Like anything else on the internet, Facebook is one of those places that can work to your benefit or to your detriment, and Facebook mom groups are no exception. Facebook mom groups come in lots of different varieties. There are ones centered around a particular parenting philosophy, some that are location-based, while others are centered around specific interests like babywearing, cloth diapering, or breastfeeding. Let's talk a bit about some benefits and caveats of participating in Facebook mom groups so you can get the most out of them without them taking the most out of you!
Facebook mom groups: some benefits
Let's face it, motherhood can be isolating, especially in the early baby days when naptime is king and it's not always worth it to put on real pants to interact with real live humans. That doesn't mean that we inherently want to be alone, so many of us turn to Facebook mom groups for a sense of community. If you join local groups, it's a great way to make new friends and connect with moms who are in your age and stage. Interactions online can lead to in-person playdates and can help you cultivate friendships that go beyond the screen.
Tried to get out of the house today but the toddler threw your keys in the toilet while you were nursing? Is your baby teething and more grumpy than usual? Spouse being less than understanding? Are you up at 3am feeding...again? Pregnancy isn't what you thought it was going to be? Chances are, if it's happening to you, it's happening to someone else too, and they're only a post away. Facebook mom groups can be a great place to commiserate about pregnancy and mom life. There's something cathartic about sharing your wins and woes and knowing that you aren't alone so even when you can't get away, you can dig deep and make it til wine-thirty because someone else is there sharing that experience with you.
If you're new to town and don't know the mom scene, Facebook mom groups are a fabulous way to crowdsource your world. Need an OBGYN? Pediatrician? Don't know where to find xyz random food item? The best place to go for storytime on Tuesday? Ideas about what to make for dinner? Special needs resources? Hairstylists? You get the idea. Mom groups are also a good place to troubleshoot parenting problems. Why spend hours on google looking for what you need when the Facebook mama hive mind can tell you in an average of 15-30 minutes?
Facebook mom groups: some caveats
When you ask for advice in Facebook mom groups, it's like playing a game of Advice Roulette. While asking for advice online can often lead to helpful suggestions and solutions, keep in mind that the members of these groups do not have a full picture of your relationships, your health history, or your baby's health history. The advice that they have is limited and may be misinformed or lacking in evidence. Some people give unintentional medical advice, some advice is sales in disguise, and other advice can be downright harmful for your situation or you as an individual. You haven't lived in a Facebook mom group until you've seen a rash photo or the very NSFW contents of a diaper as you scroll down your news feed, right?! If you're a die-hard crowdsourcer, ask away, but remember that the advice of other moms online is never a substitute for a medical professional or your own intuition as a parent.
Illusion of Safety
Even in closed or secret groups, Facebook mom groups are still a microcosm of the internet and the internet is not a safe place. When you spend enough time interacting in a Facebook group reaping the benefits of community and commiseration, it's easy to let your guard down and share things of a very personal nature online. Remember that once you have put that information out there, you cannot control what other people do with it, so proceed with caution! Things shared online can have real in-person consequences, and they aren't always pretty.
The Drama Llama Good old Facebook mom group drama. It's like reality TV at your fingertips! It's easy to hide behind the keyboard and get caught up in online drama, and we've probably all done it at one time or another. However, much like the sharing of personal information, remember that the internet is not inherently safe and words typed can have beyond-the-screen consequences. With some old-fashioned restraint, you can manage to avoid the drama and still receive the benefits that Facebook mom groups provide.
Happy posting, everyone!