Mommyshame

STFU Parents: The Continued Obsessive Documentation Of Children’s Teeth

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This week, the viral parenting story heard ’round the world came to us from Australia, where a woman was scolded by her Facebook friends via an anonymous letter. The letter was its own example of poor etiquette form, considering nothing that happens on social media is *really* important enough to warrant being told what to do by an anonymous pack of mean girls — but that doesn’t necessarily mean the contents of the letter were untrue. If anything, I take the “poison pen” author at her every word. We’ve all known people who post too much baby minutiae on social media. It’s actually what inspired the STFU, Parents blog in the first place. And over the years, I’ve come to give these minutiae-posting parents a nickname, a moniker to fit the overshare crime, as it were, and that nickname is “documom.”

I began chronicling the behaviors of the Documom several years ago. Like a cultural anthropologist studying a species, I’ve watched as new iterations of this type of Facebook parent have evolved, and as a result, I’ve been forced to sub-categorize their habits in my submissions folders. My Documom folder currently has sub-folders for categories such as “Broken limbs,” “Tonsils,” “Haircuts,” “Rashes,” and “Miscellaneous” (you don’t want to see what’s in there, trust me). But the OG folder, the original subject matter that inspired the documom category in the first place, the one that always has far and away the most submissions in it, is titled simply, if not terrifyingly, “Teeth.”

I first posted about parents’ (mostly moms’) obsession with their children’s teeth back in 2011, and the examples have only gotten gorier and more detailed since then. Sure, I’ve also posted about the rashes, infections, and strange fluids parents document on Facebook. I even shared a short guide called “5 Signs of a Documom” with examples like “close-up pictures of stitches,” and “dead skin removal.” But in my mind, nothing compares to the unnecessary shock of teeth submissions. There’s something oddly witchcraft-y about mothers being obsessed with (or even having a minor interest in) their kids’ teeth, those pearly calcified structures all mammals harbor in their jaws. After all, they’re not good for anything once they’re not in a person’s mouth. They can no longer effectively chew food, and they serve no true function, unless you’re reallyyy into teeth and bone jewelry like a Flintstone character or a specialized Etsy mom crafter. You could even make the argument that mothers who choose to save their kids’ teeth are basically creating a shrine to their children, amongst the other memorabilia I’m imagining like hair clippings, nail clippings, and jarred fecal samples, because if they don’t collect and/or bottle their children’s baby teeth out of obsession, why would parents bother keeping such things??

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