The interwebs is an amazing place. It has completely redefined how we communicate. It has transformed the way the news works and has made everyday people producers and transmitters of knowledge. And it has blessed us with YouTube videos of cats doing cat shit and people also doing cat shit and parrots singing metal music and this chick ranting about Bath and Body works.
What’s not to love?
Well, how paranoid it makes us as parents, for one.
Parents today have approximately eleventy-one-billion things more to worry about than our parents did thanks to the internet. Except we don’t really. The internet just makes us believe we do.
Sure, we have things like cyber bullying and internet predators to deal with — things our parents certainly never had to stress about — but all that other shit? All that other shit is cockamamie. It’s sensationalized hogwash created by media outlets and mommy bloggers, including me. And it’s bullshit. All of it.
Take how we choose to feed our babies, for example. Guess who cared about that when our parents were raising us? The doctor, that’s who. And maybe a nosy mother-in-law or two. But the rest of the world? The rest of the world couldn’t have cared less whether our mothers hooked their babies up to a boob or a bottle, and they certainly weren’t taking ads out in the paper or securing prime time television space to shame everybody into doing it one way or another.
And what about the parenting philosophies we subscribe to? I seriously can’t even keep them all straight anymore. According to the internet, we’re supposed to wear our babies while they sleep in their own cribs and cry it out as we bed share. Righto.
And let’s not forget about discipline. If we spank our children, we’re abusers; if we don’t, we’re enablers. We’re also supposed to put them in time-out until we’re not supposed to do that. Then time-in is the magic cure. We’re supposed to refrain from telling them “no” so as not to damage their fragile psyches, but not before we set firm rules and demand they abide.
We’re supposed to feed them organic and let them have the occasional fast food meal and not let them go to the park alone and let them wander free range and home school them and send them to public school and forbid TV and let them watch an hour of it a day and organize play dates and let them organize their own play and get them involved in sports and clubs and not over schedule them and stay home with them and send them to daycare and make our own baby food and buy it from the store and breastfeed them until they’re 18 and give them cow’s milk when they’re one and somehow not blow our own minds doing so. And if we don’t do even one of these things right, we can count on the internet to crucify us.
It’s madness, plain and simple.
It’s impossible to be the ideal parent because the ideal parent doesn’t exist. Each parent and child is different, meaning each parenting relationship requires a different approach. There is no one size fits all when it comes to parenting. It just doesn’t exist. No matter what we try or do, we will come across news articles and blog posts and reader comments telling us what a shitty job we’re doing and how we’d be so much better if we did it this way instead. The more we try to be perfect, the less perfect we feel.
It boils down to this: You’re not a bad parent. The internet is making you feel like one. So keep doing your thing the best way you know how and tell the internet to suck it. It’s an asshole anyway.