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Opinion | Media for Parents that Doesn’t Make Me Hate Life


Because I cover parenting for work, I tend to avoid the subject in the media I consume for pleasure. On social media, a lot of the mom content is aspirational in a way that I find either boring, didactic or passive aggressive. Sometimes all three. Hey Mama! I make these beautiful and elaborate bento box lunches for my children every day, but we are all so busy and I totally understand if you don’t love your children enough to cut their kiwis into tiny flowers.

When it comes to TV and movies, I usually want to escape my day-to-day life and watch grown women throw wine at each other and/or fall asleep to “Forensic Files.” I don’t want to watch parents struggling through bedtime. I live that.

But lately there has been some parenting-related media that I really love, and so I want to recommend it.

First, there’s “Nuclear Family,” a three-part documentary series on HBO Max. The filmmaker Ry Russo-Young explores a childhood court battle that deeply affected her and her family. She is the daughter of a lesbian couple who used known sperm donors in the early ’80s. Russo-Young’s mothers included her donor in their lives, and ultimately he sued to gain legal standing as Russo-Young’s father.

The series is sensitive and illuminating, trying hard to show every person’s perspective with grace and understanding. And it demonstrates how fiercely Russo-Young’s mothers had to fight to become parents in the first place as a gay couple more than 40 years ago.

Second, I want to recommend some of my favorite TikTok and Instagram parents, because I spend way too much time on both of those platforms. My colleague Farah Miller always says the way to get your kids to stay off social media is to be really into it, so I’m hoping that proves true, since we know that image-based social media can be a garbage fire for some teenage girls.

Let’s not forget that social media can also be a source of anxiety and negative comparison for parents, and psychologists recommend curating your feed by following accounts that make you feel good.

For me, that’s @nottheworstmom on both TikTok and Instagram, @emilyjeanne33, @manumadness on TikTok and @elysemyers on TikTok who goes by @elyse_myers on Instagram. They are all extremely real (and sometimes extremely profane) about the challenges of parenting and never fail to make me laugh.

Finally, I want to recommend a newsletter and a podcast, both of which unpack the world of momfluencers. The newsletter, Mothers Under the Influence, is by Kathryn Jezer-Morton, a Ph.D. candidate in sociology at Concordia University in Canada, who researches motherhood and the internet. I have interviewed and edited her before for her momfluence expertise, and if you want to go very deep on the significance of letter boards or cozy season, she’s your woman. The podcast is “Under the Influence with Jo Piazza,” which gives the nitty-gritty on how much money some moms earn influencing, how much work creating these picture-perfect scenes entails and the entire corporate firmament that upholds this growing industry.

Parenting can be a grind. Let’s celebrate the tiny victories.

My almost 3-year-old never accepts the snacks that I offer at the playground; he only wants to eat other kids’ food. I found a new nutritious snack that I wanted to add to his repertoire, so the next time we met up with friends, I sneakily gave the snack to my friend to offer to HER kids first. My son took the bait — he gobbled them all up and asked if I could find the same snacks at the store.

— Lily Ellerin, Baltimore

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