How I'm Approaching Motherhood in the Age of Social Media - Redefined Motherhood, No. 2
Motherhood in the age of social media is a topic that I have been trying to avoid writing about since finding out that I was pregnant. From mom shaming to child predators and even child labor laws, there is no denying that social media has changed motherhood in more ways than one. I started this Redefined Motherhood series as a way to share my thoughts, feelings, and experiences about being a modern Millennial mother so that others wouldn’t feel so lost or alone or afraid when they stepped into the roll, whether finding themselves there after trying or on accident. Naturally, since I am a blogger and pretty public and open on social media, I knew I would eventually have to stop avoiding the topic of social media and motherhood and share my thoughts and decisions with you all. So let’s all take a deep breath together before we get into this post.
I want to clarify that Redefined Motherhood is a series about MY experience and MY feelings on certain, perhaps controversial, subjects pertaining to motherhood. What works for me may not work for you, your approach to parenting in the age of social media may be completely different to mine, etc. All that I ask is that you’re respectful of the decisions we have chosen to make for our family moving forward. The Made in Mom Jeans community is a place where we can come together and have honest conversations without putting others down or making them feel inferior. Please always keep that in mind when you’re reading anything written by me or another member of this community or writing your own responses.
I tried to logically lay this issue of Redefined Motherhood out in a way that made sense to read but honestly, there are just so many topics that I want to cover that I think a free written approach is best. So let’s just dive right in:
Much to my surprise, mom shaming is something that starts happening the instant you announce to the world that you’re expecting. Now, I’m sure that mom shaming is not something new. Imagine the 50s housewives gossiping while sitting around drinking afternoon tea. Mom-shaming is probably something we have always and will always deal with in life. And yes, ALL of us will be guilty of mom-shaming at one point or another. Heck, most of us were probably mom shamers before we even became mothers ourselves! But while mom shaming isn’t a new trend, I definitely think social media has exacerbated the extent to which we feel comfortable mom shaming.
Mom-shaming comes in many different forms and my favorite has got to be the trend of hiding mom shame in the form of offering advice or being helpful. Never in my life have I gotten so much unsolicited advice as I have during the last 8 months of pregnancy and I’m sure it’s only going to get worse once my son actually arrives. Here are the two things I want to say about mom shaming from a personal standpoint:
One, I am not going to do everything right. I am going to make mistakes as a new mom and you know what, I’m okay with that. Making mistakes is natural when you’re learning something new and, aside from pets, I’ve never taken care of another living being before. So yes, I’m going to make mistakes. Does that mean you should call me out on them or offer your advice? Probably not unless I have specifically asked for advice on the matter.
Two, I am going to parent differently than you are and that doesn’t mean that my way or your way is incorrect, it’s just different. I’m not planning on having an all natural birth, there are aspects of my son’s birth that I’m not going to talk about, my husband and I have already made decisions on how we are going to raise our son that many will probably not agree with. Just as I respect the decisions each and every one of you who are mothers have chosen to make (and share with me), I hope that you’ll show me the same courtesy.
I’ve just scratched the surface here when it comes to mom shaming and I’m sure I will eventually write a more in-depth post about my personal experiences with it but I’m basically throwing all of this out there now because I am not going to tolerate mom shaming of any kind on my blog or social media platforms. As I mentioned, I pride myself on the fact that we have built a strong community of women who support each other in spite of our differences, who can have civilized conversations about different parenting styles and that sort of thing without mom shaming. That being said, I reserve the right to call you out on your BS (not publically, of course) if you are part of this community and don’t also cherish the openness and diverse opinions of this community.
Setting Boundaries on Social Media
As I’ve started diving more seriously into the world of social media and blogging as a profession, I’ve quickly realized the need to set boundaries on social media when it comes to my children. I’m sharing this because I don’t want to get a million questions or requests about sharing more photos of him, why we don’t share certain types of photos, etc. This list is subject to change, of course, and may even shrink or grow as our family does but for now, these are the things we’ve chosen to keep private.
My son will never become an inherent part of my brand which means that he isn’t going to be taking up all of my squares on Instagram and, in fact, will probably rarely ever appear in a photo by himself on any of my platforms. I’ve decided to set this boundary for a few reasons, one of which being child labor laws that don’t exist for social media “influencing” yet. Will you see photos of the two of us together, blog posts featuring photos of us and talking about our experiences? Yes. But he is not going to be an individual part of Made in Mom Jeans or any of my social media platform. The second reason I’ve decided to take this approach is that people like to steal photos of children and pass them off as their own. Yep, that’s a real thing. There are all sorts of predators out there with various agendas and while I may be comfortable putting plenty of information about myself out there, I’m not going to be doing that with my children.
I have recently found myself in a situation where just sharing certain aspects of my pregnancy has made me uncomfortable because of the way some people react. This has forced me to also use an overabundance of caution when it comes to sharing images and information about my son. I have always been pretty much an open book on social media and I love making connections with members of the Made in Mom Jeans community but even as a “public figure” (I hate that phrase but it’s the best way to explain it) I can still be made uncomfortable by people who I think are getting too personal. This is pretty much the reason why I’ve decided to set strict boundaries when it comes to what we’ll be sharing about our son on social media (both public and privately).
Why we’ve stopped vlogging
I love vlogging, I really do, but the truth about YouTube is that it’s just kind of a scary place. You can’t control where and how your videos are being shared, people can pretty much download and edit them however they want, and use them for whatever you want and you can’t control the types of ads that are displayed on your video. We’ve decided that it’s best for our family to stop vlogging all together. YouTube has been all over the place lately in terms of how they’re approaching the subject of underage children who appear in videos on their platform and it’s just made things a lot more of a hassle than it’s worth for us. There may be an occasional vlog posted on my personal YouTube channel but as far as “family vlogging” we won’t be doing that anymore. There just isn’t as much control on that platform and to be honest, we just don’t have the time.
These are just a few of the issues that arise with social media and motherhood. I would love to know how you chose to approach motherhood in the age of social media and I can’t wait to continue this discussion with others in the Made in Mom Jeans community!