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

February 17, 2012

it takes an e-village, part 2: what to watch out for!

yesterday i was talking about finding help to parenting problems online. and how there is good and bad, helpful and hurtful. and today i'm going to talk about the hurtful.

there are two kinds of people that frequent those parenting sites, two kinds i hated, that i thought were damaging to other parents, especially those impressionable and unsure. the first was the type that, if you asked a question or shared your personal experience, they would jump on you and tell you that you were doing everything wrong. some would go so far as to say you would ruin your child if you continued. you were supposed to stop doing whatever it was that you were doing wrong and start doing things exactly like they told you to. not that they were experts, as in the kind with doctorates and degrees, they just claimed to be experts because they had been there, done that. these people are, in my opinion, awful. they weren't helping with their "i'm right and you're wrong" way of thinking. tearing someone down for the choices they make, especially when it's something so personal as being a parent, isn't helpful. no one knows their own child better then the parent, and to say that a parent is damaging their child because they aren't following your sage advice doesn't do them any good. at best, it's annoying, at worst it makes them second guess and question themselves and worry and stress. and all parents have enough worry and stress. every situation is different, every child is different, and to tell somebody what worked for you is fine, but to say that if they don't do it your way no matter what is just crazy. these kinds of parents need to take a step back and realize they're not always right.

the other kind of not helpful parent isn't really not helpful because they're being mean. it's more that i can't stand them for the image they project. some people have this online thing figured out. they have come to realize that what you post is the only part that others see. so if you only post the best parts, the perfect stuff, you can seem like a super hero to those that don't realize the view is filtered through rose colored lenses. which is fine, if they want to seem perfect, i'm not going to judge them for that, i wish i seemed perfect too. and i'm not going to blame the naive parent for not understanding they're not getting the whole picture when looking at these people. no, my problem lies when these seemingly perfect parents start saying how easy everything is. that if they can do it, why can't you? or, if they go so far as to say that they love being a parent, every gross and crazy and stress moment is wonderful sunshine to them.

now let me stop for a moment and clarify before people get too upset with me. i'm not saying that being a parent isn't great or wonderful. i'm just saying that being a parent isn't great 100% of the time. seriously, whether you've heard this before or you think i'm speaking blasphemously, i will be the first to admit that though i love and cherish my children, there are some days that i want to lock myself in the bathroom for 30 minutes if it will promise me peace and quiet. and thinking like that doesn't make me a bad mom. i would do anything for my kids, but that doesn't mean they don't get on my last nerve sometimes. but they are kids, it's what they do. and i also understand that being a mom is technically my job. being a parent is a job, even if it's not a full time job like it is for me, and there are very very few people that can say they love their job 100% of the time. and this is especially true with parenting, because no matter how much you were around kids before you had them, it doesn't matter because everything changes when you have your own. and every kid is different, with their own identity and their own challenges.

so that's why i have a problem with those happy sunshine people i've seen online. those perfect people that make everything look so easy and they always look so happy. the moms that handmake everything for their kids and pack them special organic lunches and spend all the one-on-one time that's recommended by doctors, and then they turn around and tell everybody how easy it is and if they can do it everybody should! i call shenanigans on them. they might really love being a parent, and they might really find it so super easy, but i doubt it. they can project that online because they only post the happiest of pictures or the best parts of their day. there are down and dirty times, every kids throws a tantrum at least once in their life, there's no parent that's gotten to sleep through the night since day one of their kids life, and it's harmful to make other new parents think that way. because new parents are stressed and sleep deprived and worried about making a mistake, and then if they stumble across these super parents, they might start thinking that they really are doing something wrong. because if perfection is possible for others, why not for them? and those kinds of thoughts don't help to alleviate stress or worry, it just feeds it.

the simple truth, in my mind, is that parenting is hard. it's the hardest thing anybody can do. you are responsible for making and shaping a life. you are raising the next generation that we're all depending upon. so no pressure, right?

and in this day and age, it really does take all the help one can get to get through some of the really hard patches. and it's nice to know that there are more people than just those you know in real life that you can go to for advice. but just like with everything else online, you need to be careful and evaluate the advice and opinions of strangers. even (and especially) mine.

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