Since you were crazy enough to become a parent, here are some avenues on Facebook to help you cope. With the advent of my son’s first birthday, I’ve been reflecting on the inaugural year of my parenthood and have come to realise that Facebook has played a big part in it.
Well, as it is with everything in life, there was both good and bad that came out of it. Here’s a little glimpse of how it influenced my journey into parenthood and how it can enhance yours too. If you’re a new parent or will soon become one, this post is most certainly for you.
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There’s an extensive online community for the buying, selling and trading of "preloved goods" (read: second hand items) in Facebook nowadays. This includes children’s products.
Be it toys, clothes, safety gates or strollers, if there’s an item you’ve been eyeing for your child but can’t afford to buy it for them brand new, you might be able to find a preloved version that’s within a more affordable price range.
Not only that, if you find yourself wanting to do a little housekeeping and to clear out some of your children’s stuff which are no longer in use (eg clothes the baby has outgrown), you could also put them up for sale on a preloved goods group (assuming it’s in respectable condition, of course).
I sold off an old ring sling of mine this way. It was a rather smooth process. Once I had a confirmed buyer, I received payment and posted the item out within the same day. On other occasions, I made new friends or managed to learn new things about baby products while befriending sellers on such groups.
However, I should issue a little word of advice: Please exercise a reasonable level of caution. There are plenty of fraudsters out there.
Even those who aren’t out to deceive may still end up going back on their word. I dealt with a potential buyer once who was so keen on a Cash On Delivery sale, but went eternally silent on me on the day we were to supposed to meet.
So do background checks if you must, don’t be too gullible and trust your gut feelings.
Most preloved groups have their own accountability system. One of the groups I am part of requires each seller to set up a feedback link whereby past buyers can drop comments about their experiences with that seller. Hence, you can easily see how reliable that seller is through their feedback link.
Becoming a parent opens up a whole new realm of friendship. In fact, with social media, it is even more so as it makes it easier for you to find others who are also new parents and who are facing similar experiences as you are (eg: breastfeeding problems, teething woes, weaning tricks).
I’ve found it surprisingly easy to bond with total strangers on Facebook through conversations about our children. In fact, I’ve met a fellow breastfeeding mother who suffers from eczema like I do; another delivered her baby in the same hospital that I had (we joke about bumping into each other there someday).
There is a wealth of knowledge that people who you haven’t met in real life can share with you. But while it is wonderful to meet and greet other parents online, you’d still need to be careful how much personal information you share about yourself and your family.
Stick to talking about common experiences, for example, teaching a child to read, and leave out details such as where you live, where your child goes to school and the like.
After the arrival of my baby, I decided to quit my full time job and become a freelance writer who works from home. While this has been a decision I have never regretted, it is sometimes dull to be marooned indoors day after day with limited adult interaction. You will need a bit of comic relief every so often.
Social media is a great resource when it comes to these sort of things. Many other parents, particularly new ones, have taken to producing comic strips and various other forms of entertainment to depict the crazy realities of parenting.
What makes it especially amusing to me is the discovery of how common certain experiences, emotions and thoughts are to every parent, regardless of where they’re from, and how so many of us use humor to cope.
Take, for example, the Best Case Scenario photos captured by photographer, Danielle Guenther or Fowl Language Comics which will probably bring on some heartfelt laughter due to the uncanny similarities you’ve found in comparison to your own life.
While there’s lots of positivity out there on Facebook about parenting, there’s also plenty of trolls and insensitive folks too. Sometimes, when a discussion gets too heated, things do get ugly. Or abusive. Or really personal.
Some examples of polarising topics include child immunisation programs, to breastfeed or not, to be a stay-at-home mom or go out to work, to homeschool or not, the type of school to send to, etc.
Knowing when to chime in
Whichever view that you subscribe to in these topics, what’s important is to remember that it’s every parent’s prerogative to decide what’s best for their own children. It’s best if we leave that to their judgment rather than trying to impose our views on others.
And while we may not be able to curb the behaviour of others on Facebook, we can be vigilant about our own responses. Before typing out a reply or posting some new content, it’s wise to consider why we are doing so and whether it is more of a help or hindrance.
For me, that means sometimes choosing not posting something right away, but rather, letting the idea sit in my head for awhile before putting words to it. There are times where, having waited it out a bit, I realise that what I had originally wanted to say really isn’t that important after all and I decided to just let it go.
But even when I do decide to go ahead and join the conversation online, I usually find that there far fewer disadvantages to having chimed in late as compared to voicing out first only to regret it later.
Paranoia and unrealistic comparisons
It’s common for users to share articles they have read and found to be enlightening but many people absorb the content of articles without first verifying whether the source of that information is trustworthy.
There’s a lot of fear mongering and falsehood that goes on around the Web. Take, for example, this article about how a baby was blinded by camera flash, which turns out to be completely untrue. It’s easy to get caught in the vicious cycle without realising it.
Another one of the dangers of Facebook is the unhealthy way that it makes us compare our own parenting skills to the skills of others.
For example, someone shares an update about their 6-month-old baby being able to pull himself up to a standing position while your little one isn’t showing any signs of even wanting to stand.
Then, you start to worry: Is my child experiencing a developmental delay? Is my child abnormal? Should I go to the doctor’s?
Another example is when you have that friend whose feed is full of photos of their daily scrumptious home-cooked, gourmet-styled meals (that’s the one), while you have to settle with takeaway or yesterday’s leftovers.
It doesn’t make you a failure but being on Facebook may make you entertain the thought that perhaps you were.
Share the struggles too
Well, the cause of your woes is oversharenting. It’s when some parents do the humblebrag but overdo it to the point where it affects their children, their parenting friends, and sometimes themselves.
When this happens on a "social network", you can’t stop your friends from posting (or boasting) endlessly about their children, but you can curb your own impulses to do so.
If you really need to post about something, try being honest about both your success stories and your struggles, instead of glossing over the difficulties and dampening the realities of being a parent.
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When you are honest, it opens the door for other parents to be honest as well. And at the end of the day, even though each family – and each child – is unique, we still have to change the same smelly diapers and avoid projectile vomiting like the next parent.
Parenting is one crazy roller coaster ride, but it’s a journey worth taking. And things like Facebook really do help ease the tension every so often. It’s the place you can pop in and out of whenever you can for a healthy dose of ideas or inspiration.
Just have your own method of dealing with the negative side of things whenever it rears its ugly head. But on the whole, it’s really loads of fun, so I hope to meet you through some parenting group out there some time.