Mom-shaming. It’s one of the latest trendy ways of explaining a specific kind of adult bullying. Interestingly enough I haven’t heard the term dad-shaming yet, not that it doesn’t exist because we all know that’s a whole big issue in and of itself, but let’s leave that elephant be for now.
Back to mom-shaming for a moment. It’s no wonder we are so critical of ourselves as parents when every other parenting article is somehow related to mom-shaming, or put in a nicer way, let’s help make you a better mom rather than the tired-baggy-eyed-coffee-addicted-haven’t-showered-in-two-days parent that you currently are. On top of that, let’s add the constant scrutiny of everyone around you, even the check-out clerk at the mini-mart on the corner does a double take when you stop in to grab a bag of gummy bears with three kids in tow. EVERYONE seems to have an opinion, and too often it’s not one of support and encouragement.
You let him eat that?
He sleeps in your bed with you? *gasp*
Ohhh, you homeschool him? What about his social skills?
You are still breastfeeding? How old is he again?
And one of my favorites…
You need to let him cry it out.
I feel very lucky in that I have only experienced a limited amount of mom-shaming personally, but maybe that’s just because I’m not nice enough to let it slide and I will gladly have a two hour discussion with you on why l have chosen a certain parenting approach for my own family. And fortunately for me, most mom-shamers don’t want to have a conversation with logic and reason. Surprise, surprise.
Mom-shaming is actually one of the reasons I stopped going to the local mom group. I have too many dishes and laundry to do at home to waste two hours of my day being judged and listening to other women be judged. I’m hoping my experience here is the exception to the rule because I truly believe mothers benefit from a strong support system both at home and within the community.
Now what really bothers me about mom-shaming is that it happens to mothers who actually try. These are the parents who want to learn, who want advice, and who want to do better, yet these are the very same parents who are so often judged. And why? Because they aren’t parenting the same way as someone else. Judged for making perfectly healthy and safe parenting decisions, but because someone else chose a different parenting route, they somehow feel entitled to pass judgement.
It’s truly frustrating to watch good, hard-working parents be judged on matters like how long they breastfeed or if they are homeschooling their children or what TV shows they let their kids watch. Who cares as long as the child is happy and safe?! I really don’t understand how that is anybody else’s business.
Here’s the whammer that really gets to me. The parents who truly neglect and abuse their children somehow slide right through the cracks. I know those are uncomfortable words to many, neglect and abuse, but it’s something that hit close to home for me. I sometimes think back on my childhood and wonder where all the mom-shamers were back then? It’s not like it’s some new phenomenon – we just finally have a fancy term for it. But most people turned a blind eye to it. And sadly, most people still do today.
What all this proves to me is just how incredibly superficial all this mom-shaming truly is. It’s easy to stand on the sidelines and judge from a distance. But are you ready to stand up when it really matters? Are you willing to speak up when those uncomfortable words come into play? If not, please stop mom-shaming parents who actually try.