When you aren’t helping your case

Following on from my post yesterday, I was angered and saddened to read this article : http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2307129/Amanda-Holden–Shona-Sibary-Why-I-hate-smug-bullies-Mumsnet.html

For those of you who don’t want to read it, it’s by Shona Sibary, a Daily Mail regular (which should tell you just about everything you need to know already) and she chooses to use an article in a national newspaper to speak out about bullying by, well, bullying people.

Basically the article was written in response to this thread over at Mumsnet (a web forum for mums to talk) from way back November http://www.mumsnet.com/Talk/childminders_nannies_au_pairs_etc/a1605433-So-according-to-Shona-Sibury-staff-in-nurseries-are

The members are discussing comments Sibary made about day care staff, namely how useless eh thought they were – which begs the question of how she would know since she said in THIS article that she has relied on au pairs http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-1300409/Au-pairs-hate-Its-mutual-I-know-Ive-12.html (and in this one too http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2228436/Shona-Sibary–108-345–staggering-sum-Ive-spent-nurseries-string-useless-au-pairs.html)  and in THIS one she admits how she leaves her young kids in front of the TV – her ‘square nanny’ for hours at a time so she can, presumably, get on with the busy stresses of writing nasty little articles attacking other people for her own amusement. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2215791/So-TV-stunts-young-brains-I-cope-square-nanny.html

Now, I don’t frequent parenting forums because I know how easy it is to get competitive over parenting, and some people (the minority by far) can get a little over excited and opinions are taken the wrong way – but that happens on every internet forum. However, the thread that kicked all this off was started by professional child minders who were voicing their upset and annoyance that someone who, by her own admission, has no experience of actually looking after a child – including her own if her articles are taken at face value – is making assumptions and generalizations about people who are carefully trained and vetted and are on their feet doing a damn hard job all day. If it were someone who had never done my job making such dismissive statements, I’d be annoyed too.

Now, obviously Sibary is a mother and a person and has opinions and experience of her own. However, my gran used to say that if you go looking for things about yourself, you’re never going to find anything nice. That said, I’d feel pretty horrible if I came across a negative thread about me on the net, but these are the risks we take when we put ourselves, and our opinions, out there in the public sphere.

Sibary recently wrote about how hard it was when her son was being bullied, and feeling helpless as a parent. Now, one could argue that if she spent mor time with her son instead of trusting the TV to look after him that she might have noticed sooner that something was wrong. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2222569/The-agony-knowing-sons-bullied–school-politically-correct-punish-tormentors.html

And here she talks about how her daughter was bullied because of the way she dressed http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2259878/My-14-year-old-shouldnt-dress-like-But-doesnt-online-bullies-right-torment-SHONA-SIBARY-alarming-new-trend-slut-shaming.html – but perhaps the most sensible response would be to avoid printing pictures of your 14 year old daughter dressed like a hooker in a national paper – that’s not helping your case at all.

The point I’m trying to make is this – when arguing a point, it doesn’t help if you then give the other side ammo. So, in this instance, don’t complain about other parents complainging about your attitudes and parenting skills when you’ve written such little gems as these:

In which she admits to drugging her kids : http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2305529/Why-I-drug-children-airplanes-We-know-hell-bawling-toddlers-flights-But-mums-controversial-solution-.html

In which she admits to drinking and taking part in dangerous sports when pregnant: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2288191/Duchess-Cambridge-Ignore-killjoys-Kate-Middleton–spend-9-months-wrapped-cotton-wool.html

In which she advocates smacking OTHER people’s kids: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2303632/Shona-Sibary-If-stranger-smacked-child-naughty-Id-thank-As-mother-protests-Boots-assistant-slapping-daughter-provocative-response.html

In which she admits to beating her own kids: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2273565/SHONA-SIBARY-I-know-horrified-But-I-slap-14-year-old-daughter.html

And in which her daughter writes about the negative effect that has on her: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2274725/In-Tuesdays-Mail-Shona-Sibary-admitted-slaps-14-year-old-daughter-Here-furious-Flo-hits-Mum-doesnt-smack-love-She-does-loses-control.html

The point is this – if you want someone to respect your parenting skills and opinions, don’t write stuff like this. It’s really not helping you win your case.

Likewise, Ms Sibary, if you are going to write articles about how awful it is to be bullied, don’t then use your position in the public eye to then bully and hurt others. 

The words that we say, the arguments that we put across, teh carefully constructed argument we can undo by behaving in the very way that we are accusing others of.

Bullying is horrible thing. It’s worse when the bullies think they are the victims. I’m certain that Shona Sibary was upset at what she read, but how does she think all those childminders and au pairs felt when she wrote about them in such a nasty way? How does she think her daughter felt when she wrote about beating her? How does she think all those people who long for a child of their own felt when she wrote about how she can’t be bothered to look after them and chose instead to drug them and plonk them infront of the TV.

Just a thought.

As a complete side note, having spent most of the afternoon reading all of her back articles, I’m SHOCKED that Social Services haven’t gotten involved. I mean, if she was a single mother who worked in Tesco then they would be all over her at the slightest hint of anything, yet here’s a middle classed woman proudly admitting to the nation that she abuses and neglects her kids. Makes you wonder what’s wrong with this country sometimes.



1 Comment

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One response to “When you aren’t helping your case

  1. Ellen Dlott

    I read The Daily Mail primarily for amusement. While writers are always inclined to exaggeration for the sake of putting together a lively piece, it is almost impossible to believe anything written by the likes of S. Sibary. Her stories contradict each other. I find it difficult to think that her husband and children would accept her printing these fables about them, had they any basis in truth.

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