Loving Guidelines: stating clear boundaries as an act of love

How do you keep a mothering community on the internet loving and judgment-free?
How do you avoid the mommy olympics and help each member feel welcome and free to benefit from the group in the way that suits her needs best?

Why, by stating clear and loving guidelines, of course.
Our group culture is constantly modeled by our members and Den Mothers, and the group’s stream is monitored at all times, but having a document with clearly stated DOs and DON’Ts, helps everybody (especially the growing numbers of new members) get on the same page faster.

So whether you are new to the Mama’s Comfort Camp, or have been with us for a while, here are the guidelines (=boundaries) that keep the Mama’s Comfort Camp so full of love:

Welcome to Mama’s Comfort Camp.

You can exhale now. You are in the safety of this refueling station, where we focus on meeting needs rather than keeping up appearances or fulfilling expectations.  

These are the qualities that guide us:

Nourishment. Safety. Sisterhood. Community. Inquiry. Joy. Stomp-ability. Playfulness. Curiosity. Courage. Respect. Permission. Sovereignty. Trust. And above all: Kindness.

As this group grows, stating our boundaries clearly is the best way to preserve our uniquely nurturing group culture. So as much as we like to keep our language positive, this post is about what NOT to do at the Mama’s Comfort Camp.

 

 

 

Here are the quick DON’Ts. Each of them is expanded upon below

 

  1. You do not need to earn your spot here. You are simply welcome.
  2. Please don’t dish unsolicited advice. Unless someone is asking for advice, validate, don’t educate.
    Please remember: people vary. Don’t tell mamas how to think/feel.
  3. This is NOT a crisis management support group. Dangerous and volatile situations are outside the scope of the Mama’s Comfort Camp.
  4. No medical advice, please: This space should not be used to diagnose or discuss treatment options, medications, supplements, their dosages and side effects.
  5. Don’t forget to label triggering content with PT=Potentially triggering. And please consider whether your post belongs in the #ppdchat forum.
  6. We respect almost all parenting choices, but if you consider hitting children to be a good discipline strategy, then Mama’s Comfort Camp is not the right parenting forum for you. (Please see important clarification in the comments.)
  7. Please don’t discuss illegal activities. Also avoid discussing legal proceedings such as divorce and custody battles.
  8. Keep politics out.
  9. Mama’s Comfort Camp is not a marketplace. Don’t use this space to promote businesses and events without prior approval from Yael. Also, try to avoid discussions that center on shopping, and avoid sharing commercial giveaways. (Personal heartfelt blog posts are welcome anytime.)
  10. Please don’t hijack someone else’s thread. If you feel strongly about the discussion, start another thread.
  11. Don’t forget to share your happy moments with us.
  12. Don’t break confidentiality. What is said inside the Mama’s Comfort Camp, should not be repeated anywhere else.

This one is a DO: if you know group members in real life, and that keeps you from sharing a vulnerable moment, please consider posting anonymously by asking a Den Mother to post it for you. More information about our brand new “Camper Anonymous” posting option right here.

Thank you for respecting our boundaries. The safety and future of this growing group depend on this.


The Extended Version:

 

The extended version:

1. You do not need to earn your spot here. You are simply welcome. Please aim for guilt-free participation at your own shifting level of capacity. Even if all you do here is read and feel comforted knowing you are not alone, you help us fulfill our mission. This means that “lurking” is totally okay.

Mothers give give give to others in every area of our life, let Mama’s Comfort Camp be the one space where you can take comfort without giving back unless you feel totally comfortable and have the time to respond.
And you can ask for support anytime, even if you hardly comment here on other people’s posts. The people who like participating and commenting get a lot out of supporting you, it’s not like you are taking anything away from anyone. It’s all love.

2a. Don’t dish unsolicited advice. Unless someone is specifically asking for advice, validate, don’t educate. Please do your best to avoid saving/fixing people.  When people are triggered or need to vent, most need release and validation before they may be open to solutions. Please only offer suggestions and links to people who specifically say they are looking for ideas and resources. The flip-side: if you are looking for suggestions and resources, please state that in your post.  

2b: Don’t tell mamas how to think/feel. Please remember: people vary.
Parenting styles vary, points of friction vary.

2c: If you have a concern about the safety of a child: please contact Yael or a Den Mother privately, DO NOT question a mom’s fitness in a thread in which the mother is asking for support.

2d: If someone is distressed about something you find trivial or positive, please do not use her thread to convince her that she should change her ways or her outlook.
If you feel strongly about any subject, you can start a separate thread, and make sure to keep it positive, rather about what someone else is doing wrong.
2e: If someone forgets to honor 2a,b,c,d, please be gentle in your response, or just quote this guideline on the next comment.  We all mean well, but misunderstandings happen. We ask that we all do our best to avoid defensive back and forth discussions.
To this effect: please do not quote people to prove them wrong, as this always backfires.
In short: let’s keep upholding the group safety while giving each other kindness.

3. This is NOT a crisis management support group. Dangerous and volatile situations are outside the scope of the Mama’s Comfort Camp. Mama’s Comfort Camp is about self-care, self-kindness, and comfort. No one here functions as a mental health professional. When in crisis, please call the CrisisLine (The National Suicide Prevention Hotline) 1-800-273-8255. (As a former CrisisLine volunteer counselor Yael can tell you that this resource is for supporting people through ANY kind of crisis.)

The following topics are outside the scope of the Mama’s Comfort Camp and should not be posted about here: Suicidal thoughts, self-harm, violence, addiction, substance abuse, or any other extreme/volatile/dangerous situations. If you are in recovery and are actively participating in dedicated recovery meetings and counseling, you are welcome to post your wins here as long as you do not use Mama’s Comfort Camp as your main source of support for the recovery process.

If your posts involve domestic or child abuse, remember that there are multiple members who are Mandated Reporters (= required by law because of their day jobs to report such cases to the authorities).  

4. No medical advice, please. This space should not be used to diagnose or discuss treatment options, medications, supplements, their dosages and side effects. This is a peer support group, providing social support only. Don’t use this space to try to diagnose yourself, your kids, or anyone else with any physical or mental health condition. None of the information here should EVER be taken as medical or mental health advice. Please assume responsibility for your own choices in such matters, and when in doubt, call a doctor. Posts that are about medications or medical advice may be deleted by Yael or the Den Mothers.

5. Don’t forget to label triggering content. PT=Potentially Triggering. Mama’s Comfort Camp is a safe space to talk about our most vulnerable moments, but we warn our friends when we are about to share something painful, to give each other the chance to take a fortifying breath before reading, or to choose to skip reading the thread.How this works:

Please start your post with the letters PT + a label (such as Guilt / Relationships / Medical / Parenting challenges/ Anxiety / Fears…  etc, you get the idea) click post, and then tell your story in the comments of the tread. Please remember to keep all related updates in comments on the same thread.
If you forget to label a triggering post as PT, you may be asked to repost it in a new thread with the PT.

And please consider whether your post belongs in the #ppdchat forum: if your post centers on postpartum mood disorders, it’s probably better suited to the #ppdchat group, which is a great forum for discussing Postpartum Depression/PPAnxiety/PPOCD /medications /therapies, etc…. #PPDchat was created by Lauren Hale, it’s an amazing group, which includes many Mama Comfort Campers (including Yael and most of our Den Mothers), all eager to support you over there too. If you’d like to be added to the #ppdchat group, please raise your hand on the comments of this post or message me or Lauren Hale to add you.

6.  We respect almost all parenting choices, but if you consider hitting children to be a good discipline strategy, then Mama’s Comfort Camp is not the right parenting forum for you. This doesn’t mean that if you ever hit your child during a momentary loss of control, than you don’t belong here. On the contrary: motherhood is so stressful that sometimes we act against our best judgment. If this happens to you, shame is not the answer. Please reach out and use our forum to get support and learn new coping skills for your anger or rage (god knows motherhood brings those up!) as well as learning how to place structures of self care and meeting your own needs in order to prevent feeling so cornered that you end up resorting to violence you regret later. Posts on this matter are triggering for many of us (so please make sure to use the PT posting structure, see next item), but are absolutely a valid subject for discussion when the goal of the discussion is to move away from hitting into other parenting strategies. On the other hand, posts that refer to hitting children as good parenting will be deleted.

7. Please don’t discuss illegal activities. Also avoid discussing legal proceedings such as divorce and custody battles.

All of these issues are outside the scope of the Mama’s Comfort Camp and should not be discussed here. You are welcome to use the group to seek emotional support for the hardship inherent in such situations, but in that case keep the details out of the discussion. Remember that anything you say on facebook can be subpoenaed in court, which may damage both you and the privacy of other group members.
(Sorry to have to put some limits on your venting at such a tough time.)

 8. Keep politics out. So far so good! Deep gratitude to all of you for never talking politics here during the last elections! However, let’s be clear that much of what we talk about here, all the self-care and self-kindness, not to mention valuing the unpaid and unseen work of mothers… all of this is in and of itself political and rather subversive in our culture (and empowering to all of us). In addition to governmental politics, please avoid discussions about vaccinations and circumcision.  

9. Mama’s Comfort Camp is not a marketplace. Don’t use this space to promote businesses and events without prior approval from me. Also, try to avoid discussions that center on shopping. Also, try to avoid discussions that center on shopping, and avoid sharing commercial giveaways. (Personal heartfelt blog posts are welcome anytime.) See our detailed link sharing policy here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/114948861962041/doc/181499055307021/ 

10. Please don’t hijack someone else’s thread. If you feel strongly about the discussion, please start another thread. You can reference the original thread’s permalink in your new thread to keep the two related.  

11. Don’t forget to share your happy moments with us. Sure, we come here most often to vent/stomp/rant… But let’s add comfort to each other’s day by sharing the sweet/cute/awesome. Share your parenting wins, your relationship triumphs, and your self-care baby steps.   

12. Don’t break confidentiality. What is said inside the Mama’s Comfort Camp, should not be repeated anywhere else online or in real life. 

 

This one is a DO: if you know group members in real life, and that keeps you from sharing a vulnerable moment, please consider posting anonymously by asking a Den Mother to post it for you. More information about our brand new “Camper Anonymous” posting option right here: http://www.mamascomfortcamp.com/camper-anonymous/

Thank you for reading, thank you for respecting our culture, thank you for you.

PS:
These guidelines are a work in progress
, and will be amended as the group’s needs present themselves. Please feel free to make suggestions in the comments. 

The essence of permission: permission to act and feel true to ourselves is central to the mission and success of this group. For more on the Permission-Based Healing philosophy see: http://www.mamascomfortcamp.com/self-kindness-and-permission-based-healing/

The MommyFesto: Read our “This I Believe” Mommy-Festo: http://www.mamascomfortcamp.com/the-mommy-festo/

Copyrights: Members retain full copyrights for their own words and images in posts and documents anywhere in our forum.

This document was created by Yael Daphna Saar.  All rights reserved ©2012-Present.
If you wish to use parts of this text in a group you are a part of, you may do so with this attribution:
Originally written by Yael Saar, the source is at http://www.mamascomfortcamp.com/loving-guidelines/

Truckloads of love. May you find comfort here and everywhere, and may the joy be with you.

 

 

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