kids

OPINION: 'Mums, you need to stop bragging about your baby's "achievements" on social media.'

Scrolling Facebook the other day, I saw a photo of a girlfriend’s baby.

Sonia* had posted a photo of her son, Jamie*, sharing the news that he is now three months old. The photo was taken from above, with Jamie stretched out on the floor smiling. He was in blue overalls and a tiny red shirt. He’s an undeniably cute baby boy.

However, I was perplexed by the mini-blackboard laid down beside him. With gorgeous penmanship, in stark white chalk, she had written:

Jamie at three months:

  • Sleeps through the night
  • Can grab toys with hands
  • Rolls over

That’s right. SHE LISTED HER THREE MONTH OLD’S ACCOMPLISHMENTS.

WHY?

Seriously… why?

Knowing full well that babies don’t use Facebook, this image was carefully orchestrated for Sonia’s online followers. Mostly, I assume, other mothers.

She had over 100 likes. I call these ‘Imaginary Social Dollars’. They’re worth nothing, yet they make you feel like the richest mum in the kinder-gym. (How else will we know we’re doing a good job?)

Sonia’s post was followed by comments like, “Wow, he’s such a good boy!”, “Genius!” and “You must be so proud!”

I couldn’t help but scoff. The post’s clear intention was getting ‘likes’. It’s not like anyone was going to comment, “Duh, he’s a baby!” or dare share that their own child was sleeping through the night at two months old.

baby milestones
"I couldn’t help but scoff. The post’s clear intention was getting 'Likes'." Image: Getty.

Don’t get me wrong – I love Sonia. But in this moment, I felt bad for her. The Sonia from a few years ago would have been embarrassed to post such arbitrary facts about her baby. What is this, his quarterly review?

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Yes, parents collect tid-bits of information as their children grow up. Date of first haircut, first teeth and if they’re lucky, photos of the first steps. We parade them around as if they really mean something – which if we were honest, they don’t. They are natural steps in the progression of ageing. Exciting, yes. Meaningful, no.

We know children will probably walk between nine to 15 months and know their ABCs before they’re six years old. Some will learn early, others later – but deep down we know it doesn’t matter. It all works out in the end as each child develops at their individual pace.

Mothers have been parading their children around for centuries. I get that. (How many of us were forced to wear matching outfits with our siblings to look cute at family barbecues?) But times are changing. In addition to out-doing other mothers with fun school lunches, we now need to post regular updates on our children’s growth milestones?

Then there’s the other issue.

Jamie has been labelled a "Genius". In 20 years, his grandmother would say, “Oh yes! Jamie was always a bright boy.”

Poor Jamie is screwed if he isn’t walking at the date his siblings were. After all, his sister Jane*, she was walking by 10 months. Lucky for her though, she wasn’t paraded on social media. (I guess that means it’s almost like it didn’t happen?)

I’m not saying we shouldn’t document our kids’ progress. They’re the most important things in our lives and yes, it’s a highlight when they roll-over or say "mum" for the first time. I’m just questioning whether we should be posting about each tiny detail in such flashy way. As if these posts make our children superior. As if they make us better mothers.

Sonia is a Millennial mother. A mother who went out, bought a chalkboard and a new outfit for her son’s special three-month Facebook post. A mother who wrote, and re-wrote, those cursive letters on that blackboard so they looked perfect. A mother who wants approval in a visual metric, enough 'likes' and comments to help her feel she’s on track.

This post is about Sonia. Not Jamie.

At what stage do we stop mindlessly liking posts like these, and think about what else is going on?

And at what stage are we to acknowledge that in our attempts to document children’s (and I use this word loosely) accomplishments, we are actually negatively contributing the competitive environment in which our children grow up?

*Names have been changed for personal reasons. 

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