The Internet is the New Battleground of the “Mommy Wars” says Elizabeth Flora Ross (Guest Post)

CiviliNation occasionally publishes guest posts from individuals who want to add their voice to the discussion about online discourse and cybercivility. While the publishing of these posts should not be considered an endorsement by the organization, we welcome people’s contributions to this important topic.

Elizabeth Flora Ross blogs about her struggles and successes as a writer and mother at The Writer Revived. In 2011 she launched The Mom Pledge, an online campaign to eradicate cyber bullying among moms. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.

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More than seven decades after it all began, the so-called “Mommy Wars” are going stronger than ever. Blogging and social media have added a new dimension to the conflict, and competition among moms has spread far beyond the traditional work-or-stay-at-home debate. Today, every parenting decision a mother makes is open to attack, and there are no winners.

There are certain topics, like breastfeeding, that predictably bring controversy. How the issue is approached is important. When writer Nichole wrote a post on Babble about her thoughts on breastfeeding, she hoped to generate a thoughtful discussion about the pros and cons. Things did not go as she planned. She received a strongly negative response and was accused of being a bully.

Blogger Jill at Baby Rabies knows all to well the wrath that can be incurred from sharing a seemingly normal and innocuous parenting decision via the Internet. Shortly after Jill’s post on letting her 13-month-old cry it out went live and was shared on her blog’s Facebook page, a firestorm erupted. She received more than 200 comments on the post itself and women flocked to her FB page to condemn her.

Sometimes, simply sharing a moment from the day-to-day life of a parent can attract unwanted and negative attention. Humor writer Leslie was taken aback when a satirical post she wrote about a trip to the grocery store attracted a small but extremely hostile group to her blog. Not everyone was laughing, and they let her know it.

Over 34 million moms are online, and that number is expected to rise at least 12% each year (eMarketer). They are one of the largest internet user segments in America and spend twice as much time online as the general population  – 66 hours a month on average (Nielson). While online, moms most frequently visit parenting/family sites. Eighty percent of moms use social media regularly, with three out of four moms visiting Facebook in a month (Nielson).

The Internet is the new battleground of the “Mommy Wars.” The modern mom is likely to connect more often with other moms online than in person. And everywhere moms go online, there is conflict. Any mom who has spent time online has likely participated in or witnessed it.

The stay-at-home versus work issue that launched the “Mommy Wars” years ago continues to be the key source of debate between moms. However, many other parenting issues have generated conflict. Results from an online poll I conducted late last year revealed these top issues:

It wasn’t long after I began to blog and spend time on social media sites I noticed the conflict. I was rarely a target, but I saw the way women were interacting online and didn’t like it. In 2011, I launched the Take The Pledge campaign, an online movement to eradicate cyber bullying among moms and encourage civil discourse on parenting topics. The Mom Pledge is a set of principles moms commit to following in all their online activities.

My work online has evolved into a book, which I am currently working to get published. Cacophony: How The Mommy Wars Have Reached New Heights Online and Today’s Mom Simply Cannot Win seeks to unify mothers and build a community based on respect, understanding and acceptance. It will provide women with the tools they need to communicate more effectively online. To help moms put aside their differences and engage in real dialogue. So that we can stop screaming, start listening and move forward together.

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