Be Kind to Yourself: Social Media + Coparenting
Facebook revealed last year that their users spent an average of 50 minutes per day scrolling through their feeds. As busy co-parents, you may have less opportunity than the average Facebook user to consume memes during the day, but even if you're a casual user of social media, it undoubtedly affects your daily life in some way. Social media can be a fantastic platform to connect with old friends or share memories with family, but as we passively consume others' experiences, it's easy to suddenly be overwhelmed with feelings of inadequacy or fears that we're simply not doing "enough," especially when transitioning through a divorce or separation. When social media begins to interfere negatively with your co-parenting, it may be time to reassess how you compare your actions to the portrayals of parenting on Facebook or Instagram.
#Parenting - Raising Kids While On Social Media
When your divorce is fresh and co-parenting is new, you may find yourself succumbing more easily to insecurities about raising your children, even in areas where you previously felt confident. Coping with brand new emotions and navigating exhausting situations—all while recovering from the raw experience of divorce or separation—means that the time you previously dedicated exclusively to your children may be slightly diminished. While making your way through this emotional predicament, along the way you're bound to encounter other moms and dads judging each other's parenting techniques on social media. You won't have to scroll far to witness heated discussions over what media is appropriate for children to consume, advice on how to improve daily interactions or arguments over screen time limits.
On the other end of the spectrum, it'll be easy to focus on those posts that seem so perfect as to have been curated for a magazine. You'll be bombarded by the highlight reel of everyone's best parenting moments without the counterweight of being privy to the many outtakes that undoubtedly balance them out in reality. After consuming posts like these, you may feel as though nothing you do is correct.
That's not to say that co-parents shouldn't celebrate their success at raising happy and healthy children. Co-parenting is a tough job, and it can be inspiring to see how another parent overcame adversity, moved beyond conflict, or simply learned a different way to communicate. But when witnessing these moments moves from inspiring to guilt-inducing, it's time for you to take a step back and learn to be kinder to yourself.
The Reality of Imperfect Parenting
No parent will be able to provide perfectly for their children 100% of the time. In fact, some research has shown that even the "best" of parents only ever manage to be attuned to their children's needs around 30% of the time.
Rather than being distressing, that figure gives you the opportunity to take a breath. Feel the weight of the parental guilt you may be experiencing lift ever so slightly from your shoulders, even if it's only for a moment. Why? Because it's one more piece of evidence solidifying the age-old adage of "Nobody's Perfect." An adage that can be difficult to trust or absorb in the age of meticulously edited public scrapbooks on social media.
In the end, being able to take a step back and acknowledge past mistakes without letting them immobilize you will allow you to improve as a parent. Because who among us can be their best self if they're constantly looking over their shoulder at past blunders or peering into the future in an attempt to anticipate missteps? That wouldn't leave any time to experience, let alone enjoy, the present moments you spend with your children.
Moving Beyond Mistakes
Children are notoriously resilient. Even when it comes to children whose parents divorce, most will not experience lasting negative effects into adulthood. What gets children beyond the trauma of a divorce is having parents who put their needs first. Showing up, being consistent despite making mistakes, and demonstrating to your children that even though you and their other parent are no longer together that you're still a family—this is what will allow your children to grow up feeling confident and loved. It will also give them the emotional and social tools to overcome similarly difficult situations in the future.
The only way you'll be able to focus your efforts on your co-parenting in this manner is if you're able to move beyond the mishaps. But that can be hard to do if social media is preventing you from seeing your continued perseverance in spite of those mistakes positively. If thumbing through your feed on your phone whenever you have a moment's rest is starting to bog you down, be sure to take what you encounter on social media with a grain of salt. Your co-parenting journey will not look exactly like those you run into on Facebook. So the next time you chance upon the great screen time debate or see a family photo good enough for a magazine spread, just remember to be kind to yourself.