How Social Media is Sucking the Joy out of Parenting

  • imagesLately, I have been wanting to scream from a mountaintop to all the parents in the world, “Stop letting social media suck the joy out of your parenting!” Daily, I hear the insecurity in the voices of young moms who tentatively ask, “Am I a bad mom if…” I see dads screaming at 5-year-olds on the ball fields to, “Get your head in the game!” as if the child’s very soul was on the line.


When did this start? Certainly Carol Brady from The Brady Bunch was not wondering, “Am I a bad mom because I have three kids sharing one room and six kids sharing one bathroom?” Yet today we can feel like a bad parent if our child doesn’t eat organic strawberries or isn’t reading by kindergarten. Something has to be the cause of this shift, so I would like to blame social media. And I would like to use social media to address this issue. Isn’t it ironic? Don’t ya think?


  • Loss of Focus—By spending time sifting through post after post of what hundreds of other families are doing well, we can quickly forget what it is that we are doing well. We focus on what we are NOT doing for our kids rather than what we are doing. It’s easy to scroll through the crafts we didn’t do and the curtains we didn’t sew to match the Pottery Barn bedding that we couldn’t afford, and we soon forget that we have a child who is well cared for and unconditionally loved. It is easy to be distracted by the Disney vacation our kids never had rather than realizing that they are perfectly content sleeping in a tent in the backyard with Dad.


  • Insecurities are Exploited—Most new parents are insecure. This makes sense because no one ever handed them a 7-pound human being before and asked them to take it home and care for it for 18 years. Oh and by the way, if they could turn it into an attractive athlete who excels in school and takes on leadership roles while volunteering in their church and community, that would be even better. Rather than gaining confidence with experience, new parents become even more insecure when they begin the comparison game. Someone Unknown-3posts a picture of a 15-month-old babbling words and it shoots an arrow into the heart of the mom with a silent 18 -month-old. Someone writes about the necessities of essential oils while someone else posts about the dangers of the wrong essential oil brands.  Meanwhile a young mom has no idea what it’s all about, but feels a wave of guilt that her child is missing out or worse yet, is being slowly poisoned by the over-the-counter medicine she had been using. A 2012 study from Ohio State University found that “parenting perfectionism” led to lower confidence in mothers and greater stress in fathers.
  • False Reality—What is posted on social media is only a snap shot of someone’s life. We can’t compare someone’s Kodak moment with our daily struggles. A young mom can look at a picture on her computer screen of a friend’s kids in matching Unknown-2outfits, arm in arm, smelling daisies and then look down at her own children still in pajamas at noon, peanut butter on their cheeks arguing over a 2 millimeter Lego piece. She easily forgets that the daisy smellers are probably now at home  pulling hair and shoving each other off the couch and that her kids have smelled the daisies too. Researchers in recent years have implicated social media in spurring envy and depression in many adults. Really? Someone actually had to spend money to research that? If anyone believed that what they saw on Facebook or Instagram was anyone’s 24/7 reality, of course they would be envious.


  • Information Overload 

With a foundation of insecurity firmly in place, what then is a young parent to think when they are inundated with information on an almost infinite number of topics? And what then are they to think when the information is contradictory? What if the information is true, but not realistic in their lives?  How much guilt can a “good mom” handle if she dares to give her child milk from Meijer when she just read that it is packed with hormones and other unseen toxins that are insidiously poisoning her 3-year-old?  And what if she feeds it to him in a plastic cup that she chose especially Unknown-1because it was BPA-free but now reads that it should be glass or stainless steel–if she REALLY cared about him? Actually, if she was a “good mom” she would share a cow with a friend and buy the milk directly from the farmer to insure its purity before placing it in the stainless steel cup. SImple.  If she cared that is. (sarcasm intended)

SO what do we do?

We must recognize the power that social media can have to distract us from focusing on what is true and right and good for our own individual family.   Pay attention to how you feel when you are on any social media site or even a news site for that matter.  What thoughts run through your mind?  What do you know to be true? Is it fair to compare what you see in a snapshot to your whole day?  Can you compare someone’s outside with your insides? When you post do you try to make a statement about yourself or your kids?

You were hired by the God of the universe to parent your children.  Let’s please assume that He knows exactly what he is doing.  You are qualified, so parent with confidence.  Decide with your spouse what is important to your family and then focus on that end. No one else is parenting your kids so the comparison game is really impossible since no one in the world has your job.

Know your triggers and avoid them or talk yourself through them. I struggle with pictures of teenagers who have accomplished big things for their school, church, or community.  My boys are responsible, amazing young men who have a heart for God and a clear understanding of their identity, and I don’t want to diminish that by wishing they were organizing their friends to feed an African village.   My sister had 26 week old twins who struggled for life for months, with my niece dying at 18 months.  She struggles with posts about healthy twins.  Its a challenging to see what might have been.

Read the information but then apply your own reality.  I know that family meals around the table are the number one trait that successful kids have in common.  Great.  But some nights are crazy nights.  This makes it quite tempting for me to despair when we eat in shifts or grab a bowl of cereal and a banana rather than bonding over a meal.  After all, my Facebook friend just made homemade bread from the wheat she ground herself and a freshly baked pie from the blueberries in her garden.  Geesh…how hard should it be for me to get a meal on the table?  But she did not post this for me to despair–that’s on me.  And my kids are bonded to me even on these nights of chaos.  The point of the meal is to grow closer as a family unit, but can we do that in other ways that day or that week? Yes.  And so I have freed myself from the pang of social media guilt and I can celebrate my friend’s meal rather than be overwhelmed by it.

Rather than interviewing farmers about their beef and meeting the cow that might feed your family for the next year, embrace the Unknownreality that store bought meat cannot be actually killing your family.  Understand that maybe chickens in cages might actually be happy because they are helping you save $2 a carton on eggs.  Rather than scouring websites for a stainless steel sippy cup, keep your plastic one out of the microwave and call it a day.  You have the power to STOP the information that is meant to be helpful from sucking the joy out of your parenting.

If none of this resonates with you–great!  Keep doing what you are doing.  But be aware that many people are losing their confidence  and their joy and that is certainly not what anyone wanted to happen.

How Social Media is Sucking the Joy out of Parenting


  1. As someone who struggles with this daily, I should probably print this out and stick it on my fridge. Amen and amen.

  2. AMEN! I found myself chuckling with complete agreement through the whole article! Thank you for sharing your writing talents to communicate this in such a beautiful way. If you ever give a talk on it, let me know…I wanna come! :-)

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