I’m sure you’ve heard the term “mom-shaming” before, but here’s a quick definition, just in case. “Criticizing or degrading a mother for her parenting choices because they differ from the choices the shamer would make.” Definition courtesy of Urban Dictionary.
With a year of motherhood under my belt, I’ve seen my fair share of mom-shaming. From judging glances to the ever so often “you should” statement, sometimes it seems like everyone is against you.
Now, before I get on my rant, let me clarify a few things.
1. Mom-shaming is NOT invited advice from a friend
2. Mom-shaming is NOT a kind suggestion from a loved one
3. Mom-shaming IS a hurtful comment or glance
4. Mom-shaming IS judging a mom who is doing the best she can with her given set of circumstances
Why is it bad?
The 2017 C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health asked moms with children 0-5 years old about their perceptions of being criticized for their parenting.
After reading this survey, the most discouraging statistic was that for 42% of participants criticism made them feel unsure about their parenting choices.
It’s hard enough raising a tiny human – or multiple tiny humans. The last thing moms need is someone to make them feel bad about it. I can tell you from experience that moms mom-shame themselves enough, they don’t need anyone else to do it.
When your child is born, you’re excited but nervous at the same time. You ask your self every second of those first few months, “do I have what it takes?” And then, as an act of self-mutilation, you list in your head all of the ways you’ve failed as a mother or parent that day.
Do you want to know what moms need? Instead of offering “advice”, tell them how great they’re doing, buy them a cup of coffee, offer to watch their kid so they can take a shower or take a nap. I know that would have meant so much more to me than any advice.
What should we do?
“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11
Encourage one another. It’s so simple, but so hard to do. The C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll shows that moms will often seek out advice when they need it – from a loved one or a doctor. This, yet again, proves my point that what moms really need is encouragement.
The Bible makes it very clear what we should do. Not just for moms, but for everyone. Here are some other verses to inspire you to encourage others today:
“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” Ephesians 4:29
“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32
At the end of the day, there is not one “right” way to raise a child. Of course, there are the basics that every parent is required to do – like provide a loving and safe home for their child. No parent is an expert and it’s not like your child comes with a rule book when they’re born.
Next time you see a mom at the playground with her yoga pants on, messy bun, no makeup, and holding a screaming child. Instead of saying “wow, they really don’t have their act together, ” consider what might be going on behind the scenes. Offer encouragement and show kindness.