Facebook groups proving to be a unique support system for young parents in Pakistan

  • 24 Oct - 30 Oct, 2020
  • Mag The Weekly
  • Feature

Despite the emotional fulfilment and joy it brings, there is no denying that parenting is a full time job – so much so that it can very easily lead to emotional and physical fatigue. Parenthood can also turn into an isolating experience, especially at a time like this when you physically can’t be with others.

Pakistan is the sixth most populous nation in the world, the country’s rapid population growth rate being recorded at 2.1 per cent. According to the report released this year by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), it has been estimated that five million births will be reported in the country by the end of 2020.

However, luckily our new generation of parents have access to digital tools, which make the journey relatively easier. For instance, Facebook groups can provide a safe space for parents to come together to share support, education and resources. For parents specifically, Facebook groups have features where parents can feel more comfortable when speaking about their personal journey, easily identify content that’s important to them, and seek or share advice with others.

Niche groups based on specific needs are no exception for Facebook users in Pakistan, given the increase in enterprising and networking women around. Mom Tribe Pakistan is one of the many groups on Facebook, managed by mothers, for mothers to share common interests and guidelines pertaining to motherhood/parenthood, especially for women on the go.

Established by Javairiah Shahbaz, the group now has over 13,000 members who share information with fellow mothers and guardians for topics ranging from raising children, food recipes for weaning babies, various children specific activities, and issues faced by mothers in general. This close knit community acts as a support mechanism for women trying to make a positive difference while raising children in the current era.

The idea to create Mom Tribe struck Javairiah when she became a young mother herself. “When my daughter started weaning, I found a lack of knowledge amongst people regarding weaning and activities related to infants. The knowledge of most moms was limited to pureed food and the same old-school tips we are generally passed on. I was happy to share new information such as the BLW method, different activities related to sensory and motor skills to fellow moms,” said Javairiah.

In order to make the community more and more helpful for its members, Javairiah has been making use of several features such as, “One thing which has helped the most is the Topics tool. It is quite easy to add topics for posts, hence the search engine works best for other members looking for similar discussions! Live sessions have been very helpful especially during the COVID-19 crisis. We are planning our first event now, for which we will be using the Events tool.”

To provide parents with customised solutions while browsing Facebook, we have found out that the platform has been constantly working to introduce new features that would be further helpful such as:

• Anonymous posts: Quite a number of mothers prefer sharing issues and asking queries without having their identities disclosed, and ask admins to post on their behalf, anonymously. This helps them get feedback from group members without them knowing if the person is. For example, recently, someone had her query posted anonymously asking working moms about career progression alongside taking care of toddlers. She inquired about day care centres and asked members to share their views about them.

• Badging: Parent groups will soon be receiving badging so that members can choose to identify themselves to group members in regards to what stage in the parenting journey they are in. If you want to find people who are going through a similar situation as you, badging makes it easier to quickly find those people and connect to them. Example badges include “New Parent” and “Expecting Parent” to help parents connect more closely with those in similar situations. For now, various group members are being identified with badged generally used in Facebook groups; these include badges for members identified as ‘conversation starter’, ‘new member’, ‘rising star’, ‘visual storyteller’, ‘conversation booster’, ‘founding member’ etc. Group admins have the ability to set and manage their badge preferences and can therefore choose the badges that they would like to enable.

It is inspiring and heartening to see how parents can now come together to share laughter, words of encouragement and support one another, especially during this challenging time.