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General Interest

Internet Parenting “Tips” Used to Make Me Feel Horrible! Here’s How I Broke the Cycle.

Birth2Work Staff, mother

Too Much Garbage Advice

Let’s be honest, there’s a lot of garbage parenting advice out there. It exists on every social media platform. I know this because I’m a mother of a two-and-a-half-year-old child. Not too long ago I was a first-time mom, who didn’t know about a lot of things. So I did what we all do and turned to the internet.

I started with Facebook groups that my fellow mom friends swore by. I searched for tips on cloth diapering and found some moderately helpful guides. I searched for tips on babywearing and got some useful perspectives. I searched for support groups on all-natural parenting and ways to help my son sleep without letting him cry it out. That’s when things took a deep dive into the mommy-shaming universe.

If you’ve ever made the mistake of googling for help with a child’s skin rash, you’ll know the type of faces I made while reading the ferocious attacks on nearly every post. Forget vaccines and sleep training, it seemed that no matter your approach to anything, someone was out there with a diametrically opposed opinion and the overwhelming drive to let you know about it.

There were respites of funny kid pictures and the occasional rallying support cry for moms in need. Advice for kid-friendly restaurants or medical service providers I suppose were useful. I recognize there is a strong need for connection and groups like this fill a certain void. For the most part though, I found Facebook parenting groups were more emotionally draining than they were ever helpful.

I wanted to find parent mentors who were excited to be parents and generally satisfied with the trajectory of their families. They’re not nearly so prevalent on Facebook.

You're already a good parent. Now you can be a great family leader. 

Support From an Old Friend

At that point, I turned back to Pinterest, my old and true companion filled with my beautiful wedding design boards and pins of my imaginary, fabulous, internationally-inspired kitchen. I naively believed that investigating parenting in this medium of blogs and tip sheets would give me more helpful results and allow me to explore my questions more in-depth without the personal attacks.

I was both right and wrong. The sense of angry righteousness disappeared from my search results. The tsunami of irrelevant responses did not. If you’re an experienced “pinner” you likely know that the sheer volume of opinions and “foolproof tips” and “parenting hacks,” can quickly become overwhelming and painfully time consuming.

The Pinterest Rabbit Hole is a real thing. It’s fairly benign when you’re looking for paint colors for the laundry room, but it can become a soul-sucking cavern of ways you’re failing to be the ideal parent you always dreamt of being.

As my son got older and I learned to trust my own opinion on what was good and healthy for our family, I eventually realized my fundamental mistake in using Pinterest for parenting support.  When starting to look for proactive growth-minded approaches to parenting, I had to stop looking in the parenting section at all. 

When starting to look for proactive growth-minded approaches to parenting, I had to stop looking in the parenting section at all. 

It’s Not Personal. It’s Business.

Parenting is deeply personal. Our fears around raising children, our tolerance levels for their behavior, and especially the expectations we have of ourselves and our partners are massively influenced by the way we were raised. Our individual frames of reference often make it very difficult to appropriately filter the advice from every other self-proclaimed parenting expert in the world.

What isn’t so deeply personal, as the saying goes, is business. I started searching more business-related terms like “team leadership” to get ideas of ways groups of people learn to organize themselves, build trust, build strong communication, and succeed individually and as a unit. 

On a new Pinterest mission, I found things like this team building exercise called  Team Analysis Questionnaire from the Center for Work Life. Part of the instructions say:  “Having the expertise of a psychologist, we [use this exercise to] get your team to view the “whole” individual and create the desire to grow together and instill the passion to make real and greater contributions.”

Whether already struggling with child behavioral issues or not, what parent would read that line and genuinely say, “No, that doesn’t apply to my family. I don’t want us to grow together or make real and greater contributions”? So while reading through the questionnaire,  I changed the term “team member” to “family member” and that made all the difference. 

While reading through the questionnaire,  I changed the term “team member” to “family member” and that made all the difference. 

Family Analysis Questionnaire

Below are a few of the questions from the Center for Work Life Team Analysis Questionnaire. Below each question are ways I clarified the idea for both parents to discuss and apply to family life.

Question adapted from Team Questionnaire:

Do family members understand what is expected of them?

Family Leadership Interpretation

  • Do we tell our children what we expect of them? Are we clear in explaining what is appropriate behavior and what isn’t? Do we tell each other what we expect/need from the other?
  • Wouldn’t it make more sense for us to communicate our expectations ahead of time instead of getting angry and disappointed when they’re not met?

Question adapted from Team Questionnaire:

Are all family members aware of resources available to them as a team to achieve their goals?

Family Leadership Interpretation

  • Do our children know how to ask for appropriate help? 
  • Do they personally know other adults to confide in when we’re not available or have the necessary knowledge? The internet is only so helpful and likely won’t give the guidance or context we provide.

Question adapted from Team Questionnaire:

Is there an effective feedback process in place to coach for performance?

Family Leadership Interpretation

  • As parents, do we criticize or do we coach our kids? Each other? Do we agree on the difference in definitions of the two terms?
  • Do we give as much positive feedback and support as we do negative feedback in frustration and loud voices? Can we seek support to prevent yelling and anger in the first place?

I liked answering questions like this. I was able to tap into a part of my deeply reflective self that had not made an appearance in some time. Moreover, I appreciated the conversations I had with my husband after he gave his answers. There were definitely points we had never thought about or discussed with each other. Now we had established alignment. 

When it comes to leadership ideas, rather than a cavern or soul-sucking rabbit hole, Pinterest is a GOLD MINE for this type of leadership and proactive support. 

 

When it comes to leadership ideas, rather than a cavern or soul-sucking rabbit hole, Pinterest is a GOLD MINE for this type of leadership and proactive parenting support. 

As opposed to many parenting Facebook comments that reflect sometimes narrow frames of reference, resources on leadership tend to allow teams (families) to be self-reflective and develop approaches to success openly and creatively, without judgement.

We have all likely suffered the frustration of micromanagers compared to the freedom and trust established by gifted leaders. Painful as it may seem, our children already view us this way as the sometime managers and sometime leaders of their young lives.

Parenting is still tough in many ways unrelated to developing leadership skills. This approach to using any social media platform certainly won’t, for example, help you solve the mystery of your child’s latest rash. But seriously, just call the doctor already. Someone is always convinced the picture you posted is a textbook case of hand, foot and-mouth disease. Someone else will insist it’s a heat rash or bedbugs or you’re overreacting or you’re harboring the next daycare epidemic. I promise you, there’s no winning.

If you’re intrigued to learn more but don’t want to dive into Pinterest on your own, Birth2Work can show you definitively how to become that gifted family leader. A leader that doesn’t need to turn to the court of public opinion for development and behavioral issues nearly so often because you know what your family stands for. You know which sources of information you trust. You know that raising another human is hard but your responses to those rough patches are where your child is learning the most from you.

Our collective experience as parents, grandparents, as well as professional leaders of global organizations has been collected in our courses like Leading Your Child to Success

You can also start with a free course, subscribing below, and following us on Pinterest. 😊

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