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Did Ryan Reynolds Get What He Deserved?

Photograph by Rex / Rex USA

I must admit, I have a love/strongly dislike relationship with social media. I love being in touch with old friends. I love seeing cute pictures of little ones, vacations and families. I love a funny status update. And I really love when a funny status update inspires a bunch of funny responses.

I also love information sharing. I have some incredible friends who know a lot of stuff about things like nutrition, alternative medicine, psychology and various other topics that I genuinely enjoy reading about. I learn a lot from my friends.

But I strongly dislike the arguments that seem to erupt in moments when ideas clash. I also dislike the feeling that people sometimes seem to look for reasons to correct or judge others.

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Not long ago, I snapped a cute picture of my daughter when I caught her reading the first paragraph of "To Kill A Mockingbird." She was so proud to be able to read one of my books on her own. I posted it but then thought twice. Even though she only read the first paragraph, I could practically hear the screams of "inappropriate content" coming through my screen.

So I saved it just for me. I mean, who has time for that?

I must have gazed at the Ryan Reynolds baby carrier picture that practically broke the Internet 30 times without seeing the problem that people really felt the need to highlight all over social media. I don't know Ryan Reynolds, and I doubt I'll ever meet him, but he seems like a nice guy in interviews and, if I'm being honest, I'm a sucker for a picture of a new dad with a baby in a carrier. I can't help it. My babies are getting very big and pictures like that bring me back to the days of my husband carrying them on his chest. Sigh.

But Ryan made a mistake, and the Internet decided to make him an example of a crucial parenting fail. Was it really necessary? No. Is Ryan Reynolds allowed to make mistakes as he navigates his way through this parenting gig? I certainly hope so.

I might have forgotten my manners at times or attended a party when I was supposed to be at the library. Oops. I'm glad those private Facebook groups didn't exist in the good old days.

Ryan is not alone. Google "celebrity parenting mistakes," and you'll find plenty of famous people breaking the rules and being raked over the coals for it. Evidently if you're famous, you can't make any parenting mistakes. Ever.

The point is that people like to pounce on the mistakes others make, and that makes social media (and the Internet in general) an unpleasant place.

Not long after that picture made the rounds, I encountered three different threads on Facebook that included harsh, judgmental and downright angry statements between moms about, you guessed it, vaccines. These debates weren't healthy or productive. They were venomous, hateful and fueled by a need to be "right." These threads occurred on the timelines of people I have known at various stages of my life. All of them are friendly and supportive of others more often than not—until someone mentions vaccines.

Even if we move away from hot topics like vaccines, parents attack one another for other reasons. Apparently private Facebook groups are the new hotspot for reporting undesirable behavior seen in the community—complete with pictures of the offending child. We all know that nothing is ever private, right?

Any time I see something like that pop up in a private group, I duck and cover. Kids make mistakes. They don't always follow the rules, and they push boundaries to see how it feels. Do they sometimes push too far? Yes. Should that behavior be photographed and posted to a Facebook group with a description of the event? No.

Raising kind kids starts from the top. Lead with empathy and kindness so that your kids learn to do the same.

I'm willing to bet that I sometimes drove too fast as a teen or mingled with kids my mom didn't approve of. I might have forgotten my manners at times or attended a party when I was supposed to be at the library. Oops. I'm glad those private Facebook groups didn't exist in the good old days.

If we want to raise kids who are kind, compassionate, empathic and use technology for good, we have to begin by keeping our own digital actions in check. We have to stop feeding into the click-bait headlines (because who really cares if Jessica Alba forgot to use a stroller shade one day), stop criticizing people for their mistakes and stop judging and arguing just because someone is doing this parenting thing in a different way. And definitely don't judge every time a new parent (gasp!) makes a mistake.

We have to connect with our kids, our loved ones and our friends face-to-face and stop hiding behind status updates and comments. We have to embrace the concept of human error and allow others to do the same. We have to be kind, understanding and patient.

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Raising kind kids starts from the top. Lead with empathy and kindness so that your kids learn to do the same.

And Ryan Reynolds, wherever you are, I'm guilty of forgetting things like hats and sunscreen. When my son learned to roll from one end of the room to the other almost overnight, I went into a complete panic looking everywhere for him, only to find him giggling under the bed. You're doing just fine.

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