Thursday, 28 April 2016

Caught in a Misinformed Web

The world wild web can be a beautiful and barbaric thing, simultaneously. It can be a way for people who live far apart to stay connected in ways they wouldn't otherwise be able to. It can be a way to find a network of support for any problem you have with the option of remaining anonymous. It can be a source of information at your fingertips for just about any inquiry you may have. But it can also cause a huge disconnect from the people around you, posing as a distraction from real life. It creates a venue where bullying becomes a easy to get away with. It is a source of a lot of misinformation that can lead to decisions the become detrimental to your health & well being (gossip on steroids) & frankly, can be down right confusing. And so, much like survival on the street, using the Internet requires a specific kind of cyber street smarts. If you don't use these skills you will fall victim to the web's ability to sweep you off your feet. Plus, it'll probably give you cancer, ruin your kids lives & even make you grow a pair of antlers. Shocking.

As parents we often second guess our decisions, this is a strategy we use to check in on ourselves, to ensure we are doing the best we can to raise our kids. We want to be better so we start to look elsewhere for answers, reinforcement, help. The Internet is usually the most convenient accessible place for this information. And the more we look for it the more our smart-browsers feed it to us. But we must use with caution or before we know it, according to the Internet, every thing we say, do & feed to our children is damaging them for life. We are fed this one size fits all approach to life that makes every single parent out there feel like the worst kind of parent. And we can't all be the worst, can we?

Here's the thing. The Internet is a free fall. Anyone can post on the Internet (like me, for example). Just because it's on the web doesn't make it true (or false). And just because a thousand other people took it at face value doesn't make it true & doesn't mean you should fall for it.

I got caught up in this web of opinions & started second guessing my every single move as a mother. What impact are my strategies having on my kids long term? Am I being too protective? Should I be worrying more? And so I looked toward the internet for answers, reassurance. I forgot one of  the main perspectives I try to live by. There is no one answer. Every child is unique and requires different parenting. There is more than one way to achieve similar results...and even at that, why would we want to try to shape all our kids into this one type of person? Find their strengths & nurture them. Teach them your core values, not someone else's. It is our differences that make our world so colourful, and as I've told my kids time & time again, it is our differences that make our world work together. What good would we be if we were a world full of engineers only? They are an important part of the team, but the big picture requires a network of other skills to be successful.

At some point it dawned on me that I had been plagued by the internet's in-your-face strategy & this awareness was all it took to break out of this downward spiral. I made a rule of not clicking any link that listed ways I am damaging my child. Or the what-not-to-dos. Or the what-only-to-dos. And, what the heck, might as well leave out anything that is going to 'blow my mind' too. Instead of looking to 'artificial intelligence' for answers I began to reach out to people I trust for help with my questions - my mother, close friends, mentors, my husband. I've become cautious about where I get my information online & read most articles & blogs with criticism, who knows what motives lie behind these publishings? What business do they have telling me how to raise my kids anyhow? I take what I need from the pool of information & disregard what doesn't apply. I don't try to tell others how to raise their kids but am willing to offer advice when asked. What's right for me & my family isn't necessarily right for others. I do believe this frame of mind makes me a better parent, & a better person.

Perhaps I am pointing out the obvious. But then I see these types of posts circulating on Facebook, going viral & it creates a little fire in me. These types of articles have been detrimental to my confidence as a mom & I am sure it has the same effect on many others out there. So perhaps this could serve as a little reminder. Next time you start second guessing all your parenting strategies, take a critical standpoint. Take a break from the Internet. Spend time with your kids, observe & learn real life. Have coffee with a friend. Call your mom. If you are second guessing your ability as a parent, chances are you are doing great! ❤️

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