Mommy Shaming--Let's Not...
I opened my Facebook news feed today to see an alert from one of the Mommy groups that I'm a part of. I saw a post from a Mom soliciting for advice on how to deal with her out-of-control 4-year old. She gave some examples of behaviors the child was exhibiting to give readers more context. I saw that it had at least 60 comments. So naturally as a Mommy blogger I wanted to see what advice people were giving. So I started reading through the comments and to be honest I was shocked at some of the responses. I guess I was shocked because I expected a Mommy group to be the place where you go to get encouragement and sound advice, and it was evident the Mom felt the same way, hence her asking the group the question. Yes, I've heard some say don't ask people for advice on social media but still, it's a Mommy's group. About half of the posts were on the verge of suggesting she was a bad mother. Huh? Then I went on to look at other posts in various Mommy groups to see if there was a trend and sure enough, there was.
Mommy shaming has never been cool or something that should be accepted. I get that you've been around your group of friends for so long that anyone or anything outside of that seems strange and odd. But is that what we teach our children, that we should shame or put down people that are different from them? I would lean towards no! So if you won't tell your children that then why would you teach them that via your actions?
I have seen many forms of Mommy shaming and I’ll admit, I’ve probably been guilty of committing it myself--obviously not intentionally, and perhaps the same is true for some. But I've noticed an uptick in the behavior of Moms on social media, in my community, and via conversations with friends, which leads me to believe that some folks are completely unaware of the behavior and the impact it has on other Moms.
So what exactly does Mommy shaming look like:
- Making negative comments towards another Mom concerning the way she is raising her child. Good or bad, we all are entitled to raise our children the way we see fit. Hopefully the commonality would be the end result of wanting to raise good and upstanding citizens to carry the torch. But ultimately that's a decision for that parent, and as a parent you should respect that.
- Shunning another Mom because she doesn't "look or act" like you and your friends. Whether it’s the clothes she wear, the car she drives, or the house she lives in, none of those things should encourage you to make another Mom feel as though she is an outsider or not enough. Sure, there are some people that you just can't connect with simply because the nuances are too great. Got that! But making a Mom feel as though she is not accepted because she is different from you is kinda hurtful. I thought cliques ended in high school?
- Gossiping about another Mom's bad day. "Did you see how jacked up Sally looked at the PTA meeting last night?" Let's face it, we ALL have one of those days (or two or three). But organizing a wine and cheese night with other Mom's to specifically make that Mom's business the topic of discussion is not cool. Some use the excuse "well I am not saying anything bad about her, it’s only the truth," yeah but would you say these things to her while she was here in your presence? Do you even know what that Mom is going through emotionally? If it isn't encouraging, then it's not necessary.
Are there more examples? Sure, but you get the drift. People get entirely too comfortable in participating in the tearing down of other people, especially via social media. I think it’s important that we all take a hard look at SELF before peeling apart another person.
Consider the following when you engage in what I like to think of as a “Mommy Sharing” vice “Mommy Shaming” moment:
S--Step back for a second and try to put yourself in that Mom's shoes. Are your words building her up or tearing her down? If you were in that position would you want someone making you feel worse about the situation? Sometimes taking that brief minute to pause before commenting may compel you to send that Mom an encouraging word. Bottom line: are your comments going to help or make the situation worse by demoralizing someone who is genuinely asking for your help?
E--Everyone has their own struggles and because their situation is unique, we cannot use our own standards to judge them without perfect knowledge of their environment. If you think its peaches and cream in that Mom's life, think again. There is such a huge pressure to be a picture perfect Mom when in reality that individual doesn't exist in one form.
L--Lean in to help with clean motives. If you feel the need to add your two cents, make sure your intent is to provide support recognizing that your suggestions may not work or be viable. Don't be the key in the ignition to the drama. Period!
F--Focus on building your community of Mom's. Find ways to increase and improve that. Be a part of the group that breaks down the pressure of having to be perfect. Whether you are a stay at home Mom or a working Mom, you should always feel welcomed by other Moms. Who else can relate to you on Mommy issues?
You know, I feel like us Mom’s trade seasons--It might be my drought season this month but it moves over to someone else the next month. So always be mindful of how you treat a fellow Mom during their drought season. Like my Mom used to say "The grave you dig for me will be the same grave you're put in." What can I say, she had a way with words!