Mom shaming comes in many subtle forms that can be hard to identify at first.
Here’s a theoretical example from a mom group online: “I’m looking for advice on sunscreen. Here’s a picture of my little guy for attention.” It seems like a pretty harmless interaction until you read the comments:
- “Your child should be in a rear-facing car seat.”
- “His chest clip is too low.”
- “He should wear more protective clothing instead of just sunscreen.”
Then you see the comments shift, completely disregarding the initial question, and instead, pointing out the same things over and over. I must admit that I’ve been guilty of making these comments myself. As a new mom, I was extremely critical of my parenting and that bled into overly criticizing others. I especially didn’t see harm in leaving comments regarding safety. How could that be wrong?
Do You Really Care, or Are You Mom Shaming?
Before we criticize another mother, we should take a long hard look at our intentions. Are we actually concerned for the well-being of her children, or are we just making ourselves feel better by shaming someone else?
If making a comment is absolutely necessary, then address the person humbly and–most importantly–privately. There is no need to put someone on blast for making a mistake. You might even realize that you were mistaken instead. It’s also a pretty bold sentiment to think you care more about someone else’s child than she does.
Judge Not Lest You Be Judged
I have also received these kinds of comments. I posted a picture of a dollhouse from the ’90s that I gave to my son. My post was flooded with comments about lead poisoning even after I said the house tested negative for lead. These comments were along the lines of, “I personally could never risk it with MY child,” as if I knowingly put my child in harm’s way for something as simple as a toy.
Parenting is extremely humbling, and you might do things you never thought you would. I remember being dead-set on following every safe sleep rule in the book. However, when my son was born with reflux, I found a level of sleep deprivation that didn’t care so much about breaking the rules if it led to a few hours of uninterrupted sleep.
You Do You
One of the amazing–and sometimes overwhelming–parts of parenting is that you get to make decisions for your child and yourself. If you have extremely strong opinions about feeding, sleep, and so on, then you can do those things with your children. You cannot control another person’s parenting no matter how hard you try. Instead, redirect the time and effort spent correcting others in loving your children better.
Build Each Other Up Instead of Mom Shaming
One thing we can do is build others up instead of mom shaming.
Do you co-sleep or are you team crib from day one? I bet you’re still tired, mama.
Is your baby breastfed or formula fed? I’m glad your child is full and loved.
Are you a stay-at-home mom or do you work outside the home? I know you’re busy!
We don’t need to compete with each other in order to validate what we are doing as moms. Some days are exhausting, while other days are rewarding. Some days you just need to hear that you’re doing a good job. I hope that the next time you or I are tempted to make a snarky remark, we either stay silent or say something uplifting instead.
It’s best to follow the advice we give our children: “If you can’t say something nice, then say nothing at all.”