There's really no way to win when you're a parent in the public eye. On the one hand, it seems to be a given that your fans are going to want to see as many kid-related updates as humanly possible. But sharing those updates will almost always leave you wide open to all sorts of criticism. On Thursday, Little People, Big World star Jeremy Roloff shared a new photo of Ember on Instagram in celebration of his daughter turning 9 months old, and it probably should have just been seen as a sweet post shared by a proud dad. But as usual, Roloff faced some judgment for the pic from followers, according to CafeMom — this time, for the way he was holding his daughter in the photo.
In addition to being known for appearing on a reality show, Roloff and his wife, Audrey, have always had a pretty strong social media game, so it was no surprise that the arrival of their daughter has meant plenty of regular, adorable updates and photos of the young family looking perpetually cute and perfect. But whether it's pushback against their enviable-looking life, or simply that everyone seems to have an opinion when it comes to parenting, the couple's posts usually attract some less-than-supportive comments.
In Roloff's pic, baby Ember is looking super adorable dressed in a floral dress with a pink bow on her head, against a backdrop of dark green leaves (perhaps taken during the family's recent trip to Hawaii?). Ember is being held up in the photo by her dad, who appears to be hiding behind the leaves, and the effect is pretty cool — except that the only part of Roloff that can actually be seen is his hand, which is basically holding Ember up by the crotch.
Of course, Roloff's post was intended to be nothing more than a loving tribute to his infant daughter, and in the caption, he mused about the way "9 months has come and gone," and wrote that he was "so honored" to be Ember's dad. He even jokingly asked about how to deal wth "cute aggression" — aka the feeling of wanting to "eat" or "squish" something adorable, like a baby or a tiny animal, according to The Independent — adding, "let me tell ya, it’s a real thing!" (Roloff may be relieved to know that scientists think cute aggression is a totally normal mechanism used by humans to try to regulate their emotions, mainly so that we aren't all overcome by cuteness 24/7.)
But as relatable as his post was for anyone who's ever felt like they could just chomp on their baby's cheeks for a lunchtime snack, there were also plenty of commenters who seemed far too distracted by Roloff's hand in the photo to even get the joke. One Instagram user left a comment that read, "this is no way to hold a child," while another wrote, "OK so the HAND is AWKWARD." Others felt that they should have at least ensured that Ember's dress covered her dad's hand in the photo, arguing that it looked "creepy" as-is, while some straight-up thought it should have either been Photoshopped, or deleted entirely. And at least one user was seriously concerned that the pose would have been uncomfortable:
If he had a baby boy he wouldn't hold him like that because it would probably be painful....news flash...girls groin area is just as sensitive. Don't like it, doesn't look right and he shouldn't do it whether it's his child or not.
Of course, the notion that the pic was in anyway inappropriate or creepy likely never even entered Roloff's mind, and it certainly doesn't look like Ember is bothered by the way she is being held. If nothing else, the couple probably just thought holding her up in front of the leaves would make for a really cool photo, and the fact that anyone else would have thought differently is probably more a result of the way people seem to love to criticize both parents and people online in general (which kind of makes the Roloffs perfect targets).
But while it might not help matters entirely, it could at least be somewhat comforting for the couple to know that they're far from being the only ones who have to deal with that kind of commentary: celeb parents like Chrissy Teigen and Kim Kardashian are well-accustomed to receiving tons of judgment about their parenting, while for other reality stars, like the Duggars, fending off unsolicited comments stemming from their Instagram posts must pretty much feel like a full-time job.
Chances are though, that at this point, Roloff is at least somewhat used to having strangers weigh in on details of his posts that he didn't even notice or think about, and hopefully, he's able to brush it off. But given that he's also a real person with feelings who simply loves his daughter and who happens to want to share that with the viewers who continue to follow his story on TV? It seems the least some of his followers could do is keep their more judgmental opinions to themselves.