Navigating Cancel Culture as a New Parent

If there's one thing people love to do for new parents, it's give them advice. And absolutely everyone has an opinion. Whether you've spent hours researching the best options for every single detail of your parenting journey or if you decided to just go with your Great Aunt Myrtle's experienced recommendation, every decision you make will be under scrutiny. (Or at least feel like it.) 

Parents, obviously, want what is best for their children. The trouble is, we as a society can't always seem to agree on what "best" looks like. Whether it comes to sleeping, feeding, or even clothing choices – you can count on the general public to have passionate feelings and to voice them. 

The internet has certainly become a double-edged sword. With the equal-opportunity access to a smartphone or computer keyboard, all kinds of voices have a platform. On the plus side, that means we have access to significantly more information than our parents and their parents before them. 

  • Not sure what dose of medicine your toddler needs? Look it up. 
  • Wondering which bottles will be most effective in fighting colic? Look it up. 
  • Can't remember what age your baby is allowed to have honey? Look it up. 

On the negative side … we also have access to significantly more information (and criticism) than our parents and their parents before them. 

  • Thinking about sharing a cute picture of your baby in their car seat? Better make sure you are fully versed on the latest car seat safety before you reveal your ignorance.
  • Excited to share that video of your baby making a silly face after having a lick of your ice cream cone? You might want to draft a disclaimer that it was just one lick and that you aren't feeding your child an exclusive diet of sugar and treats.
  • Want to post a story about that time your spouse and baby fell asleep on the couch together? Don’t even think about forgetting to mention you were right there watching the whole time and that your baby sleeps. 

Even the most well-intentioned, educated, and dedicated parents are at risk for criticism. And that criticism can be harsh. How do you parent confidently with the fear of someone lurking in the shadows waiting to shame you any chance they get? 

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Educate Yourself 

Maya Angelou said, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then, when you know better, do better.”

When someone is new to something, they can’t be expected to know everything right away. The same is true of parenting. The only difference is that the stakes are significantly higher, and therefore, the margin of error is understandably smaller. The margin is not nonexistent, though! The best thing you can do is to do your due diligence in researching, learning, and enlisting help. 

You can start this process before your baby is even born by signing up for parenting classes, reading books, or helping friends and family care for their babies. By being open to continually learning and growing as a parent, you are more likely to experience success and confidence in your parenting choices. 

Enlist Professionals

The best place to turn for expert advice is an actual expert! Don’t feel shy asking questions and even taking notes from your medical care professionals and any other professionals you may enlist. Sleep specialists, nutritionists, physical therapists, and more are all people you can confidently add to your arsenal of knowledge. That way, if someone contradicts you, you can feel secure in knowing you are trusting the professionals who are educated, trained, and experienced. 

Find a Parenting Friend 

It helps to not be alone. Finding someone to learn alongside can make the whole parenting thing not feel quite so big and scary. Your partner is the obvious choice. However, it is nice to have a variety of people you can call upon for advice, venting, or celebrating milestones. Peers can be less critical as they are “in the trenches” right beside you! And you may be able to help them as much as they are able to help you, which is what the parenting community should be all about.

Find a Parenting Mentor

A parenting mentor is similar to a friend but less of a peer and more of a teacher. They should be experienced parents themselves and someone whose parenting style you admire and strive to embody yourself. They should also be someone you feel safe sharing your insecurities with so they can help guide you through them. This may be your own parent, an older sibling, or a family friend with older children. 

Find Inner Peace

Ultimately, inner peace and confidence as a parent are not things that can be given to you. You need to be able to create it for yourself. Decide what is most important - the health and safety of you and your child(ren) - and give yourself permission to let the rest go. 

Remember, every person who criticizes didn’t know everything at first, either. And they don’t know it all now! Stay focused on what you do know and lean into that. 

You can do this!


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