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Until a couple of weeks ago, I’d heard women muttering about them but I’d never personally encountered the Parenting Sheriffs of Instagram. These are the self-appointed guardians of children and babies they don’t know but are extremely concerned about.
These heroes are compelled to leave comments on the posts of people they follow and alert them to the various ways in which they are placing their child in danger or, just, doing parenting wrong. Or in my case, grandparenting.
For context, I was looking after Luna, my granddaughter, and she was cracking it because she’s a baby and cracking it is a big part of her job.
My friend, Sally Hepworth, had popped over for a cup of tea and together, using a tried and tested and occasionally effective combo of rocking, patting, white noise and a bottle (also maybe singing?) we were trying to help her stop cracking it.
Between us, Sally and I have six children.
And yet. Can you identify all the things wrong in that video? I’ll wait because there are so many, it may take you a while.
Oh wait! Here are some helpful observations from the Sheriffs to get you started:
It’s not clear how I was able to raise my three children almost to adulthood without the kind and thoughtful input of strangers. Insta wasn’t invented back then so I was forced to muddle through.
But I’m relieved that in this new life stage where I’m once again (at times) responsible for the welfare of an infant, there are so many people so determined to help a sister out.
Apparently, this is a thing, according to my friends with young kids. If you post a photo of your baby or child on social and your followers aren’t just your friends and family (but maybe also even then?), the unsolicited advice rolls in. And while Sally and I could laugh about it (oh how we laughed), that’s only because we have been mothers long enough to feel fairly confident about our parenting. Or, possibly because we’re older and we’ve encountered far worse criticism online. Like that time someone commented on Twitter, "Mia Freedman is the load her mother should have swallowed."
Also probably because we’ve had so much practice feeling insecure, guilty, anguished and anxious about being good mothers and while those feelings still pop up sometimes, nothing a stranger can say about jiggling too much are as bad as the horrible things we’ve said to ourselves.
What about newer mothers, though? I suspect they might not be able to brush off the scolding quite so easily.
Always though, I like to give concern trolls the benefit of the doubt. They must genuinely think they are helping. And the only thing women like to do more than helping is for other people to see them helping. Thus the performative nature of the Parenting Sheriffs of Instagram.
By pointing out problems with the way other people are doing it, the Sheriffs passive-aggressively appoint themselves experts which they presumably think will be appreciated by the woman they’re criticising. Except it almost never is. So maybe slow your roll.
Not everyone who saw my post was worried for the welfare of an extremely well-loved and cared for baby, however.
The Monet? Yes, the Monet. Which was hung so casually above the fire place.
Featured Image: Mia Freedman/Mamamia.
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