Recently, one my guy friends (who is a father) posted a meme poking fun at a topic I’ve been wanting to write about for a while now: mom groups. I had been struggling to find the time to sit down and do it but once I saw this, I knew it was a sign. For those of you who don’t know, there are several closed groups on Facebook that pertain to distinct types of moms – the working mom, the stay-at-home mom, the breastfeeding mom — you name it, there is a group for it. They are meant to act as support groups for women going through similar experiences. When I first had Zelda, a friend of mine prompted me to join a specific group. She told me it had over 40,000 amazing moms from all walks of life and would be an invaluable resource for gaining diverse perspectives on questions I might have as I began motherhood.

Why is there so much negativity in mom groups?

1. DON’T MAKE A POSITIVE A NEGATIVE

I joined the group and began to observe its members interactions. I quickly noticed something that I found disturbing: negativity. Every post or comment seemed to have a negative undertone to it – it was a parenting phenomenon. Why was this happening? In one post, a woman was complaining that her child’s teacher had asked them to attend school dressed in a special holiday outfit. The mom was complaining because she didn’t have time to find a holiday sweater for her child. Six hundred moms jumped on the thread and began ranting about teachers. They were making outlandish claims, all stemming from a teacher trying to do something fun and festive.

2. DON’T SEEK MEDICAL ADVICE

In other posts, I’ve seen countless moms post pictures of a child’s rash to seek medical advice from other moms. Every single time I see this I want to write, “CALL YOUR FREAKING PEDIATRICIAN. WHY ARE YOU ASKING A GROUP OF STRANGERS?!” Mom forums are not the place to seek medical advice. Would they walk down the street and show their child’s rash to a random stranger and ask if they need to seek medical attention? No, they would not! No matter how much online communication has taken place, people in Facebook forums are strangers — and they are certainly not medical professionals. This is the time to turn to a pediatrician and not a mom group. Call a pediatrician or write an email instead of posting on an open forum! This drives me crazy but if I were to comment every time I saw a post like this, I would waste my entire day.

3. DON’T AIR YOUR DIRTY LAUNDRY

The other type of post that is all too common? Moms airing their personal business on “private” Facebook groups. There is nothing private about Facebook and odds are, someone knows someone who knows you in the group. If you were standing in a stadium filled with 60,000 would you walk centerstage, grab the microphone and air the same dirty laundry? The answer is a firm hell no. Moms need to keep their affairs and personal issues off Facebook groups. That type of behavior will negatively affect them in the future – you never know how it will come out. This is information that should be shared with friends or a small support group (not on the internet).

When posting on open forums, it’s also important to remember that just because someone disagrees, it doesn’t mean one or both parties is wrong. Everyone has an opinion and we should all be able to share our ideas. Acceptance and open-mindedness is key. Welcome the feedback of others because it’s how we all learn. Moms shouldn’t attack other moms simply because they don’t agree with their ideas. If you’re posting to obtain advice, you must be open to all opinions. If all these moms would take out the combativeness, open their hearts and be more positive it would be a much more constructive use of time.

Let me be clear, not all these groups are negative and many of them provide valuable support. If you’re part of this circle, you know which ones thrive on pessimistic attitudes. I recently found myself falling into a bad hole, where I was using these forums for my own entertainment. I was reading through posts because I was in utter shock at what people were posting. I quickly realized I was wasting my time and entertaining myself with something unhealthy. Instead, I began devoting my attention to blogs I enjoy. I began learning a lot more and it was a much more constructive use of my time.

I would love to hear your thoughts on mom forums. I’m not trying to call any group out by name – that is not what this post is about. I simply want to remind parents to take a step back, not act out of emotion and process thoughts before hitting the button to post. If you’ve taken a breath and still want to share, then do it. I’ve found my email drafts box is a beautiful thing. I write things down to get them out of my system and then evaluate. That is all I have to say and I’m so excited for a positive 2018!