The internet is a parenting expert. Well, it acts like one at least. The great world wide web has plenty of opinions and suggestions to offer on how to raise kids. The voices giving this advice are many and often contradict each other. They don’t know our individual kids, they may not be qualified to give advice, and yet we still give their voices credit. Is this good or bad?
Let me share my experience.
Before I even got pregnant with my first baby, I had a very clear picture of what kind of a mom I wanted to be. I slowly gathered lots of research about routines, sleeping schedules, and open-ended play. Once I was pregnant, I only intensified my research. I wanted to know what other moms had to say about baby-wearing, birth, breastfeeding, cloth diapering, and how to soothe a baby. I was so determined that I’d be a “good mom.”
Fast forward to a month or two postpartum and I was STILL in agony from breastfeeding. I had seen multiple lactation consultants, worked hard to try to fix the baby’s latch, used a nipple shield and I was still in pain. No one could give me latch tips that were helpful. Other moms were done being sore after a few weeks. Everything I had read about breastfeeding was telling me that unless I was doing this WRONG I should not be having any pain.
I am not the kind of girl who likes to continually do things wrong. This, combined with the pain, sparked some tough emotional issues for me. I stopped listening to advice about breastfeeding. Eventually, I survived.
A few months later Littles stopped sleeping through the night. After we moved a few times, every attempt to get him to fall asleep by himself failed. Again….I don’t like to fail! We moved in with my in-laws and Littles started to be exposed to more TV. He often played with an iPad. A lot of those pre-concieved notions about how I was going to parent started to fall away, and sometimes, I felt guilty.
Despite it all, I still tried to find answers on the internet. The articles and blog posts I found always promise good results. They had titles like, “How to start teaching YOUR baby sign language.,” “How to transition YOUR baby from co-sleeping to crib,” and “Five steps to help YOUR baby sleep alone.”
I’m sure the authors of these articles felt they had expert advice to give. I’m sure that they only wanted to help. But did you notice how the wording of the titles assumed they knew what was best for my baby? How would anyone, even an expert, know any given technique would work for my baby? They don’t even know my baby.
Before I realized this, the fact that all of my well-researched knowledge wasn’t helping made me guilty and anxious. Was I doing something wrong? I am not a perfect mom, but just because I don’t parent like Pinterest thinks I should does not mean that I’m doing it all wrong.
I believe that we be careful of the words we use when we give advice to new moms. We need to be careful not to generalize. It can be harmful instead of helpful.
If I give you mothering tips, I won’t tell you what will work for YOUR baby, I will tell you what I did with my baby. I’ll do it in hopes that it will help you. If your baby is different than mine, please don’t be discouraged.
Do the research, but read with your own filter in place. Use that mama instinct of yours because you and your husband are the only ones who will really know what’s right for your baby. Please don’t tell yourself you’re failing if that internet advice, or ANY advice, doesn’t work out. Just love that baby. You will figure it out.
“To all mothers in every circumstance, including those who struggle—and all will—I say, “Be peaceful. Believe in God and yourself. You are doing better than you think you are.” —Jeffrey R. Holland