Online Networks and Social Change

Mums’ Groups and the Patriarch: How online parenting communities reinforce patriarchal expectations of mothers

This paper explores the positive and negative implications of mothers using online parenting communities on Web 2.0 platforms such as blogs, forums and Facebook. I will argue that while there is evidence that shows these communities are a source of support for most members, there is a negative side that perpetuates patriarchal motherhood and traditional gender norms that can have a harmful effect on the users and how they interact within these communities. By reviewing studies based on the interactions within the forum Mumsnet as well as the act of Sharenting on Facebook and Dad authored blogs, I argue that there is a culture of competitiveness and elitism among mothers, driven by white culture and patriarchal traditions within these communities, further engraining these ideals into the community.

Key Terms:
Patriarch, online communities, forums, Web 2.0, motherhood

Since the late ‘90s, parents have been engaging in online parenting communities via chat rooms, forums and, social media sites such as blogs and Facebook (Scheibling, 2020, p.472). These platforms have provided a space for parents to share experiences and get advice or support. While parents garner support from such platforms, there is a dark side to online parenting communities that often reinforces patriarchal parenting styles (Freidman, 2010, p3.52), lacks diversity, and promotes the ideals of “Intensive Mothering” (Gibson, 2019 as cited in Hays, 1998). They also celebrate the “Super-Dad” simply for being involved (Scheibling, 2020, p.486). The result of these ideals is often a culture of “Sharenting” (Steinberg, 2017, p.842), marked by competitiveness, and superiority (de los Santos et al., 2019). Members and their interactions within online parenting communities are not always about seeking or giving support but often reinforce patriarchal expectations of mothers. There is a culture of competitiveness and elitism among mothers, driven by white culture and patriarchal traditions within these communities, further engraining these ideals into the community.

The rise of information and communication technologies opened new possibilities for expression within communities (Chua et al., 2014, p.201). The internet in the late ‘90s saw a surge in online forum-based communities (Scheibling, 2020, p.472) which became more tangible and socialized with the inception of Web 2.0 technology (Chua et al. 2014, p.203). In this online space, the possibilities of forming communities are extended by eliminating the issues of proximity, giving users a chance at finding their own community and sense of belonging (Delanty, 2011, p.207). These communities became a critical source of support, especially to parents who feel isolated (Pederson & Smithson, 2010, p.91). Many platforms also encouraged mother-centric parenting forums and the “Mummy Blog”. Mummy blogs and forums create a space for mums to find solace and support in shared experiences of frustration, boredom, coping strategies and “mum-guilt” (Orton-Johnson, 2017, p.2). No longer bound by time and space, mothers became more social in online communities because they can interact and contribute despite the time-consuming demands of parenting (Friedman, 2010, p.354-356). Early mother-centric forums provide a good example of how mothers can build a supportive online community.

Forum-based communities such as Mumsnet provide an unrestricted place for mums to freely post about their lives and experiences as mothers, providing and receiving support (Pederson & Smithson, 2013, p.88). While early examples of mother-centric blogs and forums like Mumsnet tend to show mothers focusing only on the positive aspects of motherhood (Therriault, 2014, p.49-50), there has been a shift in the diversity of experiences being shared by mothers to be more open and honest (de los Santos et al., 2019). Gibson (2019) ascertains that mothers can freely publicise their maternal identity online, and Mumblogs and Facebook are the most common places where users feel safest to share their experiences. Facebook has been a positive force for mothers in online communities, giving a voice to those who may not be literarily apt enough to write a blog themselves (Gibson, 2019). However, bubbling under the supportive and freeing surface of online parenting communities is a culture of comparing, Sharenting, and elitism tied to the patriarchal ideals perpetuated within these communities.

These communities aim to empower mothers in their parenting journey, however, often the elitist ideals dominate reinforcing the impossible expectations of the perfect parent (Friedman, 2010, p.355). A study by Pederson and Smithson (2010) suggests that online parenting communities do provide valuable support for mothers, especially those without strong ties to their local community or family. The same study, however, highlights the ambiguous nature of such support. Interactions within online parenting communities have been criticised for not providing adequate support of the same value as face-to-face interactions for a mother in need (Friedman, 2010, p.360). Still, despite this, mothers are constantly seeking information and support online (Friedman, 2010, p.352). The more that women need their identity as a mother confirmed and validated in online communities, the more they use online communities and social media such as Facebook. Their expectations of other members can be unrealistic often requiring comments and likes to meet their emotional demands (Schoppe-Sullian et al., 2017, p.285). This need combined with the unmoderated nature of these communities leads to confrontational and opinionated debating (Orton-Johnson, 2017, p.1) as well as anti-social behaviour in online communities. This kind of behaviour includes self-promoting actions such as seeking social support more than providing it and responding irrationally to situations when positive attention has not been received (Carpenter, 2011, p.486). The nature of these behaviours leads to members performing a persona reserved only for interacting in these communities and perpetuating the perfect mother myth.

Mother-centric online communities tend to set ideals of contradictory standards resulting in judgment and condemnation (Orton-Johnson, K, 2017, p.2). Historically, the media and now social media, idealises an unrealistic and unattainable version of motherhood (Douglas & Michaels, 2005). Within online parenting communities a sub-set of classes and values are determined by how successful a mother is, hinging on their ability to be well-groomed, well dressed, and seemingly happy and organized (Orton-Johnson, 2017, p.3). Exposure to this reinforces intensive mothering and promotes comparison and competition in mothers (Chae, 2014, p.503). Intensive mothering is when a mother centers her identity on being always nurturing and never selfish (Hays, 1998 as cited in Gibson, 2019). The intensive Mum lives a highly organized existence and centers her focus on her children all day ensuring they are happy and healthy by meeting their every single need immediately, and never losing her cool or raising her voice. She is called a “myth” by critics of this idea (Douglas & Michaels, 2005) as well as any parent who lives honestly. Perpetuating this myth, are mothers who engage in over-sharing of personal information and images of their children, referred to as “Sharenting” (Steinberg, 2017, p.842) to attract likes and comments. Sharenting is conducted by 82% of parents who use social media with 28% of mothers admitting they feel pressure to only post content that makes them, and their children look good (Auxier et al., 2020). In 2014, Therriault’s study implied that mums tend to focus solely on the positive aspects of motherhood, maintaining the ideals of the intensive mother. In 2019 a similar study by de los Santos et al. (2019, p.92) it was found that mothers are more likely to discuss the pressures of those societal expectations and express negative emotions about motherhood as time and online parenting communities evolved, however, they were still more likely to express superiority rather than empathise with each other. Therriault (2014, p.02) found that mothers check into Facebook more than any other kind of Facebook user and their friends list increases every year. This level of interaction described as “Mommy Facebooking” implies that mothers are unconsciously perpetuating and maintaining societal expectations of what a good mother looks like with each interaction (Therriault, 2014, p48-49). These interactions are peer-motivated to gain social capital (Damkjaer, 2019, p.213-214) by performing the perfect mother identity expected of them and enabling them to cherry-pick the experiences that prove their worthiness in these communities (Therriault, 2014, p49-50). While de los Santos et al. (2019) found that the shift has turned to a more raw and honest approach to sharing and seeking support, there is no indication that the shift has also occurred in the expectations of mothers. Instead, mothers are more likely to compare themselves to others and express their perceived superiority, supporting intensive mothering by claiming to be better than others (de los Santos et al., 2019, p.93). This type of competitiveness seems to only occur in female-dominated communities, which lack diversity and can have a detrimental effect on other members.

Wang et al. (2002, p.04) ascertains that for an online community to be successful, it needs to cater to a diverse range of people with three fundamental needs being social, functional, and psychological. While we can refer to mother-centric forums, blogs and Facebook groups as communities, they tend not to be diverse enough to allow for other parenting cultures and ideals. Mother-centric group members tend to represent mothers, particularly in blogs, as typically white, middle to upper-class women (Friedman, 2010, p.357). There has been an uprising in fathers creating blogs and other online communities, although their motivations differ from those of mothers. As some fathers transitioned into the 21st century from the breadwinner of the family into the co-parent, taking on their fair share of domestic duties and child-rearing (Coakley, 2016, p4-5), they became celebrated for their efforts regardless of how well they perform (Höfner, Schadler & Richter, 2011, p13). Like Mumblogs, Dad authored blogs tend not to be diverse with the authors generally being middle to upper-class and white as well (Scheibling, 2020, p487). The lack of diversity and the attitude towards dads being a “super-dad” for doing the most basic of parenting only continues to bolster the patriarchal ways of parenting to solidify the family dynamic of gendered norms for women and men, albeit unintentionally (Scheibling, 2020, p.485). While Dad blogs are usually written by dads to discuss how their life experiences and own role models have helped to shape the parent they would like to become (Scheibling, 2020, p.485), Mumblogs and Facebook groups continue to use the online community platforms to determine if their experiences are normal and to establish themselves as superior (de los Santos et al., 2019). A study of Dad written blogs shows that the idea of a super dad is being challenged and instead Dad bloggers are trying to normalise the involved father as one who is capable and not exceptional (Scheibling, 2020, p.486), however Mums continue to enforce the status quo which negatively impacts members of these communities. A shift from cherry-picking perfect scenes to share, to frequently sharing the negative side of motherhood can have a negative impact on some users by tarnishing the positive aspects of motherhood and parenting communities (de los Santos et al., 2019). Facebook is also used by mothers to make sure they are doing motherhood right, however, in a study on the depressive symptoms of new mothers and their Facebook use (Schoppe-Sullivan et al., 2017, p.285) it was found that new mothers and their engagement in Facebook had increased depressive symptoms associated with the perceived perfectionism required to partake in these online communities. Rarely do mothers share their feelings of inferiority or admire other mothers directly, instead acting out perfection and superiority to others which is closely linked with feelings of anger or jealousy (de los Santos et al. 2019). This often results in unpleasant interactions with community members which are exacerbated by the lack of visible body language and tone of voice (Friedman, 2010, p.361). The vast difference between the motivations and interactions of men and women in these online communities can be traced to the patriarchal motherhood ideals.

Mothers have been seeking advice, solace, and identity within online parenting communities since the inception of the internet, more so with the rise of Web 2.0 social media and blogging platforms. Within these communities, mothers can get validation that they are doing motherhood correctly as well as seek and provide much needed support for mothers who are isolated. This support, however, often reinforces patriarchal motherhood ideals that see mothers as being perfect individuals. This type of motherhood is quashed by critics as a myth, however, is still perpetuated in online communities through the motivations and interactions of the members and lack of diversity. Mothers also perpetuate this ideal by comparing themselves with each other and part-taking in Sharenting. The competition created with this behaviour, also elicits feelings of elitism and results in unpleasant interactions and feelings within the online community. Dads are getting involved in online parenting communities more and more, however, they also inadvertently bolster the patriarchal ideals of parenting and gender norms. The positive support shared within these online communities does not always outweigh the negative experiences with mothers still feeling pressure to only share the most perfect versions of themselves online. Members of mother-centric online communities need to be free to drop the act, and only then can the patriarchal ideas of parenting become history.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

20 thoughts on “Mums’ Groups and the Patriarch: How online parenting communities reinforce patriarchal expectations of mothers

  1. Hey Kristy,

    This was an interesting and well written paper. It really shows how online motherhood community is suffering from the obsession for perfection which is such a common symptom of many social media communities these days.

    In your discussion, you talk of how these communities are reinforcing patriarchal expectations of mothers which I have a couple of questions about. In your research did you find that there was a culture of women being shamed by other women for not performing the more traditional role of mother or did you find that women were feeling pressure to fulfil that role as they may have seen others doing so? While I believe that women should have the freedom to choose whatever path they want, I don’t feel that there is anything wrong with them choosing a more traditional role in motherhood if that’s what they prefer. I feel it would be unfair to attribute their personal choice to reinforcing patriarchal expectations of motherhood. Would be interested to hear your thoughts.


    1. Hi Cameron,

      Thanks for reading my paper. You ask an excellent question and I absolutely agree that mothers should be able to choose and be what kind of mother they want to be and that firm belief is why I wanted to research this topic as my experience has shown that often if you don’t meet the standards you are met with unpleasant interactions in these online communities.

      My research shows the core of the problem is that patriarchial notions have set the standard for how mothers should be and while I recognise that some people may feel that these ideals are in line with their own mothering, unfortunately, they are inadvertently reinforced as the perfect and only way for mothers to be. The general media & social media shows mums that they should feel like being a mother is the most fulfilling experience of their life (Chae, 2014, p3 : Douglas & Michaels, 2004) and that they should center their time, attention and identity around mothering and being a mother (Gibson, 2019 : Hays, 1998). So when mums who often don’t feel this immediate connection try and interact within these communities they are made to feel that this is not normal for them which leads to feelings of jealousy and superiority on both sides of the debate (de los Santos et al., 2019).

      I hope this answers your question? It’s the patriarchal ideals that set a standard that not everyone can meet and it tends to make community members try and police this standard effectively shaming anybody who dares to go against it.

      – Kristy

      Chae, J. (2015). Am I a Better Mother Than You?: Media and 21st-Century Motherhood in the Context of the Social Comparison Theory. Communication research, 42(4), 503-525.

      de los Santos, T. M., Amaro, L. M., & Joseph, N. T. (2019). Social Comparison and Emotion across Social Networking Sites for Mothers. Communication reports (Pullman, Wash.), 32(2), 82-97.

      Douglas, S. J., & Michaels, M. W. (2005). The mommy myth: the idealization of motherhood and how it has undermined all women (First Free Press trade pbk. ed.). Free Press.

      Gibson, C.L. (2019). Enacting Motherhood Online: How Facebook and Mommy Blogs Reinforce White Ideologies of the New Momism. Feminist Encounters: A Journal of Critical Studies in Culture and Politics, 3(1-2).

      Hays, S. (1998) The cultural contradictions of motherhood. Yale University Press.

  2. Hi Kristy,

    Great Paper!

    I had to have a chuckle at the term “Super-Dad” as I had a situation with my son when he was around 1. I was out alone with him and I had two ladies stop and comment on what a cutie he is and that it is great that I was baby sitting him…. my reply was along the lines of “Fathers don’t babysit, he is my son and I am helping raise him!” Went down like a lead balloon as they saw it differently.

    I have always found mother-centric forums/groups interesting from the point of view, that they are created by mothers to provide support for mothers, yet if advice is not taken or is challenged in any way the reactions in support of the advice giver and taker can be rather explosive and completely over the top. Whatever happened to new mothers talking with their own mothers or grandmothers for advice?

    If you wish to have a read of my paper (no pressure 🙂 ) here is the link

    1. Hi Jeremy!

      Thanks for reading my paper.

      I love that you challenged the status quo, most fathers I know don’t expect the extra celebration they get and feel the same way as you. I guess it’s this underlying patriarchal culture embedded in both real life and online communities that needs to be addressed and perhaps its as simple as a generational changes eradicating that ideal.

      Your question about why people are not getting advice from the matriarchs of the family is a really interesting one. I didn’t come across anything about generational parenting in my initial research so I have dug a little deeper as the question draws parallels between using online or real life communities for parenting advice. What I have discovered is that typically past generations have demonstrated a more authoritarian style of parenting (Zervides & Knowles, 2007) as opposed to the more modern positive parenting angle of being authoritive (Chen et al., 2019) so while their advice might be valuable, I wonder if modern parents avoid asking their own families or women within their family in an effort to be a more modern parent and the best place to get this advice is from other people looking for the same thing online, and thus the existence of these mums groups.

      Chen, Y., Haines, J., Charlton, B. M., & VanderWeele, T. J. (2019). Positive parenting improves multiple aspects of health and well-being in young adulthood. Nat Hum Behav, 3(7), 684-691.

      Zervides, S. & Knowles, A. (2007). Generational Changes in Parenting Styles and the Effect of Culture. E-Journal of Applied Psychology: Parenting Styles and the effect of Culture, 3(1): 65-75.

  3. Hi Kristy,

    I really enjoyed this paper. As a mum and avid social media user, I see on the daily both the positive and negative effects that participating in these groups and forums can have.

    I think the danger with anything we see on social media is its ability to be edited, and this is not just limited to the filter on an Instagram picture. What we see on social media is only ever the slightest snippet of someone’s day, and while 23 hours of the day a mum (or dad!) might be struggling and everything feels out of control, they only need to post about the one hour where they feel they have it together to perpetuate an image of idealised perfection. Social media is a highlight reel, and can never completely capture life in all its complexities, yet we continue to compare our own lives to other’s from what we see, sometimes exclusively, on the internet. Couple this with an already incredibly judgemental mum culture, and it’s a recipe for disaster.

    While I do try to post both my wins and fails as a mother on social media, your paper made me reflect that I am far more likely to post my fails on a stories feature, where it is accessible for only a limited amount of time and quickly disappears like my toddler’s other sock. My wins and triumphs are more likely given a permanent place on my feed, and as such the overall perception of my feed at first glance may be that of a woman who is organised and has it all together. This could not be further from the truth, however unless you delved a little deeper, I am guilty also of perpetuating an image that is unrealistic and an inaccurate depiction of my life as a mother.

    I also find the concept of sharenting an interesting one. As a couple, my husband and I have decided against putting our kids photos on social media. Our main reason for doing so is that we are overly safety conscious, but secondary to this, we hope that in time and with our guidance we can help them appropriately navigate social media and make this decision for themselves. All this being said, I of course think my babies are incredibly cute and want the world to know it, and I get jealous of parents who willingly share their kids, despite it being a decision for us to not do so. This is not a judgement on other’s choices, it is just the right choice for me and my family. I respect every family’s right to make this decision for themselves, and the issue of a child’s consent for their image being used on the internet is perhaps a different debate for another day!

    Overall, I’ve found participation in mum forums helpful and a positive experience but not without exception. On any day, but particularly when hormonal and sleep deprived which as mothers we often are, forums and online mum groups can be a tricky thing to navigate. Comparing your child to other’s is a dangerous game, especially when you are unable to see through the fog, and it doesn’t surprise me that increased Facebook use for new mums can see a rise in depression.

    I don’t know what the answer is when it comes to the dads. You can’t encourage their participation without celebrating it when they get involved, but watching my husband being praised for the same things I do day in and day out certainly feels unfair at best. Perhaps with time as the shift towards co-parenting continues we will also see a shift in the way we view this. However, I certainly think that with a little more love and open mindedness when dealing with other parents and their choices for their own kids, that we can lift each other up a little bit more, and begin to create a space where we can be a bit more raw in our experiences.

    1. Hi Jessica,
      Thank-you for your comments. It’s wonderful to get another mum’s perspective.

      I realise that there is definitely a positive element to social media and this paper may seem like a somewhat cynical view, however as you mentioned the research backs it up. I know personally I definitely have considered whether my social media use is true to myself or not. I usually land on the fact that social media can really be what we want it to be – a place to share the happy times of your life with family and friends is just one way people use social media. I guess the real question my paper poses is that does everybody do this in an authentic way and do we have a social responsiblity to share the good the bad and the ugly? Interested to know your thoughts on that.

      As an avid sharer of my daughter due to family and friends be interstate and international, I am always wondering if I am taking away my daughter’s autonomy by doing so. I have started to ask her permission to share though after her father mentioned that he saw her on Instagram and he was shocked. Although my accounts are private and contain only close family and freinds, it recently dawned on me that my sharenting might be crossing a line with her. I love that you already have this rule!


      1. Hi Kristy,

        I certainly feel that not everybody posts on social media authentically – some things I see feel extremely posed and curated in order to portray a certain message. However while I believe some people do intend to post authentically, what we see on social media is only ever a snippet, and without greater context we can’t hope to understand the full picture, and should keep this in mind while drawing comparisons.

        I do imagine it’s hard having your extended network interstate and overseas – we have made our social media rules with the luxury (ha!) of having both of our families close by. I do imagine that my views on this would differ should we find ourselves located interstate or overseas away from them. Even during lockdown here in Melbourne when we were unable to see anyone, it was tempting to update everyone in one swoop via social media, and that was just a few months! It’s our job as parents to make decisions for our kids when they can’t make them for themselves, and that will look a little different in every family. I love that you have started asking her permission! I don’t know her age, but even if she doesn’t really understand what you are asking and what social media is, she will grow up knowing as she gains understanding that it is her choice. I think this is a great foundation for social media use, and life in general!

        1. Hi Jessica,

          My daughter is seven and I never considered how talking to her about how she has a choice is setting her up to be successful in her own inevitable social media use, thank you for the insight.

          Interestingly, during my research for this paper, I found this case study by Damkjaer (2019) which theorises that there are 4 different communicators online called family-oriented, peer-oriented, oppositional, and non-use. The findings in this study help summarise the differences in thoughts and feelings on Sharenting in particular just as we are discussing and while Sharenting can be very much a communal thing for family-oriented communicators, there are clearly other motives for doing so within these online communities. Peer-oriented communicators seem to be more about social capital and it was found that also Oppositional communicators fear the dangers of Sharenting and disagree with creating an online identity for children without their consent.

          I would have to say that it is the peer-motivated communicators that I indicate in my paper as perpetuating the patriarchal ideals of the perfect mother.

          It’s actually a really interesting read and had I had more word count this study would have featured in my paper.

          Damkjaer , M.S. (2019). Sharenting = Good Parenting?: Four Parental Approaches to Sharenting on Facebook. G, Mascheroni, C. Ponte, A. Jorge (Eds.), Digital Parenting: The Challenges for Families in the Digital Age, Yearbook 2018 (1st ed., pp. 209-218). Nordicom.

          1. Hi Kristy,

            How fascinating! Don’t you love when you think you are doing something unique and not the norm, only to find out you are in fact sitting perfectly in the predefined category?! If you don’t encounter someone in your network who has the same views as you, it can be pretty easy to think that you are original, or at least a significant minority, without that social mirror held back at you. So I guess I am a oppositional communicator!

            I found this statement particularly interesting, “In the peer-oriented approach, sharenting is also used to express dedication to parenting by presenting appealing, fun and often highly aestheticized photos of the child.” (Damkjaer (2019). It’s apparent that there is a direct correlation between these user’s egos, boosted by reactions to this ‘rose-coloured glasses’ style of sharenting, and their own perception of themselves as parents. This social reinforcement of them being a good parent based on stylised and edited content only perpetuates these unattainable standards imposed on us as mothers. A very interesting read indeed! Thanks so much for highlighting this issue Kristy.

  4. Hello Kristy, I hope you are doing well. I really really loved your paper. I am not a mom but I can relate to your evoked feelings that came out of your paper. I stay with my mother a lot a as soon she comes home from work, I live her routine and I am blessed. This is a completely different topic I have read so far, hats off!
    In my vicinity, or perhaps in my country, I do not find find mothers interacting with mum blogs as such, but I do find them using Facebook a lot. From my logic, I think that engaging into the online mum community, already gives an overview of the identity of the mother. These mothers have time, money and do not lack comfort (from my point of view). Because being a mom is not easy in terms of expense. They shall spent a lot on their children, plus their family and house. I guess those who share beautiful pictures – routines videos, lunch/meal-prep, doing grand anniversaries etc.. This truly requires time and effort. To be able to show all these, I am assuming these women might be self-employed people or housewives. From my opinion, seeking advice from mum blogs or posting on mum blogs, brings more cons than pros. I feel there will always be a sense of competitiveness and envy, and these energies should not be received from those seeking help in the blogs. Being a mother is a blessing, let no one judge them even if you made a mistake. It will be better if mothers seek advice from their friends who are moms or from their owns mothers. aka strong ties. What do you think?

    1. Hi Mageswari!

      Thank you for your thoughts.

      You make a very interesting point about mothers getting advice online when they could be getting them from closer community ties. This relates back to the concepts discussed by Chua et al. (2014) as to whether physical communities are “thick” by comparison to online communities being fragile. While I do tend to agree that it is far more appealing to get advice direct from my family or social network (especially from my own experiences), I also empathize with those who may be isolated from a physical community. Perhaps those who liver rurally or have medical conditions that prevent them from forming these thick ties in the community benefit from mummy blogs and Facebook groups more than anybody. It is just a shame that these ideals we are set and live by cause this competitive behaviour in some mothers online.

      – Kristy

      Chua, V. n., Madej, J., & Wellman, B. (2014). Chapter 8: Personal Communities: The World According to Me. The SAGE Handbook of Social Network Analysis, 101-115.

  5. Hi Kristy,

    I really liked your paper. It was very informative and inspirational. I know while looking around me that the job of being a mother is often very hard and lonely. Having an online community that helps both new and experienced mothers with advice/ tips and moral support. Belongingness and ‘safe space’ for them to voice out, can be an advantage in the life of mothers. But as you argue, these online communities often tend to have ideal expectations of what a mother should or should not be.
    Your paper consists of heavy research on the subject which makes it have a lot of weight and make all your arguments very relevant. I really feel that you put all your heart and mind into writing this paper.
    Good job!

    I encourage you to check my paper on “Black Natural Hair Vloggers on YouTube Are Empowering Their Audiences’ by Encouraging Them to Embrace Their Black Identity.”

    1. Hi Rachel,

      Thank you for your thoughts. As a mother, I would say you are spot on that it can be a lonely job but I would like to bring the reasoning back to the patriarchal standards set out for us to be perfect. Because by acting in this role to the public be in-person or over social media, we are silencing the side of us that wants to drop the act and be allowed to make mistakes. While not all mothers engage in the elitism and competitive behaviour seen in these online groups, those who do perpetuate this standard and create this lonliness for us all.

      Thanks again,

  6. This is great Kristy! I am not a mum but i do acknowledge the point of how mums like to create superiority over one another (the whole ‘I am better’ scenario) as it is seen so often in society especially online! It can even be seen on apps like Tik Tok where a mum may post something and no matter what it is, there is always backlash and a continuous accumulation of negative comments or ‘you should do this’ comments.

    Great topic!

    1. Hi Macy

      I am glad you brought up Tik Tok and with a higher word limit, I would have liked to delve into research around how apps like Tik Tok allow these patriarchial notions to seep into the comments section. It seems we live in an age that when you don’t agree with the way a person lives, we seemingly have the right to tell them about it. It’s crazy since most of the people commenting would never go up to this person in a real-life setting and tell them all the ways they are doing whatever it is they are doing is wrong.

      Do you think that in a physical setting, people are less inclined to behave this way for fear of backlash themselves, or have we created this culture of being able to say whatever you want online?

      – Kristy

  7. Very well done!! If I can add some comments?
    “The more that women need their identity as a mother confirmed and validated in online communities, the more they use online communities and social media such as Facebook.” Loved that point

    You talk about how online communities lead to mum’s trying to create superiority over one and another is this something exclusive to online spaces, what about say real-life mothers’ groups?

    I really like the point about Dad blogs and these being celebrated as ‘Super Dads’ I think this so prevalent in our society when men doing the literal bare minimum is celebrated to no end.

    I really like one of your last points where you say Mum and Dad blogs reinforce patriarchal standards, I think how you have described each of these respective online spaces literally plays into the classic Dog and Cat analogy. This is where all women must be cats (bitchy, cunning, wanting to tear each other down) and all men must be dogs (loyal, wholesome, every little thing celebrated, oh wow you didn’t pee in the house today good boy!). I feel this analogy is so strongly enforced in our society today, traced all the way back to Adam and Eve, with that poisoned apple or something (I think I’m getting confused with Snow White now), and by the sounds of it Mummy blogs are just another example where this analogy lives on in our still patriarchal society today.

    Good job was an interesting read and put me off having children for at least 15 years!

    1. Hi Connor,

      Thank-you so much for taking the time to read my paper. I love the cat and dog analogy and I think that really rings true at times.

      Do face-to-face or “real life” mothers groups have the same impact? The one thing that you get in a real-life mothers group that you can’t get in an online community to the same value is body language. I think there are societal pressures on mums to be this perfect, kept together being and while I know that there can be an elitist attitude in real life scenarios, you don’t have that unfiltered nature of the online community, so I don’t feel they are quite the same. It would be really interesting to look at studies on the topic to see if my experiences line up with the research.

      In a conversation about my topic, I recently likened online parenting groups to be like everybody putting their thoughts, feelings, and opinions in a blender and the end result is this mish-mash of standards that are confusing and overwhelming to new mums in particular. I think once you have a few years under your belt you can start to see it all for what it really is.

      The last thing I want to do is put people off having children, being a part of these online communities is very much optional, although some of the members of these communities perhaps need a gentle reminder of this from time to time.

      1. Hi Kristy! I was so looking forward to read your paper since I am a mom too!
        You made very good observation on the topic. I remember using ‘Baby Center’ forum to seek advice and support on how to rightly raise a child. As you said it builds community and you developed a sense of belonging despite the huge work of parenting in real life. But it also has drawbacks, I remember my baby wanting food at 4 months old and I gave him puree. And boom! other moms were so negative about it and telling me ‘you should do that’ or ‘you’ll choke him’ even ‘what kind of mom does that’. I realised that these moms’ ideal are too extreme and like you should follow our rules and not do your own, do see what I mean? I went from good mom to bad mom in 5 mins and left the forum. I’m glad you opened up on the topic with good arguments.
        Good job !

        Also find my paper here and share your point of view:

        1. Hi Ruby,

          Thank-you so much for reading my paper.

          You know what, I love your story and it is the story of so many mothers. My mother raised children in a time where it was the norm to feed a child at 4 months old, so she passed this knowledge onto me. At the time I wasn’t heavily on social media so I took my mums advice. It wasn’t until I became more engaged with online parenting groups on Facebook that I soon realised that this is something not recommended – by the parental masses anyway. Some doctors will still tell us it’s fine. We all survived!

          This begs the question about how these patriarchial standards we live by also seem to allow us to create our own rules about what is appropriate despite medical recommendations. Many parenting groups speak of different parenting methods as if they are the only and correct ways to do it. It’s such a big and challenging job, I make an extra effort to ignore this noise myself and try and listen to my instincts as our mothers did before social media.


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