When you think about mom shaming, what do you imagine? Are you picturing one mother throttling a not-so-subtle comment like “You suck as a parent!” towards another unsuspecting mom?
Sure, this would undoubtedly be an example of mom shaming… or more precisely, that would be probably be considered full-out mom hazing!
Generally speaking; however, mom shaming is a more delicate song and dance. It’s those passive-aggressive statements and snide comments that are hidden within our normal, everyday conversations and social media postings.
Most mom shaming is not direct.
It’s carefully fashioned as constructive criticism, well-meaning thoughts, and suggestions on how someone else might become a better parent. All too often, many of us are participating in these parental smackdowns without even realizing they’re taking place.
I, for one, am not innocent.
There have been plenty of times that I’ve caught myself asking a friend a question or making comments that I feel are just curious or kind, but in reality, have the potential to belittle that person’s approach to parenting.
There are so many ways many of us are mom shaming without even realizing it. It’s time to start putting forth a little more caution and care in what we do and what we say.
Here are several ways you might be mom shaming your loved ones without meaning to.
1. The Look (AKA Silent Mom Shaming)
You know that old adage “A picture is worth a thousand words”—yeah, well so is a look.
It’s really incredible to me how much we can say without ever muttering a single syllable. An eye roll, a shoulder shrug, a scoff…generally speaking, any type of “look” that conveys your lack of respect, interest, or agreement, in another parent’s choices and opinions.
Your facial expressions scream loudly, ladies. Keep them under control.
2. The “Breast is Best” Crowd
Here’s the thing about me, I’m a big supporter of breastfeeding. I did it with both of my girls and loved the experience.
Would you like to know what I respect more than breastfeeding, though? Feeding your child, in general. That’s right, I’m solidly on Team “Fed is Best.” I don’t care how you choose to feed your kids, as long as you’re doing it.
We as women have our own unique opinions and everyone will fall into different camps. If you have a hard time breastfeeding or just aren’t interested, that’s fine. I fully-support your choice to use formula. Are you one of those people that thinks breastfeeding is kind of “weird?” Okay, that’s fine, too.
Just keep the negative, judgmental comments to yourself and respect what other moms have going on.
3. Asking Whether They’re Done Having Kids
This one is a big ‘ole ball of wax for me. Let me make my opinion on the matter perfectly clear:
DO NOT, under any circumstances, ever ask a parent whether they’re planning on having more kids (or kids period.)
Why is this such a big deal to me? Well, for several reasons, actually.
For starters, you never know whether someone might already be trying. Maybe they just don’t want you to know, or maybe they’re struggling to conceive and your indelicate question is pouring more salt into the wound. A couple’s choice to grow their family is no one else’s business.
Aside from these points, there are a couple of other reasons why I don’t feel it’s appropriate to question a couple about whether they’re going to have more kids.
Some men and women, for example, only want one child. Your barrage of questions about future procreational activities can come off sounding like you expect them to have more. Whether you mean it to or not, it can leave people feeling like their choice to stop at one isn’t good enough.
On the other end of the spectrum, asking families who already have multiple kids whether they’re done, can suggest that you think they should be. Some people love the idea of big families. Who are any of us to insinuate they should be stopping?
4. The Gender Conversation
As a mother of two beautiful girls, I can’t tell you how many times people have made comments to me about having a third child. I’ve heard things, such as:
“You’re not serious about not going for the boy, right?”
“Is your husband upset he didn’t get a boy?”
“Why don’t you try just one more time?”
Comments like these make it sound as if having all of the same gender is a bad thing. They make you feel like if you didn’t get the status quo, one boy/one girl combo, you’re doing something wrong and are missing out on a great opportunity.
I’m here to tell you; it’s not true.
My husband and I, like so many other couples, are 100% happy having two girls. In fact, before we even knew what our second child was going to be, we’d already decided that two was enough.
I understand that people think they’re being playful and cute, but comments like these can be incredibly frustrating. Families like mine are perfect just the way they are—so what if we have a little more estrogen running around the house?
5. Using the Whole “I Could Never Let My Kids….” Line
“I could never let my kids eat McDonald’s for dinner.”
“I could never let my kids stay the night away from me.”
“I could never let my kids act that way in the store.”
“I could never let my kids (enter passive aggressive insult here.)”
We’ve all been there – you tell a friend something, show them a picture, or get caught in the act of doing something “controversial.” Instead of just letting it slide and accepting your differing parenting techniques, however, the person you’re dealing with throws one of these cute, little “I could never” type one-liners at you.
Comments like these are not constructive. They are negative and only work to make someone feel small.
It doesn’t matter whether you agree with someone else’s parenting techniques. If they wanted your advice and input, they’d ask for it.
Now excuse me while I feed my child the French fries she just dropped all over the floor.
And the Moral of the Story Is…
Hey you—yes, you! I have something I need to tell you… you’re not a perfect parent. But do you want to know something else?
Neither am I!
Raising kids is HARD. We’re all putting our hearts and souls into being the best moms and dads we can be and hoping our little ones don’t need too much therapy in the long run.
I don’t need your snarky stares or snide remarks to remind me I’m not doing everything 100% right. Trust me, my anxiety-riddled brain is handling that just fine at about midnight each night.
Instead of passing judgment and bringing each other down, what if we tried a little bit harder to boost each other up?
Be cautious of the way you treat another parent. While you might think that you’re being “helpful,” you could actually be tearing someone down on their worst possible day.
Let’s put the mom shaming away and appreciate one another for being the absolute rockstars we actually are!