I’ll never forget my first mom-shaming experience.
I was pregnant with my first child and my husband and I were at a birthing class. The class was wonderful, and very informative; however, it was at this class that I experienced my first encounter with mom-shaming.
We were talking about breastfeeding and pumping, and I asked the course instructor’s advice about pumping. I wanted to exclusively pump. My prerogative, right? – Well, one of the other soon-to-be moms there didn’t think that my choice was acceptable. So, she took it upon herself to lecture me about breastfeeding and why it is the best experience, and why I was making the worst decision for my baby and myself.
I was mortified. Not only did this mother make me feel like I was going to be the worst mom in the world, but she also had the nerve to make her point in front of a group of people. It was horrible.
Now that I am the mother of two (and they are both thriving – and tell me that I am the best mom in the world, thank you very much) I realize that the mother who shamed me for wanting to exclusively pump was absolutely ridiculous for doing so; nay, she was downright mean.
I see mom-shaming happening on a regular basis. It’s become an epidemic, of sorts. The mom and the gorilla; the mom and the alligator; the moms who let their children watch TV; those who breastfeed for too long, and those who formula feed: It’s all absurd! So, today, I write this to share with all of you – parents, grandparents, non-parents – and anyone else who shames any mother for anything, why you need to put a halt to your cruel judgments and keep your opinions to yourself!
Here’s the bottom line: Being a mom is difficult. Us moms have a lot to deal with on a daily basis. We have to juggle kids, a home, a job, relationships, finances, and so much more. In having to deal with so much, we already feel guilty. We wonder if we are doing the right thing for our children, and if the decisions that we are making will negatively impact them somehow. The last thing we need is to have the rest of society adding more stress and making our job even more difficult.
Let me put it to you this way: how would you feel if I went into your place of work, when you were completely overworked and stressed out, and told you that you are doing this wrong and that wrong. You’d probably feel even more stressed and overwhelmed, right? Well, that’s exactly what you are doing to a mom when you shame her.
I find it funny (and not funny ha-ha) when people think that they know everything there is to know about everything, when in reality, they only know what’s on the surface; if that.
Every mother’s situation is different. Some of us are stay-at-home moms; some work from home; others work outside of the home; some are single moms; some have spouses who travel a lot; others are dealing with illness, or depression, or anxiety. My point is this: You have no clue what is going on with a mom, or with her family. With that said, how could you possibly know what is best for her and her family? – And, how could you shame her for the decisions she makes, or the things that she “fails” – in your eyes – to do?
In the case of the mom at the Cincinnati Zoo: Everyone immediately blamed the mom. My Facebook feed literally blew up with people saying hurtful, horrible things about the mom; saying that she was probably on her phone and not paying attention to her kid; or that her kids should have been taken away from her! And these were comments made from other parents!
Listen, things can happen in a split-second, especially when you have kids. I may expect non-parents to blame the mother in this incident; but other mothers? Oh, my! As mothers, you know how a child can get away from you in the blink of an eye! Even when you are trying your absolute best, sometimes, you can’t avoid certain things from happening – no matter how much you try to prevent it. I can’t even imagine how horrible she felt, and then to have so many people telling her what a horrible mother she was? I can’t even imagine the damage those insults to a huge injury caused for her and her family.
When you tell a mom that she is doing a bad job, especially when she really is trying her best, you are making her doubt herself; and let me tell you, that seriously impacts her parenting – and her self-esteem.
Mom-shaming doesn’t do any good for anyone. It’s does nothing but waste time, cause frustration, and impact society, on a whole.
I mean, if all of the people who mom-shamed were to actually offer those they are shaming actual help – like, hey, I’ll babysit your kids so you can cook dinner so they don’t have to watch TV, or I’ll give you a huge check so you don’t have to work so much and you can spend more time with your kids – then maybe mom-shaming would do some good; however, since I haven’t seen that happen, and I highly doubt it will ever happen, you aren’t doing any good for anyone; least of all those mamas and their children.
Kids are very intuitive. They pick up on everything, and what they hear or what they see, can have seriously detrimental effects on them.
For example, when a child hears someone saying that a mom who does such-and-such is “bad,” and that child’s mom does that “bad” thing, well, you guessed it… the child is going to think that his mom is bad, is going to form a negative opinion about her, will disrespect her, or will think less of her. Come on! – These are the last things that any mom needs! As moms, we are trying to raise our kids to respect us, and we really need them to respect us. Your “opinions” aren’t helping the matter.
Yep, that’s right; when you mom-shame, you are being a big old bully.
We live in a world where bullying has become a serious problem; however, when we think of bullying, we usually think of kids. Well, kids imitate what their parents do. So, if you are mom-shaming, which is really just a form of grown-up bullying, then they may think that type of behavior is acceptable, and guess what? – You could end up having the kid who is bulling other kids on the playground, or who is cyberbullying his classmates.
It’s kind of ironic, too: You are trying to teach your kids not to bully, but you, yourself, are bullying other people. So yeah, if you’re mom-shaming, you might was well toss all those anti-bullying lessons you have been teaching your kids right out of the window!
Mom-shaming can be seriously detrimental to moms. We are all trying to do our best for our children. We second guess ourselves enough and constantly wonder if we are doing the best for them.
When a mom constantly hears that she is doing something wrong, she wonders even more if she is doing the right thing for her kids. She second guesses herself even more. She can start to feel depressed and anxious.
The last thing in the world a mother needs is to feel like she is constantly being judged. It makes her wonder, even more, if she is doing a good job as a mom. It makes her fear being involved in social settings. Nobody wants to feel like every move they are making is being scrutinized. It’s seriously one of the worst feelings ever.
Moms need to form relationships with other moms; positive relationships that are uplifting and inspiring.
When moms feel like they are constantly being shamed, it makes it difficult for them to create positive relationships with other moms. As a result, they miss out on the uplifting, the bonding and the unification that they need to help them push through even the toughest of times.
Motherhood is a journey, and that journey is unique to each and every mom. If you are shaming, you aren’t appreciating or respecting that journey. Yes, my journey may be completely different from yours, but that doesn’t make it wrong or bad, or mean that your journey is better. Put the pitchfork down and appreciate that every mom has a uniquely different experience – and that is a good thing! Imagine if it was the same for all of us?
Being constantly shamed really detracts from the joy that moms should feel. When a mom is constantly wondering if she is making the right decisions, or if she is going to be judged for doing something a certain way, she starts to feel less joy and more sorrow.
Motherhood is a crazy, hectic, awesome, wonderful experience. Shaming really takes away a big portion of that joy.