“I buy organic right now because they add a lot of extra stuff in other baby food that doesn’t need to be in there. To me, that just feels safe for me right now. But when I’m in the aisle I’m wondering if someone is judging me because I’m buying organic stuff. Do they think that’s silly and over the top?”
I immediately understood where this parent was coming from. Being a parent entails making incredibly difficult decisions day after day. Worrying about what other people may think can be overwhelming, and my concern as a Millennial parent is how susceptible we are to that unwanted feedback. Millennials will be the first full generation of parents to deal with the public scrutiny of their parenting decisions in the way of online tools. We’ve grown up sharing our youth
ful indiscretions on Facebook and Twitter, so sharing our lives as parents online comes naturally to us. But I don’t think we bargained for the baggage that comes with it.
It’s easy for anyone and everyone to comment on pictures or videos while remaining in the safety of their home, never having to answer to those opinions in person. But the parent sees every comment, every piece of negativity that is shared. Will Millennials be second guessing their parenting decisions in fear of what the masses may think? I’m fearful of the damage this could do for someone’s confidence as a parent. Parenting is hard. So freakin’ hard. The creep of self-doubt can be debilitating.
Surprisingly, or maybe not surprisingly given the weight of public opinion, I’ve had a number of Millennial parents share with me that they are taking a break from sharing their life on social media. They have felt the pressure and have decided to do something about it. Here’s what another parent shared:
“For us to choose to not put our son on social media is a breath of fresh air for me because I feel like I don’t have to be in the thick of that. I’ve gone so far as to unfollow people that all they do is post pictures two or three times a day of their kids. It gets to a point with me where I wonder, is that really what’s going on? Occasionally you’ll see parents post ‘this is our horrible day. This is what it’s really like to be a mom’ but 99% of the pictures are of perfect smiling kids. Our parents never had to deal with that.”
So what’s the solution to this mess? I have no damn clue. But I do have some suggestions:
- Don’t be friends with stupid people.
In this instance stupid people shall be defined as those who feel the need to share their unfiltered, out of context, absurd opinions when they weren’t asked to. Don’t surround yourself (online or in-person) with people who take every opportunity to tear you down, not build you up. This is a heavy time in your life, you don’t have room for that negativity.
- Share what you want to share, but share with those who give a shit.
I love sharing family stuff on Snapchat and Instagram because I get to pick and choose the people that see it, so I’m only sharing relevant content. My co-worker who just graduated college and is single doesn’t think my kid wearing underwear on his head is cute, but my best friend who has a kid the same age certainly does. Those who ‘get it’ won’t be interested in sharing negative opinions. Only the pure joy that comes from seeing a toddler with tighty whities on their dome.
- Stick to your guns.
You took the time to make a parenting decision. Don’t let someone else question your thought process. In that moment, you made the best decision for you and your family. Good on you! Now, don’t let someone who disagrees with you bring you down. You got this!
- Keep your own judgment in check.
Instead, take that opportunity to lift a parent up. If that’s a positive comment, text, or hug, do it. We are all in this craziness together.
Do you have any other suggestions on how to be rid of parent guilt that comes when someone is being a Judgy McJudgerson online? Let’s hear them!