Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Parenting without Social Media

So it worked for you, that bit of advice you picked up from the health visitor, teacher, friend or even off social network. But it doesn't mean you can start making other parents feel like they're failing because it doesn't work for them.

If you choose not to immunize your children that is your right, but don't tell other people that they're risking a life of disability with their child as you could be also & if your child contracts an illness they could have been immunized against, they and you could be responsible for making another child who is maybe too young for the next set of jabs very ill. 

Ok that may be a bit extreme, you're untitled to your views and opinions but I'm fedup of seeing so many people quick to put others down then play the victim and claim they're being harassed by another blogger who disagrees with them. 

Don't try and make your battles, other people's. Use the proper channel if you as a family have been unfairly treated, talk about it, blog about it but stop trying to convince others that you are right, you may be, you may not be.

Bizarre as it may seem at the ripe old age of 44, I birthed 3 boys, all were induced, all were full term. I spent quite a few of those years as a single mum and purchased everything 2nd hand. Things were handed down and around with friends, kids were often swopped out with the neighbours kids for weekends camping, there were no gadgets, no sterilisers, no breast pumps and no labels.

When you give a process a label, one is being set up to fail. Baby Led Weening was doing the rounds on Mumsnet this week. As far as I can work out it involves sitting your child in a high chair, with the same foods as the rest of the family and letting them feed themselves. As one mumsnetter was informed 'she was insulting her child's intelligence by shoving a spoon in it's face'

I breast and bottle fed all 3 to different ages, I mashed up their food (I didn't own a liquidiser) and spoon fed them, I let them eat and explore their own foods.

I didn't have pram envy, or designer nursery's, I didn't have bank loans and credit cards to pay for all the stuff I didn't need. I was proud to announce I'd picked up something for almost free and the competition at nursery and later in the school play ground was all about who knew who and what they were passing down this week.

I visited the mobile toy library, we swopped toys out, we donated and exchanged toys at the local play group.

Yes parents in the playground judged others, gossiped, compared reading ages, but that was human nature. Shock most of us were SAHM's, there were quite a few SAHD's but we didn't use labels. But we, as many generations before us didn't know that one day it would be labelled and others would then feel they could judge us for our decisions. Some of us parents had part time or full time jobs as the children grew, but did we judge? No, we collected one anthers children, helped with homework and fed them their tea.

The majority of the village owned their own home, bought in the 1990's when one could get on the property ladder, owned one car and foreign holidays were reserved for when your kids had grown up.

There were no demands for insisting children could miss school to be taken on a family holiday, quoting it as a 'human right'

Back in my day, if it didn't exist, we didn't have it and if we couldn't afford it, we didn't buy it. But we didn't judge others when they couldn't afford to get their car fixed, we gave them lifts. They didn't go out and buy a new pram instead of paying their bills.

No one told you they couldn't afford new school uniform, pay their utility bills, put food on their table yet in the same sentence boast about their new coordinated furniture, designer curtains and TV.

I've recently seen people blogging about holidays abroad, complaining that their child's school won't let them have time off and 'sod it' they'll take the child out anyway as apparently 2 weeks on a beach in a resort is more educational than school, then a couple of weeks later they're blogging about how they can't pay their bills and then moaning about how their child was excluded from an end of term trip due to their attendance record.

It seems that some people in life are going to find things to complain about regardless. Thinking that their basic needs and rights as a family include foreign holidays to keep up with the Jones's. Debt, repossession of houses, complaining that their benefits are being cut, but not cutting back on their Sky, Internet and Phone subscriptions on the grounds that because everyone else has it, it's their right to have it also and then using their 3G coverage to find the local food bank and claiming their kids will be bullied if they don't have certain clothing, phones etc, etc, etc.

We weren't envious, we accepted that our time would come, when our kids left home. In the meantime the kids knew they'd have to wait till xmas for that football shirt or a certain toy/gadget. The TV was huge as in depth and took up half the lounge and we couldn't afford sky so we just didn't have it. I didn't have my first mobile phone until after my youngest was born in 1999 and it was 2001 before I got the internet at home.

I've been told I'm selfish, lucky and spoilt for having my children in Private School, living abroad etc etc. I've been told I have no idea what the real world is like and how 'people like me' don't care about those living in poverty. I lived in South Africa for 4 years and worked full time as a volunteer and let me tell you, living in a shack with no electricity and having to walk 4km for drinking water daily is poverty.

I have what I have now as I worked and I studied.

So why was it different for me as a young and single mum in the 1990's, compared to todays parents 20+ years on?

We lived in a community where everyone had similar values, standards, upbringings and income. I was a much younger mum, living in an older generation, most of my neighbours, friends and school mums with a few exceptions were a minimum of 10 years older than me with kids the same age.

But more importantly, there was no social media, we compared our lives to the others directly around us, we all attended the same nursery's, doctors, pubs, shops we met and knew the same people. Apart from a newspaper article or a story in Take a Break, we weren't influenced by 24 hour TV, adverts, there was no one telling us we would face problems if we didn't buy a certain product, parent in a certain way.

We put our babies to sleep how we found fit, we fed them, potty trained them, educated them, taught them values and demonstrated standards. I keep in touch now with most of these people from my early parenting days, in fact 2 women and their husbands are still very good friends, the girl I used to baby sit, who than baby sat my kids, now has a child of her own. She doesn't do twitter, isn't on face book much, doesn't blog, she works as a theatre nurse, owns her own home with her partner and has no idea what I'm on about somedays when I ask her opinion on breast feeding, co sleeping and baby led weening. She just doesn't have time for it, I just didn't have it.

All our kids are well and healthy, they may not have had the games, the designer clothes, the foreign holidays. But they do have an education, they talk none stop about the camping trips when they were young, the days out with the play groups and school trips and spending time with the neighbours.

Before you get wound up that you're failing as a parent because Social Media tell you are failing, consider where the report, information, advice comes from. Remember journalists will tell you what they think you want to hear, case studies are carried out on very small numbers. Remember statistics can be manipulated to fit the response the advertisers want and don't forget in order to sell you a product a company will quite often scaremonger you you into believing there is a problem that they can solve with one simple 'click' and before you know it, you have purchased yet another product or resource that you don't actually need for parenting, it just makes you feel you're doing something to protect or enhance your child's well being.

I'm grateful my parenting days are over and I'm more than grateful that I wasn't bullied by social media into raising my children how a small proportion of people see fit, when at the end of the day, that's their problem and not mine.


  1. You've done it again!!! Put the words many are thinking to "paper"
    This should get published in a parenting magazine!

    I think many of us forget the mantra live and let live! Who says my way is the best? It might actually be the worst. I grew up in the era you described and I miss it. My parents had one car and they owned it didn't owe any one for it. We went to the best schools and never took exotic holidays. Holidays were spent visiting the grandparents in the village or running around the neighbourhood and getting scraped and dirty. My mom didn't have SM to rave and rant! It was a much simpler time. And I miss it!!!

    1. thank you Funso, it doesn't mean to say it was easy but i don't think I would have coped at all with such interference from Social Media

  2. Brilliant post.

    I have had similar thoughts to this with regards the death of a child. My child died before social media and for that I am thankful. I see how baby/infant/child deaths are 'handled' on social media these days and it quite often makes my blood boil.


    1. I read about one woman who tweeted through her daughters funeral, I just don't understand the need for the out pouring of public grief. I guess we all deal with things differently, but I can't imagine wanting to share like that

  3. I'm very lucky that I follow a good bunch on twitter who are very supportive and give good advice (as I found out when I tweeted about my boobs this morning). I ignore mummy blogs as they're all reviews or living in a perfect (clearly untrue) world. I do read Mumsnet as I have time on my hands but ignore most. Things like blw and arguments about ff vs bf does my head in.

    I did have a wobble about how much solid food vs milk A was having because it seemed all the other mums I knew had dropped almost all milk and their babies eating proper big meals but twitter sorted me out.

    I like sm but need to find what's helpful (and ignore those smug mummy blogs)

    1. if you're well adjusted what like you is Bethan than you can see a lot of SM for what it is, but I always worry about the minority who believe everything they see on these sites