Babytalk panel discussion
On Sunday, I took part in a panel discussion at the Babytalk Festival in UCD. The panel was chaired by Niamh Healy from Cuidiu, and there were four panelists – Emily Manning (Editor with eumom.ie), fellow Irish Parenting Blogger, Sylda Dwyer of mindthebaby.ie, and Krysia Lynch from AIMSI, 42weeks.ie and HBA. I spent the morning wondering if I was going to be hopelessly out of my depth on such a panel – after all mine is just a personal blog, and I’m not in the business of parenting or parenting support. But as you may be aware, I’m not short of an opinion or two so in the end I was just fine!
Sylda and I had great support in the audience because several members of the Irish Parenting Bloggers group showed up. Many thanks to Sinead from Bumbles of Rice and the adorable Miss Laoise, Yaz from Glitter Mama Wishes, Lucy from Learner Mama, Andrea from Office Mum, and Sadhbh from Where Wishes Come From. And my friend Cliodna from NUK Ireland was sitting second from the front row cheering us on as well. Thank you ladies!
The topic for discussion was Good information Vs. bad advice – online support and information for parents. For someone who wasn’t sure I’d have much to contribute to the discussion, it turns out I have plenty to say about it! Mainly in terms of how I see things have changed in the four years between having my son and my daughter. Back in 2009, the closest thing to online support was in the form of message boards and forums, and whatever information I found was through online searches. Fast forward to 2013, and the message boards are all quieter than they used to be. If you’re a parent in Ireland looking for support on any issue now, I can almost guarantee you there’s a Facebook group to meet your needs. The size and tone of each group varies. The smallest group I belong to has about five members, while the largest has over 2000. In 2009 when I was having problems breastfeeding, I had to try to sift through information online myself to find answers, or wait until my once weekly support group meeting to ask questions of other mothers. In 2013, I typed questions into my phone at any hour of the day or night and there were people online to offer help and better still point me to valuable real world help in the form of reputable lactation consultants and other resources.
When I became a parent I found myself lamenting the lack of the proverbial village – not just to raise the child, but to support each other on our parenting journeys. I think what we’re witnessing right now is the growth of virtual villages, filling a need that many of us feel.