Today’s blog post is submitted by our summer contributor, Kara Olsen-Becerra.
Although many parts of being a parent stays constant throughout time, we are living in a time now where there are some distinct differences from when our parents were raising us. Social media and networking are relatively new ways for parents to connect with other like minded parents, share tips and ideas, and learn new information that can help us reflect on how we would like to do things in our homes. Social media can be a great and efficient way to connect people. For example, the Parenting Success Network is now able to reach a wider audience than just the parents who attend our local parenting classes.
Although staying connected with many other parents through the internet can be beneficial in many ways, it can also sometimes leave us parents feeling like we aren’t doing anything right. Parents are constantly updating their facebook pages, blogs, and instagram with pictures that would make it appear that they totally have their acts together. We see pictures of sweet smiling, siblings hugging each other,parents bragging that their 5 year old just finished reading the whole “Little House on the Prairie” series, or pictures of the five course meal that a mom friend made for her family that night. It’s not to say many of these people truly aren’t happy or doing great things in their lives, because most of them probably are. It’s just that people can sometimes be very selective sometimes about what they choose to share. Parents definitely can choose to portray their lives in a way through social media that may or may not reflect what their actual lives look like on a daily basis. Take this picture, for example, taken of my family a couple of weeks ago:
Another person looking at this picture may see a smiling family who loves to stroll around holding hands all day. A family where everyone is almost always happy and where everyone seems to always get along. Yes, I love my family very much and although we try our best to be a happy family, there was a lot going on that day that isn’t portrayed in this picture. My husband Chris was running a high fever this day at our family reunion, our two year old kept running away as we are trying to take a picture, and our older two were teasing each other throughout the whole process. I was stressed wishing my vacation from work and time with family was going more smoothly. There was a lot more behind the scene stress than you can imagine from looking at this picture.
I am not suggesting that people stop posting their happy pictures and experiences. I love reading about the great things my friends and family members are up to. I love when other people are positive and share the beauty in their lives. I also appreciate when parents share their everyday struggles and when people can be vulnerable enough to sometimes admit that they don’t know all of the answers. We aren’t supposed to know the answers, right? We are all in this together, and it is nice when parents can lend support to one another.
When we as parents see all of the seemingly perfect things people post about their lives, it can be really hard not to compare ourselves. We often times compare what we see as our worst to someone’s best. We wonder why our children don’t behave more in a certain way or why we feel like we are barely keeping things together sometimes when it appears everyone else around us has it all figured out.
As we become more confident in our parenting abilities and efforts, we can start to cut ourselves some slack. We know that even families who are trying their very best still have their struggles and trials. We know that although raising children can be extremely rewarding and fulfilling, it is also really hard. I know that I am personally working on being more gentle with myself. I know that I don’t do everything right as a parent, and that’s okay. I lose my patience with my kids too often, and I often feel like I can’t meet everyone’s needs how I want to (including my own at times). It’s okay to have a hard day with the kids and say, “Today mommy was really grumpy. I l love you, and I’m really sorry, let’s try again tomorrow.”
The next time that you feel yourself starting to be hard on yourself and comparing yourself to someone else, take a moment to think about a few things that you are doing well as a parent. None of us are perfect parents, but luckily our kids don’t need perfect parents, but they do need us (and all of our flaws) to be there for them, to teach them, and to listen to them even if we are figuring things out as we go.
The Parenting Success Network knows that parenting can be hard, and we are here to offer you resources and parenting support. Everyone needs cheerleaders along the way, and we are happy to cheer you all on through your parenting journey.
Kara Olsen-Becerra loves working with children and families. She taught the Live and Learn with Your Baby classes in Corvallis for 6 years, and she is currently working as a nutrition educator with the Linus Pauling Institute-Healthy Youth Program. She loves being a part of this great community, and she loves being silly and playing with her husband and three young children.