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Finding Your Online Tribe

Melissa Roja Lawlor
July 11, 2012

One blogger shares how social media helps her parent her special needs twins as part of the Care.com Interview Series

As a parent of special needs kids, blogger Kate Canterbury of The Guavalicious Life has often turned to social media for resources and information, not to mention the much-needed parental commiseration! While she admits her sense of humor might not be for everyone, Canterbury looks to social media for a guaranteed laugh. See how this blogger developed her online "tribe" and finds community on the internet with the people that finally "get" her.

Tell us about your family.

My husband and I have been married for ten years and have fraternal twin girls who are five. They manage to be both the best part of our lives and the biggest stressor in our lives. Somehow it all balances out.

Tell us about your blog. How and why did you start blogging?

I actually started journaling online in 2002, but it wasn't until 2009 that I started a public blog. We had moved to a new city where I knew no one and was stuck at home with two-year-old, non-verbal twins. I wanted to talk to someone who would talk back! My current blog is called The Guavalicious Life. Its tagline is "Doing it All, Some of it Well".

How long have you been blogging? Has your audience remained the same over the course of your writing?

I have been officially blogging for three years. My audience has definitely grown from other parents to more of a general group of people who "get me." I admit that my sense of humor isn't for everyone.

What social media sites do you use? Why do you use those particular sites?

Right now I mainly use Facebook and Instagram. My first love will always be Twitter, but as it is had gotten bigger, it has become less conversational and more broadcasting, and I find myself spending most of my time in Facebook groups. I mourn the loss of the spontaneity on Twitter. Instagram is the new random connector for me. I like seeing visuals of different people's lives.

What types of things do you post to your Facebook or Twitter?

I am pretty random on FB. I think my biggest fail is that my dry sense of humor fails to translate online. I am sure some of my friends are one step away from calling Child Protective Services at times.

What's the funniest parenting-related thing you've seen on Facebook or Twitter?

I love all the Some Me Cards: This is one of my favorites: https://www.facebook.com/kate....

How do you think social media has changed parenting, for better or for worse?

I definitely think it's been for the better since people have more resources and support. It is an amazing way to develop your tribe. I am lucky in that I have met many of my online friends offline. I became involved in the playgroup I am a part of after a member read my parenting blog for the local paper. I met my business partner, as well as my blogging partner, on Twitter.

How do you think parenting bloggers are perceived? How has the role of the blogger evolved from when you started?

The biggest change I have seen is the rise of blogging as a job more than a hobby. When I started blogging it was more about writing what you wanted or sharing a part of your life. Now bloggers are much more focused on what direction they should take their blog in to reach their goals. I don't think it is a bad thing but I do miss the randomness of blogging. It feels more calculated and packaged now.

Have you ever used social media to handle a problem in your household?

Not really, I am not so much for parenting advice. I use social media more for parenting commiseration!

How have social media sites such as Facebook or Twitter helped your parenting strategies? Explain.

As a parent to special needs kids, social media is a great resource for information and treatment. More generally, I love blowing off steam and making people aware that they are not the only ones that love and loathe their children at the same time.

Have you ever been influenced (positively or negatively) by other people's postings on Facebook or Twitter?

Because of my honest, sarcastic style of updates I have gotten a lot of flack. There are times when I have turned off the computer and cried. But it's worth it for all the feedback of: Phew, someone else feels this way!

How much do you share about your kids on your blog vs. on social media? Is there anything that's "off-limits"?

I don't share my kids' real names. In addition we don't have the same last name so that is an extra layer of protection. I am not so worried about privacy as I am about the "Google" factor. I want them to be able to develop their own online persona.

Kate Canterbury is the author of The Guavalicious Life, and lives with her family in Columbia, Missouri. When not writing her blog, she parents her special needs twins, runs the local chapter of Social Media Club, hatches ideas and helps people and businesses find their way, conceives social media campaigns, and writes for a blog at the Columbia Tribune. You can also find Canterbury on Facebook and Twitter.

For more about parenting in the digital age, visit the Care.com Interview Series: Being a Social Media Mom ยป

Photo used with permission from Kate Canterbury.

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