Bragging about the fancy food your child eats at school only serves to make other parents feel inadequate, says parenting expert Kirsty Ketley
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If, like me, you are on social media, you will be bombarded daily with updates on people’s lives.
Many of these will be from parents who are excitedly ‘over-sharenting’ about their child’s every move. As well-meaning as many can be though, posts like these can make their followers feel like they are failing at parenthood and parents who feel the need to ‘show off’ about their children are often doing so to soothe their own insecurities and seek validation.
Take a recent post that a parent shared on their social media of their eight-year-old’s packed lunch box. Not one of the usual type that you might see, perhaps featuring a bento box filled with star-shaped cucumber and carrot pieces, a pair of eyes attached to a Babybel and a sandwich sculpture of Jurassic Park, but a lunch box packed with lobster and candied pecans, as requested by the eight-year old son.
Yes, that’s right, lobster – and not just any pecans, candied pecans!
As a parenting expert, I don’t particularly have an issue with this being a child’s packed lunch of choice – I mean, it is a far cry from a cheese sandwich, a bag of Skips and a Club bar that many eight-year-old’s might request. I am all for exposure to different foods and it is great to hear how well children can eat, but I don’t think this needs to be shared on social media, as it is essentially a way of declaring that ‘my child is better than yours and I am a better parent than you’. While I am secure enough in my own parenting abilities to know that this is not the case, other parents are not.
Other mums and dads would probably love to be able to eat lobster themselves, never mind feed it to their children, and when posts like this are put up on social media, they can uproot the deep feelings of guilt and shame that less privileged parents feel, particularly during the current climate where many families are really feeling the pinch.
They also help fuel the feelings of failure that some other parents hold because they have a child who won’t even eat a fish finger, let alone lobster.
Having a child who likes bland food and is particular about what they will or won’t eat, is not always because they have not been exposed to a million foods before they are two. For some it is a bigger problem, and while we would all love our kids to eat like kings and queens, the reality is that for some, getting them to just eat something is an achievement in itself.
However, it isn’t really about the lobster. It’s about how you should think before you post and the effects of what you post may have on others.
Social media can be a really great place to connect with other parents, but when sharing turns to bragging, I for one am logging off.