The “advice” trap

Ever wonder why parents – more likely, Mom’s – love to share their stories and struggles about their kids with anyone who will listen? Even complete strangers? Why mom’s tend to gravitate towards the many, many, many online parenting forums and Facebook groups?  I have fallen into this very habit in the last year or so, too.  Although lately I’ve had some thoughts as to why it happens to so many of us.

I’m not saying that these forums and groups are bad, at least not always.  They can be a great place for mom’s to release some steam, share their experiences, and look for advice on their own situations from other mom’s. Especially useful for those Mama’s out there who are first time moms, single moms, or who don’t have many other mama friends.  With the invention of the internet and chat rooms and blogs and Facebook, Mom’s now have a way to make connections with other mothers, and find support where otherwise they may struggle.

But, the downfall I’ve found is that often times we all fall into this kind of trap, where upon trying to find a safe place to talk about our experiences, we put our entire lives out there.  We air all of our dirty laundry to complete strangers.  We feel safe in knowing that we don’t actually know any of these people, so we share far too much about our personal lives.  In doing this we open ourselves up to judgment and ridicule from the very people we were asking for support.  More often than not, I’ve seen someone’s post be misconstrued for sarcasm, or venting be misinterpreted as a cry for help beyond the obligatory “I feel your pain, you’ve got this” response.  Suddenly, your safe place is no longer that.  Even if 90% of the responses you get are positive and encouraging, the other 10% will make you feel like crap.  Your little irony about how expensive baby food is suddenly becomes a soapbox for all the “DIY” mom’s, somehow shaming you into feeling as if you are doing the worst thing for your kid by buying off the shelf instead of making everything from the organic-home-grown garden you should have.

So back to the question of why.  Why do us moms feel that we need the validation from other moms? Why do we tend to ask complete strangers questions about our own flesh and blood?  Why do we rely on others to make us feel like we are being good parents?

I have no flippin idea.

I do know that we all tend to fall into this trap at some point or another.  We all want to feel validated.  We all want our opinions, experiences, and know-how to be important and valued.  We want to feel like we know what we are doing, and that our trial and error can, and will, help someone else.  Truth be told, none of us know what we are doing.  We are all walking around with our eyes closed, trying not to run into the walls.  We are all struggling to find our way as parents.  And, maybe, trying to find this validation from others will shed some light.