In this generation, social media is in most parent’s everyday lives. Whether it is through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest more and more parents, especially mothers are bombarded with the way that they should parent, creating picture perfect ideas of parenting. These ideas are both unnatural and unrealistic for the average mom to achieve on a daily basis.
With one click of a button a mother can open up an app that have hundreds and thousands of different ideas and ways to be the coolest, craftiest, best cook, cleanest, calmest, and any other best way to be a mother. With all this information at their fingertips there tends to a pressure to keep up with all that is seen. According to TODAY mom survey pressure that mothers put on themselves to be perfect is the top cause of stress. (Dube, 2013)
The pressure is already there to achieve above and beyond the call of duty and be the best mother, but social media has taken it to another level. We are always shown the best of motherhood, which makes us want to mimic what we see. No one will show you the hair pulling out, mess on the floor, with the children half dress because that would show the world that you are a bad mother.
We enjoy seeing all the pictures and reading all the blogs or Facebook posts about how wonderful life is, painting this picture that life is perfect, even when it isn’t. We as mothers get this false sense that those pictures, blogs and posts should be how life is all the time and when it is not, failure is what comes to mind. This failure can lead mothers to having depression and anxiety. Both of which can be even worse on new mothers going through the changes and needs with a new baby. The feeling of never being able to live up to what is being portrayed on these social media avenues. There have even been some companies that joke on the matter of what is being portrayed.
There is a commercial by Valspar Paint, where the mother is away and the father has the children, they are talking via the computer. All the mother could see was a clean green background, at the end of the commercial you can see the whole picture where the kitchen is a complete mess. (Valspar, 2014) Social media has that same affect, where we only what the person wants us to see and why would we want to show the world the bad?
These feelings of inadequateness can lead to depression and anxiety disorders. We all have this idea of mother we want to be and it is exacerbated by what we see other mothers do and share through social media. Not only do we see what others mothers are doing right, we also have access for other mothers to judge us on what we do and what we say.
Not only are these websites a place to gather information from, but they are also a place to participate, ask questions, and give answers. Sometimes vulnerable mothers get on these websites looking for validation that what they are doing or going through is right. They want to feel supported and instead of turning to people around them they go to complete strangers to validate what they are doing. These other mothers are not always being truthful and always portray their best foot forward. This inaccurate picture that is being portrayed may cause an increase in anxiety and depression because they are not living up to what the other mothers are doing.
According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs we want to achieve self- actualization where we understand and accept our potential and strive for it. It is a mothers desire to be the best and understanding what our own individual potential is the key to being the best that we can be.
My mother was the typical stay at home, she was the ideal mother. She was always there, did crafts, set up parades, help us set up lemonade stands, she would cook us home cook meals. She was a very hands on type of mother. Growing up I always wanted to be type of mother my mom was to me. Fast forward a few years and now I have children, but as much as I wanted to be like my mother growing up that is not who I am. This is something that has caused me great anxiety and sadness as I am not the type of mother I thought I would be. Not to say that I am a bad mother, I am just a different mother. Having the added influence of the social media did not help with the idea of the perfect mother. It made me feel even worse because I thought to myself, if they can do it, so can I. Which I know is not accurate because my life is completely different than theirs, but still made me feel inadequate.
With our lives on display, we sometimes are able to capture a perfect moment. A moment that is perfect, but doesn’t give an accurate representation of how life is. A mother looking in on this perfect moment may not see that it is just a moment. She may think that this is how life is all the time, which can cause her to put more pressure to be that perfect mom. This pressure can cause anxiety and depression when they don’t live up to the expectation.
Dube, R. (2013, May 9). Today Parents. Retrieved September 21, 2014, from Today: http://www.today.com/parents/pinterest-stress-afflicts-nearly-half-moms-survey-says-1C9850275
Sunstrum, K. (2014, March 14). World of Psych. Retrieved from Psych Central: http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2014/03/14/how-social-media-affects-our-self-perception/
Unknown. (2013, May 11). Huff Post Parents. Retrieved from Huff Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/11/pinterest-stress-moms-social-media_n_3253475.html?utm_hp_ref=tw
Valspar. (2014, April 29). YouTube. Retrieved from http://youtu.be/kHw0-QaGYVs