It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single woman in possession of a child must be in want of your criticism. How else could I explain the sheer amount of unsolicited advice I receive on a near-daily basis since becoming a single mum?
As a blogger who gets hundreds of thousands of views each month, many strangers read about my personal life. I don’t think about it too much — mostly, I just think about writing as my job — and as a general rule, if it's cathartic for me to write, I suspect it’s going to help someone else who reads it.
As a result of my writing, I receive a surprising amount of emails and messages across social media. Even on channels I don’t associate with my work.
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While some folks want my help, there’s a large faction of people trying to tell me how to mother better.
Yesterday, a message request popped up on Facebook Messenger while I was working from my phone.
Curious, I opened up the request and for the first time in my life the expression “my blood ran cold” finally made sense. Because that’s just what happened to me when I read this:
“You are literally abusing your child. Please seek counseling! What you are doing is monstrous.”
My brain quickly tried to make sense of the words and what was happening. I looked at the woman’s Facebook profile and didn’t recognise her name or photo. We liked a few of the same pages, but shared no mutual friends.
Now, I didn’t have to respond to some random stranger, obviously. But come on — abusing my daughter? I’m afraid I’m not grown enough to let that one go without finding out what she meant.
“What on earth are you talking about?”
I sat there like a dope, just waiting for this stranger to respond. Recently, I’ve made more posts on Facebook about funny incidents at home. I even uploaded some videos to Instagram. Sh*t! I wondered what anyone could have found so offensive.
She finally replied.
“The article you wrote on [redacted] about alienating your child from their father. It’s emotional abuse and you need very serious help.”