Being a mom is already hard work without extra critique from the peanut gallery. Think back to when you were pregnant and people would ask if you had a preference if your baby was a boy or girl. Some mamas might have a specific preference and others might say as long as my baby is happy and healthy there is no preference. Fast forward to motherhood where we should be saying the same thing to ourselves and to other mamas out there trying to do their best. Each mom might be on a different journey but most have the same goal in mind- to raise happy, healthy babies that will turn into amazing grown humans. We should all be in this together. It is time to stop shaming other moms, stop judging and just be the best mom you can be to that amazing little one you have created.
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What is Mom Shaming?
Mom Shaming: Criticizing, bullying or degrading other moms on their parenting choices because they differ from choices others may make. Are there specific topics that pop into your mind when you think of mom-shaming? How about screen time, babies hitting milestones at appropriate times, how you choose to feed your baby (breast, bottle or both), whether or not to vaccinate, working moms versus stay at home, this list can go on and on. Whether or not you want to admit it, we have all been guilty of mom-shaming intentionally or unintentionally. Next time think before you speak and understand the types of mom-shaming that are out there and how to avoid falling into the criticism trap.
Types of Mom Shaming
Mom to Mom Shaming: Nothing is worse than when one of the moms in your mom group has some commentary to add about your child’s behavior when their kid is running around tormenting other kids on the playground. While it may be tempting to put in your two cents even if it is not warranted, just listen and be there for support. We don’t always have to give our opinion on how our child is doing or what we do that works best in that given scenario, that can just make matters worse. Instead, just be there as a sounding board and listen. Sometimes all we want is to be heard and to express frustration with others who can relate. Your child may not be going through what others are going through now, but at some point, they will get there. Moms need to stick together and offer support and stop being so quick to judge.
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Stranger Shaming: Your child is crying as you stand in line at the checkout and a woman behind you offers some “advice”. There are probably two things that will happen, 1) the advice works or 2) the advice just makes the situation worse. It is perfectly acceptable to walk away and never look back because you’re probably thinking, I know my kid. We all have been here, where it is just easier to smile and nod than make any remarks in return. We also all know “it takes a village” to raise your children and even though you may not want to hear it, sometimes unsolicited advice is the advice that works. It might just give you a different perspective on the situation and help your parenting efforts. That advice could be a little nugget of gold to keep in your back pocket for a later date!
Social Media Shaming: Ok mamas! We all know we live in a world where people share a lot on the internet and maybe you feel they share more than they should. Maybe you think their child is dressed inappropriately for what the weather looks like or they are carrying their baby incorrectly, or maybe even that mama looks like she needs a good cup of coffee and a shower. That is totally ok to think that and have your own opinions but maybe we should keep that to ourselves. My mom once said, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” Just because others put their life or comments out online, does not give you permission to be critical or shame them for their actions or comments. We should be uplifting one another instead of constantly shaming others based on how you are perceiving their posts online.
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Same is true if you post something and receive a lot of unwanted feedback. Always know there are going to be individuals out there who are going to comments on what you are feeding your kid or judge you for the way your baby fell asleep in their car seat but you think she looks adorable. A wild thought: stay off social media and step away from your phone and computer! Take the day and live in the moment with your little one. They are only small for so long and at the end of the day taking a break from posting about your child won’t ever surpass the wonderful memories made from park play dates, library puppet shows or a fun afternoon baking cookies!
Mom Shaming Yourself: We can be our own worst critics. There are times when we are so hard on ourselves, so unforgiving and feel like making a decision at that moment might mean life or death. Take a moment and pause. Since becoming a mother you have been overwhelmed with the number of decisions you need to make for your baby and thus far have done a pretty awesome job. Sure, you might have made some decisions that didn’t turn out how you wanted, but they were all learning experiences. Parenting is nothing more than trial and error for each kiddo because not one is the same. Try and remember to give yourself some grace, be kind to yourself and your spouse and when you need it, ask for help. There is no shame in needing a helping hand and wanting what’s best for your family.
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Ways to Handle Shaming
As much as we would like to escape mom-shaming, it will always be there. Here are some way to handle shaming:
- Stay Positive. Letting the mom-shaming comments have a negative impact on your thoughts can only lead to self-doubt and you may even start questioning your parenting. Stay focused on what is important to you and raising your family. Focus on all the positive things others have said about you and your perfect ability to parent your child. You are doing a fabulous job and are on your own journey.
- Don’t Respond to social media comments. As tempting as it may be to fire back at an online hater, just let it be. There will always be rude people in this world but only responding to explain yourself or attack back keeps the shaming circle going round and round. Tomorrow, the comment will be old news and everyone will have moved on. And if it continues to bother you, consider taking a sabbatical from your accounts.
Be Confident. You know your little one better than anyone else. Try not to be influenced by the current fads with sleep training or foods to try because that is what everyone says you “should” be doing. Be confident in the decisions you make and the decisions you believe are best for your kiddo.
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Welcome Support. Stick with your crew that supports your decisions, helps when they are asked and are there for you and your family no matter if they agree or disagree with the decisions you make. If you feel there are people in your life that are constantly judging and shaming you for those decisions, try reducing the time spent with them if you feel you need to spend any time within them at all. Keep your tribe close, you will always need them.
How to Avoid Shaming Others
We have all been a part of mom-shaming as hard as it might be to admit it. The next time you look at another mama and have something critical or judgy to say, stop and think of something positive or uplifting she may be doing. Believe it or not, there is more than one way to skin a cat and more than one way to raise a child. Assume each mother is doing her best just as you are and cut her some slack. We will all have days where we question our decisions and things we chose to do and the last thing that mom needs is someone else pointing that out to her.
Accept the fact that parenting comes with a lot of shaming and criticism. Expect to be challenged, expect to be a caught off guard and expect rude comments at times from people around you who you may know, or even complete strangers. Know it is ok and know that you are doing your best and that is ALL that matters. At the end of the day, it is about what decisions you want to make to raise a happy and healthy family. Start spreading more love and support mamas to help minimize mom shaming!
WANT TO READ MORE?
Check out this article on Why Moms Need Friends.
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