My mom marvels at how amazing social media is. She says how wonderful it is that I can connect with parents who have kids the same age as mine, that I can ask questions and get answers in real time, and that I've even gotten jobs all based off social networking sites that weren't even imagined in Back to the Future.
She doesn't know the full story.
The seemingly perfect "mom bods" 7.5 seconds after giving birth. The humongous homes with 14 bathrooms. The children flying straight to Australia, sleeping 11 hours on the flight, then adjusting to the new timezone and being perfect angels at a six-course tasting menu.
I guess there are kids like that, but that's no way to make friends on Instagram. In fact, here are the most annoying things any parent can do on social media.
1. Give unsolicited advice
We all know what opinions are like, and yes everyone has one. If a mom reaches out to ask for sleep training advice, by all means offer your experience. However, if she just posts an Instastory venting about how tired she is, do not go on and on about the evils of letting your kid cry or how she should have let her kid cry it out a long time ago. If she wants, she will ask. If she doesn't, your job as a real-life or virtual friend is to sit and listen.
2. Say "no kids are like this — that's so weird"
This is the best way to make someone go down the rabbit hole of irrational angst. Realistically, nobody knows what idea what all kids are like. Perhaps most kids are like that. Perhaps just some are, or perhaps just the kids you know are like that. However, when caretakers are worried about the baby's eating, social life, sleeping patterns, etc., making them feel isolated is the worst thing you can do. If you don't have any experience with the issue at hand, keep mum. And if you do, speak up — it feels great to know you're not alone in your kid banging his back on the crib for 45 minutes to get himself to sleep.
3. Minimizing another parent's fear
By another token, don't brush off another parent's questions or concerns. There's nothing more infuriating than somebody saying your intuition is off. If I reach out on Facebook asking for advice or opinions, it doesn't feel great to have someone say "don't worry about it," unless there is significant context and personal anecdotes to accompany that advice.
4. Bragging about how well your kid eats/sleeps/poops
Especially after he/she does it one time. Once. You know how many times the baby will eat an entire bowl of quinoa after you blast photos on social media? Zero. And yes, I speak from experience. Don't do this.
5. Being cutesy around parents you know are struggling
If you have an idea to cut your youngster's sandwich into shapes or serve it with little colored toothpicks, that's cool — share it! If, however, you turn it into a monologue about how you are taking this children's catering idea to "Shark Tank," and start the hashtag #babyjoshualovesjellyjams, you might not make many friends in a parenting group full of parents of picky eaters. You can share your trick and joy without forcing it down other people's throats. Just know your audience and share your idea and call it what it is — a really neat trick that hopefully other parents can use.
Do you have any annoying social media habits to add?