Have you ever felt the pressure to compete on social media – with perfectly posed pictures of your kids dressed beautifully in the latest designer wear, or playing handsomely with the coolest of toys? You may want to think twice.
With the proliferation of social media, you can’t help but notice the many posts that constantly show up: kids playing happily, eating healthily, learning diligently and taking up new challenges. Naturally, you would want your child to have the best of everything, and would do your best to keep them happy and safe.
You feel the pressure to compete, and it’s so easy nowadays to upload a cool pic or two of your happy babies. But is this what’s best for you and your child? Child Psychologist Dr Richard C. Woolfson, advises how we can keep ourselves in check:
1. Keep social media postings in perspective
Parents don’t usually post negative images. They want their friends to think the best (or highly) of their family, and so they prepare the kids for photographs or videos by dressing them in the best clothes and giving them the coolest toys, then posting these on social media. It certainly does not mean that everyone else’s kids have the coolest shirts or trendiest toys. Social media represents a virtual reality, a world where people can – and often do – pretend to be whatever they want. The images you see on Instagram, therefore, don’t necessarily reflect the real world of parenting. Bear these in mind and don’t be pressured to mimic or even outdo what you see online.
2. Recognise that parents have always been like this
Long before social media and the Internet were even a thing, parents took pictures of their children in the fanciest clothes while throwing the biggest birthday parties. If you rummage through your old family photographs of your parents and grandparents, you’ll probably see everyone looking neat and happy – even when there were fewer material distractions then.
Parents, since those days, wanted family images that made them look well-to-do and affluent. They would not want to display a photo with people wearing torn or dirty clothes, or with their children playing with old and broken toys. Today’s parents are no different. It’s just that instead of putting a “staged” family photo in a frame, they post it online.
3. Have confidence in yourself as a parent
Instead of worrying about what others are buying for their kids, have confidence in your own decision-making as a parent. Making your child feel valued, and nurturing them with the right values and morals are much more important than buying her that limited edition stroller or branded pair of shoes. These items bring only momentary happiness. Anyway, when you think about it, you must admit that your baby doesn’t care at all where her outfits come from. She just wants to feel clean and comfortable. Tell yourself you are doing a good job as a parent.
4. Be comfortable within your means
In our consumer-driven society, the pressure to spend is all around. You see advertisements all the time urging you to buy something new. But it won’t be sustainable if you stretch your finances in order to impress your social media followers. Keep the money and time for the important things. Of course, you can buy your little one pretty dresses or tops, but try to budget carefully for them. And there’s no rule saying you must post nice photos of your kids on social media. Remember, no baby was ever psychologically damaged by not having designer clothes!
At the end of the day, a healthy and happy baby is nurtured in a loving, caring and safe environment. A lot of things are curated online, so it might be good to be discerning. And if you’re proud to celebrate your child? Go for it. Just don’t feel pressured into doing it if you’re not comfortable. Parents, take heart, believe in yourself and remember what matters most – your child and your family.
By Dr Richard C. Woolfson, Young Parents, July 2015 / Last Updated by Derrick Tan