How Facebook Opened my Eyes to the Reality of Parenting*

I’ve reached a point in my life when people I know are having children. Actually, scratch that. Not just “people I know”, lots of people I know are having children and I see it every day on Facebook. Just yesterday another girl I knew in high school announced over Facebook that she was pregnant with her first child–and that makes it somewhere between the 15th – 20th pregnancy announcement I’ve seen over Facebook over the past 6 months.

I’m positive that if I opened my Facebook “home page” right now I would see either a status update regarding a pregnancy, a congratulations on a pregnancy, or the ever-classic month by month belly photos. Now don’t get me wrong–there is nothing wrong with this–it just boggles me that somehow I’ve reached “that” stage in life, where many of my friends are now parents. I know I’m 23 years old and have been married for 3.5 years, but I just can’t wrap my head around everyone I know having kids! haha!

Most of my pregnant friends, or friends with children, all have and use Facebook regularly. Many of them are also very open and honest in their Facebook status updates, which has opened my eyes to some of the realities of parenting that I might not have otherwise thought of. For example, a couple I know had a baby a little over a year ago. The baby was beautiful, but was extremely colicky and nothing my friends did would get rid of it. I saw their updates at all hours of the day and night and could read their frustrations and exhaustion as they tried to help their baby. I had no idea what colic even was before I read what they were going through as they were going through it. My heart constantly went out to them, but it was months and months before any change occurred.

Also, I learned about things that women go through during pregnancy (which I won’t detail here) that I hadn’t ever thought about. Changes the body makes, baby movements, etc. I’ve also learned all about the midwifes vs. physicians debate all through status updates, as well as ultrasound photographs, which cities will tell you the sex of your baby and which won’t, and when you should see your doctor when you find out you are pregnant.

I’ve also learned a lot of what life with a newborn could be like, again, simply by reading through my friends’ status updates. I’ve read all about the late nights, the constant feedings, the silly moments, the “first” moments, and illnesses babies can contract.

I find it kind of incredible that these parents with newborn children find the time to update their Facebook so regularly with what is going on in their lives. I had always imagined that having a baby means zero free time, but apparently this is not the case! I obviously don’t know what the living or financial situations for all these people are, but they all seem to make time for themselves as well as care for their newborn.

Lastly, and perhaps the most interesting part about this whole thing, is that in many ways Facebook has become a huge network for parenting tips. Now that Facebook is no longer limited to college and university students, people of other generations are jumping on the Facebook bandwagon. Many of my friends’ parents are now online and connect with people of their own generation and mine. So, in the case of my friends with the colicky baby, I would often see comments on their Facebook status offering words of encouragement, or tricks and tips that had worked with their own children. I haven’t done any type of in-depth study on the success of these ‘tips ‘n’ tricks’, but based on my own personal observations they appear to have some merit. If I was a new parent I don’t know if I’d advertise everything that was going on with my child, but it would be nice to know that there is a wealth of information available to me at my fingertips through Facebook, of all places.

It’s nice to know that what appears to be a completely useless, procrastination based website has some good to it, doesn’t it?

Shop Girl*

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