Leave My Inbox Alone: When Mommy List-Servs Attack

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3) Bringing the playground fight home.

Here’s another specialty of my old list-serv. Basically what you’d have is some altercation on the playground, sort of between children but mostly between the parents of those children. Maybe it involved a child hitting another child. Maybe it involved someone’s dog being too friendly at the park. Maybe it was just different parenting styles regarding temper tantrums. But the parent would promptly come home, tattle (without names of course) about the situation and then pretend to make some broader point about park etiquette (e.g. “I think we need to enforce stricter boundaries between dogs and children”). What always seemed to happen, of course, was that the other party or other witnesses would read the initial note and reveal additional information that completely undermined the initial account. That’s when I enjoyed bringing out the popcorn and just watching the angry emails fly back and forth. But, as with all fun things, one of the moderators would usually chime in that playground fights were best handled at the playground and shouldn’t be litigated on the list-serv.

4) Mentioning your line of work two to three times a day.

I am not in the line of work where I’d pitch myself on the parenting list-serv. But some of my neighbors are. The way this works is that any time someone mentions a real estate issue or a legal issue, you’ll quickly get a few parents in the real estate and legal professions weighing in about how to handle the problem. Which is fine. It’s awesome even. But then there’s that realization that they do this every day, always complete with a pitch to visit their firm, and it gets a bit weird. Or it gets contentious. One time, a lawyer on my list-serv who did this all the time mentioned something about how his firm was the best to handle the given issue (same-sex divorce with children or some such thing). Another lawyer chimed in that his firm was actually the best firm for divorces of same-sex partners involving children, citing some award. Then the original lawyer chimed back in, suggesting that the award may have been given in exchange for a personal relationship one of the attorneys was having with a high-profile gay advocacy organization. Like I said, it’s popcorn time. But is it appropriate for a parenting list-serv?

5) The needy parents.

Every list-serv has them. On the one hand, it’s great to have a ton of updates about everything that’s going on in the neighborhood. On the other, a mother who posts or responds literally to every thread on the list-serv might have some boundary issues. One of my list-servs had a mother who couldn’t not respond, no matter the topic — D.C. schools, crime, nursing techniques, disciplining of children, traffic concerns, the hoax someone played about turning the historic theater into a Hooters, you name it. If you have a thought worth sharing on everything, those thoughts better be amazing. They weren’t, though. They were just shared regardless of their worth. I know this is something that happens on every list-serv, no matter the topic. But the air of desperation goes over much less well on mothers and fathers.

Anyway, those are my pet peeves on my otherwise awesome neighborhood parent list-servs. What are yours?

Photo: Andresr/Shutterstock

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