Facebook Mummy Groups: Do they really help anyone?
- Parents Only
By Hayley Dean, ellaslist
Surely, I’m not the only woman who, before having children, had no idea of the existence of Mummy Facebook Groups? Yet once I became pregnant, I had every mother and their dog telling me to join. So, I did. I joined the one for my area, which at the time, had less than 1000 members and the knowledge I gained was invaluable.
I don’t have to tell you that when you become pregnant for the first time, the volume of information received from medical professionals (and well-meaning family members) is overwhelming. You have no idea what half the words mean, and people are suddenly talking about your private parts in a very public way. For me, finding Mummy Facebook Groups seemed a small blessing. It was the space I needed to find answers to embarrassing questions and find feedback on services and products. You are around others who understand your stage of life and if feels great.
The growth of Facebook support groups
Time and time again I have (unfortunately) witnessed victims of Domestic Violence reach out for help and the community rally behind her. Completely at the end of their tether, I’ve witnessed mothers express sorrow to a room full of women who are actually listening when she speaks. They guide her, they respect her, and in that moment, they save her. I have personally made sure to buy goods from members who have started their own business because I wanted to show my support.
The miracles these Facebook mother’s groups can perform are simply beautiful.
In the beginning, these Mummy Facebook Groups felt like I’d found utopia.
And then, they didn’t.
The group now has over 20,000 members. That’s insane to me and I’m sure the Mum who started the group would agree. And not only has this group just exploded in size, there are also many similar local groups set up for various areas around the city.
I still cannot believe how wonderful mums can be
We are all struggling, we are all tired, we are all faking it till we make it yet somehow, we still have the capacity to help other mums when they need it. We donate clothes, nappies, our time, our advice, our wisdom. We open our homes, our cars, our wallets, our minds, our hearts.
And then we don’t.
I also cannot believe how quickly the most simple, innocent post can turn nasty;
“Where’s the best place to park at the Hospital?"
”Why not catch public transport? It’s better for the environment”,
“OMG Can you please not park in the emergency parking?”
“My sisters husband’s brother went there and said its horrible, go to another hospital instead”
“Have you tried natural alternatives first? I just wouldn’t rush into emergency”
“Seriously, Google it”
“Seriously ladies, she is just asking a simple question. NO need to get bitchy”
“Who are you calling a bitch? You don’t know me”
- Etc etc etc
Blogger Constance Hall famously lashed out at the vile side to Facebook groups in her Sunday Times article. She has had her fair share of death threats and called the most revolting names for being open and honest about her life as a mother.
I myself have copped a fair share of attacks, as I’m sure others have too. I once responded to a mothers call out for help. In my mind, I answered the post in a friendly, honest way. Within seconds I was being attacked and called some seriously questionable names by mothers who felt I was, well wrong. The irony of it all – here I was being bullied for apparently being a bully. Alanis Morisset eat your heart out.
Why do we rip each other apart?
Why on earth are we so nasty to each other? I honestly don’t know the answer.
As women we are so much stronger together but as mothers, we seem to be so alone. The sense of guilt we feel for literally everything, seems to take control of, well literally, everything. Constance Hall is repeatedly encouraged to kill herself, this from the same parents who equally post profile pics encouraging others to “speak even when your voice breaks”. Why?! Why on earth does anyone even think they have that sort of power over another?
It’s no secret that Mummy Facebook groups are now big business. Most have an accompanying website that offers advertising packages to small businesses and brands. They make money from website banners, from attending events for PR companies and for giving their “opinion” on products and services. The more followers in their social media accounts, the more money they are able to charge. Does this make them less trustworthy? Well that’s really all in the eye of the beholder but it does pay to know all the facts.
So, who do Facebook groups really help?
The new mum? The corporates or the local small businesses? The isolated woman who is privately struggling? Or the over confident mother who just has something to say on every subject?
I think the real answer is, in fact, all of the above.
It takes a village to raise a child, but does that village really need to be so virally spread?
Think before you type
To those women who feel they have been attacked on these groups, I say this – do not let these women define you as a mother or as a female. If you choose to parent differently to the flock, that really is ok. My partner and I practise attachment parenting and would never ever dream of control crying, but we acknowledge that others do. We have always been of the opinion that respect is of utmost importance.
To those women who feel it’s ok to openly attack others online, I say this – write what you have to say, then pause, read it back out loud to yourself several times. If what you have written is something you’d hate to have said to you, then delete it. Remember, what you write defines who you are as a woman and no one else.
And finally, to all mothers who are members of a Facebook Mummy Group, I say this: Just Be Kind to One Another.