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New Moms Who Overshare on Facebook May Be Depressed, Says New Study

Mother is looking for a recipe of preparation of baby food.
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I feel like we’ve all been there — and by there, I mean two mindsets while scrolling through Facebook.

Mindset No. 1: This can’t be real life.

We’re scrolling through our feed and happen upon a status update about how so-and-so just folded the rose-scented laundry, painted an antique chair, and made a homemade cherry pie recipe she found on Pinterest (that is so artfully uploaded) — all while little Johnny (who is 2 and potty-trained btw) blissfully napped. #mommywin

Mindset No. 2: How did you do it?!

We’re scrolling through our feed and happen upon photos of smiling children in bow ties and dress shoes — each posed with one foot against the wall, all Pinterest-perfect. #littleman 

Me? As much as I wanted to wave the white flag and not engage with these types of Facebook posts, I’m still guilty of participating. My son Jack is going to be 9 this summer, and while all he wants to wear are basketball shorts and Minecraft t-shirts, I’m still looking for the money shot.

Image Source: Christine Coppa
Image Source: Christine Coppa

“Mom, no, enough with the photos!” he barks routinely. 

“But it’s field day at your new school. Smile. Wait, smile near this lavender plant (that our neighbors planted), and sit on the red brick stoop.” Such a cozy, homey photo. 

I immediately upload the shot to Facebook with a status update that reads something like: Yay! Today is field day and Jack is ready to dominate. #GOTEAMSTARS

Meanwhile he’s yelling from the car, “GOD let’s go! I’m gonna be late!”

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Have we become a bit obsessed with Facebook and posting the “perfect life”? Possibly.

A new study published in the journal Sex Roles aimed at moms who just had babies found that Facebook can be undermining to people’s well-being, and in particular, Facebook is associated with greater parenting stress for new mothers because it presents women with “new ways” to do things.

The study found that new moms who posted more frequently to Facebook were likely to be more depressed than moms who posted less. Researchers looked at the role of motherhood as an identity, and found that new moms who were more concerned with “external validation” went to Facebook to receive it — whether through posting statuses or uploading photos.

They concluded that “mothers who were more prone to seek external validation for their mothering identity and perfectionistic about parenting experienced increases in depressive symptoms indirectly via greater Facebook activity.”

While I can definitely see this being true of first-time mothers who are new to this parenting thing and just want to hear that they’re doing an OK job, I think there’s even more of us that this applies to.

If you ask me, all of us moms are guilty of putting on a show on Facebook — then zipping through the fast food drive-thru as opposed to serving the organic vegetables from the family garden we posted about 7 statuses ago. #farmtotablefamily

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As for me, about nine years into this mommy thing, there have been plenty of times I’ve scrolled through Facebook and saw how people my age are living in McMansions and are members of some elite country club. #livingthedream

Other times, I’ll notice how my urban friends transformed their tiny backyards into rad spaces for entertaining and playing, and my yard is, well, currently weedy and overgrown. But I’ll post a shot of the hanging plant. #summerblooms

There’s also the career mommy posts — you know the moms that really leaned in. Me? I’m a freelance writer who is constantly chasing work and late to school pickup. But my statuses are more like: Made my deadline with an hour to spare. I think Jack and I deserve some froyo. Meanwhile, I was going back and forth with an editor all day about tone and cut this line and this expert is too nit-picky. Froyo? I want a marg! 

See, we’re all guilty of the facade. Of hiding behind these “picture-perfect” Facebook statuses, scared to show our true lives — afraid we’re not “happy enough,” or “full-filled enough,” or “pretty enough.” That’s why I challenge every mom reading this to post something true and real today.

OK, I’ll go first: I have accumulated 3 friends since moving to a beach town. It’s Friday and I have a sitter and no one to go out with. #FML

Because if all moms post the nitty-gritty, I think a real sisterhood will be born and we won’t all be lusting after perfect Facebook posts, because come on … 

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