Some friends and I were just talking over dinner about how partnerships and family are represented on social media. There tends to be a sheen of perfection painted over posts about family life. We want to show the picturesque Pinterest-worthy parts of relationships and hide the real life struggles and challenges behind the scenes. It’s natural. As humans, we try to manage the appearances we project to others. And several friends brought up the question: “Who wants to see my real life baggage?”
This article by Aimee Blanchette of the Minneapolis Star Tribune came across my Twitter feed via NCFR and Jamie Seger and poses the idea that maybe seeing a little of the messy side would help parents realize they aren’t alone in the challenges they face. In the article, Dr. Marti Erikson, retired developmental psycholgist and co-host of the podcast Mom Enough notes: “Mothers in the throes of the child-rearing years are very hungry for validation — for someone to pay attention to what they’re doing and for the feeling of connection,” Erickson said. “If they’re confronted all the time with images of perfection that just aren’t attainable, it can make them lose confidence. If mothers are depressed or on the brink of depression, that can certainly be a contributing factor to worsen their mental health.”
Still, as the article points out, while showing the gritty side of life is good, there needs to be a balance. The “who wants to see that anyway” question my friend asked is a valid one. So what is that balance? What does being authentic mean in this context?