The birth of online parenting support groups
Parenthood is HARD. The old adage of 'it takes a village to raise a child' couldn't be more accurate but in today's society, in a world saturated with (sometimes unwanted) opinions and methods of raising children, it becomes incredibly hard to find that village. We are both blessed, and hindered by being let loose on Dr Google, and often in our desperation, googling at 2am to find the answer to 'how can I stop my baby crying' will result in a combination of:
- a complete diet overhaul
- a very expensive tonic or potion marked 'natural' containing a list of ingredients unpronounceable to the human race
- a medical journal article so confusing you're unsure how it qualifies to being allowed to go to print, and;
- a suggested voodoo dance with the hair of a cockroach at the break of dawn under a south-westerly breeze whilst standing on one foot.
...and at 2am, you go looking for that cockroach. You Afterpay that tonic. You decide to only eat the nectar of a peach for the next three days and you print that medical journal and feverishly flip through a thesaurus.
The point is, the 'village' of times ago no longer exists in arms reach. Gone are the days of picking up the landline, calling your gal pal down the road and asking for her recipe for sugar water. The 'village' culture is inaccessible and we can no longer, in blissful ignorance, just do what our mother's did. Why? Because, despite its effectiveness back in the day, SOMEWHERE on Google, there will be an article that tells you if you do follow that method, your child will suffer somehow.
In this technological age, we are overexposed to information from 'experts'; struggling to weed out the legitimately studied methods from the - carelessly and deceptively inaccurate - click-bait, tailored to tired desperate parents worldwide. The option paralysis caused by the thousands of 'answers' provided from both genuine studies, research skewed by publication bias, and the dangerous (and cleverly presented) click-bait leaves parents huddled in the corner, overwhelmed and frustrated.
So what's the answer? Unfortunately, I alone do not have it. The very best piece of advice I received was to decide what kind of parent you want to be; choose how you would be parented if you had your time again and do your very best to follow it. Align yourself with parenting styles that you are comfortable with, and do what works best for you.
So where to from here? How do we weed out the rubbish from the rarities of helpful, practical information? Time is of the essence and in this day and age, time is so hard to find. The lottery of hospital-generated mums groups in your local community may leave you feeling like a square peg in a circle hole. Feeling left out or judged by other parents in your community does nothing for your confidence, and in turn your mental health. The wonderful news is, your village is at your fingertips. YOU alone have the ability to find your online community...and when you do, you're home.
Online groups, while plentiful, are a pillar of support and solidarity. There will be the usual keyboard warriors, or drama-addicted members who will try to upset the vibe but unlike your physical parenting groups, you can press a button and discretely and quietly remove them from your group by blocking them and if they upset enough of the members, administration has the ability to boot them out to make room for a more fitting member aligned with the group ethos.
I am lucky enough to have found my village. The feats accomplished in this group bring me to tears and cause goosebumps to flood my body. We have safely extracted victims of Domestic Violence and provided a safe haven for mother's escaping unsafe environments with their young. We have dug deep and provided groceries for families in hardship. We have shared the heartache of loss, illness and heartbreak. We have forged lifelong friendships with soul-aligning friends, globally. We have provided the answers to questions too isolating or embarrassing to post amongst friends. We have confided in each other our deepest darkest fears and have been met with love, acceptance and no judgement. We frequently have meets where these villages come together in the flesh, to embrace, laugh and parent as a community. I cannot express my gratitude for my online village in words that do it justice. We laugh together, cry together and band together to get each other through the ups and downs of parenting, and life in general. While I have added a few physical friends to this place, it is largely a community of strangers connected by their love, empathy and respect for each other.
My brains trust is comprised of every single type of mother you can imagine and is a pool of diversity and talent. As a group our capabilities are immense. We support each others businesses, inspire each other to create, and collectively run the world. The best part is, you can be a member of limitless groups that reflect your passion and interest. Babywearing groups. Gentle Parenting groups. Baby Led Weaning groups. Sleep Training groups. PND groups. IVF groups. If you have a passion, there will be a group to nurture it. Your village is out there...find it!
Unsure where to start? Join our very own Chekoh village, Chekoh Chatter, here.
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