Everyone tells you how wonderful/crazy/rewarding/tiring/special the journey of parenting is. What they fail to mention is – it’s also very competitive and social media has added fuel to fire. When I first became a parent, I was excited and relieved to find all kinds of social media groups on parenting. I went on a group joining spree and suddenly my Facebook news-feed was congested with mothers (it’s almost always the mothers) sharing experiences and advice.
I definitely picked up a lot of useful parenting tips from these groups. One that I still pass on to others is how warm Eucalyptus oil-infused baths help to ease coughing. Another is how to whip up mini frittatas and it’s still the kids favourite (mine too because it’s nutritious and ready within 10 minutes). But stay in these groups long enough and you will start to see the bitchy side emerge. Suddenly I found all these strangers trying to raise my kid from their keyboard.
(And I thought helicopter-grandparenting was the worst. Ha.)
The drama in these groups will give Keeping up with the Kardashians a run for their money. Half the time it’s super entertaining, the other half it’s just tiring. Everyone’s entitled to their own opinion but do you realise it’s always the extremists that love to shout it from their virtual rooftops? Their voices often drown out anyone else like me who believe that moderation is key.
So in solidarity with all the other moderate parents out there, I’ve put together a little pop quiz to test your level of moderateness. It’s for parents with children below the age of five (because that’s about all the experience I have as a parent). Have a go.
1. Which of these delivery methods transforms a woman into a mother?
B) Natural labour with pain relief
Answer: All of the above. Whichever way your baby comes out of you, you’re a mother (and your husband a father). What’s important is mom and baby are safe and healthy.
2. Pick the best answer.
A) Breast is best
B) Fed is best
C) Formula is best
Answer: B. I can foresee all the respective advocates cracking their knuckles as they formulate their rebuttal but please, read this first.
3. Should my child be vaccinated?
C) I don’t know
Answer: A. Always A. I know there are a growing number of people who would chose B and I have this say to them: Make your decision based on validated medical research and journals NOT Google search or hearsay. Your community (especially those who are unable to be vaccinated like infants or the sick) should not be the ones to pay for your actions.
4. My child is allowed to eat junk food …
Answer: Sometimes. A well balanced diet is important. So is teaching our children how to be wise about junk food. As the parent, the frequency and type of junk food is entirely up to you.
5. What do you think of screen time and children?
A) A total non-issue. After all, we grew up watching cartoons all the time and we’re fine.
B) Never be allowed. What kind of a question is this?
C) Must be used wisely like for education and when the parent is at his/her wits end.
Answer: C. A loud, resounding C. Use your discretion as the parent to filter the content and set boundaries about when gadgets are allowed. Just like money and knives, technology can be used for good or evil.
If you had at least 3 out of 5 same answers as me, we are/could be friends. But if you got question 3 wrong, then you failed the whole quiz. So, how did you do?
As for my relationship with social media parenting groups, after one women criticised me for using coconut milk to make nasi lemak (I’m supposed to use virgin coconut oil it seems), I had enough. I went on a group exiting spree. A little extreme, maybe, but I find my social media now, not to mention my life, more peaceful.
If you’re finding yourself crowded in by too much drama, cut out the white noise. Whether you’re an ‘extremist’ or a ‘moderate’, be happy, be yourself and do what works best for you and your family. None of us know everything in this journey of parenthood but everyone knows something. Here’s to hoping we can all be a little less judgemental and a little more loving.
*Disclaimer: All opinions are entirely my own and I have dibs to shout it from my personal virtual rooftop.