Have you found yourself googling ways to stop tantrums? What about searching for parenting advice on rewarding good behavior in your kids? How about the pros and cons of breastfeeding after six months? Trust me, you are not alone. There are about a million questions new parents have. Now that we are in the age of the internet, it becomes easy to type your question into a search bar and find your answer. But it can also lead you into a deep dark hole of misinformation and unhelpful comments.
We’ve put together some helpful information so you can successfully navigate the web of parenting advice. You’ll get some tips to spot parent shaming and avoid it, plus where to turn for the best advice as it relates to your family and your children’s needs. But, we’ll start with some background information that will help you understand the new challenges technology brings up when it comes to parenting advice.
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Parenting Advice in the Time of Social Media
Social media and the internet have changed just about every aspect of our lives. Many things have become so much easier and more convenient, but at the same time, the amount of information at our fingertips can be a bit overwhelming. Let’s look at just a few of the biggest challenges parents face today when searching for advice.
The Rise of Mom Shaming in the Internet-Driven Society
It isn’t just mom shaming, but moms seem to be a much larger target for the cruel internet than fathers. The phrase, mom shaming, describes when people bully mothers for their parenting choices or methods. Sometimes it happens intentionally, but other times people are unintentionally negative or judgmental.
People have very strong opinions about parenting styles. Everyone wants to believe that they are making the absolute best choices for their children. When someone is doing something different, it’s easy to have a strong reaction and even feel defensive. But you have to be careful when you’re addressing parenting choices. Each situation is unique and there is no perfect process for raising a child. The issue isn’t black and white.
While this has been an issue since the beginning of time, the internet makes it easier to comment and weigh in on things. Oftentimes, people share their unsolicited advice or judgments on anonymous profiles. A brief Instagram caption about weaning your baby might invite comments about why you should keep breastfeeding or disagreements over the type of formula you are switching to. People might disagree with letting your children look at a TV or listen to certain music. Don’t let those comments get to you.
Other common topics that can ignite some mom shaming include work/life balance and the benefits of sending kids to a daycare versus staying home, comparing milestones of children, and post-baby bodies. Beware of the shaming and make sure you aren’t unintentionally participating.
Constant Comparison to Others’ Highlight Reels
Social media is a place to share pictures of family vacations, important moments or events, and our favorite photos from daily life. For most users, it is a highlight reel of happy occasions. That is crucial to remember for your own well-being because comparing your situation to anyone’s collection of photos on social media is completely unfair.
You probably won’t see the last few times the child’s behavior was not the best or the mornings when they rush out the door late and eat fruit snacks for breakfast. People show the highlights and leave out most of the reality from their feeds.
If you feel like all other parents are packing perfect lunches for school with no processed food and getting everything done on their to-do list every day while also getting eight hours of perfect sleep, you would be wrong in 99.99% of scenarios.
Overwhelming Amount of Parenting Tips Available
New parents have tons of questions. Decades ago, they might have called a friend or the pediatrician or consulted the baby book they received for a shower, but today, they turn to the internet. While that can be extremely helpful, it can also be extremely scary. Each search can turn up thousands of sites all giving different answers.
Websites tend to be all over the place in the information they provide. You might be searching for how to help with a headache and have a website tell you that you have a brain tumor. It can be terrifying to search for certain things on the internet. Plus, you’ve got a bunch of people writing as if they are experts in child-rearing, but in reality, they have the same amount of experience as you much of the time.
Don’t worry, we’ve got some tips to help you find the right sources below.
Deciding What to Share of Your Family Life
Technology makes it easy to share pictures of your children and your family with people who live further away. You can take so many more pictures and send them instantly to grandparents and aunts or uncles. But how much should you share about your home life on the internet? Should you share pictures of your child’s life on public forums? Most parents today don’t have to worry about their own faces being easily searched on google from when they were children.
There are two major issues with oversharing young children and personal information on the internet. First of all, there are some scary people out there, and you don’t want to give them information about your young ones. It’s best to keep your accounts set to private so you know all the people that are following you. If you decide to have a public account, make sure you don’t share any information about exact locations or specific details.
The second area to consider when making decisions is how your child will feel about it when they are older. Will your tweens want posts online about their behavior problems from their younger years? Did you post photos that they are embarrassed about now? There are tons of moments that adults find adorable and funny when kids are young, but that child might not feel the same way about it.
Consider these issues when you sign up for an Instagram account or post something to Facebook. Those pictures and words are out there and available so it’s important to think about your family’s safety and future.
How to Deal with Mom/Dad Shaming
Let’s deep dive into the parent shaming conversation a bit and give you some pointers if you find yourself faced with this in any way. These tips can help with any anxiety over information on the internet as well, especially if you are struggling with some conflicting information.
Remember that insecure people project.
Every person has their own unique parenting style. Sure, you might have similarities with other people, but humans differ so much in personality and demeanor from person to person and that applies to kids as well. You probably won’t parent multiple children the exact same way either. Because of this, many people are a bit insecure about at least one aspect of raising children. Insecure people often project their insecurities onto others.
If someone is telling you that you’re wrong, it might mean they need to take a look in the mirror and see if they are just concerned with something in their own household. Don’t let someone else’s insecurities and opinions send you into a downward spiral.
Avoid, block, or unfollow constant sources of negativity.
Your mental health should be a priority during any period of your life, but especially when you are trying to raise another human and teach them. Kids mimic what their parents do, so it’s imperative that your child sees you making healthy choices.
If there is someone giving you a hard time or sending negativity your way, remove them. As easy as it is to follow someone, it’s just as simple to unfollow them and block them if necessary. You don’t owe it to everyone to respond to every single opinion and note that comes your way. If you ask your network for advice and someone sends you something that isn’t helpful, you don’t owe them anything.
The same thing goes with the information others are posting. If you are seeing things pop onto your timeline that don’t bring you joy, consider muting or unfollowing those posters. The whole purpose of these apps is connection and you need positive connections surrounding you as much as possible.
Watch for signs of ignorance.
Each year, doctors and scientists learn more about how human brains develop and change over time. There are breakthroughs in child development and changes are made to the recommendations and styles of education used. That goes for more than just the brain too.
Consider car seats for example. Just a few decades ago, kids often went home from the hospital in the front seat of the car in their mother’s arms. Now, doctors recommend children use car seats and booster seats until they reach a weight and/or height that ensures seat belts are able to do their job.
What does that mean for advice and negative comments? It’s important to consider where the person is getting their information and knowledge on raising kids. Your own parents will have some helpful advice (they raised you didn’t they?) but it’s OK to let them know that some things are a bit outdated. They may not be open to that feedback or necessarily agree, but you can be confident with your decisions based on the most updated information you can find.
Sometimes, the older methods work great in certain scenarios. Recognizing that some people may disagree because they don’t understand the factors you’re faced with will help you move past any negativity or comments that sting a little.
Take a break, and find your happy place.
Give yourself a time out from trying to answer every question as much as possible and just be present in the moment. A solution might present itself to your problems or it might just resolve itself on its own. Being a parent is hard work and you are faced with so many new challenges each day. You don’t need to search for the perfect answer every time. Try one solution and if it doesn’t work, try something else. Trial and error is necessary while learning.
Set limits for the amount of time you spend on a screen. It can be easy to scroll through photos, pin recipe ideas for the healthiest dinners, read articles about the best activities for kids, and watch YouTube tutorials on sleep training. At the end of the day, your time is best spent with your family giving them your attention and love.
How to Find the Right Sources of Parenting Advice
Now that you’ve read through the things to watch out for and how to cope with anything that feels like shaming for your parenting choices, we’ll cover a few great resources that you can rely on when you want a second opinion or some new ideas.
Steer clear of emotional posts and biased opinions.
In many cases, you’re looking for facts and real-life examples. Be aware of articles and pieces that claim to be informational, but use a lot of emotional descriptions and words that signify opinions. Many parents have their opinions on what they think the best methods are and those can be helpful, but only when you take in the information knowing that there isn’t necessarily scientific proof that it’s best or a guarantee that it will be the best fit for any family.
Just remember that you can find something online to back up any argument you want (no matter how wild and crazy). So, watch for reputable sources with factual information cited when you want the most dependable information.
Use your trusted network.
Whether you want to vent about potty training mishaps or you’re looking for advice on the best movies to show your kids, your friends and family will be incredible resources for you when it comes to the best parenting advice.
As we mentioned above, there may be some things your own parents aren’t up to date on as far as research, but that doesn’t mean they won’t have some tricks up their sleeves to help with things that come up. They might have some traditional methods that are worth trying out.
You may also have a friend or two that has children a little older than yours and you can look to them as a role models. Kids go through a lot of similar challenges and learning situations, and if their child is just a bit older, those situations will still be fresh in their minds.
It’s also extremely helpful to have a support network while raising a child that can relate to the struggles and celebrate the wins. You can have playdates, exchange toys between houses, and maybe even swap some babysitting duties back and forth.
Check for credentials.
Parenting books come in every variety. If you are turning to a book or specific website, find out more about the person writing that information. Is it a parent of just one child that wants to share their secrets to naps and mealtime or is it someone who has studied child behaviors and psychology for years? There’s a big difference between the two and there is room for both in the market, but it’s important to know before you dive in.
Especially with advice related to the physical health of your child, it’s important to make sure that there is science to back up any advice that they are giving. It’s your responsibility as a parent to make sure your child is fed, rested, clean, and safe. Make sure you trust the person giving you the information before you try things out on your own child, and if you have any doubts—see the next piece of advice.
Talk to your doctor.
Your pediatrician is one of the best people to ask questions about your child’s health and well-being. If you are concerned about milestones, you can chat with your doctor about it. They see hundreds of children at various phases and they are trained for years to spot things that are off or need additional attention.
As always, you always have the option for a second opinion as well if you aren’t feeling confident in your doctors. Check with your friends and neighbors and see if they have a doctor they recommend that you can try out. Doctors have a ton of information and can help put new parents at ease with all kinds of concerns and questions.
Family therapists can also be a huge help if you are dealing with trauma or big changes within your family. Kids have a hard time coping with loss, divorce, moving, and other shifts to their normal routine, so it’s great to have a trained professional to help everyone process emotions and feelings.
Have faith in your parenting style.
It’s so important to give yourself tons of credit. There is no better parent for your child than you are. You know your child better than any author or advice columnist. You know how much time and energy you have to try new things, as well as which ideas typically work in your household.
Many brand new parents have lower self-esteem because they are figuring out so many new routines and keeping a new human alive. But you have to remember that everyone is in that position at the beginning of the parenthood journey and you will figure out so much by just doing what feels right to you. Your maternal or paternal instinct will kick in and you can be confident in your abilities and your parenting styles.
Always trust your gut.
This cannot be repeated enough—trust your gut. If something seems off, act on it or change it. This goes for everything. You’ll notice behavior changes, even when they are minor, before anyone else because you spend the most time around your kids. If you have concerns, trust your gut to know when it’s right to find help.
The same goes for parenting advice that you receive. If it seems wrong for your family, ignore it or at least spend some time digging deeper to see what part of it feels off. Anything that gives off a bad vibe doesn’t need to be forced onto your children and routine.
You’re here reading about parenting advice. That pretty much means you care, and you’re doing just fine! Just remember: not all parenting is created equal. Use only those tips you find useful to sort through all the parenting advice out there, and don’t allow yourself to get overwhelmed.
“Good parenting” is subjective. You will know what’s best for your family, and your kids are lucky to have someone who is constantly working on keeping everyone happy, healthy, and safe. When you need new ideas for family fun, travel advice, or date night suggestions, you know where to find us!
Frequently Asked Questions
When looking for parenting advice, the internet can be extremely overwhelming. It’s good to have a network of people you trust, from family and friends to your pediatrician, to help you know what to take or leave.
When it comes to parenting advice, it’s important to be patient, trust your instincts, and try not to be too overwhelmed. New parents should make sure they have a close network of people they can call.
Put together a list of all the fun activities you can do as a family, and designate a day and time each week to spend together.