Why A Cute Photo Of Jamie Oliver's Son On Instagram Led To A Parenting Debate

You know what parents really love? When other adults tell them how to parent. Okay, so that was sarcasm. Jools Oliver, the wife of British TV chef and cookbook author Jamie Oliver, posted a photo of their 4-year-old son on Instagram (via Hello!). The image was one of those tossed-off things parents will post when they think their child is looking especially cute. The son, River, was standing by a playground climbing wall wearing a shirt with rainbow stripes. Jools' caption read simply, "Morning River Rocket Rainbow," with a series of emojis appropriate to the happy, loving spirit of the post.

A lot of Jools' followers commented about how big River was getting, or how cute he looked in that outfit. But someone else, using what might have been a spam account, criticized the fact that River was sucking his thumb in the photo. "For the love of god he is 5 and still sucking his thumb!?!?" the Instagram user asked, getting River's age wrong. "It's not cute lady!!!"

Social media trolls aren't worthy of our attention, but suffice to say this one got some stern responses from Jools, her friends, and her fans.

Jools Oliver's friends and fans came to her defense

Jools Oliver actually engaged in a little back-and-forth on Instagram with her troller, who apparently changed their handle from @lara234720 to @drito_iz_osijeka in mid-argument. (The newer handle — strangely enough — is the name of a music festival held recently in Croatia, per Facebook). "He is actually 4!!!! And who cares?????" Jools responded at first. "You don't," the troller pointed out. "I really don't and frankly neither should you," Jools replied. Then the Instagram account with a Croatian theme mentioned that thumb sucking can cause tooth and mouth damage.

Jools' supporters weighed in with stories about how they or someone they knew sucked their thumbs as older children or even into adulthood. "My cousin still sucks her thumb, and she's got a Ph.D. and a doctorate and has set up schools in Africa for child orphans," a commenter replied. "And she's 50 years old."

We hate to admit it, but the troller may have a point, according to the American Dental Association. The dentists' group says simply holding a thumb or fingers in the mouth isn't risky, but more aggressive thumb sucking may affect the teeth and the roof of the mouth. The ADA recommends using positive reinforcement, not scolding, to get children to stop sucking their thumbs after age 4. That said, we would never tell Jamie and Jools Oliver how to raise their children. We'll just click "like" and move on.