For everyone in the early stages of raising children, listen up: You’re a parent now! No more time for fooling around like a jackass on Twitter. You now need to devote 100% of your time to fooling around like a jackass on Facebook. That’s where the other parents are.
You may be a little overwhelmed by the enormity of your new task. There are literally* one million decisions you will be required to make as a parent, all in the first year. So how do you decide what kind of parent you’ll be? Is there a process? Is there a strategy? Who is the expert on dairy?!?
When it comes to parenting advice, under no circumstances do you want to listen to the people you trust and love most in the world. Deduct credibility points for anyone who has actually met you or your child.
No, your very best resources are the random people you meet in Facebook groups. These people have “done the research” so they are well equipped to guide you. These online communities are intellectual centers, much like Cambridge, where great thinkers from Harvard and MIT meet to discuss foreign policy. Only they are better, because your Facebook friends most likely don’t have advanced degrees in anything related to what you are asking about. What they do have are opinions on food coloring and its link to adult criminal behavior. It’s ideal!
This almost goes without saying, but things never turn ugly on Facebook. Nobody ever accuses anyone of being a lazy or a terrible parent, or mutilating their child through circumcision, or poisoning their baby with formula, or mentally abusing their child by allowing five minutes of crying in the crib. That never happens because Facebook groups are NICE!
To sharpen your parenting instincts, you’re going to need to rely heavily on memes. Memes are like visual encyclopedias of knowledge conveniently scattered across the Internet, and they are very prevalent in mom groups. When you find one that is applicable to your worldview, you should immediately grab it, repost it, and make it your mantra. Some memes start with phrases such as “Bitches be like” and incorporate whimsical cat imagery. These are the most useful.
Unless your mother can speak in meme, disregard any advice she has to offer. It’s not like she ever raised a child! Hang up on your mother and jump back onto Facebook.
Scroll down your newsfeed.
Do any buzzwords catch your eye? Free-range parenting? Big pharma? Intactivist? CIO? Herd immunity? Co-sleeping? Seek out these and similar terms. They are like flickering beacons of light drawing you in to intelligent conversations that are happening all around the virtual world.
Next, join a shit ton of Facebook groups. The more impersonal your connection, the better. In every group you join, immediately post pictures of your child’s most pressing rash/injury. People love that. In fact, if you are trying to make any medical decision whatsoever for your child, it’s important to start with the feedback of the online community.
(Tip: Always include photos. Make sure they are pretty gross so anyone looking at Facebook at the dinner table will vomit.)
Wait for a response. You won’t have to wait long; at least 300 people will write back to you within 4-5 minutes with a range of advice. You can rest easy knowing that many, if not most, Facebook users have advanced medical degrees. Pick the advice that validates what you already wanted to do. Now go do it. See? Decision made. Great job!
For inquiries on topics that are heated, it’s best if you post on secret Facebook groups. These are great because they serve as tell-all centers, with participants apparently believing that whatever is said in the very hallowed ground of these groups is, actually, completely confidential and can never be used against you in a court of law. Proceed with reckless abandon.
When it comes to questions regarding family planning, competitive athletics for minors, and beauty/showmanship, you have a few televised options from which to seek guidance. Namely Dance Moms and Honey Boo Boo. Until recently I would have included 19 Kids and Counting, but I think we can all agree that we’re not super comfortable with the Duggars right now. If you enjoy the Real Housewives franchise, then by all means, carry on with those gals.
These shows feature slice-of-life portraits of regular moms doing regular things. You can extrapolate what you learn there and apply it to your at-home parenting policies if you can remember that what you see on TV is the same thing as real life only with more flattering lighting. Think of these moms as your new friends.
Note: Even while you are watching TV, you should still have your Facebook newsfeed in plain sight. This is only good sense. You never know when the next nugget of parenting gold is going to fly past your face.
Don’t take any chances. Stay alert. You’ve got this.