• jordenlmackin

Parenting in the Google Age

Never before in history has it been so easy to access knowledge and information. Google, it seems, has an answer for everything, and thanks to smartphones, the answers are just a touch a way in our back pockets. If you find yourself with a question, you don’t have to wonder for very long about the answer before more information than you know what to do with is pulled up on the search engine. Who hasn’t found themselves down the internet rabbit hole of research at one point or another? Maybe you start out by googling the symptoms of your illness to determine if you should see the doctor, and by the end of your searching, all of a sudden you’re convinced you must have cancer and you’re an “expert” on chemotherapy options.

The problem with the internet is, anyone can post anything, and everyone claims to be an expert or have the best solution/knowledge. It can really be very difficult to discern fact from fiction, or even just what facts ring true for you. As we all know, there are many things in life where there isn’t just one right answer, or one right way of doing things, and parenting is a prime example. So, when new parents google “how to help my baby sleep through the night” for example, they will be presented with many different articles or solutions, which all claim to be based in fact or science, but all of which contradict each other. Talk about confusing, and that’s just one of many examples where a parent will be forced to choose between all the different facts out in the world. The overload of knowledge can almost feel like a burden, because instead of coming away with a solid answer to your question, you can end up feeling even more self-doubt and uncertainty about your decision.

The quest for knowledge or seeking answers about parenting is not a new phenomenon, but the way in which we receive our answers is much changed from past generations. Before the dawn of the internet, parents relied on advice from their own parents, or grandparents, and parenting wisdom was just passed down along the generations. If, for some reason, familial advice didn’t cut it, there were a few options of parenting books you could consult. It was all much simpler, and in many ways, I believe it was more empowering. When you don’t have an excess of knowledge or facts to draw upon, you are forced to tap into your own wisdom and intuition to figure out the solution to your questions. Once you have tapped into your parental wisdom, it gives you a sort of confident power and innate knowledge that you know how to be the best parent for your particular child.

Parenting is not an exact science, and there are variables you can’t control, namely the fact your child is their own individual being, so when it comes down to it, facts and knowledge can only help you so much in parenting. Facts and science can’t tell you how your particular child will react to different things, only your natural parenting wisdom and understanding of your child can tell you that. I believe when parents surround themselves with all the extra noise of extraneous facts/knowledge and scientific studies, it can be more difficult to access their well of natural parental knowledge.

Following your natural parenting instinct can feel like a leap of faith, and can feel really uncomfortable, because there’s not necessarily validating feedback, like if you were to follow a formula or system. I myself struggle with this even. I like to “do things by the book”, and I like to follow instructions with the expectation I will achieve the desired outcome.

Often times when I have a parenting dilemma, my first instinct is to find an answer that lays everything out for me, something I can follow step-by-step. Of course, I’ve learned parenting doesn’t work like that, and often the more I try to research the answer, the more frustrated and doubt filled I become. In the end, I find with enough self reflection, I know the answer in my gut, and I simply have to trust things will work out for the best.

Sometimes the best parenting solution is also the simplest parenting solution, and we don’t always need to know all the available information to know the right answers for ourselves and our children. However, It’s been hard for me to find the right balance of having enough knowledge to make educated and informed decisions, without drowning out my own mothering wisdom and intuition. I have found though, the more I admit and acknowledge the power of my own mothering knowledge, and the more I step away from Google, the more free I feel.

Don’t get me wrong- I still love being able to look up information any time I want it, I’ve just learned how to avoid the pitfall of letting the experts on google dictate my every parenting decision, which is something I feel we must all learn to do. Afterall, the best advice I received from my own mother is, the scientists and researchers who write the books are experts in their fields, not in your children, you are the expert of your own children and family, and that’s not something you can learn from Google.

What do you think, has the internet been a help or a hindrance in your parenting? Leave a comment down below with your experience of parenting with an overabundance of information.

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