When we judge other moms for their choices in parenting, when we mock and degrade those choices just because they differ from ours, when we pass mean remarks with or without matching snarky facial expressions, we are definitely crossing a line.
And, yes, it is still a thing.
According to a recent survey by Beech-Nut, nearly 80% of millennial moms say they have been judged or shamed by someone they know, and 70% of moms think the issue of mom judging and shaming has gotten worse. Sixty percent of moms admit to judging another mom, and moms who have experienced shaming or judging are more likely to shame or judge another mom. (This data was derived from a 2017 survey commissioned by Beech-Nut, and was comprised of 1,000 U.S. millennial moms with at least one child age 5 years or younger.)
I have always been sensitive about people’s opinions on how I parent. My firstborn has always been an introvert, and other moms told me that she would talk more if I stopped being “so overprotective.” My daughter started speaking late as a child, probably a result of Einstein syndrome, as she is super smart. But, other people in my life told me the reason it happened was because I did not talk enough with her. As if it was my fault she began speaking later than most children.
At that time, I was young and took all the shaming to heart. I was riddled with self-doubt and wished I had more support and validation. Now, I know for sure that children have their own God-given personalities and it has nothing to do with me and there is nothing wrong with being shy or quiet.
I am amazed how easily people offer unsolicited advice to moms. Some stay-at-home moms have a holier than thou attitude about raising kids themselves, and they look down upon those who work outside the house.
I have heard people pass comments like, “I did not have kids so that they could be raised by a nanny” or “I don’t want the caregiver to witness the baby’s milestones instead of me.” There is nothing wrong with this train of thought. It’s understandable that you want to be there for your children, and experience all those moments with them.
But, not every mother has that option. Some moms need to work in order to pay the bills. Some moms find having a career gives them personal fulfillment outside of motherhood. A happy mom is a good mom and I would never judge anyone for working outside the home. On the flip side, a stay-at-home mom is judged for not having a career outside of her home. Making ignorant comments to a working mom or a stay-at-home is very disrespectful.
I have always been more of a stay-at-home mom and only worked very few hours as it did not make sense to work full-time and pay child care for three children. I am blessed I was able to stay home and spend more time with my kids as my husband took care of paying the bills and putting food on the table. That was a choice we made for our family and I don’t expect every family to make that choice. I also don’t expect people to judge me for my choice.
Now that my children are older, I am surprised how many people have asked me why I am still working part-time. They tell me I should take on a full-time job. But, I am used to my lifestyle. I do not owe anybody any explanations about how I spend my free time. It is nobody’s business.
In these unprecedented times of social distancing and social unrest, you would think moms would give shaming a break! Unfortunately, I still hear moms judging other moms for not wearing a mask to the store or taking their children out to publicly open places.
With the growth of social media, it has become even easier to spew vitriol from behind the obscurity of a screen name. Recently, one of my articles was shared on the Facebook page of a widely read mom blogging website and I was taken aback at the rudeness of some readers. Sometimes, negative energy attracts more negative energy and a number of moms join together and admonish the author with sarcasm and harsh comments. I am okay if people disagree with my views respectfully but the group condescension is so hurtful and unnecessary. It completely ruined my joy of being featured in a popular publication.
Celebrity moms are constantly criticized for their choices by the parenting police. Mila Kunis was shamed for breastfeeding her child in public, Reese Witherspoon suffered wrath for feeding her son cinnamon rolls for breakfast, Kourtney Kardashian was criticized for kissing her babies on the lips, and so on.
I love it when the celebrities clap back online and do not tolerate the shaming. Kourtney Kardashian speaks for all of us when she says, “No one knows my kids better than me, I’ve got this, I’m good, thanks.” She also mentioned that she will never apologize for kissing her children on the lips.
The “unicorn moms” are a great group of women who are leading the mom shaming resistance and asking moms to be kind to one another. A unicorn mom is “a mother who’s not perfect, enjoys alcohol, has a sense of humor, and couldn’t care less what you think.” According to these women,
“If you don’t like a post don’t comment…Just because you’re offended doesn’t mean you’re right.”
I do believe there is such a thing as constructive criticism that moms can provide to each other. However, the tone and delivery have to be right. For the most part, unless there is a legitimate safety concern, one should give advice only when a mom asks for it. Unwanted and unsolicited opinions on how someone can do something better is like hearing a singer sing out of tune. Also, safety aside, the choice to follow those suggestions is completely personal.
This past International Women’s Day, I came across an article with motivating quotes celebrating womanhood. The quote I loved most said, “Real queens fix each other’s crowns.” Let me rephrase it by saying, “Real moms fix each other’s crowns.”
Let’s stop shaming each other. Let us not rip each other apart. Let’s build each other up.
Motherhood is not a competition. It is a personal journey.
Instead of shaming each other, let’s start supporting each other. Let’s empower each other with positivity and love.