Tall Poppy Syndrome is a really difficult subject, especially with mums.
What is Tall Poppy Syndrome?
Tall Poppy Syndrome is simply jealousy but taking actions or using words to bring another down to ‘their level.’ It’s a form of mocking and cutting down the tall poppy.
Have you ever seen a really pretty mum get out of a speeding ticket and thought: “Well we all know why you got left with a warning?” Or maybe there’s a mum you see in the school car park who’s always happy and never has bad hair day until she’s late one day because of her sons tantrum and you thought to yourself “well aren’t we all human.” You know those inner thoughts you have. We all have them. Sadly, I know I have.
There will be people who say “I always think the best of people.” We all know they’re lying to themselves.
I feel sick when I think about this subject. Have you ever reflected after a conversation and realised.. “I think I may have felt envious when she told me she was kicking goals in parenting?” Or have you been the keyboard warrior who fights a fellow mum not realising your hurtful words affect someone else reading them?
When I started my business on Facebook and Instagram I had to deal with my fair share of online bullies. It’s taught me to grow a thick skin in the online world, but I find it soooooo much harder when it’s a friend or family member. It cuts me deep.
Some I get a good laugh, while others are very spiteful.
Why do we let them into our hearts and destroy our day? It’s 5 minutes out of their time but days of getting over it and deciding if or how to take action. It’s nothing to them to ‘speak their mind’ for a few minutes and move on, while in the business world we have to cop it on the chin. From a business perspective I can’t talk about anything political or religious. I mostly keep that to my personal page, and even then when a debate breaks out I’m quick to shut it down and hide comments.
Let me tell you a little story…
In my first week of baby classes, I had an ambulance officer from Rockhampton; Qld, decide my content was so bad it was worth spending a whole day going through every single post and commenting how terrible a person I was for giving mums unwanted knowledge. She wrote a 0 star review (which businesses can’t take down). She also decided to comment after other peoples comments. Here I was spending a Saturday morning enjoying family time to have weeks of stress from her damage.
How did I handle it?
I saw her comments on Facebook and her review very quickly and politely asked her to take her keyboard war into a messenger conversation.
She asked me what my credentials were and how many years experience I had. Once I told her that I was a qualified early childhood teacher with almost a decade of experience and 2 kids (at the time), she talked to me about what she disagreed with and we were able to chat our her concerns. She took down her 0 star review and her comments. She even apologised.
It left me scarred… I will honestly never forget how that keyboard warrior treated me but she wasn’t a friend or family member. She really didn’t have any kind of reason to chase after me except for the way she ‘felt better about herself.’
A little closer to home I had a mum locally tell me I was ‘an uneducated idiot’ for requiring immunisations before allowing parents to bring their baby to our baby classes. I told her I had premature babies in my classes and I wouldn’t risk any child’s health. It didn’t bother me that she had her convictions and that I had mine but she made it pretty personal when I disagreed with her. I told her to have a nice day.
On the flip side, sometimes friends and family aren’t always helpful. After spending a whole day on videos and lighting, playing around with YouTube and pushing my kids aside just so I could get 5 minutes of video from 10 hours of work. It took 7 minutes after posting for 1 friend to comment and bring the whole show down. She later sent me a message and apologised because she’d had a bad day. It hurt. I couldn’t comment back or hide her comment because we had too many mutual friends. I had to keep things positive, because that’s what businesses have to do to stay professional.
Deep down it helped me realise that every time I push my kids away I personally feel mum guilt. Every time I work I have to ask myself: ‘Will it be worth having another person bring it down in 7 minutes again? Sometimes… yes, I need space from my kids – other times, I think about the lesson I have learned and shut my laptop and join my kids outside at the swings. Thank you to my friend who taught me this lesson. It taught me to have grace and sleep on whether it was worth retaliating (I didn’t) and it also taught me to think about what caused your day for you to comment harsh words.
It still gives me a good chuckle when a client told me I needed a bigger car for my business and I asked them why? My sedan gets the job done and gets me from A to B. They told me their car had plenty of space. One day, they had to bring some cash to my house to pay for classes and saw my home and realised that while I may not have a four-wheel-drive I do have a home they envied. We just put our values in different things – and that’s ok! That’s what makes us unique and gives us personality. Just don’t judge us for it and maybe it’s a good lesson to hold our tongue rather than speaking our mind.
Come on people we are grown adults! Bullying doesn’t need to seep into the cracks of doubt in our lives. We have enough daily worries as mums to overcome.
What are we showing our girls? That it’s okay to bring other women down because they ‘have a better car,’ or ‘have a stronger faith in Jesus?’ Maybe it’s the way you look after yourself or deserve a holiday.
When a mum has a win – lets celebrate it together! Let’s enjoy our tribe and snap out of our envious thoughts. Let’s build each other up. Let’s change the culture of key board warriors for our next generation. Let’s decide now to encourage other mums.
Written By Sarah Courtney