Mom shaming has become a prevalent variable in the mom community, often unintentionally.
Moms mean well as they warn other mothers of the dangers of their parenting practices.
Some concerns are sound, some not so much.
You see it all over social media and anonymous forums where moms try to convince other moms what they are doing is wrong for x,y, and z reasons.
In the mom community there is a lot of parenting superiority floating about that can often leave you feeling inadequate AF for literally no reason.
This fuels the self-contempt that is already so prevalent in American mothers and does no favors to the overwhelming mom guilt moms experience as a result.
First Time Mom Tips⎢ The 3 Arrows of Self-Contempt and How to Be a Happier Mom
As mothers, we are parenting our kids the best way we can in the hopes that it bears fruit in their development.
So when a mom wants to share a heartfelt Kodiak moment of their kid running around barefoot in the grass, it makes sense the comment made by a mother saying:
“You shouldn’t be letting your child run barefoot in the grass. It messes with their senses and could cut them!”
It isn’t well received when nobody asks.
Even if that is true, the delivery is judgemental and critical, not one of concern and compassion where a mother will hear what you have to say.
Nobody responds well to criticism and judgments, so why do we dish it out and then get shocked when it isn’t well received?
Even if you aren’t intentionally mom shaming, we all come from a place of caring.
However, nobody will listen when it looks like it’s coming from a place of righteous judgment.
Changing our tune by coming from a less judgmental mom shaming energy to more of a caring and helpful energy can do wonders.
Let’s empower or fellow mothers by being vulnerable, compassionate and understanding, not fuel the mom guilt epidemic with more self-righteous grandstanding and patronizing words of wisdom when not asked.
2 Year Old Was Fed Full Grapes!
Anti-Mom Shaming Gone Too Far?
Recently I came across this post on Reddit in the /toddler forum asking if the Anti-Mom shaming movement has come too far.
It looks like she came across, what I am assuming to be, some baby-led weaning group on Facebook where a mother was sharing a post of her 2-year-old eating whole grapes.
So, a mother took it upon herself to lecture the mom’s parenting on how feeding her toddler grapes is dangerous and a choking hazard.
This woman isn’t necessarily “wrong” that grapes are a choking hazard.
They are for literally everyone.
Grapes are the perfect size for all windpipes to get stuck in the toddler or not.
This doesn’t help the all consuming mom guilt that already plagues modern American moms.
It also is the mom police taking it upon themselves to fix another mother’s parenting when not asked to.
Often in a way that isn’t helpful or productive, no matter how seemingly “polite” they think they are.
It comes off as grade A mom shaming material.
Please, the mom guilt and anxiety is prominent enough without social media moms nit-picking at our happy kodiak moments.
You Can Still Help In A Different Way
Saying to a mom:
“You are putting your toddler at risk for choking. Grapes are dangerous and a choking hazard and you should stop.”
Is respectful and to the point, right?
However, when communicated this way, it still comes off as judgmental and holier than thou, which makes a comment hard to digest.
It comes off as mom shaming.
If mom had said instead:
“Grapes are such a yummy snack for our little one too!
I’m concerned about her choking, so I like to cut mine in halves or quarters for some peace of mind.
It also makes her think she has more to eat with more pieces!
So delish and fun!”
It may have even given her the idea to copy you as well!
This took the focus off the mother in question and made yourself the focused parent, and what you do so YOU feel better, not TELLING the other party what they SHOULD be doing, i.e mom shaming.
You can’t control what others do, nor can you fix them, nor should you try or get hung up if they don’t listen.
Parenting is hard; you can only lead them to water and hope they drink.
Unsolicited Opinions, Advice & Lectures Don’t Help
If They Didn’t Ask, Don’t Give It
Nobody likes anything unsolicited.
Very rarely do people respond to unsolicited advice or lectures well.
You know, kind of like how we hate when our parents or inlaws interject and question our parenting and give unsolicited advice?
This is why, even when not intended, your words can come off as mom shaming and be accused as mom shaming even if you aren’t.
Don’t give advice unless a mother asks for opinions, viewpoints, and advice.
Or you can give it, but don’t get mad when it isn’t well received and met with eye rolls.
No matter how “right” your position is, most mothers will not hear you if you come at them unsolicited.
I understand we are trying to look out for one another.
That is a very compassionate position to come from.
What matters most is that mothers hear you with compassionate and a non-accusatory delivery.
Parenting is hard, and we all make mistakes.
Regardless of our parenting wisdom, not everyone wants to hear it.
It also isn’t our jobs to call out other parents for goofy parenting SNAFU’s, it isn’t up to us to tell others how they should or shouldn’t parent if not asked.
Car Seat Drama
For example, in the Reddit post I mentioned earlier, the poster said that you couldn’t even tell someone their car seat isn’t installed correctly without it being received wrong.
Well, instead of saying:
“Your car seat is installed way too loose. That is dangerous, and you need to tighten that up. Baby could die from internal decapitation!”
“I’m glad you got your car seat!
My baby always fusses if the car seat slides around in the car too much.
I was worried it was too loose so I decided to tighten up the buckles, and now we are golden!
Baby doesn’t make a peep anymore. Thank you for sharing!”
Again, this shifts the focus off criticizing the mom’s parenting for her car seat installation methods, or mom shaming her, and focuses on what you do instead.
Sharing what you do instead of coming at mothers for what they do automatically disarms them.
They will be more able to listen and hear what you are saying because they don’t feel attacked as the comment isn’t directed toward them.
This is an excellent way to go about a post if you see something questionable, but the poster isn’t asking for help directly.
You can indirectly guide them without them even knowing.
It’s called planting the seed.
Plant the seed instead of mom shaming!
Andrea Yates⎢ A Devastating Tale of Postpartum Psychosis
If Someone is Venting
Validate The Vents
Many posts in mom groups on social media and anonymous forums choose that as an outlet to vent.
I get it.
Sometimes we have nobody that will understand and want to let it out and be validated.
For instance, in a Baby Led Weaning Group, I belong to, a woman was posting about how her 14-month-old is in a phase where she is intentionally throwing food on the floor.
They are testing boundaries and experimenting.
This is a challenging parenting stage for many people.
She was trying to express her feelings about how challenging this phase is.
A mother decided to comment this:
“ Your baby doesn’t understand the concept of wasting food.
It’s your job to break generational trauma around food.
It is perfectly normal for their development at this age to experiment with throwing food on the floor.”
These comments are SO ANNOYING, like, unbelievably annoying, unsupportive and unsympathetic to the mom who is struggling.
WE KNOW it’s developmentally normal, but it’s still infuriating!
It comes off as trying to tell the mom to just “get over it,” she doesn’t have a right to feel stressed or struggle with her child’s developmental leaps because they are normal.
The mom community has such a perfectionist attitude moms can’t event vent their parenting frustrations without a mom lecturing her on the normalities of what she is experiencing.
All it does is invalidate mom’s feelings and doesn’t recognize her humanity anymore.
Are mom’s not allowed to struggle or be upset with their kids developmentally normal and still irritating behaviors simply because we are moms now?
Our feelings and struggles don’t become null and void simply because we became mothers.
However, the martyr parenting movement believes so, and that is why parents are more unbalanced and unhappy now than in previous generations.
Mom’s feelings and struggles don’t matter anymore, only the childs do.
I mean damn, if we cant even be vulnerable and honest about the struggles of parenthood on social media anonymously without other parents coming at us for our inadequacies, how are we able to parent in a healthy way that doesn’t feed some perfectionist parenting pedestal?
Next time you feel the urge to lecture a mom on whatever she is doing on her post, take a minute to think if that comment is actually going to help her and make her feel better as a mother, or if you are commenting to feed your own ego and grandstand on your superior parenting abilities i.e mom shaming.
Essentially, are you commenting to help this struggling mother actually feel better or give yourself and ego boost?
If you don’t feel the mom will hear you, just carry on.
“It’s Developmentally Normal”
For one, the poster was trying to let off some steam from the stress she was experiencing with her parenting.
Then she was lectured on how it’s her problem with her anxieties around food waste, and she should cut the baby slack because it’s “developmentally normal.”
When that isn’t the point.
For one, the commentator wrongly assumed that she had baggage or hangups with food waste and blamed her for supposedly projecting that trauma.
She also invalidated her feelings about the baby throwing food on the floor because it’s “developmentally normal.”
I can’t stand that phrase anyway.
So because a phase is “developmentally normal,” we aren’t allowed to struggle with it or dislike it?
Or is that supposed to make us feel better about getting our asses kicked during a particular phase?
It never has for me, at least.
To clap back with an:
“ACTUALLY, ThAtS dEvELoPmEnTaLlY nOrMaL”
To a struggling mom, just trying to survive and is already consumed with mom guilt this is highly condescending and unhelpful.
Certainly doesn’t help the extremely prevalent mom shaming that is occurring and only feeds the unhealthy mom guilt so many moms are already consumed by without the judgemental comments.
Unsolicited Lectures Are Patronizing
When you lecture someone who didn’t ask for it, it comes off as:
“Clearly, you don’t know what you are doing. Let me educate you, you ignoramus.”
Which is super patronizing when unprovoked.
Even if that isn’t what you meant, it is how it comes off.
My daughter was around the same age as the poster, and I completely understood how she felt.
In a day and age where a loaf of bread is damn near $6-$7, it’s reasonable to have anxiety about wasted food!
To put it into perspective, I have gone without food because there isn’t enough to go around, but we always ensure our daughter has fresh food, which she usually throws on the floor.
It hurts when she throws delicious food on the floor because it IS wasteful, regardless of the fact she is a baby.
Of course, they are too young to understand it’s wasteful, but it doesn’t mean it isn’t wasteful or doesn’t sting when they toss it on the floor.
We can feel our feelings even though it is a normal development phase.
Let’s try to validate moms’ feelings who are venting and struggling.
I responded to the mother who posted about the food with the following:
“I’m so sorry, mama.
My daughter is the same age and going through the same thing.
Nowadays, with inflation being so cruel and food being as expensive as ever, it hurts to see your kid throw delicious food on the floor.
You are valid in your feelings, and this season sucks even though it’s developmentally normal.
Hang in there, mama, this too shall pass. Solidarity!”
Let’s jump in the ring with our fellow mamas and comfort, not sit on our throne of judgment and patronize.
Down with the mom shaming and up with the compassion and validation!
3 First Year With Baby Struggles
Left Logic Brain Turns Off When Under Attack
According to The Happiest Toddler on The Block, toddlers are such a challenging trip because of their inability to hear us when they are upset.
The lack of left-brain logic can sometimes make parenting the little neanderthals impossible.
This also happens to adults when we get upset or triggered.
Our brains go into fight or flight mode, and we can’t hear anyone.
We only know what we feel.
When in fight or flight mode, or undergo mom shaming, the logical left brain turns off.
Thus, listening, hearing, and digesting someone’s words is virtually impossible.
Even if what the person is saying is correct:
“Don’t put your hands on the stove. It will burn you!”
They won’t listen because all they know is you are attacking them and their choices.
Therefore, they won’t hear you or listen to you.
Does it mean they may get burned? Well, yes.
However, it also isn’t up to us to save or fix everyone, let alone other mothers.
Unless There Is Blatant Abuse, Keep Scrolling
Being polite and helpful are not synonymous.
People can say rude things in a “polite” way.
Like in my post 5 Times When Ruth in Titanic, Was Oozing Toxic Femininity, we go over how toxic she is due to her calm, polite and respectful nature while her words pierce like daggers.
Unless you are a people pleaser, you aren’t going to do something simply because someone told you politely, especially when you weren’t asking for anything in the first place.
There are loads of “polite” ways to criticize someone, doesn’t mean it isn’t critical, unhelpful, and unwanted.
If the comment isn’t something you would tell the mother in public if you saw her doing it, keep it to yourself and keep scrolling.
We would all step up if we saw a child getting verbally or physically abused online or in public.
Calling out abuse of any kind is warranted.
Calling a mom out for feeding her 2-year-old grapes or Kraft Mac N Cheese on Facebook?
Ehhhh, not the best form.
Pick your battles.
Decide if it’s worth it.
Plant Seeds Instead
As mentioned, taking less accusatory approaches to parenting that disarm the mother from feeling the need to defend or attack is the way to go.
For starters, we validate.
Validate the feelings or experience the mother is sharing, whatever it is first and foremost.
For example, some moms criticized other moms for using a Dok-a-Tot co-sleeping bed within the same Reddit post.
If you see a mom posting a picture of her baby on a Dok-a-Tot, and you feel some way about it to where you can’t keep scrolling, and you MUST say something, here is what not to say:
“ The AAP doesn’t recommend co-sleeping, and cosleeping beds are a SIDS risk. It’s better to have baby on their back alone in their crib. It’s the safest way for them to sleep.”
As polite and respectful as that is, do you think the mom posting will care or hear you?
If it matters that much to you, plant the seed instead:
“ Aww baby looks so cute and well rested! She seems to love her Dok-a-Tot!”
Start by showcasing what mom is doing right.
Mom loves her child and wants the best.
She is never purposefully putting the baby at risk.
Validating mom that she is a loving mom with what seems to be a happy baby is the first way to go.
Plant The Seed of Doubt
After you validate moms feelings, as we mentioned before, make your concerns about YOU.
Instead of pointing out what mom is doing wrong, talk about how uneasy you are about whatever it is you’re concerned over.
“ I was too worried about the SIDS risk to use a Dok-a-Tot.
I’ll hold off until the AAP gives me the green light, but I digress.”
Then, you close the sh*t sandwich with another validation:
“ Your baby looks happy, mama! ”
Then instead of a mom being met with a:
“ Cosleeping is the leading cause of SIDS. Dok-a-Tots are not safe, and AAP does not recommend cosleeping. ABC’s of sleep is safest for baby.”
Mom is met with:
“ Aww, baby looks so cute and well-rested!
She seems to love her Dok-a-Tot!
I was too worried about the SIDS risk to use a Dok-a-Tot, and the price tag scared me off enough anyway.
Until the AAP gives me the green light, I’ll hold off, but I digress lol You have a beautiful baby mama! ”
See the difference there?
The mission isn’t to convince anyone of anything or tell them what they should do with their parenting.
This method plants a tiny seed of doubt while reminding them of potential SIDS risks you are concerned about for your baby while respecting their boundaries and not giving unsolicited advice.
The goal isn’t to tell them what to do but get them to consider on their OWN a that what they might be doing may not be the best practice.
However, it’s ultimately up to them to make those choices and changes.
Maybe the mom might follow up with questions about safe sleep because she doesn’t know.
That is the green light to give your respectful and polite comment about safe baby sleep.
The goal is to create curiosity and education, not judge and lecture immediately.
Accept That You Can’t Save or Fix People
Parenting is hard, and we understand wanting to point out potential dangers and risks online is coming from a good place.
Your intentions are good, but you may not get the response you are hoping for by pushing too hard or being too direct.
Yes, it is good practice to look out for each other.
However, there is a fine line between being helpful and coming off as rude and intrusive when you give lectures or advice nobody asked for, no matter how benign your comment may be.
I have learned that people will do what they want no matter how much resistance comes from others.
It makes them want to do it even more, to prove naysayers wrong.
If their mind isn’t open, your suggestions will fall on deaf ears.
You can’t convert people by force.
They need to WANT to convert and be open to doing so.
You catch more flies with honey than vinegar!
Let’s try our best to support and educate one another while respecting boundaries and autonomy.
Let’s face it.
It’s annoying AF that everyone and their mom has something to say about how we parent, so coming from a place of friendship and compassion can help.
Ultimately, as long as your whole family is happy, safe, and healthy, how you got it, it is irrelevant.
We are all doing our best, and someone will criticize you no matter what you do, so make sure it’s what YOU want to do.
It’s like what Eleanor Roosevelt said:
“ Do what you feel in your heart to be right. You’ll be criticized anyway!”
Ain’t that the truth!