HEALTH: Is social media responsible for placing unrealistic expectations on parents?


New research released recently reveals that 6 in 10 parents feel pressure from social media to be the ‘perfect parent’.

51% of those polled claim that being seen as a bad parent would hold parents back in asking for help. Home-Start, the charity behind the poll, are highlighting unrealistic expectations put on parents by social media. They have dubbed this, ‘Insta-parenting’.

Home-Start are encouraging an honest discussion about the realities of parenting to expose the unrealistic expectations perpetuated online by sharing their experiences using #RealLifeParenting. 

Struggling to cope with your children is something many people find difficult to be open and honest about.

The research shows that 95% of respondents believe parents would delay in asking for help. Local Home-Start branches say that on average parents struggle for 7 months before reaching out for support.

The effects caused by waiting to talk include having a negative impact on parents’ mental health (33%), feelings of isolation for families (11%), and children to missing out (49%).

Vivien Waterfield, Deputy Chief Executive of Home-Start, says: “Parenting has never been easy. However, the added pressures of social media causes our bad days and difficult times to seem magnified compared with the seemingly perfect families we see online.

Home-Start offer non-judgemental, compassionate and confidential help and support. We start in the home, with an approach as individual as the people we’re helping. A child’s earliest years are irreplaceable, and because childhood can’t wait, we’re there for parents when they need us most”.

Abi, a mum supported by Home-Start, says:

“ Before I gave birth to my twin girls,I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression.

After they arrived things got much worse and I found everything extremely overwhelming. I got anxiety about lots of different things but the main one for me was about getting out and about with the girls and meeting new people.

My Home-Start volunteer took me to scout out new locations, so that I could feel comfortable and confident to go there by myself. Now I’ve got a list of places I feel confident I can go to.

Home-Start has completely changed my life. I felt completely isolated but now I have the confidence to get and out about. Although certain times can still be challenging, I’m enjoying my girls and being a mum more than ever”

Parents helped by the charity claim that the most valued ways they were helped was by having company and a listening ear. As well as the predictability of the weekly visits (20%) and giving them a much needed a break (11%).

Home-Start’s 2019 impact report data shows this unique approach works. 96% of families helped by Home-Start said they felt less isolated, and 94% reported improved self-esteem. While, 94% reported improved children’s development, and 95% saying the same about their own health and well being.

Support Home-Start’s life changing work by visiting, or join the conversation online using #reallifeparenting.


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