First, Kardashian's claws came out when social media falsely claimed that a painting by her 7-year-old daughter North was enhanced with Photoshop. "Don't play with me when it comes to my children!!!" Kardashian, 40, responded in a now-expired Instagram story. "My daughter and her best friend have been taking a serious oil painting class where their talents and creativity are being encouraged and nurtured. North worked incredibly hard on her painting, which took several weeks to complete. As a proud mom, I wanted to share her work with everyone."
Citing speculative reports that North was not the artist, the reality star continued, "How dare you see children doing awesome things and then try to accuse them of NOT being awesome!?!?! Please stop embarrassing yourselves with the negativity and allow every child to be GREAT!!!"
And after Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star Rinna endorsed a lingerie-clad photo of her 19-year-old daughter Amelia Gray Hamlin, an Instagram troll spat "Disgusting," to which the mom, 57, replied, "What is wrong with you? This is my child."
This parental reflex is what Candace Cameron Bure described as having “poked mama bear out of her slumber" after a family Christmas card she posted on Instagram invoked savage comments over her children's appearance. “Anytime you attack my kids, I'm never going to sit back and watch that,” the Fuller House star previously told Yahoo Life. “I loved that photo…I loved that it actually showcased my kids's personalities…so it felt very authentic to me. But you know, when you start talking about my family, of course, you are going to get a rise out of me because I'll always protect my kids.”
Bure also addressed the "unkind comments" on Facebook writing, "Do you think it’s funny to criticize someone’s children?"
According to Sharon Silver, the founder of Proactive Parenting, the instinct to protect children is attributed to the "love hormone" oxytocin and a mechanism called "fight or flight," the latter described by Harvard University as a physiological chain of events that motivates people to fight off danger (psychological or physical) or escape it. "It can feel like rage," Silver tells Yahoo Life adding that some mothers experience this more profoundly than men.
"When you think of cavemen, for example, the fathers hunted food and the mothers did the caretaking," says Silver. "That's a primal female instinct, and when children are too young to defend their basic rights, moms tend to react with righteous indignation."
Regardless of whether a parent is defending their child from physical or verbal danger (a playground bully or a keyboard warrior), reactions are often subconscious, says Silver. "How we respond can reflect an older wound — if no one came to our defense as children, we want to prevent a similar pain for our own." And sometimes, snap judgments toward a child — someone loved so unconditionally by his or her parent — can cause emotions ranging from annoyance to outrage.
With the pandemic causing emotional and academic distress for many children, parents could also be sensitized right now. "The pandemic has brought all frustrations to the surface because many of us are in survival mode," says Silver. "For many parents, the veil has been lifted and there's nothing that will go unaddressed."
For parents on the receiving end of criticism, Silver says there's a difference between reacting (an emotional attempt to shut down a situation) and responding (a teachable moment for both the provoker and the child). "Sometimes silence, allowing a remark to linger, is the best boundary," she says. "This holds the critic responsible for their words."
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