There’s enough evidence on the internet to demonstrate it’s not very wise to go on a blind rant and post it for the public to see. But my notes have taken a battering from my thumbs about a particular subject on this train home and I’m going to do it anyway, so bear with me.
“Holly Willoughby sparks parenting debate after The Streets gig” is what I read on a well-known newspaper’s website last week. ‘What did she do?’ I thought to myself. Start a mosh pit? Do a Moss and get caught sniffing a suspicious substance? Get a tattoo of Mike Skinner’s name on her arse cheek? (The paper had my pants down and lured me into yet another ridiculous celebrity name and shame article). No. She went out, with a mate, to a gig.
The unwanted rise of the ‘parent shamer’
An army of ‘mummy shamers’ (unfortunately yes that is a bloody thing in this day and age) took to Holly’s Instagram comments to deliver abuse at the fact that Miss Willoughby had decided to let her hair down on a school night, leaving her children at home (how dare she?!). Let’s dig a bit deeper. Now, had she been pictured at a charity event or walking out of a night dedicated to saving orphaned Donkey’s in the third world, the perspective would have been very different – “what a hero”, “good to see her giving back”, “a hero to morning TV and orphaned Donkeys” they would digitally praise. But because it’s a night of socialising with a friend, probably some booze thrown in and evidence on Instagram to go with it, suddenly the ‘mummy shamer’ trolls come out from under their bridge to give their two cents.
If you can’t say anything nice…
“Works hard certainly plays hard. Missing out on time with her kids that’s sad they must miss her no replacement for mom…” (Why comment?!). So what are we saying here? Does our social activity stop when we become parents, do we have to accept scrutiny if we step outside for once without our child? Is Dad being present not enough on this occasion? Our child doesn’t become a ball and chain in human form that stops us networking with human of our own age ever again.
I’m not here to fight Willoughby’s corner, I imagine she gets this kind of shit all the time and ignores it. But it raises a topic I’ve felt strongly about since becoming a dad. “We’ll never see you again”, “oh that’s it, your nights out are over” – popular comments from mates and people you know when they find out you’re a parent to be. You’re almost ruled out from the word go by some. Everyone is different, but your nights out being over is usually due to prioritising sleep over pints and not because I feel I’m not allowed. Like many things, life is about balance, I don’t go out half as much as I used to because these days it takes me 5 days to recover rather than the 40 mins it used to take me 5 years ago (I’m not getting old!).
It’s difficult to understand and tolerate parents that scrutinise other parents. I’ve not been on the receiving end of it thankfully, but having a child and writing this blog means over the last 12 months I have been privy to more content where these ‘mummy shamers’ and competitive parents exist. The hateful & judgmental comments are rife.
Stop pointing the finger
Now I’m not stupid (honestly), I know these headlines are designed to prey on the weak, like me who at the time of reading was restricted to my desk due to the god awful weather the UK is producing right now. But the content was unfortunately in line with what the headline was saying and showed the scrutiny people like Willoughby come under just for being a parent. I’m aware she’s in the public eye, but these comments exist amongst us “normal folk” as well. Having kids is tough enough, whether you head up a national breakfast TV show or work in the local shop, being a mum shamer/dad shamer/parent troll and throwing your accusations is no different to standing in the street and pointing at a parent whose child has just fallen over and shouting “LOOK!, LOOK!, they’re doing it wrong!”, the only difference is you’re hiding behind a screen.