Many of us moms have been either a victim or a perpetrator when it comes to mom shaming. What is mom shaming you might ask? Mom shaming refers to someone judging you or making an unnecessary comment when it comes to your parenting skills. This technique of mom shaming can be subtle or overt, but either way it can affect your confidence as a mother.Mom shaming is a unique form of judgment, because in all honesty none of us are perfect mothers and none of us actually know how to do it RIGHT. We take cues from our children and try to do our best. We keep them safe, fed, loved and cared for, but for many mothers if you are not doing something how they would do it they are the first to offer up advice, even if you have not asked for it.
A classic example of mom shaming would be to breast feed or bottle feed. This is a personal decision for every mother, but somehow it has become a place where every person can weigh in. A good friend of mine recently had her first child and decided to feed him formula from the beginning. She was overwhelmed with how many people (men and women alike) weighed in with their two sense about how breast is best. Her decision to bottle feed was done with the assistance of her doctor who assured her that whatever decision she made her child would end up nourished and healthy. After taking criticism and feeling judged every time she fed her son a bottle she finally had it. She spoke up to a friend who had been on her case about bottle feeding from the start (she had breastfed both of her children). She said my son is healthy, happy and well-adjusted- my choice to bottle feed was met with judgment, naysayers and more. The amount of emotional guilt was unnecessary- it was more about shaming her abilities as a mother, rather than looking out for the health and wellbeing of her son.
Mom shaming also occurs in public places if you child happens to be throwing a temper tantrum or crying. The darting looks, loud sighs and exasperated expressions of others is NOT going to help the mom feel any better or control the situation. As mothers we need to figure things out on our own, we don’t need complete strangers to weigh in with their comments of when their kids were small or what our child might need. We are trying to be mothers the best we can, it may not go smoothly all the time, but we are preserving and learning as we go.
I have definitely been a victim of mom shaming by many others, specifically my mother-in-law. She doesn’t mean harm or to be rude (so I have been assured), but she definitely doesn’t mince words when it comes to what she thinks about how my children are dressed, what they are eating, how clean my house is, what I am wearing etc. It seems as though anything and everything about me and my mothering habits is up for debate, even though I try to move on from the harsh and unwanted comments as quickly as possible. Many people make these comments legitimately thinking that they are helping the situation, when in fact they are just adding guilt and doubts about a person’s parenting skills.
My house is not always clean (hence the name of my blog-domestically challenged), and my kids may not always look like the poster children for an ABC family movie, but they are healthy and happy! As a mom that should be all that you care about. The other things including material goods and keeping up with the Joneses need to be forgotten so that you can thrive at being a good mom to your children while remaining true to you.
Have you ever been a victim of mom shaming? If so, how did you deal with the situation?