I am a member of a number of Facebook groups. Most of them are for parents with special needs children and I learn a lot from other moms through those groups. This is why I regularly check posts on those Facebook pages.
In the past few weeks that I’ve been checking those pages, I noticed that there are things that should not have been posted or at least should have been edited. But, it’s the reality of social media. It is a two-edged sword.
This post is about “the good, the bad and the ugly” of those Facebook groups.
I get inspired by posts from moms who describe how much they love their children and how proud they are of them. I admire those moms’ self-sacrificing spirit and unconditional love. Many share their stories of heartaches, frustrations, confusion but they also tell about their triumphs and joy.
I’ve seen photos of cute little ones who, inspite of having multiple surgeries, give off their best smile. They are our heroes.
Amidst those good stories are bad ones. It pains me every time I see posts about children being rushed to the hospital and asking for our prayers. There are also those about children who, unfortunately, did not make it. Those are the hardest to read.
But these bad news still carry with them a faint image of something good. There were lessons learned. Those parents showed remarkable love and bravery from which I draw strength.
Although moms in those groups are united by a common experience and goal, they are still individuals with different personalities and beliefs. These differences often result in conflict.
Today, I read a post by a mom who felt that some members of the group are not helping at all by unconsciously or deliberately making others feel inadequate. She explained that many of these individuals advocate for practices that are really personal choices such as natural birth versus C-section, breast milk versus formula, to co-sleep or not, etc.
She described how others would post about their lifestyle involving choosing only organic products. For a mom like her who really doesn’t have the time or resources to adopt such practices, posts like those can prove to be disheartening. They may cause undue guilt.
I am reposting here an excerpt of what she wrote about the matter:
“I’d kill to have the time to grow, harvest, and juice all my kid’s produce, ferment their foods, and make homemade kefir…but between caring for my disabled child, going to her doctor appointments, physical therapy, taking care of my other kids, and cleaning my house… I’m lucky to make frozen pizza, let alone, bathe.”
It can certainly be frustrating when you read about other moms’ seemingly superhuman skills and abilities. After reading their posts, you’d be left asking “What’s wrong with me?” “Why am I not able to do such things?” Sadly, the answer born out of guilt is: I am a bad mom.
After careful consideration of everything that’s been said, I thought of coming up with a list of Do’s and Don’ts when joining such Facebook groups. We don’t want such groups to evolve into something that breaks one’s spirit.
Here is the list.
- Be respectful, no matter what. Recognize that we are all different. We come from different backgrounds and we have different belief systems.
- Think twice before posting. Always strive to be inspiring, encouraging or informational. We already have a lot on our plate and the last thing we need is something that can make us more depressed than what we really are.
- If you need to vent some anger or frustrations about challenges you face, post so as to seek advice or simply find a listening ear. Remember we are there to help each other feel better.
- Avoid stirring up debates. As much as possible, avoid controversial topics which may not really be helpful to the members.
- Avoid posts that are self-patronizing. It is okay to share our child’s accomplishments or milestones because they can inspire others. Other members may not really be interested in our own accomplishments.
Facebook groups such as ones for parents of special needs children can be an excellent source of encouragement. Let’s work to make it stay that way. After all, we really need each other, don’t we?