my quote of the moment: "if you can attain repose and calm, believe that you have seized happiness." ~julie-jeanne-eleonore de lespinasse

February 16, 2012

it takes an e-village, part 1: me!

i'm sure that everyone has heard the phrase that raising child "takes a village." that to show kids the values of love and respect, of cooperation and kindness, it really takes more than one person or one family to demonstrate those concepts so that kids really get it.

before, parents were forced to rely on their friends and neighbors, colleagues from work and other parents from church or school. now, instead of having a physical village of people that you actually live near and see often in real life, parents are able to rely on a world wide village via the internet.

now this can be good or bad for many different reasons, one of which is that it all depends how the parent goes about getting all the information and advice they now have at their fingertips.

i suppose i should stop pretending and give some real and personal examples so you know what i'm talking about. first person is way easier for me than third person passive. or something.

anyway, before i got into this mommy blogging scene, which i'm not sure how "into" i qualify, i would seek out information and advice online. where i was living was rather removed, and i was very limited in my social circle. so though i would ask for opinions of the people that i saw, sometimes they told me things that just felt wrong for my family or situation. so i would pole the greater community through my computer, so see what others said.

i went in, seeking said opinions, ready with many grains of salt. i have a long and storied past with the internet, and i know how many people really do want to help and how many people really just want to force their thoughts and ideas down your throat as though they are the guru and expert.

sometimes, though, i would take the advice of people that i had never met, simply because the things they were saying made more sense to me personally then anything i had heard in real life. and also, after reading long articles or blog posts or messages from some of these others, i realized their situations was more like mine then any of my real family and friends.

so there was good and bad in talking and reading and discussing with people who lived across the state or across the country. and i was very careful, just because somebody says they're an expert online doesn't mean they really are. misrepresentation and reinvention of your personal self online is what it's all about to some people. and i am speaking from personal experience there, but that's a tale for another time.

all of this is not to say i plugged in completely and ignored my family or friends and their opinions and experiences. and sometimes i would ask for help and advice and gladly accept what they offered. but it was nice to be able to ask if i was doing it right and get validation, even if it was from mostly strangers.

eventually, i thought that maybe if i shared some of my personal experiences, i might in turn pay back those that helped me by helping others. so i joined a few parenting sites and i started this blog. and things went well for awhile. and then i started running into two of the most unhelpful types of parents there are on the web.

whether they were trying to be spiteful or hurtful on purpose i was never able to figure out, but they are one of the reasons i've started this blog over so many times. i couldn't take criticism, and they made me question what i was doing and who i was as a mommy. they made me feel guilt and more stress from all the possible wrong choices i was making and how i was going to permanently ruin my children. and it's just not ok to make people feel that way.

tomorrow i'll talk about the two kinds of damaging parents that i've found online. so hopefully you can be better informed and not fall into their wily, frustrating, traps.

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