• Thu, Nov 21 - 1:00 pm ET

STFU Parents: How Not To Talk About Your Kid’s Cold Or Flu On Facebook

‘Tis the season for social media updates about respiratory illness! Every year, starting around mid-November, status updates begin to skew from pictures of pumpkin patches to Instagrams of Kleenex boxes. This is particularly true of parental status updates, because kids are so prone to sickness, and mothers are so prone to using Facebook. The combination will result in a lot of detailed accounts of cold and flu season, complete with up-to-the-minute toddler health reports, rants about “selfish” adults who have colds going near children (aka leaving their homes), and pictures of children looking miserable in their pajamas. It’s one of those patterns of behavior that makes you pause and say, “Gee, I sure am glad my parents didn’t have social media back in the day,” because the only thing worse than being sick is someone documenting you being sick.

A couple of years ago, I dedicated a column to this subject and focused specifically on the grosser side of parents’ cold and flu updates. Today, I’ll be mostly posting about the other types of sickness status updates in an attempt to discourage parents from live-updating their kid’s virus, for everyone’s sake. Yeah, it sucks when kids get sick, especially if it’s causing a lot of discomfort or forcing parents to lose sleep or miss work, but c’mon, it’s not the end of the world. It’s not even uncommon. Don’t we all deserve to blow our noses and temporarily run a fever in peace?

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  • CMJ

    Germs do not discriminate. I won’t bring my sickness (to the best of my knowledge..cause, you know, you’re usually the most contagious when you show no symptoms) around your kids but please do the same for me….I am NO MATCH for kid germs. NO MATCH.

    • FaintlyXMacabre

      Ohmygod. Kidstrep. Gets me every single time.

    • AP

      I worked at a camp for 5 summers, during two of which I got pneumonia during August. Most of the staff ended up with strep, pinkeye, Cocksackie virus, and chicken pox one summer.

      So unless you plan on keeping your kid home every time they sniffle, you can’t complain when an adult gets your baby sick.

    • elle

      Seriously I worked retail for a long time to help put me thru college and the amount of super sick kids being dragged around the store by healthy parents is astonishing.

    • MammaSweetpea

      May I add to that: parents who dope their kids up on fever meds and drop them off at daycare, run out the door without looking back, barely telling us they were sick the night before. Then when the meds wear off 4 hours later, and the fever spikes again, try getting them to come pick up their kid. HA!

    • RCIAG

      I don’t usually go on a spelling rant here or on STFU but when I read your misspelling & had to LOL!!

      I think it’s “coxsackievirus” not COCKsackie virus.
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coxsackievirus

      But I bet a virus of the cocksack isn’t much fun either!! At least it was a funny misspelling.

    • Bethany Ramos

      LOL I would be fine getting cocksackie virus because it’s so fun to say.

    • ted3553

      I love cocksackie virus. I’m telling my husband the next time he’s sick that that’s what he has

    • LiteBrite

      Me neither. I was sick more the first two years of my son’s life than I was in 20 years. It’s amazing how such a little body can pack such a wallop of germs.

    • pixie

      And unless your kid stays at home all the time, doesn’t go to school, isn’t registered in any activities, never goes to the park, doesn’t accompany you grocery shopping, it’s near impossible to determine exactly who “passed their germs on”.

    • The Great Queen Spider

      Seriously, I hardly ever got sick until my niece came into the world. Caught a nasty cold that turned into bronchitis and a few other illnesses as well.

  • alice

    Lyss and Kinzi should co-author a book, detailing their efforts to live in the Center of the Universe.

  • NicknamesAreDull

    People can be contagious before they show symptoms of being sick, so does this mean during cold and flu season, I don’t have to see any babies? I would hate to be so stupid and make parents lose sleep!

  • elle

    omg who takes pictures of their kids throwing up? Terrible. Also as to number 4 when was the last time you saw a toddler or baby cover their mouths when sneezing? They are way more germ machines then adults. My son goes to daycare a couple times a week and every time he comes home with a runny nose and sneezing I’m like carp damn it cuz I know no matter how often I wash my hands and avoid touching my face I’m getting that cold.

    • EX

      Oh I gave up fighting it a long time ago. When my daughter comes home from daycare with a cold I just accept that I’m going to get it and hope it won’t be too bad. I remember when she was about 9 months and we were in the first throws of this day care germ cycle I googled what I could do to keep from catching baby’s cold and all the advice was like “don’t let them near your face.” I’m pretty sure the people who wrote that never met a 9 month old. They live to slobber all over you. Like St. Bernards.

    • http://abasketcase.blogspot.com/ Basketcase

      Oh yes. And the other fave of my 7 month old is to suck on his fingers and then put them in my mouth. Or if I can keep my mouth shut, all around my mouth, in my ears etc, all the while throwing himself around so I need both hands to hold him still. I am SO glad we aren’t in daycare germs yet.

    • brebay

      get him one of those doggie cones…

    • Simone

      I do not like the Cone of Shame …

    • http://ichasekids.com/ Litterboxjen

      And the other fave of my 7 month old is to suck on his fingers and then put them in my mouth.

      Hah, my kid did the exact same thing. Colour me surprised to end up sharing her first big cold. :P

    • The Great Queen Spider

      Time to get a gas mask? Lol.

  • libraryofbird

    In the las picture I feel really bad for the girl but, is that cat food next to the toilet? If it is I feel worse for the cat.

    • http://abasketcase.blogspot.com/ Basketcase

      oh my god, it IS.
      That is revolting! The poor cat!

    • RCIAG

      Oh dear lord…can’t…un…see….ACK!!

      I’ve seen litter boxes in the bathroom, but never cat food.

    • EcnoTheNeato

      I think it’s a free-feeding bin of some sort. Could be a small dog, maybe? But yes, most likely a cat, who I ALSO feel bad for :-

      (though I wonder if whoever is downvoting this thread will get to mine?)

  • Kay_Sue

    I look at that last pic and all I can see is a great comeback during teenage angsty arguments someday: “Well YOU make me vomit and we all have photographic evidence since you POSTED IT ON FACEBOOK!”

    • AP

      I see a replication of said picture during the teen years, too: “Baby’s first hangover!!!”

  • momjones

    I’d like to go Sanctigrandmommy batshit crazy on Brandy. Who the hell takes a picture of her poor child throwing up? Besides the absolutely terrible feeling of throwing up, it is terribly humiliating and sometimes very scary for kids. She should be rubbing her back, holding her hair, and comforting her. Ugh.

    • MammaSweetpea

      No need to hold her hair, since mom has very thoughtfully combed it up into a cute bun, with bright red scrunchie! Some people shouldn’t parent.

  • EmmaFromÉire

    Oh my god Kinzi, it’s just so embarrassing when you have to remind people of the deal with the germ king. Hands really are the magical micro particle barrier!

    • EcnoTheNeato

      Mythbusters showed the best place to sneeze is into your elbow :-D

      Since we, you know, use our hands for everything. And elbows are rarely touched, and rarely touch anything

    • Simone

      Yup, it’s been the elbow for us here since we saw that episode.

  • VLDBurnett

    Mommyjacking of a status already about children? I didn’t think it was possible, but Jewelie pulled it off.

    • Kay_Sue

      She has mad skillz.

    • brebay

      I think I’m going to, for my own sanity, assume that Jewelie is actually a Julie who’s just trying to hide from a stalking ex, rather than try to comprehend a parent actually putting that shit on a birth certificate…

    • VLDBurnett

      I was going with “went through a ‘creative name spelling’ phase in high school and never quite outgrew it.”

  • AP

    So I have to slightly agree with #4…I spend a lot of time around kids and on mass transit, and I’ve noticed that people just simply don’t seem to even try to cover their mouths any more. It’s very frustrating and gross.

    • JLH1986

      Agreed. But that goes for everyone. Not just getting kids sick. “I wish people would cover their mouth when they cough or sneeze!” would have been fine. It was the “This is why we cover our mouth” nonsense that would have worked my nerve.

    • Toaster

      I took my kid to gymnastics the other day and another mom was there with her hacking, dripping children while she herself was hacking and dripping everywhere and not even trying to cover her mouth. “I didn’t want to be cooped up all day with the kids so I brought them all here LOL!” People are gross.

    • EcnoTheNeato

      Worked in retail for a while, and my least favorite moments were children in the store. Especially when they cough or sneeze, followed shortly by the guardian saying “Cover your mouth!”

      AGGGGH! Sterilize ALL the things!

  • LiteBrite

    #3 and #4: Kids get sick. I get that it sucks, but that’s what they do. And most of the time, you can’t be sure where they got the germs. It could be school. It could be from the sick person who visited. It could be from Target. Hell, it could even be from YOU Lyss or Kinzi because maybe you were carrying the virus but just never came down with the symptoms.

    Also, no one in my Facebook friends list really cares if my son is sick except me.

    • pixie

      Plus we tend to be the most contagious before we even realize we’re sick, so you could go visiting someone while you think you’re healthy but a few days later they’re all sick.

  • http://www.twitter.com/ohladyjayne allisonjayne

    I get the “wahh my kid’s suck and it sucks” or “At home with flu, thank goodness for Netflix” updates in general….sure, they’re kinda boring, but I’ve definitely posted things on facebook that others would deem boring so whatever.
    But yeah, details? No. Pictures? No.

    As a side note, I always find these ‘oh man they’re gonna hate you when they’re dating’ comments weird. Hell, they’ve been around since before the internet, the jokes about mom and dad pulling out the baby’s first bath photo book on their teen’s first date, etc. But I still don’t really get it. If the person you are dating is all, “Oh no! This person used to be a BABY! Oh god! I have to go now”….I mean, what the hell? I guess if the parent of someone I was dating posted super embarrassing photos of them as toddlers, I’d be a little wary (who wants crazy in-laws, right?) but what, I’m going to stop dating someone because they shit their pants when they were 3?

    • brebay

      Well, albums were private, for one thing, these are online, big difference. And yes, people have always taken naked pics of their babies, but usually freshly-bathed on a bear-skin rug, smiling and cute, not ass-rash or sitting in a brown tub with your own shit in your teeth. It’s a boundary issue, I think. Then people wonder why their 12-year-olds are sexting, you’ve taught them nothing’s off-limits and it’s okay to expose their whole lives online. I think by the time you’re dating (at least by the time I’d let my kids date,) you’re a little less easily embarrassed, but I don’t know any tween who wouldn’t be humiliated by this. Kids bully each other enough online, they don’t need their parents doing it too.

    • http://www.twitter.com/ohladyjayne allisonjayne

      Oh yeah, i’m not saying there isn’t a difference between online versus private albums. I’m just saying that it’s somewhat the same sentiment – I remember pre-internet, people made jokes about parents pulling out the baby book on their kid’s first date, and I never quite got the joke. And it’s somewhat the same idea…people saying that these photos are going to embarrass the kids when they are older…maybe, but to me the embarrassment should be more at the hands of the parents, because we’ve ALL been babies, we’ve all been toddlers, probably almost everyone I know played with their poop when they were little or did other weird stuff.

      That said, I think 12 year olds are sexting because that’s one of the tools easily available to them to experiment with sexuality…I remember being 12, everyone was obsessed with sex even though very few were actually doing it. The stakes are higher, but the impulse is really the same.

    • AugustW

      I never understood the documom thing. When my daughter gets a weird rash or something, I take a picture so I can show the doctor the next time we are in. Why would I want her misery on display for my coworkers and college friends? lol.

    • AugustW

      My daughter has a cold. The total extent of my Facebook post was “Aww. Poor kiddo got a cold the day before her birthday”.

      Everybody has had pretty much all the colds and all the flus. Nobody needs a description of what happens.

  • keelhaulrose

    Please, tell me some of these are fake. The special snowflake names give it away, right? Please… for the sake of faith in humanity…

  • CerealGirl

    I’m guilty of the last one. In my defense, my daughter was snuggled all cute under her covers in bed, but she had a sad face. No toilet or face hiding action.

  • Blu

    When my cousin’s daughter got a bad virus this fall, my cousin documented every…little…detail of it. Including pictures of her kid’s flushed face & swollen lymph nodes. It was so irritating I almost unfriended her.

    • http://abasketcase.blogspot.com/ Basketcase

      Did you at least hide her?

    • CMJ

      I had a “friend” post pictures of their poor kid’s full-body rash.

  • Amber Starr

    This is one of the reasons that I am so thankful that I have found this site. Once my kid is born, I refuse to be a “STFU Parent”. I never realized how many sanctimommies & mommyjackers were on my friends list until I started checking this column. Sweet baby Jesus, I cannot be “that mom”.

  • G.E. Phillips

    I hate, HATE when people are like, “Oh, you’re (or your kid) is sick? OMG, don’t get me sick!” Because, you know, as soon as the flu hits, my top priority is to chase your ass around until I can catch you, pin you down, and smother you with my germs like a big boogery zombie. For realz, I’ve had this said to me both in person and ON THE PHONE with someone I didn’t even see every day. Whatever happened to, “Gee, I hope you feel better soon?” /end rant.
    That being said, there is no reason to detail that shit all over Facebook, either. Especially anything to do with anyone having “the runs.”

  • Pixx

    Jewelie. Not Julie, Jewelie. Please. All I notice in that name is the “ew”.

    And if someone hovered in the doorway of the bathroom to take a picture of me throwing up, I’d probably break their phone and then puke on their shoes.

    • Jallun-Keatres

      I pronounce it ju-ELLIE in my mind… lol

  • Pixx

    And “OMG COVER YOUR MOUTH AROUND OUR BABY”? Give me a break. A) Kids put everything in their mouths, including their hands which touch all surfaces. They get sick more from just existing than they do because someone didn’t cover their mouth. B) Kids are the ones who have to be taught to cover their mouths. I’m reasonably polite and careful with spreading germs when I have a cold. Kids have no such filter–they will wipe their noses on your clothes, intentionally spit on you for fun, and cough/sneeze directly in your face. If anyone’s in peril from germs-run-rampant, it’s the adults who come into contact with kids!

    • Muggle

      If the baby’s a newborn I can understand not wanting sick people around them… but then it’s just tacky to put on Facebook, per Blair’s previous article about Rules For Visiting Your Newborn.

    • KatDuck

      I work retail and I’m fairly sure every surface and product has been gummed on by the under 18mo crowd. Parents will pick up a stuffed animal or small toy and let the kid chew on it while they shop and stick it back when they’re done. Repeat with the next stroller-aged kid. And Kinzi thinks I’M the one passing on the infection?

    • Pixx

      Oh god, or the people who open up food and let their babies eat it and then they just drool squashed food everywhere? I was a cashier, and once this lady came through the line with a box of chocolate ice cream bars she had opened up for her kid to gnaw on to keep it happy while shopping. She handed me the spit-covered, chocolate smeared, smashed box to scan and bag for her and then halfheartedly swiped at the chocolate drool that the kid had oozed all over the cart.

    • http://abasketcase.blogspot.com/ Basketcase

      Ewwwwww.
      Soft toys are already the worst for spreading germs.

  • Annona

    I really don’t understand the whole “parents bitching on facebook about germy adults” phenomenon. Obviously, you are confused, because it is your children who have ALL the germs. I took my friend’s kid to a Halloween themed kids activity a month ago, and I am STILL SICK…

  • Jallun-Keatres

    I took a pic of my pale self for FB when I got the flu a few years ago. I’d never do that to my child or anyone else. :(

  • smoinpour

    I dont even understand why they would post about there child being sick on social media in the first place

  • brebay

    4 doctor visits for a virus? Does she think they’re lying?

  • brebay

    Right, Kinzie, if we all covered our mouths no one would ever get a cold ever, ever again…

  • RCIAG

    Wow, after reading all of these the first one is practically acceptable!

  • http://wtfihaveakid.blogspot.ca/ jendra_berri

    No one ever took a picture of me when I was sick because manners.

  • PrairieCoast

    Sorry, I can’t get over the fact that people named Kinzi and Jewelie are old enough to have kids.

  • middlefinger

    the only thing worse than these 5 are the comments.. bunch of people with sticks up your ass.

    • canaduck

      So which one are you, Jewelie?

    • EcnoTheNeato

      There you are! I wondered who downvoted 25% of the stuff in this thread. Unless…it wasn’t you and we have a shadow-lurking downvoter in our midsts o_O

  • Ddaisy

    Six months ago, I graduated university. Since finishing school, I’m eating better, sleeping better, and less stressed out than I’ve ever been. My immune system should be in tip-top shape. However, I started teaching elementary kids in September, and I have therefore been sick pretty much ever since. I’ve seen more nose-picking in the last two months than in my entire life put together, and I promise it’s not the teachers who are wiping their boogers on the precious snowflakes. Trust me, the flow of germs definitely runs much more in the kid –> adult direction than it does vice versa.

  • Guest

    “Jewelie”?!?

    • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

      Is that, like, Towelie’s sister?

  • Katherine Handcock

    I dream of the day that these parents have their now-teen children post identical status updates about them. “Oopsie, Mommy ate some bad sushi last night, and now she’s stinking up the bathroom while I have to be getting ready for school! #fail.”

    Seriously, no one needs to read this, and no one wants someone to post something like this about them. I love my husband dearly, but if posted a status – or, heaven forbid, a PICTURE – of me while I was sick? Divorce. Seriously. I’m not sure I could ever trust him again.

  • AugustW

    I am in an accelerated school program, to the point that if you miss more than 2 days, you probably won’t pass. As it is, we test 3 out of 4 of the school days per week, and while you can make up a test, you lose 10% off the top AND have to take a harder version of the test.

    So, yeah. The sniffles is not a reason to miss class. We have a bin of disposable masks, and the sickies wear them. At this point we’ve all been passing around the same cold, I’m probably due to get it again here soon.

  • whiteroses

    I’m working seasonal retail. I cannot even begin to tell you how many people I come into contact with on any given day.

    If you’re that worried about your kid getting sick, stay home. Seriously. I cannot tell you how many kids I see with runny noses, glassy eyes and obvious balance issues being dragged around by their parents.

  • Simone

    That is such a clean toilet.

    None of my toilets are clean enough to hug like that.