Here’s How it Feels to Get Hateful Online Comments About My Parenting
By Janice Quirt
Photo © jjuneai.24/Twenty20
Jul 9, 2018
We are always teaching our kids right and wrong, and at an early age, we tell them that honesty is right, and dishonesty is wrong. And yet as parents, how comfortable are we with our own personal truths? How amenable are we to admitting or sharing that life is not always perfect family moments, harmonious marriages and generally being happy and healthy?
As a writer, it’s only been recently that I have taken a more personal bent in my articles and blogs, discussing everything from being a non-drinking mom to the loneliness that can accompany parenthood. I used to stick with writing about products, services, events, crafts and activities. Pretty objective stuff, that, while useful for parenting, rarely provoked a strong response from my readers. But having turned to personal essays and attempting to be really quite honest with my offerings, there has been a greater reaction.
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I have very thin skin when it comes to criticism, and after naively diving in to read the responses to some of my latest articles, I now have a sign at my desk that reads “Don’t Read the Comments.” That’s because a few too many of them have been hurtful personal attacks. I don’t really need to be made to feel worthless by someone, let alone a person I have never met.
When I write, I consider it an offering of my approach, thoughts, ideas and values. I’m not trying to convince anyone that my way is best, or to have them change what they are doing. Rather, I’m expressing the path I have chosen to take.
But parenting is a community with a wide array of opinions, and I have found that in choosing to be honest, it has struck a deep chord with some. Reactions have ranged from anger to insults to discomfort. And it is that last one that I have encountered among people who know me.
I don’t really need to be made to feel worthless by someone, let alone a person I have never met.
I think that people aren’t entirely comfortable being honest about their lives and the fact that they aren’t all Pinterest-perfect photos and storybook family dynamics. However, if I’m going to write about parenting, then I want to write my truth. And the fact is, not every day is a picnic. It’s tough, I make mistakes and I want to learn from them and share what I think I have learned.
Thankfully, there has been some positive response. I have received Facebook messages from contacts I haven’t spoken to in years, reaching out to discuss an idea or an article I wrote and to share their similar experiences, or to applaud my honesty. I have received messages from strangers thanking me for the perspective and sharing their own emerging truths about parenting and relationships and sticky societal issues like non-drinking or not being comfortable with gender or racial stereotypes. My friends have held me up and reinforced that honesty is OK, and it’s important to share feelings. And I have made new friends from admitting that I’m lonely and I need some help here.
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I don’t write these articles to try to gain agreement within the vast, multi-faceted parenting community. I don’t write them for attention, or to waste anyone’s money. I write because that’s what I do. I write what I know and feel, because that’s what writers do — or should do. I’ve learned to be unflinchingly honest about the fact that my life is not perfect, and I am a work in progress as a parent and family member. And so yes, it hurts when people take the time to roast me in the comments. It’s not a great feeling, and one that I’m slow to recover from. It’s certainly not the type of behaviour I think we’re teaching our kids, and yet for some reason we’re fine to do it as adults.
But because I’m teaching my kids about honesty and living their own truths, rather than the roles that society seems to expect and uphold, I can’t be anything less. I know that for every person I irritate, I have been relatable to someone else. That’s diversity. That’s parenting. And that’s honesty.
Let me know what you think in the comments. I won't read them.