The internet has never not been a part of my life as a parent. Some of the first people I told I was pregnant were a bunch of women I’d never met “in real life” on a message board.

Quite a few of those women are still my friends- REAL friends, whether I’ve met them in real life or not. (And I have met quite a few of them, and gone to their kids’ birthday parties, and spent nights in hotels with them.)

My time as a mom on the internet has been like a lesson in human psychology, and it’s taught me a lot about myself and others. Over the past nearly 8 years, I’ve learned a few things that have helped shape me as a friend and mother, both on and off the internet. And I think they are pretty key to thriving in this online life that so many parents have. (You’re probably one of them if you’re reading this.)

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1. Nobody has this figured out. No matter how confident a blogger or friend on Facebook or message board commenter appears about a certain parenting topic, I promise you they are struggling in other areas. Perfect parents do not exist- not off OR online.

2. But there are some people who desperately need to convince THEMSELVES that they are doing a good job at this, and there are several ways they may go about this:
a. They tell everyone what other people are doing wrong.
b. They emphasize what they are doing right.
c. They put others down to make themselves feel better.

3. In my own personal experience, the times I’ve been most judgmental of other parents have been times I’ve been the most insecure about my own parenting. I can’t speak for everyone, but I would venture to guess that’s kind of how it goes for a lot of people.

4. It’s probably not really about YOU when someone online gets defensive or judgmental with you.

5. But also? You need to check your own gut reaction, and try to understand why you think that person is judging you. Are YOU the one being overly sensitive and defensive? Have they touched on your insecurities inadvertently?

6. Conversely, when you find yourself wanting to point out what you perceive as others mistakes, is that coming from a place of love and concern? Are you doing it in a kind way? Or is it coming from your own desire to make yourself feel better.

Listen, the media is hell-bent on perpetuating this idea of “mommy wars,” but I truly think a very small percentage of parents online are intent on purposefully hurting and calling out other parents in damaging ways.

So we can either keep believing that there is a line in the digital sand that divides us into a fractured circle of millions of pieces, or we can take a deep breath, think about what we’re about to type, and embrace our diversity as a community while refusing to let other’s choices make us feel insecure about our own.

It took me a long time to come to this place, and I still have to catch myself before firing off a snarky response to comments that bring my judgement into question. I’m guilty of all of the above.

I see new parents coming to the internet for advice in Facebook groups, on Twitter, in comment sections, on Instagram, etc. And I want so badly for them all to learn these lessons quicker than I did.

The internet is an AMAZING resource for community, support, advice, and commiseration as a parent. The sooner you can figure out the human element of this technology the better.

I’d love to hear from some of you who’ve done some growing as a parent and person on this beautiful world wide web. In your experience, how have you evolved in terms of your tolerance and views of people who parent differently than you?

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I’m planning to talk about and expand upon this when I speak at Miami’s Ultimate Baby Affair on February 6th.  If you’re in the area, I’d LOVE to see you there! Tickets start at only $15, and VIP tickets include a Beco baby carrier! The Baby Guy NYC and Honest Toddler will also be there, and we are sure to have a lot of fun and candid conversations about kids and parenthood. 

 

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26 thoughts on “When Parenting & The Internet Collide- What I’ve Learned”

  1. I have been co-parenting with the Internet ever since I signed up on the bump during my first pregnancy. I never knew how lonely and frustrating being a parent was going to be and how much support I was going to need doing it. It’s been almost 5 years and I have seen it evolve in crazy ways and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Even with all the judgey trolls out there I have learned some amazing things from some amazingly supportive women, yourself included. 🙂 Thanks to you and everyone else for helping me be the best mom I can be.

  2. Great post. I try to raise my kids by the line, “If you don’t have something nice to say, keep your f’n mouth shut.” And if you wouldn’t want someone to say/do it to you, don’t say/do it to them. I also don’t give mama advice. Usually even when asked. I just say, “It seems like you are doing a great job so I wouldn’t worry about it too much.”

  3. I’ve learned to take the good with the bad when it comes to parenting and the interwebz. Without your blog among a few others, I don’t think I would have ever had the courage to admit that I was suffering from PPA/PPD and I would not have reached out for help. For that, I am forever grateful. I was able to get through the horrible months of colic with these blogs as well. I’ve also learned that sites like TheBump and some of these blogs can be the devil. It’s hard to watch people write about their children and how they’re reaching different milestones when my child has not. For example, my son crawled and walked late and now at almost 20 months, he’s not talking. Even with the pediatrician and professionals evaluating him telling me there are no issues to be worried about and that it will all come with time, I still cringe when I see someone post about their same-age or younger child who has done some amazing shit. In the end, I’ve learned to shake off that bad and take the good and try to pass it on to the next new momma.

  4. I’ve learned to take the good with the bad when it comes to parenting and the interwebz. Without your blog among a few others, I don’t think I would have ever had the courage to admit that I was suffering from PPA/PPD and I would not have reached out for help. For that, I am forever grateful. I was able to get through the horrible months of colic with these blogs as well. I’ve also learned that sites like TheBump and some of these blogs can be the devil. It’s hard to watch people write about their children and how they’re reaching different milestones when my child has not. For example, my son crawled and walked late and now at almost 20 months, he’s not talking. Even with the pediatrician and professionals evaluating him telling me there are no issues to be worried about and that it will all come with time, I still cringe when I see someone post about their same-age or younger child who has done some amazing shit. In the end, I’ve learned to shake off that bad and take the good and try to pass it on to the next new momma.

  5. So, I never really engaged in message boards and I’m not active on FB. But I’ve regularly kept up on several “mommy” blogs, including yours, since my first was born more than five years ago. They gave me another perspective, showed me I wasn’t alone in a lonely time (first of my friends to have babies) and showed me that there are so many ways to raise a child. I think they made me more open and accepting. And they taught me that i may think i know a person, but they could be having inner struggles that aren’t apparent and reinforced that I really should check myself before making an off-handed, possibly judgemental comment that I assume they’ll agree with. It’s so much better to be supportive and positive whenever possible and remember that what works for you/bothers you may not translate to someone else and that doesn’t make them or you wrong – it’s just a chance to consider another side.

  6. goodgawd woman, there you go again, being so damn sensible and level-headed and open and generous. I have to say this is one of my favorite posts of yours.

  7. Zune and iPod: Most people compare the Zune to the Touch, but after seeing how slim and surprisingly small and light it is, I consider it to be a rather unique hybrid that combines qualities of both the Touch and the Nano. It’s very colorful and lovely OLED screen is slightly smaller than the touch screen, but the player itself feels quite a bit smaller and lighter. It weighs about 2/3 as much, and is noticeably smaller in width and height, while being just a hair thicker.

  8. I love rice pudding, it's like a sweet cuddle. You made it even more delicious by adding raspberries and meringue. Amazing and mouth-watering recipe dear, great ^__^ Bye, have a good week

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  11. Hello! This post could not be written any better!

    Reading through this post reminds me of my good old room mate!
    He always kept talking about this. I will forward this page to him.
    Fairly certain he will have a good read. Thanks for sharing!

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