The Wonderful World of Online Parenting

9 04 2011

**This was originally posted elsewhere**

It was a rather unusual position to find myself in, browsing the internet for parenting information. What did I know about growing a child in my tummy? How was I meant to raise this alien being? Who could advise me? The Doctor? My family? Next Door Neighbours Cat?

Nope….

The Internet.

Who better than to ask a bunch of random strangers drawn together (for drawn read herding) in their fascination (for fascination read morbid obsession) with all things babies.

In the early weeks of pregnancy, I would scour the internet looking for relevant info to tell me what size the lentil was this week, when the lentil would become an alien and when the alien would become an Eilidh-Anne.

I happened across a variety of sites, much in the same vein, and looked for the one where they didnt accuse you of “not being a true woman, as you haven’t had a miscarriage yet”. (This was on an American site whose name evades me now where the vitriol was taken to new heights unseen even on 4chan or similar)

To this end, I settled upon http://www.babycentre.co.uk where they had all the information a prospective parent could wish for and an interactive community where you could share your fears and stories. Or something.

At first this site was like a godsend. When I say at first, I mean in the first couple of days, the honeymoon period, I didnt see the deviancy of the members and couldnt consider the obsessive nature with which these women parent…in a virtual environment. They were the experts and I was the keen novice and didn’t they like to inform you of this, at every possible opportunity.

Y’see its all very well and good telling the world and their spambot, how you “parent” and its great to share your successful hints and tips, but never have I witnessed such a misogynistic bunch of hypocritical, two faced, holier than thou, future role models in my life.

For the parents and parents to be of babycentre, online parenting became an artform.

Rarely does anyone stop to ask how these women have time to look after their children when they so voraciously have to defend their opinions or methodologies online. Made me think of this:

Arguments arose over how you fed your child, how your clothed your child, whether your child had a cloth bum or sposie bum, whether you were virtuous/lazy* (delete as applicable to your view) enough to be a stay at home mum (SAHM) or selfish/virtuous* (delete as applicable) enough to return to work, they will even fight over the extent to which you transport your child and the damage each method can do both physically and psychologically.

Disagreements would turn ballistic over sleeping arrangements, when to give a baby its first fruitshoot, the correct age for body piercings, greggs sausage rolls, pink buggies, AK47. You name it these women would fight over it and if you didn’t conform to their perceptions of acceptable parenting in the virtual world you’d be labelled negatively as a Chav, a Daily Mail reader or worse… A bad parent.

And not just on the so called debate forums either. You have these home from homes, the “Birth Boards” where you meet countless “women” (for you need to trust their word on this) who are due to give birth at the same time as you.

These women share their every detail of life and pregnancy with the 2000 or so other “pregnant women” due in their month and the 6 billion or so other potential interested parties. They happily and gratuitously discuss their sex lives with their husbands to the extent that would make a readers wife subscriber blush. They share information on piles, incontinence, farting, smelly discharge… the list is endless. They will rip apart their mothers in law, their sisters in law, their next door neighbour and he neighbours in laws too. They’d eat their own dogs if they thought they’d benefit from it, I’m still not convinced they wouldn’t eat their own offspring for a piece of Internet infamy.

There are the scary neurotic women who are convinced every fart is the start of labour and from the stage of foetal viability (circa 24week) there will always be one on your birth board who asks if “this is it”… daily and twice on Sundays.

There are those who start to wean their child onto solids before its even left the womb, those who are so cute and innocent you would never image they were really a prison warden called Kevin bored on the nightshift, the ones who continue to smoke and drink throughout “cos my mam did it and it didnt do me no harm” or because doctors don’t know “anything about anything” those who want to share their daily pics of their expanding waistline, which prompts the toilet roll test for the other 2000 women, every day for over 200 days(!!!) and then there are the pictures of the nurseries for their future offspring. Lawrence Lewellyn Bowen doesnt get a look in compared to some of these amateur interior designers. Then there are the ones with the money who spend a fortune on “the nursery” with thousands spent on a bed that looks like a sleigh santa would shave his beard for… And then little darling Tarquin-frederique won’t sleep in it anyway because suddenly he’s not the angel mummy envisaged and prefers to torment and punish her through sleep deprivation for bringing him into the world.

The competitive parenting begins before the babies even reach the birth canal. My fundal height is 3 miles, whats yours? My vagina is more swollen than yours. I have more stretchmarks, I put on more weight, I got pregnant 3 seconds before you did, I was sicker than you were in the early days, Ive been to the emergency labour ward more often than you, my husbands sperm is more potent than yours….the list goes on….. And on….and then on some more.

And through it all is this fake and forced sense of camaraderie. It’s expected that because you all happened to get laid in, for example, December 2008 that you all must like each other, be nice to each other, have coffee mornings before and after the baby is born… oh and if someone doesn’t dare to fit in… Resort to high school popularity tactics.

All the hugs and huns these “women” offer hides a far more sinister world…

And yet through it all there are some good people. While the majority are whinging, mouth breathing specimens for whom air could be considered too good, you will always find some truly nice people. The ones who are always there to offer kind words of support and who genuinely mean it. They have no agenda and for them it’s not a popularity contest…

Sadly these people were always overshadowed by the hideous masses.

 

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