Parenting at the age of social media: how parents can keep grounded

Parenting at the age of social media: how parents can keep grounded

Parenting can be lonely, and social media often becomes a respite for us - parents - in the journey of figuring out the ups and downs of raising kids on our own.

A new mom who must breastfeed for hours can find an escape in browsing Pinterest inspirations or talking to a mom tribe she’s found online. A worried dad navigating through the long nights of parenting can feel heard and understood by a parenting post that makes him feel like the author knows what is in his heart and mind. An anxious mom who feels left out by friends can once again feel noticed and validated by a single social media post.

In many ways, social media is a boon to moms and dads. The interactive world of Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter can delight doting parents who simply want to find a laugh, a tribe, a village, a community, an approval, or a kind word.

However, the intricate world of online interactions has changed the way we see parenting… and the change has its downsides. We have become too worried about “social media moments.”

When was the last time you truly enjoyed a moment without worrying, “Is this going to be a hit on social media?”

A mom once shared this story in a parenting community:

“Today, the realization of how social media has influenced my parenting stopped me in my tracks. My son took his first steps, and instead of relishing that moment, I found myself frantically looking for my camera because people on Facebook would surely love my son’s milestone. I had to remind myself that worrying too much about how people perceived my parenting online can completely steal away the opportunity to enjoy my child’s milestones.”

Parents, we have become “overshares.” We document everything for social media consumption, sharing everything and ensuring each moment is uploaded online.

Sharing a cute interaction or an adorable moment in social media platforms isn’t necessarily bad - we still thank the parents who were able to capture heart-warming viral videos of their kids - they make the world a little less harsh. But we might not be able to appreciate the value of each moment because we’re already caught up with what the online world has to say.

We can sometimes look for validation online.

Parents, you are seen.

Our job is hard and gruelling. After putting our kids to sleep and finishing off the day’s seemingly endless to-do list, no one really gives us a tap on the shoulders to tell us, “You’ve done a great job.” We spend every day wondering if we’re doing things right. It’s no wonder why we sometimes go to social media to find this validation.

Yet, whenever no one likes or comments on the photos, videos, and stories we share online, does that really mean our parenting is not as great as the way we deem it to be?

We all know the answer. We’re sure deep in our hearts that we’re trying our best and doing great. However, looking for validation online can make us feel otherwise.

We compare.

We agree that kids have different strengths and skills that allow them to bloom and shine. Seeing them grow every day allows us to see firsthand that they are amazing.

However, social media can make us forget our kids’ unique attributes. When we see the achievements and milestones of other kids online, it can sometimes be easy to fall into the trap of comparison. We wonder if we’re ever doing enough.

So how do we enjoy social media but still stay grounded?

We’ve all been in this situation: we try to tidy up our rooms, pick out the prettiest clothes for our kids, snap some shots, and post them on social media. For a moment, we feel like our life is in order, and there is nothing left for us to worry. Except for the fact that it’s not true.

The mess will still be there, and our kids will be complaining about the photoshoot before we know it.

A famous mantra goes: “I can filter the information I see online. Not everything I see is real.”

Yes, “everything” can also include the parenting posts we see online. The seemingly perfect mom still feels she’s running short. The dad with well-behaved kids still has his moments where raising his kids takes a toll.

So what do we do when social media makes us feel like we’re losing the parenting game?

Let’s remind ourselves that our parenting is ours and ours alone. We should celebrate it!

The only parenting experience you have full knowledge of is yours. You know you have moments of self-doubt, and you also have wins that make you dance in the kitchen. Not everyone sees these wins, but we deserve to celebrate them. Our kids are uniquely ours, with quirks and talents we love. The world does not always need to know how amazing they are; knowing this for ourselves is enough.

We will have our set of challenges that no other parents might share, which is okay. This is our parenting journey - we will always have something to learn from it.

Before posting, ask this golden question: What is my intention?

Using social media platforms for connection is excellent. But we should also take the time to be 100% honest about why we’re posting about our kids or our parenting experiences. Is it to paint a perfect life? Is it to compete with other parents for likes and shares?

Truly knowing our intentions can save us from anchoring our self-esteem or our perception of our parenting to the fleeting attention of the social media world.

Let’s remember that even without highlight reels, we are doing a great job.

Sometimes, all we need is a kind of validation that we’re making progress in this demanding role called parenting. But let’s be reminded, mom and dad, that we are doing our best in our kids’ eyes. Being present with them, appreciating them, and being proud of them without craving for the world’s recognition (or likes and shares) is already the best gift we can give them.

Social media is a part of our daily lives. In there, we find parents, friends, and partners in making parenting a little bearable. But not everything in social media should be consumed or believed in, especially when evaluating your parenting. E

Every day let’s take a step back to reality and be present in seeing that we’re doing great, our kids love us, and we’re striving and thriving.

The people in our social media platforms will not always know it, and that is okay.

Article supplied by Bibs Manila AU.