As a mom and as a writer, I quickly learned that I was going to have to work at not allowing the things I read on social media to negatively affect my parenting. I needed to figure out how to put in my metaphorical ear plugs when the internet started getting too loud.
Of course, it is much easier said than done.
Before posting anything, I used to try and predict the negative things people might say about it, and I would tailor it in a way that would leave little room for criticism. If my husband took a cute picture of our kids but there was a mess in the background, or if my son had a bottle in the picture, I wouldn’t let him post it. My oldest took a long time to potty train, and I never wanted to share anything about it, not even a funny anecdote; I didn’t want anyone judging us because he was still struggling at his age.
When I wrote articles, I stayed away from topics I thought could cause any type of controversy. I was afraid to let people know my boys were formula fed, and if I did write about it, I always felt the need to justify and explain the reasons why I wasn’t nursing.
Then one day, I decided to throw caution to the wind. I wrote a blog post about mom judging, and I included a list of all the things I never wanted anyone to know about me. The post went viral. The comments were mostly kind, and people seemed genuinely thankful to hear that they weren’t alone in their imperfectness. It taught me that most moms (myself included) would much rather read about real life struggles, than hear from someone pretending to be perfect all the time.
I realized that I could potentially help people if I would just tell the truth and stop hiding the mess. I was never going to have any genuine relationships with people, online or not, if I censored everything I said and did because I was afraid.
One night, I poured a glass of wine, took a deep breath and read the negative comments. Guess what? Nothing happened. I didn’t suddenly turn into a horrible mother, my kids didn’t change, nothing changed. I was still the same person I was before I read the comments.
The rude comments were not true. Simple as that.
I know not everyone receives personal, parenting evaluations from strangers online, but most of us do read articles and posts, or watch videos about parenting on social media. We all see and receive the advice from “experts” (sometimes people who don’t even have children, but somehow know better than those who do). We see the quick judgement given when someone posts a picture of a mother looking at her phone, and people decide it is okay to make harsh, public assumptions about her parenting. For each thing we read that affirms the way we do things, there are 5 more criticizing our parenting style.
I know we mothers judge ourselves super harshly; we pour the guilt on ourselves like a kid pours Legos on the floor. But if we are honest with ourselves, we will know what we need to work on in our parenting, what advice we can try to apply, and what stuff just needs to be sucked up into the vacuum cleaner. (I am still on the Lego analogy here.)
The only way social media can impact our children’s lives, the only way it can change our parenting, is if we let it. We must make the choice not to let it.
Social media is part of life. We can try to avoid it, but it’s hard to completely cut ourselves off. We can, however, choose what we listen to. If you see something that you know is only going to make you feel bad, just keep scrolling. When someone leaves a judgmental comment, ignore it. If you need a break from social media, take it.
We cannot help what other people think about us, we can’t even help it if they post a picture of us in our worst parenting moment on Instagram, but we CAN control what we think of ourselves.
If we evaluate our parenting and decide we need help or advice, we can ask people whose opinions we actually value. We should not allow the voices of those on social media to be louder than the voices of those that truly matter to us.
Most importantly, those voices should never be louder than our own.
So listen to the things you want to listen to, and push the mute button for the rest.
You are the mother, you are a boss, and you control the volume.
Brook Hall has always wanted to make people laugh, lucky for her she gave birth to two hilarious boys who give her more than enough material to work with. She spends all her time at home taking care of her two little comedians, while also trying to squeeze in moments alone with her hubby. Brook can be found on her blog Stay Home Mama. Her favorite times of day are nap time, bed time and when she gets a new “like” on Facebook