Let’s Stop the Mom-Shaming
Hi, mamas. We are all familiar with feeling bullied, pressured, or excluded for being different and daring to stand out, or for seeing something different from our peers. We often disagree with our friends’ political views, what they serve for Thanksgiving dinner, or what car they choose to buy, but as parents, the judgment, bullying, and commentary can be much harsher. When you become a mom, there’s a new term you find yourself way too familiar with, and that is “mom-shaming”.
I’m sure all of my readers are familiar with the term, but if you’re not, mom-shaming is when a person criticizes a mom for her parenting choices, choices that differ from the ones the shamer makes or made in the past. In our world, which is controlled greatly by social media and technology, mom-shaming often happens on social media platforms, or via text message on our close companions, our smartphones. It’s easy and quick to text a mom friend of ours a judgmental text, offering up suggestions that they don’t need in regards to their parenting choices. Why? Why do moms shame other moms? Why do grandparents, parents, friends, or co-workers judge moms for their choices that are very much their own? Well, we live in a society that has taught us from day one to judge a book by its cover and to gossip more than we listen. We learn from a young age that a nice car, big house, and frame-worthy photographs are the mark of a successful family. If a family doesn’t have those three things we assume they’re not successful. We often define success and happiness for others without their permission.
We learn by watching movies and television shows that judging others is normal and okay. The Real Housewives and The Kardashian’s do it for a living. Do we all do it? Yes, of course, we do. But, some subjects shouldn’t be touched on and many of us have manners and know boundaries. Unfortunately, some of us do not. Shaming a mom for her choice not to breastfeed, to stay home with her children, or to be open about postpartum depression is not okay. As a mom, I know that mom-shaming is very real and it can be very traumatic.
I have read countless Facebook posts created by moms openly shaming other moms for their choice of a car seat, stroller, school, and even Halloween costume. I remember reading a post a while back where a mom posted a photo of her car seat, demonstrating with her child in the car seat, the proper way to buckle a child in, especially during the colder months when a child is wearing many layers. I couldn’t believe a mom had the time to post something so degrading and bossy on social media. She mentioned that some moms don’t understand how a car seat works. It was as if she believed herself to be the only mother in the world who knew how to safely buckle their child up in a car seat. Posts such as that one are constant and unfortunately, social media gives everyone a platform to say mean and ignorant comments.
When Kim Kardashian said that she had good advice for women in business, “Get your f–king ass up and work. It seems like nobody wants to work these days.” we all laughed and lost respect for her as a woman, whether we are in business or not. It sounded insane hearing from such a wealthy and well-off person who has been on reality television for much of her adult life, that women in business should all get up off of their asses. Kim K is no doubt successful, and to many very aspirational, but she’s a celebrity that doesn’t necessarily relate to women from all walks of life. We didn’t accept this language or commentary from her, so why as a society do we accept mom-shaming so easily?
We live in a world that judges more than anything else. Social media, influencers, and marketing campaigns make women (and moms in particular) feel like a failure, less than, or uncomfortable in their skin if they don’t meet unrealistic standards. How many of us have seen a perfect image on social media and immediately compared ourselves or our lives to that image? We all have. We see a woman with two kids clinging to her, with a perfect postpartum figure, and we are immediately made to feel that if our bodies don’t look toned and perfect after giving birth that there’s something wrong with us. We see a mom attending an event at a beautiful school and we believe that all mothers should send their kids to an expensive, private school and push their kids towards Yale, Harvard, and Stanford, despite what our children may grow up to want. Mom-shaming isn’t a new thing, it has been around as long as women have walked this earth, but now with social media, we have new and more powerful weapons. Moms shame other moms because they too have been shamed, or made to feel a certain way (although the shamer may not admit that) because of influencers, reality television, and social media as a whole. Social media shares glimpses into the seemingly “perfect” lives of friends, family, and even strangers, but no one has a perfect life. No one is perfect.
We are all allowed to make our own choices and mistakes. A mistake to one person may not be a mistake to another. Mom-shaming can make a mom feel isolated and alone and motherhood can already be a very lonely place. As a stay-at-home mom, I know that some days are lonely and tiring, but we have the most important job of all. We need to stop the mom-shaming and start celebrating all mothers, regardless of what choices they make for themselves and their children. We all have something in common and we often forget that. I have never allowed any level of mom-shaming to enter my beautiful bubble because I simply tune it out and turn it off. I have had people offer up unsolicited parenting advice from time to time, but I choose to listen to my advice. I have seen so many social media posts and read millions of blurbs that could’ve offended me as a mom, but they don’t because I don’t allow them to. A great way to distance yourself from the mom-shaming and the judgment is to log off of social media when you’re feeling insecure or lonely, because social media makes a person feel more alone and more insecure, despite the brief distraction that it brings. If someone in your life is consistently mom-shaming you, stop engaging with them, or tell them how their comments make you feel.
I also choose not to judge other moms for the choices they make. I may not agree with every mom I know or that I meet (in person or on social media), but I will never make them feel bullied or judge them for what they believe in. For example, I believe that children should’ve been masked during the pandemic when attending school or events, if they were over the age of three because it was a way to protect them from illness (and as a country we lost children to COVID-19), but I would never judge a mom for not wanting their child to wear a mask. It is your choice as a mother to mask your child or unmask your child. Let’s stop the mom-shaming and start accepting each other’s choices and differences.
You can only grow flowers in your garden. Stop worrying about what plants are in someone else’s.