I believe mom-shaming rears its ugly head at least once for all mothers, especially new mothers. Mom-shaming is real, and I firmly believe it is a form of bullying. According to the Urban Dictionary, mom-shaming is “criticizing or degrading a mother for her parenting choices because they differ from the choices the shamer would make.” Here are some tips to deal with mom-shaming.
“I think we moms should pledge to never judge one another. We’re all desperately trying to do this mothering thing right.” -Lysa Terkeurst
Tips To Deal With Mom-Shaming
When I was pregnant with my first, I remember feeling strong and empowered. I felt like I was doing what my body was created by God to do. I was so excited to finally be a part of the “mom club,” the sisterhood of motherhood. My firm belief was all mothers had this unspoken promise to help each other, even if we didn’t know each other. You see a fellow mother in need, you step up and help the fellow mother. This concept didn’t seem crazy to me. I still honor it, whether it is a real thing or not.
However, this idea for me was fleeting. I might choose to live by this code, but it was clear to me pretty soon in my pregnancy with my first that not all moms live by this code. The first thing I did was, I joined a few different mom groups on Facebook with my first pregnancy, searching for help, guidance, inspiration, and friends. I was in a new town, and I didn’t really know anyone. However, I didn’t realize how mean moms could be. They were harsh. It was so bad that I got to the point that I didn’t even want to post anything because I felt like I would be judged. I feel like we should be building each other up instead of pulling each other down.
“There’s no way to be a perfect mother and a million ways to be a good one.” -Jill Churchill
Things To Remember About Mom-Shaming
Parenting is hard.
Let’s be honest, parenting is not easy. If you see a mom that loves her children, is trying her best and isn’t doing anything that could harm her children, then we should give her some support. Solidarity. You see a mom dealing with a screaming kid or two at Target, give her a glance or give her a smile. Sometimes the best words to my ears when my kids are melting down and I am feeling at a loss are “I get it, Mama. We all have bad days.” Moms NEED validation.
Nobody is perfect.
We all make mistakes. We all fail or have bad days. The good moms are the ones that get back up swinging and say “I will do better today.”
Validation is important.
I just want to hear that I am doing it right, even though some days I feel like I failed. Let me also point out that I use the term “right” very loosely. What might be right for one family or child might not be right for another family or child?
Examples of Mom-Shaming
Breastfeeding VS. Formula Feeding
Personally, I love it! I breastfed both of my children, and it is a bond I will never regret. I also know that there are many health benefits for moms and babies. However, I am not going to shame another mom for not breastfeeding! We don’t always know all the information. What if a mom can’t breastfeed? What if it triggers some type of PTSD in some moms? We can’t judge a mom for not doing what we do!
Working Moms VS. Stay-At-Home Moms
This one is big! Moms worry about if they are spending enough quality time with their children, so shaming moms that work outside the home is a massive no-no for me. Again we don’t know the whole story. Some families might not have the option to have the mom stay home, or some mothers might be single mothers, and they are the only income for the family. You don’t know!
Fashion Moms VS. “Sloppy” Moms
I don’t always have my hair fixed, makeup on, or dressed to the nines. Some days I choose a little extra sleep over my outer appearance. I’m not the mom that dropped all my baby weight two weeks after giving birth. I am the mom that is still trying to get off the weight, and my boys are 6 and 4! We can’t all look perfect all the time. We can’t all get weekly mani/pedis or monthly salon trips to cover up the greys! It is like high school all over again. Popular, “hot” moms VS un-popular “sloppy” moms. EEK!! It is horrible! Get over yourself already.
Crafty, Artsy, Pinterest Moms VS. Buy It Made Moms
This one is crazy to me. It is like we just have to find something to judge other moms for. Just because I buy a banner that is already completed instead of making my own out of paper mache doesn’t make me any less of a mom.
Crib sleeping vs. co-sleeping. Cry it out method? Baby carrying? The list could go on and on… These are just a few of the ways women mom shame each other. Being a mother is one of the toughest jobs, if not the toughest job, that you will ever have, so why not make it easier on some moms and offer a helping hand and some supportive words of encouragement? Take some of the advice that we give our children, and BE NICE!
How Do You Deal with Mom-Shaming?
Acceptance and Understanding
This might be hard to swallow. However, you must accept that you are going to be judged as a mom. In fact, I would say that EVERY mom has been mom-shamed by another at least once in their motherhood journey, probably way more. Also, please, understand that mom-shaming has nothing to do with you. It goes back to the high-school mentality, people that shame or bully others are usually insecure themselves. I know that doesn’t really matter when you are in the midst of the pain, but it is the truth.
Sometimes, people speak just to make themselves feel relevant or superior. However, again, this is about them, not you!
I understand that the idea of not responding might not be your first instinct. It is entirely reasonable to want to defend yourself if you feel attacked, especially something as personal as motherhood. Sometimes, playing into it only adds fuel to the fire. Rise above it. Or one of my favorite things to do is hit DELETE. It is my Facebook, it is my Instagram, it is my blog. I will respect your input and opinion if it is respectfully delivered to me. However, if not, I can hit the delete button and not think twice about it.
“You cannot control the behavior of others, but you can always choose how you respond to it.” -Roy T. Bennett
Delete It and/or Shut It Down
Like I said above, delete it or shut it down. I am a mom that struggles with anxiety and depression, so I have learned that I have to take control of my triggers. If you know that reading what people are saying is going to trigger your anxiety or depression, then delete it. Take care of your mental health.
Don’t Obsess About It
Don’t obsess over what was said. However, I know that sometimes this is easier said than done. I like to look at it this way. If I obsess over what was said to me or about me, then I let them win. By obsessing, I am allowing them to steal my energy and joy. Shift your focus onto something more positive. Get together with friends or play a game with your kiddos.
Don’t Sink to Their Level
This one is huge. If you do choose to respond, which I am hesitant about, like I stated above, don’t do it cruelly. By shaming the shamer, we are only adding fuel to the flame and keeping the cycle going.
Stay Positive and Find the Humor
I know that mom-shaming can feel very hurtful. However, it is essential to try to stay positive. Keep your mind on what is vital, like your kids and spouse. One way that I have always tried to deal with negativity is to find the humor. I always try to find the humor in things, especially the things that have the potential to push me into an anxiety state of mind. Remember that this season will not last forever and have faith in your parenting.
Spend More Time with Your Supporters
If you find yourself dealing with mom-shaming, spend more time with your supporters. Stick with the ones that support you, no matter what, whether you disagree on something or not. Being around people that love you no matter what will help you deal with the negative.
Remove Toxic People
I know that removing toxic people isn’t always a possibility, especially if they are in your immediate family. However, you might consider limiting the amount of time you are around this person or making sure you are never alone with this person. Just keep in mind, that it is up to you to do what needs to be done for your mental health and your family.
Pay Attention to Your Mental Health
Be aware of your mental health, especially if you are a mom that deals with anxiety or depression. Never be afraid to ask for help. Please, reach out to friends, family, or professionals if you need to.
Reflect and Reclaim
If you are dealing with mom-shaming, use this time to reflect on yourself. Have you ever mom-shamed? Whether intentional or not, use this time as a learning experience.
Don’t let your emotions from mom-shaming carry over to other parts of your life. The fact is, you can’t control what people do or say to you. However, you are in control of the way you react. Reclaim your life. Don’t let them steal your joy.
I know that a lot of these tips are easier said than done. However, I urge you to just remember that you know your children better than anyone else. Believe in yourself and your abilities as a mom. I hope you found these tips to deal with mom-shaming encouraging. Please, remember you are not alone. You got this, Mama!
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“You are a good mom, my friend…even if like me you’ve had a few bad moments… you are still a good mom. Let’s live in that truth today.” -Lysa Terkeurst
“But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:31
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255
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