Parents on social media are perhaps the easiest targets of all the Internet—most are just old enough to have grown up without the same computer savviness and inherent online etiquette as Millennials, so most of the time, it doesn’t hurt to give ’em the benefit of the doubt. But anyone who’s ever been Facebook friends with a parent probably recalls an instance of poop-related over-sharing, an experience in which you’ve had the urge to explain that “Facebook” does not equal “diary that requires a lock and a safe.” For instance, “My two-year-old ate a few handfuls of Vaseline and I didn’t call the Poison Control hotline,” one of the anonymous secrets posted on Brooklyn author Julia Fierro’s new Tumblr project, Parenting Confessional.
Fierro, whom we’ve chatted with on multiple occasions, created the site as a way for local parents to “share what you wouldn’t dare say to your playgroup,” and also as a response to her soon-to-be-released debut novel, Cutting Teeth, which follows a group of insecure Brooklyn parents cooped up on vacation at a Long Island beach house.
Parenting Confessional has been up and running since last week, and so far, it’s been a mix of lighthearted and silly (“I ate the cookie dough meant for my son’s class party. And then I blamed it on the babysitter”), kind of gross (“I pee every time I have a bad cough because I didn’t do my damn Kegel exercises!”), bitter (“I don’t want to fucking play”), sad (“Sometimes I wonder what life would be like if we’d just adopted a dog”), empowering (“I think my body looks better after childbirth. Take that, world!”) and extremely disgusting (“I tell my kids that they can eat their boogers and earwax. As long as no one is watching.”).
These uncomfortable, essential parenting truths are why Parenting Confessional and others like it, such as Secret and NYU Secrets, are so quickly embraced, especially if the people around—tertiary Facebook acquaintances, ‘mommy’ groups, surface-level work friends or apathetic relatives—are quick to judge even the most personal and trivial of choices. If there’s judgment on these kinds of anonymous venting spaces, at least it isn’t directed at anyone in particular. Instead, the confessions waft around in a kind of social limbo—there for everyone to reference, laugh at, learn from or, sure, raise some serious eyebrows at, without having to pin a target on somebody.
“It’s easy to kind of poke fun at crazy parents,” Fierro told DNAinfo, “but they all just want the best for their kids.” Amen.
Got a burning secret? Maybe steer clear of Facebook. Vent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Follow Rebecca Jennings on Twitter @rebexxxxa