Parenting via Facebook: Vomit reports and baby advice

I have been anxiously anticipating a round of stomach virus to hit our house based on what my friends from our school and other schools in the metro area are reporting on Facebook.

Much like the local weatherman, the status reports on Facebook tell parents what viruses are in the area and which ones of their friends’ kids they should be currently avoiding.

My neighbor told me this morning at the bus stop that her son had been throwing up all night. She’s not on Facebook so she didn’t know it’s been all the buzz.

I told her all my friends on Facebook have been reporting that their kids have it.

How long does it last she asked? Does it have a fever?

I told her no one had written anything about a fever, just that it lasts for days and was passing from child to child. Also told her to be careful with dehydration. One of our friends reported a hospital visit for IVs because her child had become so dehydrated.

I posted yesterday that Theresa Walsh Giarrusso “is baby with strep.”

And friends chimed in that strep was going around their area too. (Walsh had it last week. So it’s going around our house for sure.)

Besides sharing symptoms and diagnosis on Facebook, parents offer each other lots of condolences and support. Lots of “hang in theres” and with the throw-up virus, lots of “that’s disgusting” or “poor (fill-in name of parent here.)” It’s like a large 3-way call with your buddies when you’re covered in puke or diarrhea.

Facebook isn’t just useful for diagnosing illness and getting cyber-pats-on-the-back for dealing with them, it’s also great for baby advice. I participated last week in a discussion with a high school friend and many of her current friends as she was contemplating Ferberizing her baby.  The messages were heated as that topic always seems to ignite a fury.

Another friend was trying to determine why her baby wasn’t sleeping. Way too many friends advising to dope the baby with Benadryl as far as I’m concerned.

Another high school friend was looking for dietary advice — what’s a normal amount for a kid to eat. She was marveling at the tape worms in her kids’ bellies. (All agreed must be growth spurts.)

Another friend was just trying to figure out what to say to her child that called her the “maid” this week.

Do you find Facebook useful in figuring out which illnesses will be coming to a home near you? Do you use it to get a cyber-pat-on-the-back when facing tough parenting times? Do you ever use it to help solve your parenting dilemmas? Do you weigh in with parenting advice for those who ask? ( You know I do!)

110 comments Add your comment

Katie

February 2nd, 2010
9:16 am

I love love love love FB when it comes to things like that! It is so nice to get some support from people who have been there and done that, and even better when they can offer you advice when your brain is too weary!

Its also alot of fun to hear all the funny comments and things that other peoples kids do! ALOT of my friends are more experienced parents, having raised several children into adulthood without killing a single one, so I know they get a kick out of hearing about what I’m going through- but are so invaluable!!!

I’ve been hearing ALOT about the flu going around too, and I’m just hoping its a Public School germie… That would NOT be fun with my preschooler!

motherjanegoose

February 2nd, 2010
9:16 am

No Facebook for me. I am older than dirt…LOL.

When I started getting too many random e-mails that contain jokes, pictures and pass alongs…I knew Facebook would be too much. Some folks send to everyone on their list!

I LOVE to meet the people I work with each week, I just do not have time to keep up with 1000 or more. I have now trained over 100,000 teachers and it has been fun but I do not have time to chat with all of them on Facebook or even 1 %….LOL. Love meeting new folks but cannot keep in touch with that many.

Hope your kids are on the mend T. I saw 6 robins yesterday and now, since the groundhog has not seen his shadow…SPRING IS ON IT’S WAY TO ATLANTA….HAHAHA!

Becky

February 2nd, 2010
9:16 am

Theresa, soory that baby has strep..

I don’t do Facebook..To me, it’s a big wasted of time..Yes, I know that I’m going to get “yelled” at for that..

Way

February 2nd, 2010
9:16 am

I still prefer face-to-face communication – I rather meet with a friend to discuss complex situations than write about them. As for illnesses – i do not want to know who is sick or not simply because i cannot do anything about it. There is always a bed, a toilet and medication in the house plus we always emphasize on hand washing and not touching the face. Other than that, illness comes when it comes.

Way

February 2nd, 2010
9:24 am

Becky – i am with you. I am a person who enjoys a few solid friendships. Having 1000 facebook fans is sooo not my cup of tea. I always beleived that if you have 1000 “friends” you have none at all.

But new generation is comming and they might think otherwise. I know a few kids who have 2000+ friends on facebook. All they do is text all day long. I spend a few hours with a kind and it was hard to beleive that she could carry a conversation with me and at the same time text (without even looking at the screen).

BShepCarlin

February 2nd, 2010
9:25 am

FB can be a waste of time…but the one reason why I still check it is to keep up with friends who do not live nearby or that I don’t see that often. Always fun to see what they’ve been up to and see pics of the kids. It is certainly not a substitute for face to face communication. But in little doses it is fine…I am on it maybe 10 minutes a day. The thing I don’t like for sure is when I see husbands and wives “talking” to each other on FB!!!

Becky

February 2nd, 2010
9:32 am

@Way and others..I agree that a lot of FB is the younger generation and that’s great for them..I guess what gets me about FB is, I have 2 coworkers (both are well over 40) and they are on FB (at work) at least 4 hrs a day..They are into “farmville” and it’s very annoying to listen to that crap all day long..They both get upset with me when I tell them that I could care less what others are doing 24/7..I don’t care what the college daughter is wearing to school, what she ate for breakfast, blah, blah..

Give me good old fashioned face to face and I’m happy..Heck, all I want from my cell phone is just to call people. I don’t need it to name a song for me, I don’t need it to tell me the weather..

...

February 2nd, 2010
9:35 am

My son must have had this. He started throwing up Sunday night around bed time and I was up I kept him out of school yesterday. He is back today. I didn’t know anything like that was going around. It was very unusual as this is the first time he has ever thrown up that I can remember and he is 6.

I also don’t use facebook. It seems to me to be about living in your past.

Way

February 2nd, 2010
9:40 am

Ohh, do not want to event to start about farmillve… Never “got it”. I rather plan flowers around my house that have a farm on Internet.

JJ

February 2nd, 2010
9:41 am

I’m on FB and LOVE it, and I check in often during the day. I can see what my friends are doing, communicate with them, and I have re-connected with a TON of high schools friends.

I still make time for face to face, but often that is not possible. I much prefer face to face, but when you have friends all spread out over the country, FB makes it easy to communicate.

...

February 2nd, 2010
9:45 am

“My son must have had this. He started throwing up Sunday night around bed time and I was up I kept him out of school yesterday. ”

Should have been:

My son must have had this. He started throwing up Sunday night around bed time and I was up with him most of the night. I kept him out of school yesterday.

ATLien

February 2nd, 2010
9:45 am

I use FB to stay in contact with friends I rarely get to see or chat with. Very few with kids, most are DINKS but regardless, whatever sickness is going around seems to show up on FB amongst all of us at different points.
My 3 1/2 year old got that dreaded 24 hour stomach flu just before Christmas. I got it 2 days later :( It was awful. The only good thing was that it only lasted 24 hours. It was a horrible 24 hours but that was better than days of hugging the toilet bowl.

cld

February 2nd, 2010
9:51 am

I really thought I’d see more FB users comment, but so far I’m not seeing it. Like JJ, I love Facebook. I use it every day. Most of my relatives live 700 miles away, so we keep up-to-date on each other’s kids through Facebook updates and photos. It’s much easier to post it once for everyone than to send e-mails or make phone calls to each person individually. Then the friends and family who want to see the pictures can, and those who don’t care, don’t have to look at them.

I, too, turn to Facebook for parenting insight. Shopping for a new cell phone recently, I posted a status asking my friends’ thoughts on a few models – and got some good insight without having to ask a bunch of people individually (and I didn’t know who had which phone models anyway). Advice on potty training? No faster way to poll an audience of like-minded (and some not-so-like-minded) parents on different styles. And for the nights when it feels like I must be the worst parent in the world, I can usually find solace after Wee Man has gone to bed, when I see that one of my friends had a worse time than me.

NotAMom

February 2nd, 2010
9:51 am

This is why my mom friends on FB are hidden from updates. Seriously – non-parents (this includes your relatives!) do not want to hear about vomit/diarrhea. If your kid is so sick I should know/do something, call or email me without graphic details.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

February 2nd, 2010
9:53 am

Cld — with you on all that.

Really

February 2nd, 2010
9:53 am

MJG- you’re never too old for Facebook. My grandmother is even on there and she has lots of good parenting advice after raising 12 children!

cld

February 2nd, 2010
9:57 am

@ Really – My grandfather is on FB, too! He keeps up with all his grandkids and great-grandkids. Never really posts anything, but I hear he checks it every morning to see if there are new pictures of the babies (most of whom live far enough away that he only sees them on rare occasion). He also reads our blogs (a few of us keep personal blogs about our families) daily to feel connected to all of us.

JJ

February 2nd, 2010
9:58 am

I guess I’m just more social than most people. I FB, text, phone call, and actually meet some friends for lunch, dinner, cocktails, etc. Sometimes I am a homebody, but most of the time, I enjoy getting out with friends and family.

And since my friends are spread all over the country, it’s nice to be able to communicate with them RIGHT now. I’m planning a trip to Colorado in October, and I’m working with some high school friends who are also planning to be there when I am. We all work, and there’s a two hour difference in time zones, so FB’ing and texting is the best way to communicate.

I also keep up with my daughter on FB…

JJ

February 2nd, 2010
9:59 am

I’m on FB right now. I switch tabs on the internet. I have this blog open, and my facebook page is open too…….

Andrea

February 2nd, 2010
10:00 am

I am a FB user but I use it as a social networking site. If you want medical advice and suggestions, I would suggest the site WebMD (interject sarcasm here). While I love reconnecting with old friends via FB, I absolutely would not want to hear that little Timmy’s poop is green and then have that followed up with a ton of responses on what the various shades of green poop mean.

I do enjoy reconnecting with old acquaintences and I can keep in touch with them without having to put them in my inner circle. For me, the best part of FB has been able to see read some of the other stuff my son does not tell me. Any parent can tell you – kids put EVERYTHING on Facebook. I don’t know why they do it, but they do. If your gut is telling you that your child really isn’t going to a study group on Friday nite, check FB and see which of her friends has the party invite link on their page!

JJ

February 2nd, 2010
10:01 am

Hmmmmm my last post disappeared.

I’m planning a trip to Colorado and am meeting several high school friends there. There’s a two to three hour time zone difference, so FBing and texting works great while we are in the planning stages of this trip. Some people live there, so they can offer hotel info, etc……texting and FBing are they best ways to keep in touch with far away friends and family.

I also use FB to keep up with my daughter and communicate with some of her friends.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

February 2nd, 2010
10:02 am

My mom is not on FAcebook but often asks to look at my account or my brothers to see photos of friends grandbabies. She gets mad when FB family gets announcements like weddings and babies before she does via phone calls — I have lots of aunts and friends of my mothers that are on FB that I communicate with. I don’t think it’s about age as much as some people are more into technology and enjoy it. I neglected to mention FB saving money on home repairs — when we needed new carpet after the flood, my friend from HS who lives in Louisiana now saw my posting and sent me her dad’s info -and he got us a great deal on carpet. I love the shout out aspect — hey I’m looking for XXX and someone will know.

Andrea

February 2nd, 2010
10:02 am

Another really great part of FB is keeping up with family and friends that are no longer local. I can see links, photos & keep in touch with them. I don’t think you are ever too old for Facebook. My mom just set her page up!

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

February 2nd, 2010
10:06 am

I rescued it JJ –

JATL

February 2nd, 2010
10:09 am

I love FB -especially to keep up with far away friends and family! MJG -you don’t message each person individually -your status updates, pics, posts, etc. go on your wall and into your “friends” FB home feeds. You can also control what updates and how many you’re getting using privacy settings. I still think face to face or phone contact is best, but can’t do that with all of my friends and family all of the time. I particularly love the photo albums for family and friends instead of having to post photos in an email and email everyone -always leaving someone out. I’ve also found it very interesting to see high school people and what their adult opinions and interests are.

Like Theresa, I love seeing what illness is making the neighborhood rounds. It’s a help to me -especially with two small children -to know if perhaps I need to watch a developing situation more closely, etc. I also love it to know who to stay away from for awhile! In our area one of the elementary schools evidently had a really bad recurring lice problem last fall. They were having a community event, so I decided to stay away from it because I didn’t want my kids rolling around all over the place there since post after post of friends with kids there was about lice, lice AGAIN, etc.

JATL

February 2nd, 2010
10:10 am

I cannot STAND Farmville and Mafia Wars! I finally sent out a status update telling everyone to LEAVE ME OFF of it. Talk about your wastes of time! I found it especially odd that most of the inundation I was receiving about Farmville came from women who are well over 40!

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

February 2nd, 2010
10:12 am

i’ve only seen one lice one from a friend and everyone sent her the best treatment recs.

Not me!

February 2nd, 2010
10:14 am

I don’t like anybody (except MJG) and nobody likes me, so FB is a total waste of time! My kids “banned” and panned my spouse for getting on there – saying we were “stalking” them and their friends – and we were shocked and dismayed (though amused) to find out so much about our friends who are on there all the time talking about their extra-curricular social lives, all out in the open for their kids and “us” to see!

Seems no one is learning anything from that teacher’s travails over in Winder!

What is wrong with good ‘ol emailing – LOL – or even, gasp, using that thing that is hooked to a line that goes outside the house (or, at least the “lines” are hooked to something that goes outside the house!

HB

February 2nd, 2010
10:21 am

NotAMom, I’ve had to hide a few Mom friends on my news feed too. And a friend who gave way too many details about her cat’s health.

MJG, I highly recommend you take a look at facebook. There are a lot of ways to use it — you don’t have to keep in contact with 1,000 people. For example, you may want to let your personal profile remain pretty much dormant but set up a “fan” page for your business. Your clients can become fans if they wish and then you can send them updates — new books you have out, openings in your schedule, etc. A lot of them will probably leave positive feedback on your wall too that anyone stumbling on to your page will see.

RJ

February 2nd, 2010
10:30 am

I love FB! Use it daily! I re-connected with so many friends and even long distance family members. It’s great for advice from others. I’m with JJ. I text, use FB and have face to face meetings. I guess it’s all about what works for you.

cld

February 2nd, 2010
10:34 am

MJG, here’s another option – One of my aunts set up an account with her e-mail address but her cat’s name. She scoped out what FB was all about for months and only “friended” her kids and siblings. When she became more comfortable with what it was all about, she started linking up with extended family, old friends, church friends, etc.

Also, you don’t have to be “friends” with everyone. I know my former boss was on Facebook, but had a “no work friends” policy. She didn’t pick and choose – she just was not FB friends with ANY of her co-workers. Now the site also has privacy settings to allow who can see which parts of your account. You can even block certain friends from seeing certain activity on your account. For instance, if you don’t want your sister-in-law to see the comments other people are making on your “wall” (your account message board) you can specifically dis-allow her from seeing that aspect. If you want to be “friends” with your co-workers but don’t want them to see your photos, status updates, political views, etc – you can dis-allow those people from seeing those things. It’s time-consuming, but it can be done.

Michelle

February 2nd, 2010
10:41 am

I love FB. I don’t do all the applications though. I don’t have time for all of that nonsense! Like many of the others, I am on there to keep in touch with family and friends. It’s a great way to share pictures, etc. That being said, I don’t really go on there for parenting advice though. If I have questions or concerns, I will either call or e-mail those that I feel will give me the answers that will be most helpful!

MJG…all of my parents are on FB. If my grandpa had access to a computer and e-mail, I can guarantee he would be on there too! He really enjoys the new technology! ;o) As someone else said, that would be a GREAT way for you to market your business (even though it sounds like you keep pretty busy as it is!)

JJ

February 2nd, 2010
10:51 am

I got into Farmville and was hooked……but I stopped about three weeks ago. I never got into mafia wars, cafe world, zoo world, etc. Farmville was fun for awhile, but I got bored with it.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

February 2nd, 2010
11:03 am

Just found a really great link from a dad friend on Facebook. He’s always the parent with very witty comments and photos of his kids —- This actually has nothing to do with kids but is still funny — I just linked to it on the blog — It’s a parody of Alicia Keys and Jay-Z’s “Empire State of Mind” called “Peach State of Mind” — it’s very cute. Check it out. See Facebook is useful!!

http://blogs.ajc.com/momania/2010/02/02/funny-parody-of-empire-state-of-mind-ga-gives-you-peach-state-of-mind/

DB

February 2nd, 2010
11:04 am

I enjoy FB, because I can keep up with what my kids are doing at school, and enjoy photos that my inlaws and nieces and nephews post (one of my nieces is a photographer, so I always enjoy her quirky view of the world.) My MIL posted pictures of her recent trip to Central America which were fun to see. I very seldom post on my kids’ boards, though. Neither one of mine felt like I was “stalking” them — because we agreed that “what happens on Facebook, stays on Facebook” — I never brought up, “Why did you say that?” on Facebook, etc. I did have to remind my daughter to tighten up how much information she was putting out there, though, and she complied willingly. Most of us adults in the family don’t really post that much.

What I HATE on FB is a couple of cousins who seemed compelled to share every meaningless part of their lives. I mean, c’mon — we ALL hate laundry. Yes, the kids are adorable, but I really don’t need hourly updates on temperatures or vomiting. I don’t care if you are watching “24″ instead of doing homework . . . I’ve had a couple of people that I had to stop their feeds because I was just getting TMI. One of them was a writer, who bemoans her writer’s block about every two hours — although she seems to be able to write perfectly well on FB . . .

And I absolutely refuse to get sucked into Farmville!

Tiger needs me on his PR team

February 2nd, 2010
11:32 am

I’ve never understood the fascination of FB. People always tell me its a great way to keep in touch with old friends….but all my really great friends over the years I keep in touch with anyhow. To me that is the litmus test of a great friend, keeping in touch when it is hard to keep in touch, not when it is easy, but when it is hard. I can remember actually WRITING letters, putting stamps on them, and dropping them in the mail to some of these guys…you know when long distance phone calls across the country from their college to mine was 40 cents a minute.

Tiger needs me on his PR team

February 2nd, 2010
11:38 am

And don’t even get me started on Twitter. I’ll admit to having a healthy level of narcissism, but that takes it to a completely different level of loving yourself and thinking that everyone in the world is or should be interested in the minutiae of your life.

Becky

February 2nd, 2010
11:53 am

@Tiger..Boy did you hit the nail on the head with that last post..

Tiger needs me on his PR team

February 2nd, 2010
12:00 pm

@ Becky…..I think some people have a real NEED to think that more people care about them than actually do. That’s kind of sad.

LM

February 2nd, 2010
12:01 pm

I am a avid FB user. I keep up with friends and family who don’t live close, and since my Mother does not use a computer I can keep her up to date on things going on in the family. I have become very close to a cousin through FB. It has also helped me get to know several of the Men serving with my husband over in Afghanistan and stay in contact with several of the spouses. My husband in not the kind to use FB, but he has considered it to be able to stay in contact with me, but since we email and talk to each other almost every day, he does not feel the need to set up an account.

I am friends with my daughter’s father and his new wife, we comment of each other’s posting and have many of the same friends. We also can keep each other better informed of our families, just because we got divorced does not mean we stopped carring for each other’s family members.

I also use FB to keep up with many friends I have made in the SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism) and can plan and schedule meeting up with them at event. I think many groups and clubs would think it a useful tool.

I also find it disturbing when I read post from husbands and wives, some things don’t need to be shared.

Tiger needs me on his PR team

February 2nd, 2010
12:05 pm

@LM…those all sound like really useful tools. I guess FB is what one makes it…good and bad. I have friends who have their own private websites that they proactively grant access too those who they think would be interested in it. For some reason that seems more palatable to me than a FB scenario where people can actively seek you out and inquire about you and want to be your “friend”. I think that idea of being “watched” by complete strangers is what has been the impasse for me. Makes me uneasy.

Hey, LM...

February 2nd, 2010
12:22 pm

…isn’t your “daughter’s father and his new wife” your ex? If so, why not just use that expression?

JJ

February 2nd, 2010
12:22 pm

I agree with Tiger about twittering……

FB and texting is just about all I need to keep up with friends and family…..

Speaking of FB and privacy...

February 2nd, 2010
12:24 pm

Didn’t the teacher in Winder get fired after SOMEBODY ELSE posted the pictures of her with the wine glass on FB?

LM

February 2nd, 2010
12:24 pm

Tiger… it is all about privacy settings… strangers can’t see any of my personal information and even when posting photos you can block groups from seeing things. The problem is when people think it is okay to publish thing you don’t wnat to see or read. But you can block their status updates.

I love visitng with friends, but with my schedule and living so far away from everyone, I don’t get to see them very often. I now have a much closer relationship with my niece because of FB, before FB I only saw her maybe 4 times from birth, now I can “talk” to her and see what a beautiful young woman she is growing into. Like wise I found out about my uncles throat surgery via FB, he only had to post once but everyone in the family was updated.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

February 2nd, 2010
12:27 pm

FB was invaluable with my brother’s heart transplant this summer. I created a separate blog because I had so much to report to all his family and friends but would let people know via facebook that updates were on the blog.

I’ve been getting updates on a friend’s mother’s battle with cancer. I’m glad to know what’s happening to her and if my old friend needs any help.

LM

February 2nd, 2010
12:27 pm

Hey, LM… it depends on how you look at it, I don’t consider him so much an ex, but I do consider him her father. I didn’t “X” him out of my life with the divorce, we are close and have a good relationship.

Lawrencevillemom

February 2nd, 2010
12:27 pm

I too started on FB to keep tabs on my girls (now 16, & 19) and their friends, but have found that it is a wonderful way to touch base with friends from childhood, old co-workers and many, many relatives who do not live in GA. As we are not originally from here we have no family locally and would really miss out on a lot of info/updates without FB. FB is how we kept family/friends up to date when my MIL had her lung transplant last spring and it was truly a God send. Right now we are using FB to keep tabs on an uncle who is undergoing treatment for newly diagnosed leukemia. I don’t really rely on it for parenting tips as mine are mostly grown but it does give me a heads up to what illnesses might be going around the high school or college.

HB

February 2nd, 2010
12:29 pm

Tiger, you can set pretty tight privacy settings and refuse requests from strangers. Personally, I don’t want to meet people on FB, but I’ve enjoyed catching up with a lot of old friends/casual acquantances there and seeing what they’re up to these days. For both of my high schools, it’s led to mini-reunions around Christmas time when a lot of people are back home visiting family. Someone sends up the bat signal that a bunch of alums are meeting up at a restaurant/bar on 12/26, and 150-200 people show up from 5-10 years of grad classes. Very low key, very little work or organizing involoved, but lots of fun! It’s also a good place for my local friends and I to post upcoming events and share photos from get-togethers (or softball games), but not a place for longer conversations — dinner after work is better for that! For my nearest, dearest friends, it’s convenient and fun to have a place to drop a quick note or make a comment on something they’ve posted, but our “real” contact is through longer letters, emails, and especially phone calls. Like you said, it is what you make of it.

Tiger needs me on his PR team

February 2nd, 2010
12:35 pm

I think I realized I missed the boat on FB when my MOM called me up and told me that she had signed up and it was really COOL. I think I was stigmatized by that…next she’ll be telling me where the best strip joints are for my annual Vegas trips are! I just can’t get over that my MOM is leading the way on COOL for me! ;-)