So, you have a baby. Congratulations! You’re a parent now. No more time for fooling around like a jackass on Twitter. You now need to devote 100% of your time to fooling around like a jackass on Facebook. That’s where the parents are.

You may be a little overwhelmed by the enormity of your new task. There are *literally one million decisions you will be required to make as a parent, all in the first year. And you may be asking yourself, how is one supposed to go about making important decisions for their child? Is there a process? A protocol? A strategy?

YES.

I’m so glad you asked. There IS a highly reliable method for always making the correct decisions when it comes to your child, and I’m going to share that method with you today. Get out a pen. You’ll want to take notes.

First, call your own mother (or sister/best friend/mother-in-law if you’re being really exotic). It’s only polite. Ask for advice on any number of parenting decisions (breastfeeding, vaccines, dairy, car safety, etc.) Listen half-assedly to the advice your loved one is giving while simultaneously scrolling through the Google search you’ve punched into your iPhone on the same topic. Promptly dismiss every shred of advice your mother is giving you because what does she know about parenting? It’s not like she raised a child.

Oh, wait.

In any event, it’s critical to remember that, when it comes to parenting advice, under no circumstance do you want to listen to the people you trust and love most in the world. 

No, your very best resources are the randoms you meet on Facebook, or parenting forums such as The Bump and What to Expect. These people have “done the research” so they are well equipped to guide you. These online communities are intellectual centers, much like Cambridge, where great thinkers from Harvard and MIT go for coffee and falafel. Only they are better because forum users may or may not have degrees in anything related to what you are asking about. It’s the ideal venue for discourse.

To sharpen your parenting instincts, you’re also going to want to rely heavily on memes. Memes are like visual encyclopedias of knowledge conveniently scattered across the internet. When you find one that is applicable to your worldview you should immediately grab it, repost it, and make it your mantra. Some memes start with phrases such as “Bitches be like” and incorporate whimsical cat imagery. These are the most useful.

Unless your mother can speak in meme, disregard everything she has to offer.

Moving along. Hang up on your mother and jump back onto Facebook. Scroll down your newsfeed. Do any buzzwords catch your eye? Big pharma? Intactivist? CIO? Herd immunity? Co-sleeping? Liquid gold? Attachment Parenting? Seek out these and similar terms. They are like flickering beacons of light drawing you in to intelligent conversations that are happening all around the virtual world.

Next, join a shit ton of Facebook groups. As we have already established, all good parenting decisions originate from discussions on Facebook, and the more impersonal your connection, the better. In every group you join, immediately post pictures of your child’s most pressing rash/injury. People love that. In fact, if you are trying to make any medical decision whatsoever for your child, it’s important to start with the feedback of the online community.

“Celia woke up with her left arm coming off at the hinge! What do you guys think I should do?” {insert photo of Celia’s arm hanging off her side like a flaccid noodle}

Wait for a response. You won’t have to wait long, 719 people will write back to you within 4-5 minutes with a range of advice. You can rest easy knowing that many–if not most–Facebook users have advanced medical degrees. Pick the advice that validates what you already wanted to do. Now go do it. See? Decision made. Great job!

For inquiries on topics that are heated, it’s best if you post on secret Facebook groups. These are great because they serve as tell-all centers, with participants apparently believing that whatever is said in the very hallowed ground of these groups is, actually, completely confidential and can never be used against you in a court of law. Proceed with reckless abandon.

If you have questions or concerns regarding discipline strategies, just watch the new show The Slap. This will tell you everything you need to know about hitting other people’s children, and it will probably also help you make good decisions about how and when to press charges when this happens to your child at a cocktail party. You can extrapolate what you learn here and apply it to your at-home discipline policies if you can remember that what you see on TV is the same thing as real life only with more flattering lighting.

When it comes to questions regarding family planning, competitive athletics for minors, and beauty/showmanship you have a few televised options from which to seek guidance. Namely, 19 Kids and CountingDance Moms, and Honey Boo Boo. If you enjoy the Real Housewives franchise, then by all means, carry on with those gals. All feature slice of life portraits of regular moms doing regular things. You can think of these moms as your new friends. Which leads me to a very important point: it’s ill-advised to try to make friends in your own neighborhood. Sure, the neighbors are people you might think you could rely on, but ask yourself this: are they available On Demand? I didn’t think so. Here is an easy way to remember this tip: If someone is not accessible via a remote control, they are not valuable to you in any way. Easy peasy.

Note: Even while you are watching tv you should still have your Facebook newsfeed in plain site. This is only good sense. You never know when the next nugget of parenting gold is going to fly past your face.

Don’t take any chances. Stay alert. You’ve got this.

*not literally

Liz Curtis Faria
Author

Liz spent much of the past decade as a social worker and photographer, earning very little money but having the opportunity to travel widely and meet many interesting people, including a drunk Canadian who cut her a mullet on a dare. Now a full-time mom and blogger, Liz is continuing her quest to make no money and spending her days wondering why her son so closely resembles a ham. While many, many people call her Mother Earth, she finds that cumbersome. Please just call her Liz. Liz blogs about the joy and ridiculousness that is motherhood at A Mothership Down. Her work has also been featured on Huffington Post, Scary Mommy, and Mamapedia, among others.

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