A modern lifestyle brand redefining motherhood
Print Friendly and PDF

It’s a shining new year. Another enjoyable holiday season is behind us, adding to our memories. Our timelines are flooded with the exotic locations our friends visited, the funny things their kids said and did, the mishaps we experienced, the resolutions for the year ahead and, of course, the “year-in-review” videos of everybody around us.


We revel in the likes, reactions, and recommendations, but forget that there’s so much more to what we share online than just reactions from friends. Our digital activity is slowly but surely building our digital identities, a very strong social factor in the age of the internet. As a parent in the millennial age, our understanding of our digital identities is crucial.  

A study conducted by Pew Research Center in 2012 found that parents spend more time online than non-parents. This is especially true for parents of children who are also on social media, and parents get on social media in an attempt to monitor their children’s digital lives. Another possible reason is that parents experience significantly more social isolation than non-parents, and social media provides an opportunity to fill that void.

Children themselves can run into problems from over-identifying with their online personas. Kids today have a constantly experiencing little spikes of dopamine from the reactions of their friends on the internet, and this increases the chance they’ll become addicted to social media. The low minimum age requirement of 13 for setting up a social media profile makes this all the more likely.

FEATURED VIDEO

Most alcoholics and smokers were introduced to these substances during their teenage years when their brains are much more vulnerable to addition, it’s not unlikely this would also be true for social media addiction. Teenagers project a filtered version of their lives to their friends, while also seeing a filtered version of their friends’ lives, denying them the joy of a real friendship. Even though they indulge in a lot of fun activities with their friends, many of them do not experience the security the comes from the strength of truly deep and meaningful bonds.

In an interview I conducted for our Momspirations series with Cat Coode, a digital identity expert and founder of BinaryTattoo, we spoke about what parents can do to navigate the complex world of digital imprints and identities. The name BinaryTattoo signifies the permanent nature of our digital imprints, and Cat’s mission is to educate people about how the digital world really works.

Cat’s recommendations include:

Remember that profile photos are always public.

No matter how many privacy settings exist, profile photos are always public. This means that people all over the world have access to them. Also, by putting up pictures of children as profile photos, we are allowing public photo crawlers to easily identify your child alongside your name. Coupled with facial recognition technology, which a majority of networks have begun using, it’s doubly easy to identify and track the target.

Children typically have a digital identity by the sixth month of their lives, although some may have one before they’re even born including ultrasound images and other details. By the time they’re old enough to sign up for their own accounts, they typically have about 2000 photos defining them online.

The permanent nature of these photos leave a lasting impact on the lives of these kids, with their potential employers seeking them out, or even leaving them open to heckling by peers at a later stage. Many children are left vulnerable to feelings of embarrassment during the difficult adolescent years and also later in life.

Countries like France are already taking drastic steps to stop this trend of parents putting up pictures of their children, with parents facing prison for sharing their children’s photos indiscriminately.

Create a family digital contract.

We often sign contracts before undertaking major commitments. It’s helpful to treat the child’s digital world with the same level of respect, rigor, and commitment. A digital contract is an agreement between the parent and child around the use of devices and online networks.

The child’s part of the contract could include things like:

  • Agreement on not using the device to abuse, bully or threaten others.
  • Agreement that anything uncomfortable should be immediately brought to the notice of the parents.
  • The number of hours of use, purpose of use, places they can and can’t use the device, etc.
  • The knowledge that everything that goes online will remain there permanently.

The parent’s part of the contact could include:

  • What amount of control the parent will exercise on the child’s online activity
  • Agreement about how they will learn to navigate the digital world together.

Get them to show you how they use the app.

Parents might be under the impression that they’re aware of the uses of a given application. Yet, the way kids use it might be entirely different from the way a parent uses it. As in the case of a recent outrage, a mom discovered her 12-year-old girl using an app in a particularly dangerous manner – live-streaming from her bedroom.

Cat is of the opinion that the relationship between kids and social media/technology can be likened to underage drinking. Every parent can warn their kids about the dangers of underage drinking, yet they’ll try it anyway. The better approach is to equip the kids and yourself with the right information.

“When parents have access to children’s passwords, the child will go ahead and create additional secret accounts that their parents have no clue about.”

Steer clear of providing false information.

Children know a great deal about technology. Toddlers are given phones to keep them engaged, and the consequence is that children are far more savvy with technology than adults. When my daughter has a science project coming up, I see messages flying on Whatsapp groups (still on my phone, thankfully). Kids can’t wait to get on apps that help them connect, but they might require their own email.

When your kid is not yet 13, and you’re considering opening an email account for them, one of the easiest options is to lie about their age.

It might seem innocuous enough, but  parents should be aware that most programs will fire a switch when the child is officially eighteen. At that time, the child will be exposed to direct targeting, advertising, and features meant for adults – even though your child is not actually the right age.

Cat explains, “If any trouble were to arise from the interactions from this additional content, it could get blamed on the parent since they legally agreed on their child’s age.”

Equip yourself to deal with cyberbullying

Cyberbullying has emerged as a top parenting concern, even displacing teenage pregnancies and substance abuse.

Cyberbullying can include repeated targeted messaging to a select person in the group, stealing passwords, misusing information, disseminating false information, spreading inappropriately morphed images, direct threats, etc.

Reports suggest that most children don’t report issues with bullying to their parents, the primary fear being that they’ll be banned from using the network. This might be most instinctive and easiest thing to do when parents find out about cyberbullying, yet experts warn against this approach. The threat of being pulled away from the network will increase the peer pressure. Instead, it helps to calmly assess the extent of the bullying. 

It’s important to equip ourselves with knowledge on how to report abuse on the internet. Social media networks support ways to reach out and report offensive comments and content. (Here is a comprehensive list on how to report internet trolls and cyberbullies.)

“Always take screenshots of the offensive posts before you disconnect from the user in case you need evidence of the trolling or bullying,” advises Cat.

Create a positive image.

Help your child to maintain a positive image online. Practice the pause before sharing anything online and guide them to do the same. Social media platforms are designed to make it easy to share thoughts instantly, but it’s helpful to remember that what you put out there is permanent and will serve as a reflection of who you are.

Maintain positive, respectful, unambiguous language while sharing your thoughts online. Refrain from making derogatory comments about someone’s appearance, religion, ethnicity, etc.

Cat also suggests working to maintain neutral language. For example, the comment, “Did you see Cat’s shirt?” could be interpreted as either positive (complimentary) or negative (mocking). Better to put, “I liked Cat’s shirt” or, “Did you see Cat’s shirt? I like it.”

The expression “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all” is very appropriate for social media.

Even in cases where we might think that the message is meant only for a certain recipient (as in private chat apps), it’s important to follow this rule. The app’s servers store these messages and the receiver also could store it through a screenshot.

Cat also recommends creating and maintaining a LinkedIn account for anyone over the age of 16. The professional nature of the network does not require any personal information and allows you to have a positive digital identity.

Raising the current generation is very different from the way we were raised. Our kids are infinitely smarter and savvier, but also lonelier. Their concept of fun is different, as is their understanding of friends. All adolescents go through the phase of identity crisis, but the pressure of looking good in front of peers all the time can have a lasting impact, and even lead to dire consequences.

As parents, it’s time we stepped up and took the time to understand the digital phenomenon in a deep, engaged, and responsible manner. After all, the internet is what we make it. 

Who said motherhood doesn't come with a manual?

Subscribe to get inspiration and super helpful ideas to rock your #momlife. Motherhood looks amazing on you.

Already a subscriber? Log in here.

Did you hear that? That was the sound of Nordstrom and Maisonette making all your kid's summer wardrobe dreams come true.

Nordstrom partnered with Maisonette to create the perfect in-store pop-up shop from May 24th-June 23rd, featuring some of our favorite baby and kids brands, like Pehr, Zestt Organics, Lali and more. (Trust us, these items are going to take your Instagram feed to the next level of cuteness. 😍) Items range from $15 to $200, so there's something for every budget.

Pop-In@Nordstrom x Maisonette

Maisonette has long been a go-to for some of the best children's products from around the world, whether it's tastefully designed outfits, adorable accessories, or handmade toys we actually don't mind seeing sprawled across the living room rug. Now their whimsical, colorful aesthetic will be available at Nordstrom.

The pop-in shops will be featured in nine Nordstrom locations: Costa Mesa, CA; Los Angeles, CA; Chicago, IL; Austin, TX; Dallas, TX; Bellevue, WA; Seattle, WA; Toronto, ON; and Vancouver, BC.

Don't live nearby? Don't stress! Mamas all across the U.S. and Canada will be able to access the pop-in merchandise online at nordstrom.com/pop

But don't delay―these heirloom-quality pieces will only be available at Nordstrom during the pop-in's run, and then they'll be over faster than your spring break vacation. Happy shopping! 🛍

This article is sponsored by Nordstrom. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

Our Partners

For decades, doctors have prescribed progesterone, one of the key hormones your body needs during pregnancy, to prevent a miscarriage. The hormone, produced by the ovaries, is necessary to prepare the body for implantation. As the pregnancy progresses, the placenta produces progesterone, which suppresses uterine contractions and early labor.

But a new study out of the UK finds that administering progesterone to women experiencing bleeding in their first trimester does not result in dramatically more successful births than a placebo. Yet, for a small group of mothers-to-be who had experienced "previous recurrent miscarriages," the numbers showed promise.

The study, conducted at Tommy's National Centre for Miscarriage Research at the University of Birmingham in the UK, is the largest of its kind, involving 4,153 pregnant women who were experiencing bleeding in those risky (and nerve-wracking) early weeks. The women were randomly split into two groups, with one group receiving 400 milligrams of progesterone via a vaginal suppository, and the other receiving a placebo of the same amount. Both groups were given the suppositories through their 16th week of pregnancy.

Of the group given progesterone, 75% went on to have a successful, full-term birth, compared to 72% for the placebo.

As the study notes, for most women, the administration of progesterone "did not result in a significantly higher incidence of live births than placebo." But for women who had experienced one or two previous miscarriages, the result was a 4% increase in the number of successful births. And for women who had experienced three or more recurrent miscarriages, the number jumped to a 15% increase.

FEATURED VIDEO

Dr. Arri Coomarasamy, Professor of Gynecology at the University of Birmingham and Director of Tommy's National Centre for Miscarriage Research, said the implications for that group are "huge." "Our finding that women who are at risk of a miscarriage because of current pregnancy bleeding and a history of a previous miscarriage could benefit from progesterone treatment has huge implications for practice," he said.

It's estimated that 1 in 5 pregnancies ends in miscarriage. And while even a spot of blood no doubt increases the fear in every expectant mother's mind, bleeding is actually a very common occurrence during pregnancy, Coomarasamy said. Still, first trimester bleeding is particularly risky, with a third of women who experience it going on to miscarry.

So for women who have been through it multiple times, Coomarasamy's findings are an important avenue to explore. "This treatment could save thousands of babies who may have otherwise been lost to a miscarriage," he added.

The study is among a number of recent groundbreaking discoveries made by doctors looking to further understand what causes miscarriages and what can be done to prevent them. While about 70% of miscarriages are attributed to chromosomal abnormalities, doctors recently learned that certain genetic abnormalities, which exist in a small group of parents-to-be, could be discovered by testing the mother and father, as well as the embryo.

Doctors have also discovered that even knowing the sex of your baby could predict the complications a mother may face, thus helping medical professionals to assist in keeping the pregnancy viable.

But while there is no sweeping solution to stop miscarriages, for some couples, the use of progesterone does offer a glimmer of hope. "The results from this study are important for parents who have experienced miscarriage," Jane Brewin, chief executive of Tommy's said. "They now have a robust and effective treatment option which will save many lives and prevent much heartache."

Brewin added that studies like this one are imperative to our understanding of how the creation of life, which remains both a miracle and a mystery, truly works. "It gives us confidence to believe that further research will yield more treatments and ultimately make many more miscarriages preventable," she said.

You might also like:

News

It's never easy to give up a career and launch a whole new one, but when I decided to end my time as an opera singer and move into the field of sales, I knew I could do it. After all, I had the perfect role model: my mom.

When I was growing up, she worked as a dental hygienist, but when I started college, she took some courses in sales. She was single with two kids in college, which was a driving force to make more money. But above that, she truly had a passion for sales. In no time, she got jobs and excelled at them, ultimately earning her the title of Vendor Representative of the Year at her electronics company.

When I entered the field of sales, an unusual and unexpected twist followed. Several years into my career, I was hired by a different electronics company. My mom and I ended up selling similar products to some of the same businesses. (Neither of our companies realized this, and we have different last names.)

But rather than feeling uncomfortable, I saw this as a great opportunity. She and I were both committed to doing our best. More often than not, she beat me when we went after the same piece of business. But in the process, I learned so much from her. I was able to see how her work ethic, commitment and style drove her success. I had even more to emulate.

FEATURED VIDEO

Here are some of the biggest business lessons I learned from my working mom:

1. Use your existing skill set to differentiate yourself.

As a dental hygienist, my mom knew how to talk to people and make them feel comfortable. She had also served as a youth leader at three different churches where my dad preached. In each town, she found at-risk kids, brought them together and developed programs for them. She had learned how to help people improve themselves and make their lives better.

In sales, she did the same thing, focusing on how the products or services she was selling could genuinely make a difference in the lives of her customers. Those skills translated seamlessly into her new career.

2. Start strong from day one—don't wait for permission to launch your full potential.

From day one at a job, my mom showed up with energy and vigor to get going. She didn't take time to be tentative. Instead, she leaned into her tasks—the equivalent of blasting out of the gate in a race. Having seen how well this worked for her, I strive to do the same.

3. Have empathy, it's essential.

Many women have been falsely accused of being "too emotional" in business. However, empathy is a necessity and drives better results. As a businesswoman, my mom set herself apart by demonstrating genuine empathy for her clients and her colleagues. She loves getting to know people's stories. That understanding is a key component in her finalizing deals and helping her company reach higher levels of success.

4. Learn often—you're never done building your skill set.

My mom is the reason I spend at least three months out of each year getting a new certification or learning a new skill. She's always working to improve, harness new technologies or develop new competencies—and she's passed on that eagerness to learn to me. She knows that to stay on top, you have to keep learning.

5. Bring on the charm.

By nature, I'm analytical. I like to present the numbers to clients, showing the data to help sway their decisions. And that has its place, but charm is universal. Being someone people want to do business with makes a huge difference. If I had a nickel for every time a prospect told me, "I love your mother," I could retire now! Business, especially sales, is about the connections you make as much as the value you bring.

Our paths have taken our careers in different directions, but along the way, I've done my best to incorporate all these skills. Thank you, mom, for teaching me all this, and much more.

You might also like:

Work + Money

Every mom has her own list of character traits each of she hopes to instill in her children, but there is one that stands out as a big priority for the majority of millennial mothers.

Motherly's 2019 State of Motherhood survey revealed that kindness is incredibly important to today's moms. It is the number one trait we want to cultivate in our children, and according to stats from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, this emphasis on kindness couldn't come at a better time.

In recent years kids and parents have been straying from kindness, but these Ivy League experts have some great ideas about how today's moms can get the next generation back on track so they can become the caring adults of tomorrow.

Between 2013 and 2014, as part of Harvard's Making Caring Common project, researchers surveyed 10,000 middle and high school students across the nation. They found that no matter what race, class or culture the kids identified with, the majority of the students surveyed valued their own personal success and happiness way more than that of others.

Why do kids value their own success so much more than things like caring and fairness? Well, apparently, mom and dad told them to.

FEATURED VIDEO

Eighty percent of the 10,000 students said their parents taught them that their own happiness and high achievement were more important than caring for others. (So much for sharing is caring.)

The folks at Harvard say that valuing your own ambition is obviously a good thing (in moderation) in today's competitive world, but prioritizing it so much more than ethical values like kindness, caring and fairness makes kids more likely to be cruel, disrespectful and dishonest.

So how do we fix this? Here's Harvard's four-step plan for raising kinder kids.

1. Help them practice being nice

Giving kids daily opportunities to practice caring and kind acts helps make ethical behavior second nature. They could help you with chores, help a friend with homework or work on a project to help homelessness.

All those tasks would help a child flex their empathy muscles. The key is to increase the challenges over time so your child can develop a stronger capacity for caregiving as they grow.

2. Help them see multiple perspectives

The researchers want kids to “zoom in" and listen closely to the people around them, but also see the bigger picture. “By zooming out and taking multiple perspectives, including the perspectives of those who are too often invisible (such as the new kid in class, someone who doesn't speak their language, or the school custodian), young people expand their circle of concern and become able to consider the justice of their communities and society," the study's authors' wrote.

3. Model kindness

Our kids are watching, so if we want them to be kinder, it's something we should try to cultivate in ourselves. The Harvard team suggests parents make an effort to widen our circles of concern and deepen our understanding of issues of fairness and justice.

4. Teach kids to cope with destructive feelings

According to the researchers, the ability to care about others can be overwhelmed by a kid's feelings of anger, shame, envy, or other negative feelings. They suggest we teach our kids teach that while all feelings are okay to feel, some ways of dealing with them are not helpful, or kind (for example, “Hitting your classmate might make you happy, but it won't make them happy and isn't very kind. Counting to 10 and talking about why you're mad is more productive than hitting.")

While the folks at Harvard are concerned that so many kids are being taught to value their own happiness above all, they were also encouraged by the students who do prioritize caring and kindness. One of the students surveyed wrote, “People should always put others before themselves and focus on contributing something to the world that will improve life for future generations."

If we follow the advice of Harvard researchers, the world will see more kids that think like that, and that's what future generations need.

[A version of this post was originally published November 8, 2017. It has been updated.]

You might also like:

News

These days more women are having babies into their 40s, but the idea that women are facing down the biological clock is pretty pervasive—once you're over 35, you automatically receive that "advanced maternal age" classification, while your male partner's age may never even be mentioned. The pressure on older moms is unfair, because according to new research from Rutgers University, men may face age-related fertility decline too and America's dads are getting older.

It's a new idea, but this finding actually takes 40 years worth of research into account—which, coincidentally, is around the age male fertility may start to decline. According to Rutgers researchers, the medical community hasn't quite pinpointed the onset of advanced age, but it hovers somewhere between ages 35 and 45.

The study which appears in the journal Maturitas, finds that a father's age may not just affect his fertility, but also the health of his partner and offspring.

Based on previously conducted research, the team behind this study found evidence that men over 45 could put their partners at greater risk for pregnancy complications like gestational diabetes and preeclampsia. Babies born to older fathers also have an increased likelihood of premature birth, late stillbirth, low Apgar scores, low birthweight, newborn seizures and more. The risks appear to exist later in life, too: Research suggests children of older fathers have greater risk of childhood cancers, cognitive issues and autism.

FEATURED VIDEO

There's been plenty of studies surrounding advanced maternal age, but research on advanced paternal age is pretty slim—scientists don't quite understand how age correlates to these factors at this point. But researchers from Rutgers believe that age-related decline in testosterone and sperm quality degradation may be to blame. "Just as people lose muscle strength, flexibility and endurance with age, in men, sperm also tend to lose 'fitness' over the life cycle," Gloria Bachmann, director of the Women's Health Institute at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, explains in a release for this news.

As we've previously reported, more and more men are waiting until later in life to have children. According to a 2017 Stanford study, children born to fathers over 40 represent 9% of U.S. births, and the average age of first-time fathers has climbed by three-and-a-half years over the past four decades —so this research matters now more than ever, and it may represent the first step towards setting certain standards in place for men who choose to delay parenthood.

The biggest thing to come out of this research may be the need for more awareness surrounding advanced paternal age. This particular study's authors believe doctors should be starting to have conversations with their male patients, possibly even encouraging them to consider banking sperm if they're considering parenthood later in life.

Women certainly tend to be aware of the age-related risks to their fertility, and many regularly hear that they should freeze their eggs if they're not ready for motherhood. And while it's still too early to say whether we'll ever examine paternal age this closely, this research may set a whole new conversation in motion.

You might also like:

News
Motherly provides information of a general nature and is designed for educational purposes only. This site does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.Your use of the site indicates your agreement to be bound by our  Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. Information on our advertising guidelines can be found here.