I respect the people who choose not to post about their children on social media, but I'm not one of them. I try not to focus too much on any one topic, but my children take up a lot of my time and energy, so I have a lot to say about them. I'll share something funny they say or brag about a new milestone or accomplishment and, of course, post pictures. I also have some basic rules for commenting on Facebook pictures of my child, because some of you are making this really, really weird.
Now, just to be clear: most of the time there's no issue. Most people seem to intuitively know how to correctly react and respond to pictures of children on social media. They say nice things, or they post gifs of cartoon characters with hearts in their eyes. You know, the usual. And, for the most part, posting pictures of my children on social media generates some truly great conversations that make me, and moms like me, feel less alone on this island we call parenthood.
When there is a problem, however, it's twofold and often difficult to navigate. Social media etiquette is sometimes unclear (reasonable) and people can be sensitive about their children, so the usual rules of social etiquette don't always apply (also reasonable). So before you comment on that picture your college roommate posted of their 2-year-old daughter, make sure you're obeying all of the following social media commandments:
Don't Be Mean
I feel like this should go without saying but I don't take anything for granted anymore because, well, the general state of the planet right now is, shall we say, precarious. Even if you're just being sarcastic, don't be mean. While no one loves sarcasm and good-natured ribbing more than I do, generally speaking, that doesn't come across super well when it's directed at children.
Unless I know you and your brand of humor super-duper well, maybe stay away from anything that could be construed as mean-spirited, even if that's not how you mean it. And even if I do know your sense of humor, maybe think twice, because you never know what's going to send someone into full Mama Bear mode.
Don't Criticize My Parenting (In Public)
There are so many parenting rules. Some of these "rules" are just a matter of opinion, like breastfeeding versus formula feeding. Others, however, are more defined, like best practices for car seat safety.
It's hard to keep track of everything you're supposed to be doing and, as such, sometimes people make actual mistakes. But the comments section on a picture of someone's child is not the place to let them know that: this is what private messaging or texting is for, people. Even if you're right, a call-out like that is probably going to make the other person defensive, which is a great way to get them to ignore you completely. So if you see someone, say, has buckled their kid in wrong and you really want them to know the proper way, message them if you must.
(And, for the love of God, only do this if it's an actual rule and not a "rule.")
Don't Be Passive Aggressive
Some people will try to get their point across indirectly, which is almost worse than a straight up call-out. For example, if someone posts a picture of their kid eating pureed banana, you don't need to respond by publicly commenting, "Oh wow! I thought the AAP said you shouldn't start solids until 6 months. Am I wrong?"
You're not being sneaky. Again, if you're really and truly concerned about something, just text them privately or something. And, please, be as non-judgmental as possible. Just pass along information.
If you're thinking, "I don't even think I have their number," then perhaps, perhaps, you're not in a social position to be the person to talk to them about their parenting choices?
Stay On Topic
The comments section under a picture of my kid is not the space to ask if we're still on for lunch on Friday, or if I'm available to volunteer at the PTO fundraiser, or to let me know that your political candidate is the superior choice in the upcoming primary. The comments is not the only way to get in touch with me. It's not even the best way to get in touch with me!
Don't Try To One-Up
Like, if I post a picture of my 8-year-old son learning how to ride a bike without training wheels, please don't come in and talk about how your kid literally came out of your vagina on a unicycle or whatever. Feel free to celebrate your child's accomplishments on your own wall, but let other people enjoy the spotlight in their own spaces.
Though, seriously, if you did push out your kid on a unicycle please post the video because that sounds awesome/hysterical/terrifying and I want to see it.
Don't Have A Whole-Ass Conversation In The Comments
Time. And. Place. People. Come on! Especially if you're having a conversation with someone who is not me in the comments of my picture. Take it to DM, for goodness sake! I'm tired of getting pinged every other minute.
Don't Be Sexist
If someone posts a picture of their daughter, don't respond with an outdated, "Oh lord! Time to get a shotgun to chase the boys away!" And if someone posts a picture of their son in a tutu, don't comment, "LOL! he'd better not do that once school starts, unless you want him to get beat up!"
Let kids be kids without putting weird adult concepts in the way of that.
Grandmas & Aunties Are Graded On A Curve
Bless their hearts, they just don't get social media. Sometimes that's really troubling, like when they keep posting memes that don't make sense, but other times it's endearing and adorable, as when they make comments on a picture of a grandbaby like, "God bless baby Tyler! You're getting so big! Grandpa and grandma love you so much! Jamie, do you have my casserole dish? I think I might have left it at your house when we came to visit. I have knee surgery tomorrow! Love, grandma!"
Like, I'm going to be OK with that because it's amazing and I hope that when I get old I hope I'm out of touch in an adorable way, too.
Look, I know my kid is adorable, but it's fun to know when other people do, too. Let's be honest: this is a big reason (if not the only reason) we put stuff on social media. We want to hear other people say our kids are as amazing as we know they are. Some people complain about that, but I think putting some positivity and adorable babies out in the world is an overall good thing.