This is an almost universal experience of motherhood. Mom-shaming is when a mom takes a hard stance on a parenting topic and then slyly or blatantly uses fear, guilt, or shame to make other moms question their own decisions.
It’s a tactic used to boost up your own thoughts, theories, ideas, and style while tearing down another.
So yeah, it’s basically mom bullying.
But let’s not pretend we’re all angels and we’ve never side-eyed that mom who wears fitted clothes, the mom who feeds her kids tater tots every night, or the mom who straight up screams at her child in the checkout line at Target.
We are all perpetrators to some extent.
Mom-shaming is becoming more brazen, thanks to social media.
Social media breeds the onslaught of unsolicited advice, black and white stances, and posts like “If you don’t hug your child for 4 minutes after he throws a glass plate at his sister’s head, he’ll become a serial killer.”
I am a sucker for these posts because moms who seem so self-assured must be onto something, right? That post got 100 likes! Maybe I AM screwing up my kids.
So why does mom-shaming exist?
It starts with the fact that each and every one of us comes home with our newborns and we have absolutely NO clue what we’re doing. I don’t care if you have a PhD in newborn-ology, not a single mom has all the answers or the manual on how to be the best parent.
This makes us incredibly insecure. Let’s admit it. When we bring our babies home from the hospital, we are insecure AF. So, when we have a parenting success (real OR perceived), we want to shout it from the rooftops! WE DID SOMETHING RIGHT! HALLELUIAH.
Some moms want to share their success with the masses and often they truly believe that EVERYONE should follow along if they want to know how it’s done!
As moms, it's natural to want to rally around other like-minded moms to further validate our experiences. We may even join in on the mom-shaming with a “Preach, girl!” or “Yes, this is exactly how I feel!” if our styles and experiences align.
Here’s the rub: there is always another side.
There will also always be literature, research, and personal experiences that will oppose your own.
More importantly, there is always a human being on the other side of the screen who is not parenting the same way as you…and guess what? Her kids are probably doing JUST FINE too (Tator tots have plenty of nutritional value, thank you very much).
Why do moms feel the need to intentionally or unintentionally mom-shame?
I really don’t believe it comes from a bad place.
I highly doubt that when crafting posts, moms are like “ I’m about to obliterate thousands of moms’ self-confidence right now” before they hit send.
I think it's simply because no one is telling moms enough that they are perfect for their children and they are doing an amazing job.
If moms felt validated and secure in their parenting, they wouldn’t feel the need to try to convince the entire world that their idea, theory, or parenting style is the one and only. Odds are, they are really just trying to convince themselves that they are doing the right thing.
Simple fix: Instead of crafting a rebuttal to debunk that mom’s bold post about sleep training, breastfeeding, daycare, solids, discipline…the list goes on, tell her that you are so happy that she found something that worked for her family and that she seems like a wonderful mom.
We don’t need to step on the heads of other moms in order to climb the mountain of motherhood.
If you need to hear this today, know that you are an amazing mom and you are doing a great job.
You are the sole expert on your family and your situation.
Your experiences are valid, you are mothering exactly the way you are supposed to, and you don’t need to convince anyone of that. And I’ll try not to yell so loud at Target next time.
Have you dealt with mom-shaming?
What’s your go-to tip for not taking it too personally? Let us know in the comments.
Our next recos: Good for You – Less Mom Shaming, More Support