According to a global study conducted by Water Wipes, more than half of a group of parents sampled feel they’re failing within the first year of parenthood. And almost one third (28 per cent) say that social media adds to the pressure they feel to be a perfect parent.
As rewarding as parenthood is, the obstacles are endless, and false representations on social media certainly don’t help.
Social media is wonderful, and it is a great way to stay connected with others when life is hectic and grabbing a lunch, or a coffee becomes too challenging.
However, it does come with its drawbacks. Research shows around 6 out of 10 parents feel pressure from social media to be the ‘perfect parent’ – even though the truth is there’s no such thing.
The result of this social media pressure can often be stress and anxiety, with perfectly good parents believing they’re failing because they’re not matching the frequently unrealistic and unobtainable standards trumpeted by other parents on social media platforms.
Here are some of the reasons why social media makes parents feel guilty and what we can do about them.
- Perfect parents – You know the type of parents who seem to have it all and you are genuinely happy for them. However, just because it looks perfect on social media doesn’t mean that is the case. The mom in the daily post about what she and the kids are doing may be exhausted and feels like she can’t admit it. The dad who is at the gym every day may fear getting sick or the parents who share every part of their day may be attention seekers as they lack attention elsewhere. The lesson is nothing is ever as simple as it seems and to ignore what others do. Instead, concentrate on yourself and your family. You may not get to do everything you want to do with the kids, and realize you are doing your best.
- Boasting – We all know these parents who constantly put up about their little darling doing this or doing that! It may be their birthday and they share a bunch of photos along with a beautiful story and it makes you feel a little inferior. You know you can boast too if you want to, and don’t feel it’s a must. No one needs to see all the gifts your kids receive anyway. In fact, it can be in poor taste posting every gift your child has collected. Yes, it is nice to show others, but it may make others feel sad that they can’t do that for their kids. And then the guilt snowballs for another parent!
- Great photos – It takes around 15-20 photos to get a great one and most parents edit them to create a Facebook worthy photo so relax, your kids aren’t ugly, and you are not a mess! They just have a great photo editor and God knows how long it took to get that photo anyway. You don’t need to feel guilty for looking tired or feel guilty as the kids don’t smile at the camera like others! Kids will be kids!
- Vacations and locations – When people go on vacation, they usually check in all over the place and share every aspect. This can make you sad especially if you can’t afford a family vacation anytime soon. You will feel bad for your kids and find yourself scrolling past quickly on the brink of tears, guilty that you couldn’t do the same for your kiddos.
- Family hanging out events – Not every family is perfect. Not everyone has family events to attend and some never have a beautiful harmony with extended or indeed close family. As your kids grow older this can be hard to take but it gets easier. Don’t feel guilty for not having that and be grateful for the new family you are creating in your home.
What parents can do is seek out the few social media accounts that do make an effort to show what really goes on when you’re looking after a child, and the ones that offer first-hand advice for making it through life as a parent. There are profiles that portray the funny and real side of parenting that make parents feel connected and less lonely as they see the challenges and reality being shared.
Some advice to remember as you seek out positivity on social media:
1) Remember there’s no such thing as a ‘perfect parent’
If you’re struggling with feeling like you’re ‘not good enough’, research proves you’re not alone. The reality is that all parents face challenges and it’s only the happiest times that are shared on social media. Remember that social media is a rose-tinted view of the best parts of lives and doesn’t tell the whole story. Social media platforms showcase our highlight reels — not the behind-the-scenes footage.
2) Follow accounts that make you feel positive
Instagram is a hub of beautiful images showcasing aspirational lifestyles. They’re not always reflective of real-life or real parenting. If the accounts you follow make you feel bad about yourself as a parent, you can make the choice to stop following them.
Think about cleansing your Instagram/Facebook and start following more supporting and uplifting voices. Once you find those positive influencers, you can curate your own positive space.
3) Try to limit your use of social media
We know that phones and social media are designed to keep our attention for as long as possible, and we’re all guilty of falling into a YouTube hole of funny cat videos from time-to-time. If you do feel like social media might be getting you down, why not set a time limit for how much screen time you want each day? This can be done through your phone’s own settings or downloading specific apps. Social media can be an amazing tool for moms who might otherwise feel isolated and occasionally bored with the monotony of life with little ones. However, it can also lead to not being present enough and that’s a downer. I suppose the moral of the story, is everything in moderation.
4) Think about what you’re putting out there
Equally, think about what you’re posting on social media. Are you sharing only the best moments or even creating moments to get likes and comments? Most of us are guilty of adding a filter or two but it’s good to consider how making our own lives look perfect can make others feel.
5) Set up a closed Facebook group
Facebook and social media does have the potential to be a positive space, enabling like-minded people in similar circumstances to communicate easily and have honest conversations.
Why not set up a private or closed Facebook group with a community of trusted parents? Be honest about your struggles and share tips and advice.
Consider joining our group for Calm, Empathetic, Supportive Parents and Caregivers
6) You’re not alone
It can be hard to talk about the pressures of parenting, particularly if you feel like you’re struggling with something that doesn’t seem to bother other parents. Speaking to those around about how you’re feeling can be really daunting and you’ll be surprised by how much fellow parents will understand.
7) Put moments above pictures
Every stage of our child’s development is a time we’ll never get back. Trying to hold on to these memories by taking photos and cataloguing everything on social media is really tempting but truly the best way to remember and enjoy these moments is by being present.
8) Ask for help if you need it
Research found that on average parents can struggle for over seven months before reaching out for support. Remember, it’s OK to ask for help and it can prevent a difficult situation turning into a risky one. The earlier you reach out, the sooner someone can help you to regain your confidence.
Remember, there are two sides to every coin. For every Instagram, there’s something on the other side of the camera. The reality is that parenting is very challenging.
As a parent, this wonderful bundle of joy comes into your life, and you go through a lot of changes that you need to adapt to. It is important that you surround yourself with the right support system, positive friendships and remember to take care of yourself alongside caring for your little ones.
If the social media rabbit hole is causing you extra stress, anxiety, or depression contact us to discuss ways we can help.