Being a working parent is a delicate juggle. Between meeting work deadlines and not dropping the ball at home, we need to have more empathy for parents doing the best they can. The last thing any parent needs is to be shamed in an attempt to balance it all. A mom shared a notice posted at her child’s daycare center to social media 3 years ago, and it’s going viral now. Why is it going viral now? Well, because the pressures on working parents hasn’t changed in this time, and it’s not helping anyone. Here’s what happened.
Juliana Farris was picking up her child from daycare in Texas, where she saw a notice posted on the front door. She took a photo of the note with her phone and shared it to Facebook on January 27, 2017. The note addresses phubbing, the habit of snubbing someone in favor of looking at your phone.
“You are picking up your child! GET OFF YOUR PHONE!!!!,” the note starts off, all-caps and multi-exclamation points and all. “Your child is happy to see you! Are you not happy to see your child?? We have seen children trying to hand their parents their work they completed and the parent is on the phone,” the note continues. It finishes off with, “We have heard a child say ‘Mommy, mommy, mommy…’ and the parent is paying more attention to their phone than their own child. It is appalling. Get off your phone!!”
Now Farris had told a news station at the time that she wasn’t posting the note to social media because she disagreed; she was all for it. “I thought it was awesome,” she said to Fox News in 2017. “I think [the message] definitely resonates with people. And it’s not just at the daycare; it’s anywhere.”
Sure, this likely resonates with parents, but it’s also terribly presumptuous, everything that’s wrong with public shaming, and out of place. The daycare didn’t need to do this public shaming, placing a notice on the door with the aggressive typecase in a way encourages parents to call each other out and shame people for being on their phones during pick up. It’s fostering the shaming culture when a respectful note quietly placed in their child’s backpack could have been done to share a real concern.
Parents get a lot of eye-rolls thrown their way when they’re seen looking at their phone when their child is nearby. People love to assume the parent is lazy, inattentive and playing the latest viral mobile game. And we’ve seen the research on phubbing, and we know parents should not be putting their phone time ahead of real relationships. But that’s more for Saturday morning, not during the work hours that don’t ever cater to parents.
What is more likely happening with the parent on their phone during daycare pick up is a person who expected to be reachable and always on for work; another unrealistic expectation placed on parents, but many workplaces have this always-on culture. The parent could be answering a work email, putting out a figurative work fire while they stepped away to try and strike that work-parenting balance.
The parent could be texting their partner, or on the phone with the doctor, their other kid’s school, or any other number of real-life scenarios. The idea that parents purposely ignore their child during daycare pickup is a little messed up. More often, it’s a stressed-out parent doing their best to juggle the work/life balance that is set up against them.
The culture of parent-shaming is exhausting. We are all just doing the best we can and if we supported each other more, gave other parents the benefit of the doubt, maybe we wouldn’t encourage so much parent shaming by proxy. We really don’t need to make ourselves feel better by stepping on someone else who, in reality, is just fighting against the impossible standards placed on working parents.