Groupthink and the Power of the Mom Group

I am a first time mom. I feel like that is almost a confession, but really it’s important. It means that I often need advice or feedback. There are moms around me: sisters, family, friends, but sometimes I need advice from those with kids at the same age/ in the same stage and that’s where my the connection with a “mom group” matters. I’ve found myself a part of a mom group online, something that I was initially hesitant to do. I’m so thankful I did. Virtual supports are even more important in unprecedented times like these.  I’m thankful for this group of thoughtful, kind, caring women. We come from different worlds. We are varied in education level, age, career and a myriad of other things. We live in different states and different countries. We have first time moms and moms with two, three, four, 8 kids. We have different political views and different religions and have amazing open conversations about politics and global events and the role of religion in our lives. I don’t know what I’d be without them. Well, I do know one thing, I’d probably be a little bit richer.

Finding my people

I joined an online community when we decided to start trying for a baby. It was good to have that sense of community when I wasn’t sharing with my family and “in real life friends.” Little did I know our journey to parenthood would not be easy. This group was a life saver; they educated me and supported me. The group I’m in now has about 25 women and we all had babies around the same time. We reach milestones together: walking, birthdays, transitioning to cups. I’ve gotten wonderful recommendations on clothing, and sleep training, baby led weaning, on reusable pouches and sippy cups and countless other things. I’ve also fallen in love with things I didn’t even know existed. This is where the mom group is dangerous.

I can recall sitting at my desk trying to decide between two baby carriers because the drop was that night and if I wasn’t on, and ready, I may miss out. Did I want the one with the forward facing option or one that doesn’t have a waist strap? What color? Should I get a limited edition? The chatter was picking up in the group. Women were weighing cost/benefit and talking resale value. Wait, what. I want in. Did I need a new carrier? No. Did I want to conform? Honestly, Yes. This is where the groupthink comes in. They had done the research, they knew the benefits and I trusted their opinions.

What is Groupthink anyway?

According to psychology today, “Groupthink is a phenomenon that occurs when a group of well-intentioned people make irrational decisions spurred by the urge to conform.” Groupthink tends to have a negative connotation. It typically occurs when decision making is rushed. (Like these “drops” for products for example). It’s not always a negative; there can be harmony in groupthink, sometimes.

I do see how I’ve been seduced by the opinions of these wonderful women. The importance of a group of mom friends has dawned on me. We are the happy owners of a Pikler Triangle thanks to them. I’d never heard of it before I knew these ladies. I’ve also seen how I’ve shifted my behaviors. The rush of the last nugget couch drop was eye opening. The chatter about color and waiting in line and the heart break versus the elation of the check out process. It all happened in real time. We were updating and posting. This color is sold out. This one is still available. Did you get it? We had a string of 82 messages in a matter of minutes just about a kid’s sofa. I was in the middle of it. What a rush. Two months earlier I didn’t know what a nugget was, but drop day in August I NEEDED one for my son. (Sadly, I didn’t make it happen). Groupthink had taken over. When the dust settled would I come to my senses?

Thinking for myself

The first step to recovery? Identifying the behavior. (Check). Step two, taking a step back and evaluating my thoughts, opinions and needs. Do I need a new baby carrier? Do I need a nugget? Do I need wooden toys from Europe? Or is it more that I want to be one with the group, that, I want to relate. It is time for some self reflection.

Motherhood can be isolating at times and finding your people, your group, can be so rewarding and connecting. I had a mentor say “we live our lives in groups” and we truly do. We’re social creatures and we learn from and lean on others. I’ve found my people, for that I am grateful. My wallet wishes I’d have a little more groupthink about the spending accountability thread we have and a lot less groupthink on things I don’t really need. One thing is for certain, I’ll be ready come the next “must have item” drop. We need it right? Well, probably not, that’s just the groupthink taking over again.

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Melanie grew up in the New Orleans area. She has lived in Baton Rouge since starting her bachelors degree at LSU. Melanie has a BA in Mass Communication and a master’s degree in Social Work both from LSU. In her professional life Melanie focuses on women’s mental health. She also has a passion for group therapy. Melanie and her husband Adam have been married for nine years. They have a one year old son. In her personal life Melanie can be found trying out a new hobby, trying to “get organized” and avoiding the laundry. She loves sitcoms, traveling, iced coffee and carbs.

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