woman working on a laptop on a couch in the dark
Share
Ages:
all

Stories

Why Finding A Place Online Was Vital For My Parenting

Oct 17, 2022

All good things come to an end, so here we are.

Over the last several years, I have had the privilege of writing and sharing my stories of parenting struggles, challenges and triumphs. Parenting teens and tweens is one heck of a ride. And let’s face it, parenting teens can be a lonely space.

There aren't many parenting books that define how you do this stage as a parent. Much of the parenting advice I've come across ends around age nine. That leaves a whole stage as a yawning chasm of hormones, slammed doors, dating mishaps, transitions to high school and so much more. Now add in a layer of disability, adoption and questions about gender identity.

"The need to connect is a function of being human and over the years, we have connected here."

That’s where I have lived for the greater part of the past decade now. It’s no picnic.

There are days when I am full of hope and heart stoppingly proud, and others where I literally wonder how they will survive and thrive. There are also days spent dreaming of that elusive empty nest.

Through community spaces like CBC Parents, parents have the opportunity to find each other, connect and sometimes move through situations together. I've found that information and experience received from peers is the most helpful way to receive or transmit support when in the trenches.

The need to connect is a function of being human and over the years, we have connected here. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to share our stories as we have grown together.


Laura Mullin reflects on what she's learned writing about parenting for the past six years.


From bullying, identity and sharing awareness

One of the first posts I wrote for CBC Parents centred around the time my oldest daughter started high school. Just weeks after, she was impersonated online by someone she thought was a friend. The parenting army I reached out to provided ideas on how to approach online bullying and we solved it together. We were asked to speak at a local school by a teacher who wanted her class of Grade 5s to see the impact that bullying online can have. Silver lining: my daughter found her peer group and they were exceptional young people. We survived.

"For me it is always important to share so that other parents know they are not alone."

Early on in 2019, I approached the topic of gender identity, which (for some reason) seemed to cause a stir. There were many angry people who wrote or commented. I suppose that shouldn’t have surprised me. I've seen people who can struggle to understand differences and be threatened by them — but for me it is always important to share so that other parents know they are not alone. 

I have also shared how we parent through FASD (fetal alcohol spectrum disorder) and that entire community shared, reshared and celebrated the awareness that CBC Parents helped generate with that post. Because of that post I was asked to be a guest on an FASD podcast further amplifying information and awareness about the disability so the ripple effect was impactful.

Over the years many people have reached out with their personal stories especially when my content has discussed adoption or children’s mental health. Many of you called me personally during the pandemic back in the early days of 2020 when we were all trying to negotiate a new normal with our kids doing online school as the world seemed to be on fire. People sometimes call me or email to say "we adopted too, and this is our story" and I cherish that common bond.


"The articles I’ve written were carefully curated from the chaos that is a parent’s life." Joseph Wilson wants other parents to know that it's hard, no matter what you may read online.


To racism, pronouns and mental health

The post about my teen speaking out when she witnessed racism in the grocery store was reshared in a CBC newsletter. For months after that post, I received dozens of messages a day on Facebook Messenger, and my email inbox flooded with emails about how "woke" my teen was as if that were a negative thing. But almost as many people contacted me personally to say, "What a great kid!" I agree and have rarely been more proud!

"I know we are not alone in working on being supportive parents of the teens we love as they figure out complex topics right now."

In the last couple of years my youngest child asked us to use they/them pronouns, and I talked about my journey to embrace and remember how to speak respectfully to them. I know we are not alone in working on being supportive parents of the teens we love as they figure out complex topics right now.

Some days when COVID was new and lockdowns were happening all throughout Ontario, I’d be doing my morning yoga via YouTube and the phone would ring. You are a resourceful bunch, and I never resented those calls. They were each heartfelt and memorable, always indicating support. I value and treasure those stories. Many were extremely heartbreaking, and I can’t thank you enough for sharing these with me.

One morning a woman from Sudbury called to connect after I shared a piece about the agony of Ontario’s waiting lists for children’s mental health supports. She told me to keep fighting and always be the squeaky wheel for my teen. Her son was a lot like the explosive child that I described in my post. Sadly, we lost him, she said. He died by suicide while still seeking support for mental health in Ontario.


From CBC News: Waitlist for youth mental health services in Ontario ballooning, report suggests


And sometimes curiosities

Often, I wrote about something that I thought was curious or interesting and I couldn’t even begin to predict the response I would get.

The month I wrote about my daughter’s interest in witchcraft and tarot cards numerous people who practice witchcraft messaged me privately to say thanks for sensitively handling the topic and getting it right. Most unexpected. One sole person mailed me a letter about how anti-Christian that was, but the positives far outweighed the negatives.

"I am grateful for every reader who ever reached out to say thank you, or even who just read in silence and never said a thing."

Autumn is the season for gratitude, and I am grateful for every reader who ever reached out to say thank you, or even who just read in silence and never said a thing. To the many other parents who have written here in this forum: I’ve always valued the diversity of stories. We found value telling our stories and we grew by reading yours.

This will be my last story for CBC Parents. This space has been so valuable for many of us, especially throughout the last few challenging pandemic years.

I can’t thank you enough for picking up the seeds of those experiences, sharing them and helping them to take root.

Article Author Paula Schuck
Paula Schuck

Read more from Paula here.

My name is Paula Schuck and I have been writing professionally for over 20 years. I am a mother of two daughters, and I am a fierce advocate for several health issues. I am a yoga nut, skier and content coordinator for two London, Ontario, trade magazines. I have been published online and in traditional magazines and newspapers including: Today’s Parent, The Globe and Mail, Kitchener Record, London Free Press, trivago.ca, Ontario Parks blog and Food, Wine and Travel magazine.