Have you heard of mom shaming? Maybe you’ve heard of mom shaming because you have been mom shamed.
If you have been mom shamed… I’m truly sorry! I mean that from the bottom of my heart! Odds are.
You are an amazing mom and didn’t deserve to be shamed for your parenting!
Mom shaming is alive and well in society today.
It continues to plague many great mothers out there who are doing their absolute best when it comes to parenting.
In all honesty, the mom shaming needs to stop!
Since you cannot control what other people say to you, let’s discuss…
- what it is
- why people mom shame
- ways to handle shaming
- and how mom shaming can lead to mom guilt
Disclosure: Bear in mind that some of the links in this post are affiliate links and if you click on them to make a purchase I will earn a commission. Keep in mind that I link these companies and their products because of their quality and not because of the commission I receive from your purchases. The decision is yours, and whether or not you decide to buy something is completely up to you.
What Is Mom Shaming?
If you have never experienced mom shaming, you are one of the rare and lucky mothers out there!
Mom shaming is a form of criticism or disapproval about a mother’s parenting decisions.
This type of criticism comes from anywhere. Family members, random strangers in Target, moms on social media…
Basically anyone that feels their parenting decisions are better than yours.
Which of course is wrong! No one knows what your children needs more than you!
If you feel you’re the only mother who get’s mom shamed, don’t be…
According to poll conducted by the University of Michigan’s C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital, 61% of mothers have been questioned about their parenting decisions.
Of the 475 mothers with children 5 and younger, the most popular topics they’ve received criticism for included:
- Diet and nutrition
- Breastfeeding vs. bottle feeding
- Child safety
- Childcare decisions
From the same study comes a deeply disturbing realization… 37% were criticized by their parents, 36% by their co-parent and 31% by their in-laws.
You’re probably wondering why I labeled these findings “deeply disturbing” right?
Well I find it deeply disturbing that the people who are supposed to support your parenting journey the most are the ones to mom shame you!
I too have experienced this first-hand from relatives. It’s not only annoying having a family member criticize you, but it hurts! A lot!
Is Mom Shaming Unhealthy?
The short answer: YES!
I believe it is. Whether you’re being shamed by the judgmental mom making comments about your toddler’s tantrum in the grocery store.
Or you’re taking criticism from an in-law who believes your child watches too much TV.
No matter where it comes from mom shaming hurts your mental health as a mother.
When someone starts to criticize the way you raise and care for your child, you start to doubt your own mothering skills.
Eventually, you may even feel as if your child is not progressing properly.
Pretty soon, you’re questioning yourself on your parental decisions. And what happens?
You start to feel guilty! AKA Mom Guilt!!!
Mom guilt as a result of mom shaming has a major impact on your self-esteem, confidence and overall mental health.
It’s not easy trying to stay positive about making parental decisions when someone is constantly implying/telling you you’re wrong!
Let’s look at a scenario:
A family member tells you, “You know… It’s too bad you work. You wouldn’t have to leave your child at daycare and she would be able to spend more time with you.”
How would a comment like this make you feel?
Depressed? Upset? Angry? Guilty?
Probably all of the above. If you’re a working mother, you have every right to be upset by a comment like that!
You’re doing everything you can to provide both financially and mentally for your children.
Some mothers have to work! They don’t have the option to stay home with their children or they are a single parent.
I was raised by a single parent and let me tell you… I’m not negatively affected by my mother being a working mom and having me go to daycare.
After daycare, she’d always be there to pick me up.
She worked really hard to provide for me and she had to play the part of both a mother and a father! Now that’s a superhero!
If you’ve heard similar mom shaming comments like this, you’ve probably felt guilty in one form or another.
Why Do People Mom Shame?
Every person’s criticism and advice is said to you because of different intentions.
Some people, like your mom may give you criticism because she cares.
Other people are shaming because their mean.
Here’s some common reasons why people mom shame:
- Some people are just “know it all’s.” These people give advice on EVERYTHING. They really believe their advice/criticism of your parenting is the best way to parent because (to them) there is no other “good” way to parent.
- People will make judgements and criticize others just to feel good about themselves. unfortunately, this is a fact of life. There’s simply people in the world that take joy in being mean to others. You might see these people dishing out judgements and criticism through social media.
- Sometimes other moms will mom shame you as a way to have “a do over.” In other words, they feel guilty and insecure about their own past parenting decisions.
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How Do You Handle Mom Shaming?
How you respond to mom shamers makes all the difference in every negative situation.
When you’ve experienced high amounts of criticism, you can only ignore the rude comments for so long.
But how do you go about handling people who mom shame you?
I believe the way you handle mom shaming comments depends on the person from who it’s coming from.
Responding to criticism from a stranger compared to a loved one is very different.
But let’s go ahead and look at ways to respond or handle mom-shaming comments from anyone!
1. Ignore Them
This seems the most obvious. Little comments, like the ones from your mother on why you should cloth diaper instead of using disposable diapers can simply be ignored.
Your mom probably means well with her criticism.
Therefore, you can respond with a head nod and an “Okay.” Just let comments go in one ear and out the other.
In order to ignore every mom shaming comment out there, you must have a thick skin.
If this is the type of person you are, than ignoring criticism is perfect for you.
2. Kill Comments With kindness
This method of handling comments works wonders with “know it all” types and people who take joy in being criticizing you.
It’s amazing how kindness defuses a tense and negative situation.
Simple answers to mom shaming like:
- “Oh, thanks for letting me know about that!”
- “I’ll consider your advice. Thank you!”
While I know you’re probably not going to consider their advice/criticism, saying you will make the mom shamer feel like they helped in their own way.
3. Throw Some Shade
When it comes to random strangers criticizing your parenting skills, you sometimes need to get a little sassy.
While you don’t have to be downright rude to them, you may need to put them in their place to defend yourself.
I’ve had to throw some shade on a occasion or two when it came to formula feeding my son.
If you haven’t noticed, some people have really strong opinions when it comes to the breast vs. bottle debate.
Personally, I don’t care either way as long as my child is healthy, getting essential nutrients and is growing, then I’m doing my job!
However, I’ve been mom shamed for formula feeding.
Here’s a comment I’ve heard: “You know your child would get better nutrients if you breastfed him.”
I’m not going to lie, this comment hurt and it cut deep.
In response to that mom shaming comment I said: “Well I would breastfeed if I didn’t have low milk supply.
If I wouldn’t have supplemented with formula, my son would have starved because I couldn’t produce enough milk for him.”
Was I extra mean? Yes. I know I was. But this mom shamer didn’t understand my situation with breastfeeding and it was not fair for her to judge me just for buying formula for my baby.
4. Educate Them
Many people judge because they simple don’t understand your unique situation.
Why not take advantage of a mom shaming comment to educate them?
For instance: If your child has many food allergies and you receive negative comments for foods you can’t feed your child. Don’t just ignore the comments!
Take the time to educate someone about your child’s food allergies and what happens if your child eats certain foods.
There’s no shame in avoiding certain foods just to keep your child safe and avoid using an Epi-pen.
At times, when others have not gone through a similar situation they don’t understand it.
Like the example above, if another mom doesn’t have children with food allergies, she can fail to see how difficult and possibly dangerous food allergies are.
Turn those negative comments around by telling someone (kindly) about your child’s unique situation.
Not only will they feel a bit guilty, but they will leave that conversation with a more open mind!
5. Stand Your Ground
You know your child best!
Because of this… You often need to stand your ground when it comes to mom shaming comments.
It becomes extremely important to stand your ground on the way you parent your children when it comes to negative criticism received from family members.
Most of the time, family members just want the best for you and your children.
But overtime, those negative comments tend to wear on your confidence and happiness as a parent.
If you receive almost constant comments from someone about your parenting, you may begin to question your own mothering skills.
Before this happens… Stand your ground with a family member!
Let your loved one know that it hurts your feelings when they say negative comments or try to undermine your parenting. Explain to them the following:
- You know what’s best for your child.
- Your parenting style is different from theirs, but it doesn’t mean it’s wrong.
- You will make the decisions when it comes to your child.
- Comments that make you feel inadequate as a parent will not be tolerated.
These things can all be explained with kindness while still being firm when it comes to eliminating mom shaming comments.
Your loved one may be upset with you for a while, but eventually he/she will come around and see that criticism in regards to your parenting is not ok.
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Mom shaming is very real and alive today… Unfortunately.
I experience negative criticism all the time from family members and from comments left on Pitter Patter of Baby Feet.
Yes, I love helping and giving advice to fellow moms or anyone trying to conceive.
But, just because I write about ways to change certain things in your life, doesn’t mean it’s right for you!
I am my own parent and so are you.
Negative comments in regards to your parenting and/or child is never ok in any situation!
Your children are YOUR children and no stranger or family member has the right to put you down.
You were given your children for a reason. You are the perfect mom for them and you’re trying your best which is all your kids care about.
The next time you receive a mom shaming comment you can choose to ignore it, throw some shade, educate or kill the comment with kindness.
But above all… Stand your ground! Be firm and confident in your parenting decisions with other people.
No one has the right to judge you to the point where you start to feel mom guilt.
I believe too many negative comments are damaging to your mental health.
Try one or more of these ways to handle negative criticism before mom shaming transforms into mom guilt!
10 ways to deal with mom-shaming
The pros and cons of mother guilt
Top 7 mommy guilt trips and how to handle them