An open letter to parents on the internet parenting groups

Parenting can be hard. It can be overwhelming. Add the internet and it all becomes almost a “keeping up with the Jones’” and a failure to thrive as a parent. There is the odd balance between asking the internet and various online parenting groups “How do I parent x or y?” and Oh look at my perfect family. In the meantime our children end up paying a price.

Don’t get me wrong. The internet moms have played a role in our journey as parents. We offer much less sugar at parties. Our kids eat considerably healthier than what they would have if it wasn’t for the internet parents. We even cloth diapered our youngest due to the information we have found from the internet parenting groups. You are reading this because of the internet parents you know. However there is a dark side to the internet parenting groups that is often overlooked.

It is the price our children pay from following well meaning advice that does not get scrutinised or checked. We have started to live in the opinion era and not the factual era. Where we can support certain decisions based on scientific data and in the very same breath continue with outdated practices for raising our kids. 

There is this fine balance of giving advice and keeping your nose out of other parent’s business. Harmful practices are advised because, well “I turned out okay’” or “My kids turned out okay.” 

In reality the reason the voices that did not turn out okay, cannot speak up, because well, they are either dead or not able to speak up. We hold on to old parenting generational practices that cause deep damage and we allow the cycle to continue and inadvertently pour more brokenness into an already messed up world.

How many adults are caught in a web of eating disorders, depression, anxiety, being abused, drug and alcohol abuse? How many are struggling just to keep going and remain accountable for their actions and their kids? We need to be honest with ourselves as adults and as parents. We are struggling and we are not coping. Why are we not coping? We are not coping because we were raised to live in a world that no longer exists. We were raised within families where everyone gave advice, but everyone kept their noses out of other people’s business, especially when it came to raising us.

You may wonder where I am heading with this? 

Our kids are our responsibility and we are quick to say “If you pay my bills then you can say how I should raise my child..” The problem is, our children will hopefully grow up and become adults, and depending on how we raised our children, our adult children may have a deep and lasting impact on the people around them and on the world at large. If we raise children apathetic to the world by the example that we lead we have failed society at large. If we keep our noses out of people’s business and how they raise their kids, we are often allowing the cycle to continue,

So often we centre child rearing as an isolated event. Just the family at the centre, yet we use the phrase, it takes a village when it suits us. We cannot have it both ways and expect a balanced and well rounded human being as the end result. Just look at the adults around us and at the world around us. We did not turn out so great, if we did, the world would have looked far better than what it looks like. This experiment with raising kids has been failing for decades. We need to start doing things differently. 

We have access to the internet, so we can actually check if the advice given to us by our online village is safe, correct and good for our children. We can search the internet and give factual information to a parent who asks for support and information. From getting your baby to potty train to how and when to start with solids. How, why and when a child throws tantrums to how to parent them in a responsible way, without continuing cycles of abuse and trauma. We can step away from what my parents did and my grandparents did, so it must work and really start educating ourselves and others on safe child rearing practices.

We do not have to keep up with the Jones’, BUT we have to stop misinformation and dangerous advice given on parenting groups and forums. We have a responsibility as the village to ensure that kids grow up safe, and without years of trauma under their belt before the age of 18. 

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