Maybe you’re the same? I get teased a lot about my Facebook use. But not by people who get it.
Five years ago, I was in a miserable marriage and experiencing phenomenally low energy levels. I wonder now if I was bordering on depression. I had a nine year-old, a six year-old and a two year-old, and my life pretty much revolved around them because I had to choose to do one thing well. I was 43 and experiencing some intense bleeding as part of peri-menopause and my iron levels were teeny as a result, I was seriously sleep-deprived and I was trying to convince the world I was right about everything.
I was prickly to those who annoyed me and many people annoyed me. I was very, very fragile. I was trying to keep my boys protected from some intense dysfunction within their wider world, and ensure they felt loved but not entitled. I felt isolated and I had some serious self-development to do. I had baggage I needed to sort out. It wasn’t my fault I was in this state but it was my responsibility to change it.
To be clear: I have many dear friends in real life and lots of things I can talk about. I am interested in stuff. But most of my people are busy parents who aren’t always available. My interests have always been eclectic, so finding those who can sensibly discuss things I want to discuss is rare, when in survival mode, it was impossible. Personal development wasn’t new to me but it was on the backburner because there was no space in my head. So I joined Facebook, and it began.
Have you changed after using Facebook? It may seem weird to those who haven’t had it as a lifeline. I did. I found one mini tribe after another that shared my interests: I could be part of a group that got *this* but didn’t have to know *that* about me. I was given new information and new skills to learn. I became more circumspect about whom I told what. I could chat with people at 5.00am or 12.00pm, when no one in my real world was around. I had proper fun for the first time in years. I learned to laugh and tease and flirt with men, and to put in boundaries to maintain greater self-respect, and not be fazed when people didn’t resonate with me and ghosted. I learned a lot about speaking in a way that I could be heard and listening to understand, not to respond. I learned about some really alternative ways of looking at the world.
I learned to be the me I had been before other people had convinced me to be something else that suited them. I ditched the shell and found a spine.
And the response has been outstandingly positive. My sense of self has soared. I have slowly translated all my new self into the real world and am loving life in a way I could never have predicted. I am healthy all round. How about you? Does your online life reflect your real life? It’s an interesting thing to ponder.
As things do, this has cycled around: I am now faced with the reality that some of my online people are Trump people and therefore, not my people. The internet has limitations: no tone of voice, no body language, no instantaneous vibe to resonate with… or not. Interpersonal cues take longer to decipher. It’s a curious thing and I understand why those who don’t get it, don’t get it. In the end it comes down to this: I value my mini-tribes in ways that anti-Facebook people will probably never understand. Cheers to you all and a heartfelt, thank you.
What’s your Facebook experience been like? Are you even on Facebook?
My children are part of the first generation for whom social media has always existed. When I was a child, the term “email” hadn’t even been invented yet. For my children, Facebook has always existed and email is regarded as old-fashioned. This has all kinds of implications for kids, of course. We’ve all seen the multitude of reports and studies about what screen time is doing to our kids, how the obesity epidemic is being linked to the explosion of computer-based gaming, and how computers are making new skills emerge as old skills decline.
Something that is not talked about as frequently is the impact of social media on parents.
When my mother was raising me and my brother, the only people she could call on for advice or opinions were people she actually knew in person.
If she needed help, she had to either pick up the phone and ask, or go and visit someone. In the event of a child getting sick or injured, she would take us to the doctor, trust whatever the doctor said and get whatever medication was prescribed.
My parenting experience has been vastly different. I have the same supports that my mother had – friends, family members, and especially my mother herself – but I also have the Internet. When my older son was born, I joined a parenting group on Yahoo, and developed a friendship with fellow members that endures to this day (the only difference is that the Yahoo group is now a Facebook group). When my son was diagnosed with autism, I joined an autism parenting group, with the same results.
Both groups are about requesting and receiving advice, sharing funny stories about our kids, and having a safe place to vent on our bad days. Through these groups – and through World Moms Blog – I have developed online friendships that are every bit as real as “traditional” friendships. We rally around each other in bad times, and we celebrate together in good times.
No matter what is going on with my kids or with myself as a mother, I always know that there is someone out there who understands. And if I can’t find someone who has the answers I need, there’s always Google.
There are downsides to parenting in the age of social media, of course. Sometimes I go searching for understanding and find judgment instead. I find stark divisions in the parenting community. I have been criticized for vaccinating my kids. I have seen homeschooling moms viciously attack those who send their kids to school, and vice versa. I was once an uncomfortable online witness to a discussion in which a breastfeeding advocate smugly told a breast cancer survivor that she would be able to breastfeed her newborn child if she “tried harder”.
So yes, ugliness is as pervasive on the Internet as it is in the physical world. But we respond to it in the same way: by trying to counteract the bad with the good, by being supportive of one another and by leaving the ugliness behind.
At the end of the day, I am thankful to have the world of social media at my fingertips as I navigate the mysterious world of parenting. And I am even more thankful that at any time, I can pick up the phone and call the person who muddled through it all without the Internet: my mother.
What differences have you noticed between your mother’s era of parenting and your own? Does social media play an important role in your journey as a mother?
This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Kirsten Doyle of Toronto, Canada.
Photo credit: StartBloggingOnline.com This picture has a creative commons attribution license.
I remember when I was little playing with my dolls and pretending that I was a mom from a very young age. I don’t think I ever remember a time when I was young thinking I wouldn’t have children. I remember coming up with names for girls and boys. As I grew up and got married and the thought of having my own children became more and more real, I began thinking and dreaming of what they would be like. (more…)
Relationships are like food: sometimes we go through a sweet period, sprinkling yummy “I love you’s” here and there. Other times, something turns sour. A word, a small remark rots a whole day, like a mold-covered strawberry infects an entire packet. But hopefully for the most part, we enjoy a balanced, contenting diet, adapted to our needs.
Everybody’s food diet is different, but there are some basics to stick to: not too much of the junk, limit salt, watch sugar, etc. And coating some bad food with additives and colorants to make it look healthy and attractive, doesn’t do the deed. There’s nothing healthier than making a meal with fresh, basic ingredients.
I don’t have the recipe for ever-lasting love. But just like with food, I feel that there are some basics to stick to. We should definitely keep the lies out, nurture one another, and stay away from the many fake additives that might keep our relationships on the display shelf for longer, but at what cost to their health? In my view, some things scream “Need for attention”. They are:
1. If you can’t tell your partner that he/she is an ill-tempered, annoying brat when he/she’s being one, that’s not right. You should be able to tell it like it is. There might be a fine line between being direct and hurting feelings, but let’s face it, when you’re going out all night drinking with your friends while your wife is home with two sick kids and has not slept in a week, you are it! If you unleash a storm of insults on your husband because he snores too much, you are it! And you deserve to know. So you can take a good look in the mirror. If your partner can’t tell you that you are being unreasonable without you losing the plot, then guess what . . . You are it!
2. If you say, “I am sorry”, immediately followed by, “but”, that’s not an apology. That’s an explanation as to why you’re not apologizing. I know the famous movie line, “Love is to never have to say you’re sorry”, but (there it is!), I believe love to be the exact opposite. If you’re being purposely mean, you need to apologize. If you’re being inconsiderate you need to apologize, if you’re being hurtful, you need to apologize. If you never apologize, could you possibly be all of the above?
3. If you feel the need to express your undying love and eternal faithfulness in the privacy of your Facebook page, that’s not right. I’m not talking about the occasional nice words, here and there. I’m talking about the constant need to post that, you do love him / her. Your “friends might “like” the sugar coated lines you write on your wall everyday. But they will equally “like” the video of you cutting his clothes and hammering his gnome collection. The only persons who need to acknowledge that you love your partner are . . . your partner, and your children.
4. If you think Fifty Shades Of Grey is a romantic story with a little X-rated material, that’s not right. Fifty Shades might be a brilliant piece of work, but I think it’s far from being a fairy tale encounter between prince Charming and young naïve nobody, who get together and live kinkily ever after.
In this book series, I read about a mentally abusive relationship (and possibly physically but what do I know, I don’t have a red room in my house . . . ), I read about a woman who thinks she’s in control when she has surrendered all of it to a guy who owns her, body and soul.
It’s not about mutual love and respect, and the guy is certainly not the man of anyone’s dream – aside from the striking gorgeous looks, the private helicopter / jet / many mansions, and of course, the lady who cooks all his meals. . .
5. If you only address your partner, who is standing an inch away from you, through your kids, that’s not right.
“Tell Dad that his music is driving me crazy and if he doesn’t lower the volume, I’ll make him eat his ipod. . . Please.”
“No, sweetheart, I cannot buy you a doll house, because Mommy spent all our money on some ugly curtains so maybe you can play with that instead.”
That kind of stuff.
I am no relationship counselor, thank the Gods for the good of the humanity!
But I think that sometimes we get caught up in layers of political correctness, attention seeking, and fairy tale illusions. These are the pollutants in our recipe.
I wonder what happened to, “Honey, you are being a prat right now.” “You are right. I’m sorry.” “It’s okay. I love you.”
No messenger to deliver the message. No winding road to go from A to B. No hiding behind the idyllic image we are projecting to the world around us. Just the basic ingredients: two people ready to listen, some love and empathy.
How do you keep a health check on your relationship? How do you teach your children to be open to listening and empathy?
This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Nadege Nicoll. She was born in France but now lives permanently in New Jersey with her family. Nadege also writes a daily blog for moms who need to smile at everyday life. She can be found on Twitter, Facebook and her website www.nadegenicoll.com.
Photo credit to the author.
Imagine the scene: an eight year old girl with a Facebook account – allowed for by her parents. I will call her Maria. Maria’s parents both work full time and after school she stays at home with the maid. She has full access to the computer and knows how to navigate the Internet quite well.
Several hundred kilometers away, a grown man creates a fake Facebook account using childhood photographs of a famous teenage singer. He contacts Maria and she accepts him as her online friend. They chat. At one point he says he loves going to the beach and sends her a picture of the singer, when around age eight, at the beach. “I also love going to the beach!” she says and, when prompted, sends him a picture of herself at the beach wearing a bikini.
The friendship progresses over several days. Maria is happy because she and the cute boy seem to have a lot in common. One day he asks for her phone number. He says his birthday is coming up and he wants to invite her. Using a child’s voice, he talks to her briefly and then asks if she can talk to his father. The “father” says the “birthday” will be a lot of fun: he will pick her up at school and take them to the mall, to the movies, for ice cream and other fun things.
He also tells her not to worry about talking to her parents. He will call them later and they will work everything out.
The day of the “birthday” arrives. The man gets to Maria’s school and tells the porter he is her uncle. The porter says he will have to call Maria’s parents to get permission for her to go with him. “No problem,” he says, “while you call I will go pick her up in her classroom”. Her parents deny the story and the man is not able to leave the school grounds with Maria. At this point the school staff has started to get suspicious and they are able to record the number of his license plate and inform the police.
The man is later intercepted at the state border. He has a criminal record and has already spent time in prison for molesting children. Unfortunately, as there was no formal accusation, the police are not able to arrest him.
The scary situation I described above is a true story that happened to the daughter of one of my husband’s colleagues. The topic came up in a talk how nowadays children are so computer savvy, and my husband commented on how we limit the kids’ screen time: we have no TV set at home; the eldest has limited time on the Internet and no social media or e-mail accounts; and, more recently, we have cut all screen time for the two smaller kids (both under four) with the exception of days at grandma’s and the rare trip to the movie theater. At that point the co-worker stated that nowadays it is impossible to control kids’ screen time and recounted what happened to his girl.
Valdemar Setzer*, a professor at the Computer Science Department of the University of São Paulo (USP) researches the impacts of screens on children and advocates that kids – for lack of maturity – should have no access whatsoever to the Internet (teens included). I recently heard him talk and a lot of what he said only confirmed my own opinions and reinforced the hard decision of eliminating all screen time for my two youngest kids at home.
On the other hand, it also got me thinking about how part of the problem doesn’t have to do with the screens themselves: it is much more about parents and children who spend way too little (quantity) time together, parents who overwork to make ends meet and are (understandably) too tired to play or do outdoor activities with the kids and the end of the day or during the weekends, or simply parents and kids which communication needs to improve a lot.
I am not trying to be judgmental here – I am grateful my job is flexible and allows me to have a lot of time with my kids, but I know other parents are not so fortunate.
However, even in my case stories like this make me once again rethink my priorities and find ways to organize our family life, as there is always room for improvement. After all, there is nothing more important to me that my children, and I believe that is the case for most parents. Also, despite all the benefits the Internet and other new means of communication have brought about (such as bringing together mothers from around the world in this blog!), for me real, active life is always better than the passive life that goes on “behind the screens” – not only for children, but for adults too!
And you, do you control your children’s screen time? If so, how? Please share your story!
[*] Prof. Setzer’s website is loaded with information on the effects of screens on children, including stuff in English – http://www.ime.usp.br/~vwsetzer/
This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Eco Ziva of Brazil. Photo credit: Sinistra Ecologia Libertá. This picture has a creative commons attribution license.