Social Media: Helping Parents Learn (*how to defend themselves against unsolicited advice)
We've all heard that there's no such thing as a how-to manual for parents. People say that because every child is different, every parent is different, and every circumstance is different. So it's pretty much impossible to write up a manual that gives us IKEA-style drawings of how to discipline a child if he uses vulgar language or how to praise a child if she helps out with the neighbor's garden for a weekend.
But as you know, there are tons of similar situations that we can find ourselves in when it comes to parenting — like what to do when your kid poops all the way up his back, or how to train your baby girl to latch. The differences are infinite, and the similarities are just as numerous.
So thanks to Mr. Zuckerberg, and whoever else may or may not have had a hand in creating Facebook and other social media platforms, we now have a network of parents that are there to give and receive parenting tips. According to a study put together by Pew Research Center and an article later reported on by Esther Crain for Yahoo Parenting, 75% of parents are seeking out help through their friends, followers, and connections on social media, and with 71% of parents on social media stating that they “try to respond if they know the answer to a question posed by someone in their online network.”
At first glance, you might think, “The camaraderie that social media creates for parents is amazing.” And I definitely think that can be and is the case a lot of the time. In fact, the survey reported an observation that about “59%of parents who are social media users said they had come across useful information about parenting while looking at social media content in the past 30 days.” In other words, 3 out of 5 parents were able to get some help on something that they were stuck on, which I would assume is a pretty normal occurrence in the life of a parent.
But what happens when you've posted on Facebook about a success or a struggle that you had in parenting and someone takes it upon themselves to start handing out unsolicited advice? I've seen some pretty nasty attacks on people's parenting strategies or styles because they were deemed by someone else as wrong, harmful, or stupid. How can we keep the conversation civil and helpful, all while respecting the parenting styles of other people?
I think it's great to dole out advice if it's asked for, but for the most part, we're all just trying to do our best to be the best parents we can be for our kids. (Watch this video. I think it does a great job in conveying that message.)
Have you had success in seeking out help on social media for parenting struggles? What have been some of the negative experiences you've had? Let me know in the comments!