"Millennial parenting in the era of social media" by Elena LaVictoire (CatholicMom.com) Via Pixabay (2015), CC0 Public Domain

Parenting in this era of social media is stressful for some millennials. My nieces and nephews are having babies now. I frequently see their links to stories and articles in my social-media feeds. Recently, this article stood out to me.

There were no flashcards, there was no sign language (unless you were deaf), there were no organic, free-range bento boxes – your job was to just see a kid through to adulthood and hope they didn’t become an idiot. [Emphasis mine.]

It seems to me that is still the primary job of parenthood. As Catholic moms, our view goes even further: get them through adulthood and life and then someday into heaven. But the main goals of parenthood haven't changed at all.

The author continued:

Hey, I’m not judging, and I’m not saying one way is better than the other, but I’m just saying that we are part of a generation that considers parenting as a skill. Like a true skill that needs to be mastered and perfected and if we don’t get it right, we think our kids suffer for it and that’s hard to keep up with. That’s not to say other generations didn’t have it tough or think parenting was important, but there just wasn’t the same level of scrutiny that could be liked, tweeted or instagramed all at once. [Emphasis mine.]

And here I think we get to the core of the problem. Social media may be a new thing, but comparing ourselves to others is part of human nature and very old. In fact comparing ourselves to others and then feeling proud or discouraged accordingly is as old as time. In her book  On the Banks of Plum Creek, Laura Ingalls Wilder talked about feeling ashamed of her bare feet as she and her sister walked to the town school. All of the other kids had shoes. In Charles Dicken's book, Great Expectations, Pip feels frequently feels ashamed of his clothes, his living arrangements, and even his family. Even in the Bible, Cain kills Able because he doesn't like being compared.
[tweet "From @mrsL: Feeling scrutinized + judged is not a 21st-century thing. It's a human thing."]

Clearly feeling scrutinized and judged IS NOT a 21st-century thing - it's a human thing. Sometimes it's even a sin thing. The only difference with parenting now is that oversharing can be done instantly via social media for the whole world to see.

It’s an amazing and exciting time to have a baby right now, but always keep in mind, no one has ever done it like this before – you are pioneers that have to machete through the new terrain.

I disagree.  The truth is, every generation has done parenting before! The terrain of Instragram and Facebook and other social media is not the same terrain that moms faced even ten years ago. It's much smoother. After all, you can unplug a computer and put down the iPhone. In the last 100 years, new moms have dealt with recessions, many wars and even the Great Depression. Putting food on the table trumps getting upset over a pretty Pinterest post.

So as Catholic moms, how do we cope?  Here are a couple of points to remember and try.

  • You can't do it on your own, so don't try. Turn it over to God, and pray for yourself and your family.
  • As Catholic moms, our role model is a 16-year-old Jewish girl living in Roman-occupied, first-century Judea, with legal authorities trying to kill her baby. That sort of puts everything else into perspective!
  • Find a few blogs, sites, boards or Twitter feeds that edify and inspire you and then just look at those. Block everything else.
  • See out older and more experienced moms as mentors. They came from a different era,  but they've made it through before and have wisdom and knowledge to share. Take advantage of it!

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Copyright 2017 Elena LaVictoire