My youngest sister is pregnant with her first child (Yay!). And she recently told me that she is overwhelmed at the amount of information, most of it conflicting, that is out there about parenting. And she's totally right! The thing about the internet is that it can be both your best friend and your worst enemy. Sometimes both at the same time. Want to breastfeed? There are a billion articles out there that will tell you all about how that is the best thing for you and your baby. Want to formula feed? You can find just as many articles arguing that, "Fed is best." And for every article, there are thousands of OPINIONS. People shouting as loudly, and fervently, as they can that THIER position is the right one and anyone who thinks differently is wrong, wrong, wrong.
As a mother in this overwhelming information age, and an owner of a mom's blog, here are my two rules of mothering:
- YOU decide what is best for your child. And don't let anyone make you feel guilty about it.
- If someone is doing something that is different from what you do, keep your mouth shut about it. Just move along. I promise that no minds have been changed EVER by a Facebook comment.
I've been a mom now for over 8 years now. And have discovered that there are as many different types of mothers as there are children. Yep. No two moms do everything the same way. Shocking, I know. So while I may be "crunchy" in that I cloth diapered, breastfed my kids until they were two, never did any form of cry it out, and did Baby Led Weaning, I also vaccinate my kids on the schedule recommended by the AAP. Just like all people are not one thing or the other, no ONE WAY of being a mom is the be-all-end-all right way of doing anything. Parenting, just like life, is full of gray areas; nothing is black and white.
Parenting is hard, like REALLY HARD, no matter how you do it, no matter how many "parenting hacks" you use. So why do moms, especially, make it so much harder by being so judgey? The internet is great in that you can discover all kinds of things that will work for you; it's where I learned about Baby Led Weaning, actually! And, because there is so much information out there, it's a great place to research things. But I have found that my best sources for parenting information have come from my peers, from people that I know and trust, and not from random sources off of the internet. We, as human beings, were meant to do this parenting thing TOGETHER; the phrase, "it takes a village" exists for a reason. Social media, in its purest form, is amazing at bringing people together. I mean, who doesn't love a baby announcement or a funny cat video (it's amazing what is universally amusing). But it was never meant to replace ACTUAL human interaction. There is no problem that can't be solved over a phone call with your bestie. Or a glass of wine with your sisters.
So to all the new moms out there, know this:
- You've got this. Promise. People have been parenting for thousands of years. Comparatively, it's way easier now than even, say 200 years ago. Plus, it's REALLY hard to screw up a baby. Just pick them up when they cry and you're good.
- If you need something, if you feel unsure, ASK SOMEONE! Reach out to a friend (or a doctor if it's serious). And if you get conflicting answers, use the internet to do some good old-fashioned research then do what you think is best. But stay away from social media for these types of things. And if someone is doing something that you decided not to do, move on. Don't comment. We can ALL be better! And nicer! And more understanding. We can do this!