors’ waiting room (just an example from last week). I am inspired to help out a fellow mom in need.

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Meagan Francis May 15, 2013 at 4:25 pm

You are so right – I’ve never felt regret after showing kindness, understanding, or forgiveness. On those occasions when I’ve been quick to judge or express that judgment, though, I tend to feel uncomfortable afterward. That darn conscience :)

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StephJ May 7, 2013 at 7:53 pm

Dear Mom with the screaming baby on the plane, it’s not your fault. I’ve been there.

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ShannonP May 7, 2013 at 9:08 pm

Dear Mom whose child wasn’t sharing the swings and screaming that it was their turn (when it wasn’t), I’ve been there.

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Natalie May 7, 2013 at 9:33 pm

I tried to think of a “dear mom” to add to the discussion, but I could only think of embarrasing things I or my kids have done. I really can’t think of an instance where I really judged another mom’s parenting. I’m not saying I’m perfect on this regard, I just think I’m too busy harshly judging myself. So how about this, “dear mom beating herself up about her parenting mistakes, I am too. Lets both forgive ourselves and move on.”

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Katie May 8, 2013 at 8:59 am

This is a great post, I agree that as a community of moms we need solidarity and support not disdain and judgment! I’m sharing this on my blog today too, and on facebook because everyone needs to read this- and then maybe I’ll stop seeing negative “Dear Mom” posts in my feed.

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Jocelyn May 8, 2013 at 10:30 am

I debugged this so the thumbnails show up on Facebook. :) Thanks for the great post!

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Meagan Francis May 15, 2013 at 4:24 pm

Thank you Jocelyn!

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cassie Williams May 8, 2013 at 11:54 am

Love this!!!! What a great post!

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Elizabeth Flora Ross May 8, 2013 at 8:16 pm

I love these! Especially the Target one. I mean, who hasn’t been there, dealt with that? Thank you for the shout out about The Mom Pledge meme. Please be sure to come by and link up this awesome post! I just shared w/our community on FB and Twitter. :)

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Stephanie Precourt May 9, 2013 at 8:11 am

I feel the same way when I see those posts- squirmy and defensive and I think it has made me MORE on edge when I am at the park or somewhere and remember someone could be posting about this on FB right now!! We do need to end that! :)

Steph

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Anna May 9, 2013 at 2:14 pm

This is so wonderful and awesome. Sharing it on my FB page – thank you!

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Elizabeth May 9, 2013 at 2:29 pm

My motto this year: Love More. Judge Less.

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Meagan Francis May 15, 2013 at 4:23 pm

I love that, Elizabeth!

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Maggie May 9, 2013 at 2:43 pm

Dear Mom in yoga pants and a pony tail, looking like you haven’t showered in a couple days, just trying to get milk for her screaming kid… It will get better.

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Momchalant May 9, 2013 at 3:22 pm

AMEN to getting the stroller through the door. People just stop, stare, and feel sorry. No help.

These are great. I think that every mom needs to do this.

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Lisa @ The Golden Spoons May 9, 2013 at 3:33 pm

This is great!! Like you said, we are all guilty of less than stellar parenting at times and we should absolutely be more supportive!

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Anna May 10, 2013 at 9:54 am

What a perfect read! More helping, less judging! YES!

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Nicole May 11, 2013 at 2:03 pm

Dear mom ignoring her screaming 3 month old at the grocery store, go ahead of me, I’ve been there.

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Anonnie May 14, 2013 at 7:44 am

Um. You are STILL judging other moms… For judging other moms. You’re really no better than anyone else!

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Meagan Francis May 15, 2013 at 4:23 pm

LOL! I guess that’s one way of looking at it. Or you could read again and see that I admitted I’m guilty of doing this myself, and am suggesting maybe we ALL think more carefully about what we post on our social media accounts.

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Simmyt May 25, 2013 at 2:59 am

Am lying in bed reading these posts in tears have four kids 19-4 and am six weeks gone (and very nervous as i am over 40 )with number 5 . I live in a small town and run a busy business . I feel I am always judged by everyone ! I recently spoke to all the parents in my six year olds class as she kept coming home with head lice and nobody else seemed to be spending hours on their knees at the side of the bath, after that neither her nor her sister has been invited to a party :( I see everyone posting about their kids party’s and I know my girls are never invited and I wish I had kept my mouth shut . I see loveliness and real life on this site. I had a really bad experience with a mummy Internet site. I have three girls and my eldest is a boy. When I found out my last one was another girl I shared my modest disappointment i was bombarded with hateful msgs then my mum died at 59 when I was 24 weeks and then I didn’t care anymore I just wanted a healthy baby (she just crawled in next to me she is blond and blue eyed and just adorable in every way) but I never have ventured back on the web to share anything even when I have felt very lonely . I am anxious about telling ppl I am having another child as I am already given stick for having 4 I am worried that the baby will not be ok and finally yes I would like another boy and will probably have a bit of disappointment if its a girl but I won’t love her any less! Kids are amazing and funny and full of love and wonder . Going to a couple of rock concerts with my son were some of the best moments of my life I don’t believe one regrets the things we do that much just the things we don’t we must be brave and follow our hearts thankyou for inspiring me to post again meaghan and oh I hate swings too !

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Allison @the house of hendrix October 12, 2013 at 10:10 pm

This brought me so much joy! Thank you

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