The sad thing is that we are already giving so much of our time and energy to our children – then we have to put up with unsolicited judgment and criticism.
While it’s also sad this harsh treatment comes from other moms, the worst part is that most of the offending mothers feel the need to put others down in order to make themselves feel better.
This certainly doesn’t excuse the behavior, however, but it does speak to the growing need for moms to lift each other up and support each other through motherhood.
Before we look at how to shut down mom-shaming, let’s talk about what it actually looks like:
Examples of Mom-Shaming
With social media more popular now than ever before, it’s easier for moms to lay shame on each other. You’ve probably seen it on Facebook: snide remarks about parenting choices or even passive-aggressive comments on posts.
Here are some more specific examples of mom-shaming:
Birthing choices: Being judged on the way you wanted to or had to bring your baby into the world.
Baby milestones: Questioning another mom as to why her little one hasn’t started walking/talking/etc. yet.
Breastfeeding: Being told it’s inappropriate to breastfeed in public or being called selfish for choosing not to breastfeed.
Working: Shaming other moms for going back to work instead of staying home with their children. Or criticizing moms who do choose to stay home and not work.
Parenting choices: Being judged because of the way you choose to raise your child, what you feed them, giving them a soother, co-sleeping, etc.
Social media: Shaming other moms by portraying a “perfect” life on social media.
Body shaming: Criticizing post-baby bodies, wheter they are too “big” or too “small”.
Most of the time these instances of shaming are not done intentionally. Some moms actually feel like they are “helping” but offering advice – even if you didn’t ask for it.
This is why addressing mom-shaming can be so difficult. We want to put a stop to it but we don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings if they were genuinely trying to help out.
If you find yourself dealing with mom-shaming, here are tips you can use to shut it down without feeling guilty about addressing the issue:
How to Shut Down Mom-Shaming
Before you try to stop others from mom-shaming you, first make sure that you are not unintentionally shaming other moms.
You can do this by not offering unsolicited advice, especially on social media. If you feel like you have the knowledge and experience to help, ask if your help is needed.
For example, if another mom vents to you about an issue they are having with their child, come right out and ask if they want you to simply listen or if they are looking for advice.
This way, if they indicate that they want advice, you know they are open to it and will appreciate it.
Take Advice With a Grain of Salt
If you find yourself dealing with unsolicited advice, take it with a grain of salt. There’s nothing wrong with putting the information in the back of your head – it may come in handy someday!
Remember too that giving advice is not the same as telling you that you are doing it wrong. Unless someone straight out accuses you of mothering wrong, they are probably only trying to offer you a solution that worked for them.
When you find yourself receiving advice when the situation does not call for any type of support, just brush them off and say, “Well, this way is really working for us and we’re happy.”
Keep Your Life Off Social Media
Social media is a platform that gives a lot of people a lot of leeway when it comes to what they can say. While overtly mom-shaming online is horrible, there’s really nothing you can do about it except to not give other moms anything to criticize.
We all want to share pictures and stories about our little ones but we have to be prepared to get those unsolicited pieces of advice that feel like jabs right in our mom pride.
Especially if we share our struggles online, then everyone wants to help – but you may not like what they have to say.
This isn’t to say that you should ban social media altogether. If you find yourself dealing with a lot of mom-shaming, take a break for a little while.
Remember that phrase I mentioned earlier?
“Well, this way is really working for us and we’re happy.”
This is far more effective against mom-shaming than trying to argue with or belittle the offender. You can certainly try to express your feelings using “I” statements but if the other person is not budging on their beliefs, it’s best to end the conversation or move on from it.
And don’t feel like you have to thank them for their advice if you don’t agree with it. You don’t even have to tell them you’ll take it into consideration. Simply acknowledge that you respect the way they do things but that you’re not interested in doing them that way.
How to Avoid the Effects of Mom-Shaming
As much as you try to shut down mom-shaming, you may still run into it and it still sucks. If you do, here are some things you can try so the shaming doesn’t get you down:
Be Empathetic: Those who mom-shame are typically covering up their own insecurities. Their advice may come from the regret of not raising their children a certain way and think that making comments is a way of getting a “do-over”.
Establish Boundaries: Make it known that you don’t appreciate any commentary on your parenting skills. Explain why certain comments make you feel shame.
Don’t Ask: We all need advice on parenting but if you’re going to put the questions out there to the world (especially on social media) then you’re going to get criticism. Stick to asking for help from the people in your life that you know and trust.
Stop Comparing Yourself: It’s possible to shame yourself as a mom because you are comparing yourself to moms who are “perfect”. Stop looking out there and start looking within to embrace gratitude for what you have.
Put a Stop to Mom-Shaming
The number one way to shut down mom-shaming is to not let it bother you in the first place.
Ultimately, you know your child better than anyone else. You understand their needs and personality more than any other human being on this planet.
At the end of the day, you are the one who ensures that they are happy and healthy – so you must be doing something right, right?
You absolutely are! And we all make parenting mistakes along the way – it’s completely normal.
So the next time someone tries to mom-shame you and criticize you as a parent, try to let it roll off your shoulders.