Who knew date night could be so controversial?

Model Chrissy Teigen found herself embroiled in an internet controversy this past weekend when online photos surfaced of her and husband John Legend enjoying a (gasp!) night out without their newborn daughter Luna.

Detractors immediately took to social media to slam the star for leaving her baby at home less than two-weeks after giving birth, calling the outing “disgraceful” and questioning her dedication to motherhood.

“I’m not saying new parents have to be tied to their babies 24/7 but I find it hard to understand how any new mother can tear themselves away from a much longed for baby at nine days old for the sake of a night out,” wrote one Facebook commenter in response to a Daily Mail article.

Unwilling to take the criticism lying down, Teigen – a prolific social media user – faced her haters Sunday morning, posting: “I went to dinner. People are pissed. Good Morning!”

Teigen’s Twitter and Instagram pages have since been flooded with supportive comments telling her to turn a blind eye to the cowardly critics.

“Of course you have the right to go on a date,” wrote one Instagram user. “It is even a MUST for a healthy, well-balanced family. Let these bitter b**ches talk. Luna has one hell of a mamma. May you raise her as fierce as you.”

Teigen is a public figure so it’s natural to assume she’s caught-up in controversy and judgment simply because of her fame.  Unfortunately, the hostility extends well beyond Hollywood to the greater parenting community illustrated by the nearly 1-million search results for the term “Mommy Wars” on Google.

Furthermore, a 2013 poll conducted by Quester and commissioned by Parents magazine found that 63 percent of U.S. mothers believe that so-called “mommy wars” exist, yet less than half those respondents recognize that behaviour within their own social circle.  The study was unable to elaborate on the reason for the drop, but it’s safe to assume the anonymity of social media has at least something to do with it.

With the challenges of work-life balance still facing many 21st-century mothers, why is the parenting community so quick to turn on itself? How much further along could we be as a community without all the friendly-fire?

It should be noted that while the internet can be a catty cesspool of mom-on-mom hostility, it can also be a source of solidarity and support if you look hard enough. Hashtags like #momlife and #dadlife aggregate thousands of encouraging and often hilarious posts that perfectly capture what it means to be a parent in this day and age.

Still, as Teigen’s experience demonstrated this past weekend, there is a plethora of anonymous negativity and online judgment to go around, which begs the question: Wouldn’t we all be better off if we spent more time practicing good parenting and a little less time preaching it?

I sure think so.


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