My sons were born eight years apart. The biggest difference between the two has been the rise of the Internet.
When my first son, Cameron, was born in 2006, the only piece of technology I owned was a non-Internet flip phone. There weren’t any parenting apps, mommy blogs or Pinterest. I had to rely solely on my mother’s advice, my own experiences and my maternal instincts.
With the birth of my second son, Beckett, in 2014, I had an iPhone with search engines, apps and websites at my fingertips. I subscribed to blogs, spent hours googling advice and had pregnancy tracking apps. This was all before he was born.
I become completely reliant.
Google, in many ways, has debilitated me as a mother. I stopped listening to my parenting instincts. Today I find I rarely do anything without consulting the Internet.
When Cameron started having digestive problem at a very young age, my instincts told me it was lactose intolerance. I am lactose intolerant and just had a feeling that his was as well. I took action and switched him to soy milk. Sure enough, it solved the problem.
Shortly after Beckett was born, he started having digestive issues. Do you know what I did? That’s right. I went to the Internet. I read message board after message board of symptoms and advice. I went against my instinct to fix the issue. Nothing worked.
Finally, I gave into those instincts, switched him to soy and, lo-and-behold, it was lactose intolerance.
Don’t get me wrong — the Internet is a great resource. It’s an incredible feeling to realize you’re not alone in this parenthood journey. You discover there are other parents coping with similar issues, asking the same questions and sharing their stories and advice. But the advice is sometimes conflicting, and other times it's downright inaccurate. It can be completely overwhelming.
As you parent in this Internet-inundated world, keep this in mind:
1. There is A LOT of information out there. Whether it's parents, doctors, educators or specialists — all of them have information to share. And their information can certainly be conflicting.
2. Avoid criticism. Not only is there a lot of information, but there are a lot of opinions as well. Just remember there is no one way to parent. Avoid the judgement. Ultimately, you know what feels right for you and your child.
3. Not everything is worst-case scenario. Avoid going down that rabbit hole, which is easier said than done, I know.
4. Don’t believe everything you read. It’s the Internet, need I say more?
5. Trust your instincts. Other generations survived without the Internet. We were all raised pre-google and we turned out alright.
Do you think the Internet has hampered your parental intuition, too?
Shea Saladee lives in Papillion with her husband, Brent, and their three children. She works as an instructor at the University of Nebraska Omaha.