"Life Doesn't come with a manual, it comes with a mother"
Wow! Where do we even begin right?! I mean, the shade seems to be all over, everywhere you go someone has something to say about your parenting choices! Being shamed is painful, humiliating and even aggravating at times. It's really not nice to have a million and a half people waiting to tell you what you should or should not be doing as a mother, I know! Or even how you should or should not BE now that you are a mom.
I have seen it, I have experienced it and I have felt the sharp piercing pain of the judgement and criticism! Aaaaand can I be real with you? I have done it, unknowingly, but yes I myself have been on the wrong side of mom shaming once upon a time! Little did I know that lady karma would come knocking at my door to return my goods. Most of us actually perpetuate the shaming of moms without even realizing that we are doing it and if we are honest we will admit that once we have felt or thought we knew better about someone's child or situation than they themselves. Mhhmmm such arrogance hey! Society! Mom shaming is so embedded in society and our culture so much that it mostly goes unnoticed except by the person on the receiving end!
Well, the Urban Dictionary puts it this way "Criticizing or degrading a mother for her parenting choices because they differ from the choices the shamer would make."
Psychology Today goes further and states that “Mom shaming” is often a cover for someone’s own insecurities or guilt about things they wish they had done differently. For some, who may have older kids, transmitting advice is a way to have a vicarious “do-over.”
Giving unsolicited advise about others' parenting decisions or their children is another subtle way of putting it.
Some obvious example topics that almost always breed mom shaming are:-
Breastfeeding vs Formula
When to stop breastfeeding
C-section vs Natural birth
The Amount of TV time
When certain milestones should be reached by
Sugar or No sugar
Homeschooling vs Public School vs Private School
The list is long guys, but these seem to be the top performer topics that seem to always leave at least one of the parties feeling judged and shamed.
You will know alright, you will feel it. Chances are your shamers will want you to believe that you are over reacting for not appreciating or accepting their unsolicited advice, but if you feel that it is judging your way of mothering and parenting your children then they are shaming you. They may be unaware of what their actions mean but that does not take away the meaning from the actions. So here are some examples again of typical shaming questions and remarks that people will throw out there without thinking about their impact:
"How old is he? so you haven't taken him off the bottle/dummy?"
"Don't you cover up when you breastfeed?"
"Do you sleep with them in your bed, with your partner there?"
"So you spank your kids?"
"So you don't spank your kids"
"Isn't she over dressed, it's really not that cold"
"So you have any children yet"- YES THIS IS A FORM OF MOM SHAMING, FERTILITY& FAMILY PLANNING IS NOT FOR SMALL TALK!
"When are you having another kid?"
"So you allow him to have sweets after 6?"
"I prefer organic baby food that I make myself over these store processed foods?"
"Didn't breastfeeding help you lose the baby weight?"
"Does she not speak yet?"
"Does she not speak her home language?"
"I think home schooled kids don't get to learn social skills"
"What made you choose private school over the good cheaper public schools out there"
"When we go out I don't let my kids run wild like that, they know how to behave around people"
"When are you planning on potty training her, mine was fully trained by my mom at 18 months already"
Well one, I would say speak out, tell the person humbly that you while you appreciate them caring enough to advise you on the topic you would rather they didn't unless you explicitly ask them to. Don't get hurt and keep it inside, what you allow is what will continue. Speak out address it. I know family members are almost guaranteed culprits when it come to this but even they need to know, even Granny, YES even the granny needs to know, you are capable and that you will call her when you need that wisdom. Don't use your peace and sanity to pay for what looks like peace with others. Unresolved Inner turmoil is a form of abuse to ourselves.
Take the remarks with a pinch of salt, remember the ignorance factor in Humans. Sometimes when people critic or judge your decisions it's because they are just ignorant, it has got nothing to do with whether you are doing a good job or not. Imagine someone judging another for not breastfeeding their child without considering what circumstances may have led to that. Or judging someone for breastfeeding a toddler without fully considering the reasons that led them to that decision. Ignorance. People sometimes like to form opinions without exercising humility or trying to understand where the next person may be coming from with their choices OR that they may have not had a choice to begin with.
Keep a circle of positive people around you and your kids. Those that support and encourage you in your journey. Mental health is huge issue nowa days so it's important to keep a feed/circle of positivity. This includes your social media Feed. clean it out, unfollow the accounts that make you feel bad about your parenting journey.
Stop comparing yourself to other moms! Yes, even that is a form of Mom shaming, except you are shaming your own self! I cannot stress this enough. It's not always other people that make us feel like we are not good enough in our roles as moms. Sometimes it's us. Comparing yourself to that influencer instagram & Pinterest Mom that seems to have it all together. We love them yes, we celebrate them but we don't beat ourselves down based on what you see out there. If they inspire you to do something better/different or learn to do something new that you saw them do then do that without comparing yourself. Remember there is whole Industry made of filter apps out there and what you see online is only but a fraction of the whole. You also don't put the Poo pics on your social media now do you? Precisely! Stop It, comparison is a killer!
Well firstly, if you have found yourself in conversations where you utter any of the above? Yes, like me you are also guilty of it. Have you felt you knew better than someone in relation to their children, parenting choices? Then, yes again, guilty. This is not a condemnation post, it is to bring a conviction and awareness in us as people so that we think twice before we say certain things to women around their parenting choices and motherhood choices and journey. Shaming and cruel judgement of mothers is one of the leading causes and catalysts of depression in Moms. We are not all experiencing this life and motherhood thing the same. Sometimes it takes one cruel utterance to push a mom that was on the verge of a breakdown over the edge and sometimes it takes one kind word to give hope and encourage a mom that was on the verge of a breakdown.
I think the conclusion is that if you must say anything, let it be kind and encouraging, you never know where the person you are taking to is mentally and emotionally. Also as a mom, be kind to yourself, don't let the opinions of others feed into your opinion of yourself as a parent. You are the perfect parent for your child. Often people will project on to you what they feel about themselves so you need to be bold enough to sift through your company and keep only what encourages you helps you maintain an emotional and mental equilibrium.
Until next time...
Mommy-ing In The City!