Becoming a parent is a wonderful experience, but it’s also extremely difficult. There are sleepless nights for months on end, there is rarely time for a shower or a decent meal, and for tired new parents dealing with a baby who won’t eat, sleep or stop crying, there are many questions that need answering. For those who don’t have the option to ask a friend or relative for advice, parents may turn to the next best thing – social media. Little do they know they may have to face a Sanctimommy.
For parenting advice, social media forums often provide great results from other parents who have been there too; those who have found a solution for their own crying or sleepless child. However, along with the helpful tips and “hang in theres” from their newfound peers, parents will also find negative, judgemental, and condescending posts left by a special breed of online bully: the Sanctimommy.
What is a Sanctimommy?
The term Sanctimommy is comprised of two words; ‘sanctimonious’ and ‘mommy,’ and is used to describe someone who is very opinionated about the “right” way to raise children. They give their opinions in a condescending, often hurtful way, and is most often given over social media forums. A Sanctimommy, also referred to as a Mean Mom or a Bully Mom, is a vicious type of online bully, and she is hard to avoid.
With the advent of the internet and the evolution of social media, Sanctimommies have it made. From behind the veil of anonymity that the internet provides them, they can attack their victims effortlessly, all while comfortably sipping their homemade low-fat frappes in front of their computer.
Sanctimommies in their natural habitat: Parenting Forums
The trouble with social media and bullying is that it is so easy to get caught by a bully online. Finding a Sanctimommy is not difficult; often found lurking in the comments section somewhere in your newsfeed, they wait, poised for attack, and will strike if you post a question or comment that goes against their own parenting beliefs.
For example, if you share that you did not breastfeed your baby, a hot topic on many parenting forums, the Sanctimommy will be there to judge you and assure you that you are not only wrong, but you are selfish. Despite studies proving that formula is an acceptable and safe alternative to breastfeeding, Sanctimommies will have endless counter-arguments prepared and will use them, with vigor, against you.
There are many topics that Sanctimommies are passionate about, including but not limited to bottle feeding versus breastfeeding, avoiding medical intervention while in labour, and sleep training. Once they learn that you are parenting in a way they find abhorrent, their metaphorical fists come out swinging.
The Birth of the Mom Bully
Since not all moms are Sanctimommies, why do some people morph into bullies while others don’t?
Dr. Irene Levine, a writer and psychologist made famous by her work as the “Friendship Doctor,” says that most bullies were bullied themselves, and even though they come across as extremely confident in their opinions, it’s often an attempt to cover up their own insecurities. Making others feel worse actually makes them feel more powerful.
In short, they are created in the same way as all bullies. This is the age of information, however, and it’s an environment in which online bullies can thrive. They can use information and words rather than their fists, and the damage, while not superficial, can still leave major bruises on a parent’s psyche.
Are you being mom-bullied?
If you’ve found yourself caught in the line of fire of a Sanctimommy, the best advice is simply not to engage. If you find yourself head to head with a bully, here are some tips:
- Don’t insult them in return. They will always have a rebuttal, and you won’t win the argument. Trust me – they are pros.
- Don’t give in! They don’t have control and as long as you are thinking of your child and your family’s best interests, you aren’t in the wrong.
- Look past their negativity and find support in the many parents that are with you.
- Accept them for who they are. They are a product of their environment and honestly can’t help it. Don’t let it affect you.
Believe in yourself – you are a capable parent.
- Let’s not become them, either. It would be so easy to turn that judgment on its head and revert it back to the Sanctimommy that dealt it, but honestly, doesn’t that make you just as guilty?