When we created the TODAY Parenting Team a year ago, I had some fears about this totally open community that anyone could join.
And no, my main fear wasn’t that people would post porn. They didn't. (PLEASE DON’T START POSTING PORN JUST BECAUSE I SAID THAT.)
My main fear is that people would be mean. Mean?!!! On the Internet??!!! I know you’re shocked.
In a way, we're lucky to be parents in such a connected age. But we all know it’s a double-edged sword. Dr. Google can set your mind at ease about your child’s fever… or make you certain that your baby has Zika, Legionnaires' disease and probably a touch of Ebola. Your community of Facebook “friends” can support you through the rough patches of parenting… or judge your every move. Instagram photos and Pinterest ideas can inspire you… or make you feel like you’re totally failing as a parent because you’re not constantly baking your own organic bread in a sunlit meadow with your smiling children.
It can be exhausting. In a recent, unscientific survey of more than 300 parents on TODAY.com, 48 percent of parents say seeking advice online makes them feel better and 52 percent say it usually makes them feel worse!
Luckily, we’re learning that “keeping up with the Joneses” is overrated: 63 percent of respondents say they don’t compare themselves to other parents on social media (because those Instagram filters make everything look sooooo perfect).
Still, there’s a lot of good on the Internet: 45 percent of parents say online resources have helped them be better parents, and 49 percent say they could use more support and community as a parent.
That’s where the TODAY Parenting Team comes in: On topics ranging from bringing home baby to sleep to birthday parties, our community members have written thousands of posts with “been there, done that” advice and stories. Even better (and rarer, on the Internet) we’ve made the TODAY Parenting Team a truly nice place to be!
We are about support, not judgment; help, not criticism; genuine laughter, not scorn.
Refreshing, huh? That's the goal.
It only works because of the parents who participate. TODAY anchors like Savannah Guthrie, Willie Geist, Jenna Bush Hager, Natalie Morales and Sheinelle Jones have led the way. We've been lucky to attract contributions from some of the top mom bloggers out there, like Glennon Doyle Melton, Rachel Macy Stafford and Jen Hatmaker. We've got expert advice from authors, doctors and parenting coaches like Dr. Tanya Altmann and Amy McCready.
But more importantly, we've got hundreds of "regular" (I would say extraordinary) moms and dads who have generously shared their experiences. As Elizabeth Stone wrote, having a child is like choosing to let your heart go walking outside your body. Writing about parenting can sometimes feel as risky.
So thank you to TODAY Parenting Team contributors like Lisa Barr, who wrote about middle school exclusion.
Thank you to TODAY Parenting Team contributors like Kara Lawler, who wrote about overcoming body image issues.
Thank you to TODAY Parenting Team contributors like Cherie Lowe, who wrote about getting the dreaded Phone Call From School.
Thanks to all who read, and post, and share from the TODAY Parenting Team. We truly are all in this together. So on this, our first birthday, raise a cupcake in celebration. We made it to a year! Here's to many more.