We all get our fair share of bullies in our lifetime, but what if I said there was a new type of bullying taking place? This is what we call a"mommy war". One mother, or many is negative to another. It could be about looks, decisions, or even choice of words around your child. This negative trend is something happening right now – but no one is talking about it.
I can remember when I was young, even my fellow friends experienced mommy wars. At the time, some of my pregnant friends received scrutiny for deciding to have a child at such a young age.
Rather than seeing a dual perspective, some people prefer to be stubborn and judgmental, which is what we now call"mommy wars". These friends of mine ended up being great mothers, and still are today! Seeing and knowing they are happy with their decision goes to show how far confidence will take you – if you let it.
Mommy wars can apply to any situation, and in any circumstance. Don't kid yourself if you think you can hide - you can't. Turning a blind eye will only allow an avenue for more negative comments. So lets stand up for ourselves and check out these 15 things to know about the mommy wars.
15 Why People Aren't Talking About It
The acknowledgment of the new mommy war is a start. It can be considered a form of bullying and resembles the structure of high school cliques. Able to exist in any environment, mommy wars can be experienced at a school ground, in a classroom, while walking down the street or even with your coworkers. It is people being judgmental to one another and letting it show to the point that it becomes offensive.
Anything you do will have someone telling you something better. It almost seems as though people would rather not talk about it anymore because of how frustrating this reality has become. I spoke to many mothers and scoured the internet to see just how far this topic has gone. That's when I realized that only certain people are actually addressing the issue. Whether you experienced it, were naive to it or were lucky enough to escape it, mommy wars are real and have been putting down a lot of deserving women.
14 "Snotty, Rude, Malicious"
There's no straight answer other than assumptions. As with any societal issues, mommy wars are something that has been going on for quite some time. It was just always addressed as someone being snotty, rude, malicious ect. So people who didn't surround themselves with those people, didn't experience mommy wars. I believe that it has spiraled out of control due to the mass amount of information that is constantly available.
Deborah Jacobs wrote an article on Forbes dedicated to deciphering the mommy wars. She had fallen victim to it due to a prior article called "A Working Mom Defends the Lululemon Stay at Home Mother". After quoting the many comments she received, she broke it down like this: "By clarifying our diverging points of view, perhaps we can bridge what has become a wide gap between parents who work outside the home and those who, for whatever reasons, do not."
13 How It Affects You
Despite being a parent who works at home or not, you can experience mommy wars at any time before, during or after pregnancy. It can even happen later in your life when your kids are all grown up. For example, I spoke to women whose children ended up making bad choices as grown adults, and, surprisingly enough, other moms would sometimes judge them. "Maybe if you didn't baby him so much he would have known what to do."
This is obviously an extreme scenario but I'm sure you get the point. Jealousy can often be a factor that drives other people to act this way. I witnessed my sister experience it when she was pregnant. One day while we were at the grocery store, we stumbled into an old friend. She congratulated my sister and immediately added, "By the way, you'll never lose that baby weight."
12 How It Became A Problem
Anything is a problem if we let it be, however, mommy wars is a problem for three reasons. One, it is not happening to everyone, but the people it is happening to is having a huge effect. Two, nobody is talking about it due to the confusion of what exactly a mommy war is. Three, the indirect and direct "which mom is better than who" is obviously adding weight on the people experiencing it.
The digital world is also creating a medium for mommy wars to escalate. Due to all the opinions, access to information and comments, we can communicate as instantly as ever – anywhere around the world. Mena, my coworker and mother of an awesome 8-year-old, thinks it's people having too much free time. "They can take personal life to work with your cellphone ect. When I started working, we did not have cellphones, we only had our work computers. People have too much time and too much access to social media."
11 There's No Avoiding It
As I so often mention, we must be aware when these situations arise to be able to avoid it. Let's start with social media. If you are going to post something, expect people to react to it. If you don't want to be subject to that, then rethink your decision to post about yourself. If this is happening in person ,then this could depend on your situation. Firstly, you must remove yourself from the situation and lastly, be confident in your decisions.
Anywhere you go, you will experience some sort of scrutiny, regardless if you are a mother or not. It is the same concept with this new mommy war going on. I decided to ask different generations of mothers on this topic, and I received very different responses. Christine, a grandmother and mother, laughed when I asked her what mommy wars was and said, "It was probably a good thing I didn't experience it in my generation. Everyone is so afraid these days, I hate this. I listen to the experts and that's it. Let the professional decide what is good and bad and that's it."
10 How You're Part Of The Problem
Whether you participate in it, or are a victim to it, you are creating insecurity issues within yourself and other people. Erin Ruddy wrote an article acknowledging mommy wars and found in a recent Parenting survey, "97 percent of the respondents admitted to being critical of others themselves." She also quotes Andrea Bonoir, a clinical psychologist and author of The Friendship Fix: The Complete Guide to Choosing, Losing, and Keeping Up With Your Friends.
"In past generations there were no listservs, no Twitter feeds, no Tumblr. Now we're so used to this feedback loop where we think we have to research every single decision we make-don't forget to post it on Facebook to see how many likes it gets-and that leads to doubt and insecurity and anxiety. It makes us feel better to say ‘Oh she's screwing it up, at least there's someone out there more clueless than me.'"
9 Solutions To The Accusations
I can go on with this one, but to keep it simple, let us use stay-at-home mom vs working mom. The solution is to not bother bringing it up and simply narrow it down to "preference." If someone argues you, just ignore them or tell them the truth – you know what you're doing and you know what makes you happy. However, it seems older generations are better at this. In the past, if someone was a nuisance – well you just didn’t talk to them.
"Maybe it’s the younger generation, the 30-year-olds, where when they have to voice their opinion, they just say it without a filter or even thinking about how it might hurt someone," says Mena."If you just took a couple of seconds to re-read your thoughts, you would realize it could be interpreted differently than what you were thinking." So, if you are the one being critical to other moms – just stop, and if you are a victim, learn how to stand up for yourself and narrow it down for the bullies.
8 Passive-Agressive Sanctimommies
Be aware of yourself and how you interact with others. Do your due diligence and follow your heart – everything will be fine. Mena didn't experience it and neither did Christine – but only because they took care of themselves. They don't give their time to people with negative energy. Regardless they still see it all the time on various Facebook groups. "My community Facebook group where a mom will post a comment– and it's an innocent comment – suddenly she will have 100 comments telling her how negative it is or how her opinion is incorrect."
If you take care of yourself, you can ensure not to be the one participating in putting other people down and be strong enough to know how to handle these situations. Ruddy points out, "Here's the thing about this kind of judgment—it doesn't always come wrapped up in a perfect I-think-you're-wrong-and-here's-why package. Sure, sometimes these put-downs are done subconsciously, and others are unfortunate by-products of our own fierce beliefs and how we carelessly communicate them. But sometimes this stuff is purposeful passive-aggressiveness, and that can hurt just as bad as any sanctimommy's rant."
7 How Offensive It Really Is
Some people may not even realize they are doing it. Intentional or not, it is offensive for various reasons. Besides using mommy wars as an excuse to second guess ourselves, we are hurting other people. Some moms experience this over more than just what you decided to dress your child in that day. After reading through Reddit, I found the people most affected were moms who had it hard. Whether they raised their children as a single mom, decided to have foster children or just immigrated from another country, these are respectable women that shouldn't have to deal with such bad behavior.
Like they say, if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say it at all. While talking to my mom she brought up that some grandparents even experience it. "My friend brings the grandson to work because she can and is in a situation she needs to take care of him. One patient walked up to her and seen him sitting on her lap and he had a bottle in his mouth. And the client turned around and asked,'don't you think he's too old for a bottle?' That hurt her feelings and she didn't get why people had to be so opinionated all the time."
6 The Mental Health Issue
Not only is this phenomena creating mental health issues within yourself and peers, but also for your kids too. You are being judgmental and feeling mom guilt that is just going to manifest in itself. You never know what someone is going through, so next time be conscious of how you say things to others as you could be doing more harm than intended. For example, a foster mom on Reddit explains, "I feel like my existence as a foster mom is one big "mommy war." Like I'm 'not good enough to have my own kids' or 'could never understand the struggles of the real moms' or 'didn't birth the kids, which is probably why I'm still thin' or the myriad of other nasty things I've been told."
Moms are setting bad examples for their children and as I mentioned in my last article, we must be aware of what we do in this world. If your children see you acting this way, it can teach them the wrong lessons. They may end up taking these bad traits and bullying kids themselves or being self-conscious about if they are good enough, too.
5 It’s A Battle With Yourself
Experts have narrowed down the problem to yourself. Everyone is too busy trying to be perfect or good enough. On TheBump.com, The Mother Company interviews Becky Beaupre Gillespie and Hollee Schwartz Temple, authors of the new book, "Good Enough Is the New Perfect: Finding Happiness and Success in Modern Motherhood". In this book, they decipher the difference between two types of moms: ones who felt they weren't ever doing enough, and ones who do feel good enough.
In the interview, Becky says, "Today’s working moms struggle to make sense of all the choices that emerged when those barriers fell. For most Baby Boomers, there were two stark possibilities: work outside of the home or don’t work at all. For us, there are so many shades of gray; our big struggle is deciding."
4 It's Everywhere
Whether you choose to be naive or not, it is everywhere and only continuing to ignore it becomes a bigger issue. Moms are seeing it online, at school, between family members and even just going to the store. Even simple comments like "The things kids get away with these days, I would never have gotten away with that as a child." Times have changed. People need to work together to help each other and stop creating more issue toward one another.
Meredith Ethington says it perfectly in her article on Babble.com, "raising kids today is different than it once was for our parents. I didn’t say harder; I just said different. Parenting is hard whether you were living "Little House on the Prairie"-style, or living today. But, it’s different now. There is a lot of pressure not just from ourselves, but from everyone. Watching us, judging us. And what we need more than anything is some encouraging words, or a helping hand. Not another person pointing out that we’re not enjoying it enough."
3 Can 'Balance' Solve Anything?
Finding your unique balance is key here. It doesn't matter if it's work/life or love/life, find what works for you and stick to it. If you find balance within yourself, you will find balance in everything else. Becky explains that first we must change our expectations of what balance means, "Balance doesn’t mean devoting an equal amount of time to every aspect of our lives everyday. ... The key is focusing on our own priorities, and accepting that they will change from day to day, week to week, year to year."
The easiest way is to start implementing this is by acting right now. Everyone is different, but I would recommend starting with something simple. For example, incorporate just 5 minutes of yoga every morning to keep you energized. Or, start eating healthier just by swapping out your daily muffin for an apple instead. Every step is a step in the right direction!
2 Do What Makes You Happy
No one is talking about how to just do what makes you happy – regardless of what anyone else thinks. If you follow your intuition and make good choices, you are going to naturally pave a path for happiness. Deborah explained how, "under the animosity, readers expressed a lot of guilt. Parents who don’t work outside the home feel guilty that they don’t contribute more to the household financially. Working parents feel guilty about not doing anything well--work or parenting."
This goes hand-in-hand with the idea of mommy wars being a problem with one's self; if you aren't doing what makes you happy, you will feel guilty. The guilt leads to negative behavior which is why we must focus on ourselves! Be conscious, gracious and never stop trying. Overtime, you will learn how to count your blessings rather than harp on the negative.
1 Ultimately, Who Cares?
At the end of the day, who cares what other people think or what other people do. Focus on yourself, and be positive and you will realize mommy wars is nothing but another societal phenomenon. Someone is either trying to get at you, or – if you are the instigator – you are trying to make yourself feel better. If you find yourself being the cause of mommy wars, take a step back and see how you can approach things better.
We are on the same team and the sooner we realize that, the sooner we can help uplift each other. Once we learn how to brush off negative people, we can learn how to focus on ourselves and not let these people get in the way! Mommy wars exists, and if we all work together, we can end this ridiculous war once and for all.
Sources: Forbes.com, Reddit.com, Babble.com, TheBump.com