They seem harmless, even useful... we can believe that they help us to be close to people with our same needs and to discuss what may be better to do. Sometimes, however, they are detrimental. We are talking about the whatsapp groups created by parents to stay connected with other dads and moms of children or youth who are the same age as their own children or who are involved in the same activities (school, sports, catechism).
Did you miss a meeting? Does a teacher want to immediately reach all of her pupils' parents? Does your child tell lies about the homework?
No problem: there’s the whatsapp group for parents.
In addition to the timeliness with which important information is circulated, the positive aspects are: the chat, for example, can promote awareness of not being the only ones to deal with certain problems, or offers the possibility of always having someone to serve as a reminder if we are a bit forgetful...
However, the negative aspects related to this phenomenon should not be underestimated.
The control freaks
Being in contact with the parents of children or youth that surround our own child can make us fall into the temptation to control him excessively (regarding homework, his behavior in class, friendships, small fights with peers...).
Through the chat, we can end up knowing so much about our own child that we become like detectives, sparing ourselves the fatigue of direct dialogue, freeing ourselves from the heavy commitment of having to win his trust.
Let's remember that if we seriously want to care about our child, the first thing to do is to build a solid relationship with him.
Performance anxiety: if the other parents seem perfect
In chats everyone puts forth the best version of themselves. No one will write that two minutes before he was screaming so loud that it scared the whole neighborhood. No one will say that they feel a parent’s misunderstood, failed, or disappointing. Yet it happens to everyone at some point or another.
In chats we are all happy with our adorable little angels, satisfied with them, smiling in our photos just captured. We all seem attentive to everything: we know what the healthiest snack is or the most educational game.
Since we know our own limits very well, we can believe that other parents may be better than us, calmer, less anxious, more patient and even nice. In the apparent perfection of the writer, we all reflect on our weaknesses, and we end up feeling inferior...
When it happens, it is good to remember that there is no such thing as a perfect parent and there is no chat that can change this reality.
Little things become dramas
Sometimes other moms and dads offer useful food for thought, with questions or observations that we had not thought about. Often, however, they inadvertently infect us with useless paranoia.
("How many grams of meat does your child eat?", "What water do you use to cook broth?" Likely before we fed our children with simplicity and naturalness, until such questions arrive...)
Each of us has useless paranoia, the problem is that the whatsapp groups have the power to make the problem grow and to trigger other once avoidable issues...
Remember that not all the concerns of others must raise questions within ourselves about our own behaviors.
The parent and the school plans are likely to overlap
The cases in which the parents' whatsapp groups emphasize the conflicts between families and teachers are not uncommon. The ease with which one can express judgments and the ability to amplify every detail, typical of group chats, make, for example, that every word spoken by the teacher in the classroom, every episode involving one or more children, any difficulty related to homework or any small divergence on educational or other methods become state court cases.
The whatsapp groups for parents connected to the school are risky also because they increase the possibility of exaggerated meddling by mothers and fathers in the school environment.
The chat should not be used to launch judgments as if they were stones: fueling fires and having endless discussions, we do wrong first of all to our children.
Do we want to spend more time on whatsapp talking about children or talking to children?
Another danger: to talk a lot about our children with other moms or dads (okay, maybe, this is a danger that happens more so with mothers...) and talk little with our children.
The use of social networks is not wrong, but remember that there is a risk: to replace our face-to-face relationships with virtual relationships.
To be connected on the Internet is not a problem, the problem is if we disconnect with people around us.
Whatsapp groups for parents: a beautiful challenge
To live peacefully in chats, with people who deal with situations similar to ours and that – willingly or unwillingly - make us question each buzz of the phone, is a challenge.
How can it be done in such a way that it remains a good opportunity for discussions and does not create existential crises?
Do you have any experiences on this front? How do you manage your chats with other parents?
Write it in the comments! Who knows! Maybe your "survival rules" will give us ideas for the next article...