The 10 Rudest Things You Can Do In A Parents Group Chat

Here's what to consider before you click "send."

If you have a school-age child, you’ve likely been added to several parents group chats — for their class at school as well as soccer, gymnastics or whichever activities your child participates in.

On the one hand, a group chat can be extremely useful for getting time-sensitive information, like the location of a game or confirmation that tomorrow is pajama day. At its best, it can be a space for parents helping parents.

But all technological advances have their downsides. There are conversations that go off track, complaints, abuses of “reply all,” pettiness and negativity, as well as the sheer time suck of the whole endeavour.

Occasionally, something salacious occurs. When I mentioned that I was working on this story, a colleague told me that he’d heard about an X-rated message that accidentally got sent in a parents group chat — and was quickly deleted!

There’s also the opportunity for public embarrassment on a large scale. Megann, a mom in Los Angeles, told HuffPost that in a big group chat she belongs to, another mom once accidentally hit “send” on a voice memo in which she could be heard asking her husband repeatedly: “Did you just fart? ... Oh, my God, did you just fart?”

But more common is the experience of another colleague of mine, who told me that one day when she stepped away from her phone for a half-hour meeting, she returned to find that she had missed 154 texts — a number that’s even more impressive when you learn that there were only 17 people in the chat.

There’s a line between being helpful and being too much. Some chats clearly cross it, while others just approach it — perhaps making you wonder how rude it would be to simply remove yourself from the group.

There are plenty of ways to commit a faux pas in a group chat, however. HuffPost spoke with Jackie Vernon-Thompson, the founder of From the Inside-Out School of Etiquette in Florida, about which behaviors to avoid.

“When parents are in a group chat, for a particular purpose, it is crucial to remain focused on that mission or purpose when commenting or posting,” Vernon-Thompson said. It’s generally when a parent veers off-topic that a chat “goes left,” she said.

Here are some of the most common “don’ts” that Vernon-Thompson sees in group chats:

  1. Talking about your own child’s abilities. Vernon-Thompson said this can quickly get negative. Comparing your child with another in the group is also a big no-no.
  2. Engaging in any negative talk, such as how you are disappointed in the soccer team or unhappy with the school principal.
  3. Taking up the group’s space (and time) with what should be a private chat between you and one other parent.
  4. Privately messaging someone who is in the chat without asking them first. “They have agreed to be in a group, not one-on-one chats with you,” Vernon-Thompson said. “If you desire to speak with a parent, direct-message them once and ask for permission to privately dialogue with them. If it is ignored, take that as a no.”
  5. Sharing daily affirmations, motivational quotes or videos. Though well intentioned, this can become “annoying when that was not the purpose of the chat,” Vernon-Thompson said. It also increases the number of off-topic messages that others have to wade through. Similarly, you should refrain from sharing photos of your child that aren’t related to the purpose of the group.
  6. Not keeping a cordial tone, e.g., using all caps, which is often perceived as yelling.
  7. Airing publicly, for the whole chat, any conflicts with other members or the admin. These should be handled privately, Vernon-Thompson said.
  8. Asking questions about information that has already been covered, or that you could easily look up online. This leaves others receiving the information multiple times, which is aggravating. Look back through the chat before asking a question to make sure it hasn’t already been addressed.
  9. Adding another parent on your own. Leave that to the admin, and advise them that there is someone you think should be added when that is the case.
  10. Always complaining or being argumentative.

If you do run into a problem with someone in the chat, the worst thing you can do is to hash out the conflict for the rest of the group to witness. Instead, contact the person privately. Vernon-Thompson recommended speaking on the phone or in person with the individual, as what you say is more likely to be misconstrued over text.

“We also tend to hide behind our text messages and feel there is a pass when we conduct ourselves more aggressively,” she said.