Media Monday – Parenting, Bragging & Facebook

I really enjoy hearing about my friends kids achievements in real life and on facebook. I do. Except on days when I’m feeling crappy and my own kids are being, well, horrible.

On a personal note, I  don’t really mind the bragging but what I don’t like is the culture of bragging and the idea that everyone needs to know how awesome our children are. I know my kids are awesome – I don’t need people to validate my views by ‘liking’ a status update or telling me they agree.

Facebook isn’t an accurate depiction of our personal lives – it’s a highlights package. Often what we share on facebook is just the ‘good stuff’ and yet it’s easy to forget this when we’re feeling crappy and every parent seems to be posting about their babies latest developmental milestone or achievement.

 

I’m currently reading about trophy parenting which discusses a study from the New York Times that examined why people share content online. The most common reasons were, “To bring valuable and entertaining content to others”; “to define ourselves to others”; “to grow relationships”; “to gain self-fulfillment”; and to “communicate causes and brands”.  All reasons that sound positive enough. However, the undertone of each of these is less positive e.g “Defining ourselves to others” could easily be “telling people how awesome our kids are so everyone thinks we too, are awesome” or “Seeking validation from others through status updates,”.

Facebook has normalised parental bragging.

I’m fiercely proud of my kids. I am. Each one of them is amazing to me and at times, I’m overwhelmed with their amazingness. But – the facebook world doesn’t need to know about each and every achievement. In fact, most people don’t need to know because a) most people don’t really care and b) sometimes people misinterpret talking about our children’s achievements to mean we think our child is superior to theirs. Many parents are deeply insecure and self-conscious when it comes to parenting and bragging often feeds insecurity in others.

In an ideal world, we could celebrate the success of others without feeling threatened. But sadly, we need to consider our words impact on others. Sometimes kindness and wisdom is choosing NOT to say something.

Not all of us spend time in deep self-analysis but if we did, we may find that unintentionally we have used social media (or real life) as a platform for bragging because it makes us feel better about ourselves as parents.

Facebook bragging: annoying or acceptable suggests it’s okay to brag if you also include the bad stuff – a more realistic portrayal of our parenting journeys.

I’m pretty honest on MUMmedia and I’ll admit I’ve been guilty of trophy parenting and taking credit for my kids achievements (even just quietly). But I’m probably more guilty of freaking out about my kids bad behavior because of what other people might think which is really, the same thing.

The times I’ve been really frustrated with them about things has often been when I feel someone is watching, observing and probably, judging. I often think I’m a terrible parent when they misbehave publicly but usually don’t have the same thoughts if they misbehave at home behind closed doors. It’s interesting how much we overestimate how much our kids are on ‘show’ to others whether that be good or bad. If we think they are always on ‘show’ then I believe we treat them as if they are always on ‘show’ and I’m not sure this attitude is healthy for them, or us.

 

At the end of the day, our children are not trophy’s for us to display proudly on a shelf for all to see.  In fact, although our role as parents is to shape their values and build their character – we don’t get to control or choose how they turn out or who they grow to be. I can think of lots of examples of seemingly perfect parents whose children grew up to be highly dysfunctional or the crappy parents who’s kids grew up to amazing individuals despite circumstance. We do the best we can but we don’t get to control everything which means we don’t get the take credit for their achievements and would be wise not see our kids as extensions of ourselves.

So, what’s the verdict? Is facebook bragging okay? Yay or Nay?

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