It's something that moms deal with whether they are a public figure on TV or a more private mama in a small town. People often feel that they are helping a mother when they come to her with unsolicited advice. But often these comments aren't helpful. They are hurtful.
Just ask Bachelor alumna Jade Roper Tolbert, who is currently pregnant and recently received a "concerned" comment suggesting her 2-year-old daughter, Emerson, may be showing signs of autism.
Tolbert took to her Instagram Stories to share the comment and shut such conversations down.
"So cute. But how old is she? She's kind of showing signs of autism. Just thinking. She's so precious!!!" wrote this person, whose identity Tolbert graciously decided to obscure in her screenshot.
"If you all mean well, it's still not okay to say she has Autism or needs speech therapy or to comment any sort of thing like that to anyone about their child," Tolbert wrote, before assuring readers, "We are her parents, we have a great pediatrician, and we know her development."
Mama knows her child best
It's so odd for this person to assume that a mother like Tolbert wouldn't be watching her daughter's development closely, as all loving parents do. But not so surprising is the way they feel it's completely within their rights, and even helpful, to point this out to a stranger.
A counterpoint to this argument, which another reader posted to Tolbert, is that she opened herself up to this kind of commentary by posting photos and videos of her daughter.
Tolbert and husband Tanner Tolbert, whom she met and married on Bachelor in Paradise, make their living by publicizing the details of their lives. A good portion of their Instagram accounts (with 1.1 million and 645,000 followers respectively) are sponsored posts. Emerson also has her own account with 157,000 followers, and even her unborn baby brother has almost 84,000 followers of his own.
Inviting people into your life through social media isn't an invitation for unsolicited parenting advice
But Tolbert doesn't think that her family's social media presence entitles people to be rude. "I share parts of my life to bring joy, and because they bring me joy," she wrote. "But she is not a monkey to dance for you (or in this case to show you how many words she knows/doesn't know)."
This whole debate illustrates the reason many celebrities as well as regular parents have opted to keep their kids off their social media accounts and out of the public eye. While we have the choice of whether to post our faces online, our tots have little say in the matter.
"I'm telling you right now, we don't want our daughter's face anywhere ever until she decides because I have the utmost respect for her," Kristen Bell once explained to Access Hollywood of her campaign to stop paparazzi from snapping her daughters' pics. After making Hello Bello ads with another baby, Bell later clarified that her main concern is for Lincoln's and Delta's safety.
For those of us who aren't famous, there's another possible concern here: If kids do show differences in development, a school might find a parents' post describing their worries and use it as grounds not to admit them.
In the end, it is up to parents how much they choose to share about their family life. And when parents do choose to share photos of their children, that doesn't mean they are asking for unsolicited advice.