10 Ways You Might Be Mom-Shaming
Mom shaming is an easy trap to fall into. Before you speak up, make sure you’re not doing one of these things that might hurt your fellow mamas.
The Mommy Wars. Mom-on-mom hate. Mom-shaming. It’s all the same thing and it’s running rampant at your neighborhood park, it’s rearing its ugly face on Facebook, and is overheard in grocery store checkout lines and yoga studios around the country.
Mom-shaming is bullying other moms for their parenting choices in subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) aggressions sprinkled into play group conversations. It’s a small way for some women to gain stature among a group by tearing down others. And as horrible as it sounds, it’s an easy trap to fall into.
In fact, sometimes you may be unintentionally shaming other moms by what you’ve said. Being a mom is tough! And you know as well as anyone that hormones run high among new moms. Which means what you think might have been a totally harmless question or comment could be taken by another mom as hurtful. So, before you speak up, make sure you’re not doing one of these things that might make your fellow mamas feel badly about themselves and their choices.
Preaching to Her About Breastfeeding.
We love breastfeeding. And chances are, you do too! But some moms are either unable to breastfeed, or choose not to breastfeed for a variety of reasons. And that’s ok! So when you ask a mom “Why didn’t you breastfeed?” or “Why did you choose formula when breastfeeding is better and cheaper?,” what she hears is criticism of her choice.
Questioning Her on Her Baby's Milestones.
“Aren’t you worried she’s not crawling yet?” or “ Don’t you think he should be sitting up by now?” All babies are different and they all develop at slightly different rates. And chances are, she’s reading the same websites and uses that you are and is already aware her child isn’t following the milestones to a tee. The only thing you’re doing when you ask is making her worry more.
Commenting on Her Choice to Work or Stay at Home.
Even if you think you’re in the clear by saying something like “I would miss my baby too much to leave her all day,” or “I’d be so bored if I had to stay home all day,” be careful. These types of statements can be subtle and passive aggressive ways of judging another mom’s choices. These choices may also not be choices at all, if a mom needs to stay home or go back to work for financial, health, or other reasons.
Correcting How She Parents Her Baby.
Have you ever found yourself said something like “You really should be doing it this way instead?” Even though you may have the best intentions, another mom can see this as overstepping and judgmental. Ask yourself if her baby is healthy, happy, and well-loved. If so, cut her some slack.
Pushing Your Values and Choices on Her.
Maybe you and your partner have agreed to only feed your children organic snacks. Perhaps you’re trying to raise your little one in a gender neutral way. Or maybe it's something as simple as pacifier use - You swear by pacifiers for infants or, on the flipside, have strong feelings against using them. Whatever choices you’ve made when it comes to parenting, those choices are unique to you. You may believe whole-heartedly that your choices are the best for your baby, but it’s not your job to encourage other moms to do the same. Each mom is doing her best to raise her children according to her values and her preferences – just like you. So keep snacking on organic crackers, but don’t bring it up at your next play date.
Portraying the Perfect Life on Instagram (or Other Social Media).
Okay, this one is trickier. Most of us are guilty of staging our Instagram photos a little bit. But it’s also important to show the not-so-picture-perfect moments. These real-life shots are incredibly relatable for any parent, and are a great way to connect with other moms.
Judging Pinterest Moms.
There’s been a trend lately to hate on the sort of mom who always has it together. She throws Pinterest-level parties, always has perfect makeup, and somehow always has her little ones clean and color coordinated. And we get it, there is a temptation to be envious and judge her. But hold back. Instead of gossiping behind her back, embrace her for who she is – and delight in her to-die-for homemade cupcakes.
Commenting on Other Moms' Bodies.
“She’s already lost her baby weight? She must be neglecting her baby to work out” or “She still hasn’t lost her baby weight?” This one is so easy to avoid – just don’t ever comment on another mom’s postpartum body. See how easy that was?
Questioning Her Birth Choice(s).
Some moms choose to have their babies at the hospital with an epidural. Others choose an unmedicated birth, but in a hospital or birthing center, while others favor a home birth instead. Every mom has a right to choose how she brings her baby into the world. And questioning, judging, or criticizing her choices won’t do anything – except maybe cause you to lose a friend.
Criticizing How She Spends Her Free Time.
“She’s always going to the gym – she must never spend any time with her baby,” or “She sends her baby to daycare on Fridays even though she doesn’t work – how could she?” We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again. Self-care is important to being a well-balanced and level-headed mom. So before you judge another mom for sneaking in a little time for herself, remember that “me” time can make a lot of women feel like better moms.
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.
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.
Pooja Shah is a post graduate in economics and worked as a teacher in a reputed institution for almost 5 years. She is a mother of two kids, she is an avid reader and carries passion for writing.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this post are the personal views of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the views of The Mom Store.