A NEW study from an East Lancashire family charity has revealed that Instagram is influencing the way parents care for their children.

Home-Start, a charity in East Lancashire which helps families with children through challenging times, use the word Insta-parenting to describe how social media is affecting the way parents raise their children.

The charity has revealed that six in 10 parents feel pressure from social media to be the perfect parent.

Of those polled, 51% said they did not ask for help as they were scared of being called bad parents.

Through the stats, the charity also revealed that on average parents will struggle for seven months before reaching out for help.

Home-Start says social media sites like Instagram are creating unrealistic examples of parenting with influencer families that are unattainable in reality.

The impact caused by waiting to talk can affect the mental health of parents in East Lancashire, with 11% admitting it caused isolation, and 49% saying it would cause the children to miss out.

One parent, Rebecca Varmillar, from Darwen, said she felt that it was appearance that led mums to feel alienated because they could not look the same.

The mum-of-one, said: “I would say that it can make some mums feel as if they can’t look as good, but how do you look good when you’re running a business alongside looking after a two-year-old?

“I think some mums feel the pressure looking at social media, but it’s not real, because those parents just want everyone to think it’s like that.”

Hypnobirthing coach and mum, Stacey Painter said she understood why parents may feel as if they are not as good, but also highlighted how Instagram could help some mums.

Mrs Painter said: “Lots of opinions float about on Instagram too and it can be difficult for parents not to be affected.

“If pressure from social media is affecting parental mental health then of course, this will impact upon emotional capacity to parent.

“But on the flipside, it also promotes unity, alliance and support for parents who may otherwise feel isolated or unable to speak out.

“After all we are social beings and need a sense of community to thrive.”

Beryl Cobridge, Chair of Home-Start in East Lancashire, said: “Being a parent has never been easy and we can all have difficult days but nowadays the families we support have the added pressure of seeing “perfect” families online.

“This makes their own difficulties worse as they compare themselves.

“We serve a diverse community in East Lancashire where families can be rurally or socially isolated.”

“It’s vital for parents to have this early support as a child’s earliest years are irreplaceable, and because childhood can’t wait, we are there for parents when they need us most.”

Mum blogger Heera Muslam thinks parents need to follow the right people on Instagram.

The optometrist said: “It can make some parents think they’re doing something wrong, so it is important to follow the right people.

“There are a lot of women who are making people aware of the real picture, and it can bring everyone together. I started my Instagram blog because I was also seeing perfect parents online, and I wanted to show that it is not always like that.”

Fitness trainer at Sweaty Mama in Blackburn, Donna Hopkins, said: “It’s hard to be a parent with the constant filter of social media.

“All you see is perfect days out, and perfect healthy meals made.

“Everyone always seems to be doing great, succeeding at motherhood, without tantrums or bad days.

“You compare yourself to other people’s fantastic social media world and sometimes wonder where you may be going wrong.

“What people are less open to show is the days they may be failing or not doing so well, like the days forgetting non-uniform day, not getting their child to co-operate.

“All we can do as parents is try our best, and yes celebrate happy times, but also show the hard times too.”

Home-Start have three offices, one in Nelson, in Rawtenstall and one in Clitheroe. Call 01282 690536.