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How to Deal with Mommy Shaming

Each parent faces daily struggles and has good days and bad days, sometimes privately and sometimes publicly. Shaming occurs when one parent judges another’s parenting abilities, either in person or online. You may face shaming yourself or hear someone else shaming another parent. You can find ways to address the situation by immediately responding or having a private conversation. When dealing with mommy shaming, stay supportive of other parents and reach out for support rather than tearing others down.

Responding to Shaming

  1. Respond with kindness. Especially if it’s a family member who is shaming you, respond back with kindness. If it’s a parent or parent-in-law, thank the person for how he or she raised children and comment on the person’s wonderful job in parenting. Be sure to make your needs clear as well.[1] If it’s a family member, remind yourself that this person wants to feel needed and be involved in your child’s life.[2]
    • You can say, “I appreciate your willingness to give advice to me, and I’m glad I can reach out for advice if I need it. I also need freedom to figure things out on my own.”
  2.  

  3. Think twice before replying. You may instinctively want to say something biting or vengeful back. While you may feel better by putting someone forcefully in place, ask yourself whether this is useful, helpful, or a worthwhile response.[3] You may be better off walking away or saying something minimal.

    • You may be tempted to rant about someone’s inappropriate behavior and set the person straight after giving you a scolding for your child’s behavior. However, think about context. You may choose to say, “The way I parent my children is up to me, not you” and walk away.
    • You can also say, “Thank you for your input” and move on.
  4.  

  5. Use humor.[4] Some people are going to have their opinions and not care whether or not it’s hurtful to you. One way to diffuse tension is to use humor. Humor allows you to move on from the situation and more casually confront the statement. Have a response ready for potential situations.

    • For example, say, “My kids have made it this far, my guess is that they’re doing okay” or, “We can’t be perfect parents all the time. My kid has to have something to resent me for when he’s older!”
  6.  

  7. Have a heart-to-heart. If someone in your life continues to shame you, it may be worth it to have a private discussion. Be open about how you feel. If the shaming is affecting your relationship, let the person know.[5]

    • If someone consistently evaluates your parenting, say to the person, “I know I’m not a perfect parent, but I take comfort in the fact that no one is. I’m comfortable the way I parent, and you need to be, as well. If that’s not a possibility, our relationship needs to change.”

Processing Your Emotions

  1. Face your feelings. Shame is uncomfortable. It makes you doubt yourself, hide away, and feel less-than.[6] If you are mommy shamed, recognize the emotions that this brings. Shame can make you feel defensive and angry. It’s likely you feel humiliated by someone who attempted to take some social status away from you by shaming you.
    • If you’re angry or upset, allow yourself time to cool down. Take a walk, exit the store, or take a break from the playgroup. Find a moment to de-escalate your emotions.
    • Remind yourself that the comment was rude and the person does not see your parenting 24 hours each day.
  2.  

  3. Build your confidence. If you feel like you let your children down or will never measure up to other people’s standards, focus on building your parenting confidence. You can’t stop people from giving unsolicited advice, but you can learn to tune it out as a way to continue feeling competent. Most importantly, play and have fun with your child. The more you connect with your child, the more competent you may feel. Your child will appreciate the attention and continue to learn through your interactions.[7]

    • Enjoy your child and embrace the happy moments he or she has and wants to share with you.
    • If you feel guilty about not spending enough time with your kids or not being a stricter parent, acknowledge your guilt and move on without dwelling on it.
  4.  

  5. Celebrate your strengths. If you find yourself constantly comparing yourself to other parents, take a step back and recognize that each parent (and person) struggles. If one mom appears to have it all together and you feel jealous, stop hanging out with that person and be around people you relate well with.[8] Recall the positive interactions you have with your child regularly. Remind yourself of the good you do for your child and spend less time reflecting on how other people appear to be better.

    • Your strength may be talking to your child in a soothing or calming manner, diffusing sibling fights, or getting your kid to eat her veggies. Perhaps you spend time preparing nutritious meals, involve your child in play activities, or enjoy getting on the floor and playing with your child. These are all strengths to celebrate.
  6.  

  7. Commit to being supportive to other parents. Don’t let shaming become a norm. Take action to be supportive to other parents by encouraging them and supporting them. Be willing to give and receive help not wrapped in judgment or criticism.[9] Don’t shame other parents online, in public, or to their face. If you hear other moms talking about someone, don’t engage the conversation and steer it to another topic.

    • If other moms are shaming, say, “We are all doing our best, even if that looks different from one person to the next. It’s important that we keep that in mind.”

Supporting Yourself as a Parent

  1. Do what’s best for you. There tends to be considerable shaming around being a working mother versus being a stay-at-home mother. Whichever you choose, it’s your choice and you can revisit the decision at any time. Your circumstances or your mind may change, and it is okay to make a switch.[10]
    • If you do change your mind, there’s no need to feel guilty are embarrassed. You choose what you think is best.
    • You may also experience shaming regarding bottle feeding your baby instead of breastfeeding, or you may be shamed for breastfeeding in public. Remember that these are personal preferences and the opinions of other people do not matter. Don’t let shaming stop you from doing what is best for you.
  2.  

  3. Recognize that you’re doing the best you can. Parenting differs quite a bit from 20 years ago. Parents go to the internet to read tips and advice, and stacks of books exist to tell you how to parent more effectively. While resources can be helpful, it can be overwhelming to have so much information and make you feel like you’re not doing things correctly. Recognize that each child is different and you respond as best as you can in the moment.

    • Don’t feel overwhelmed by feelings of being not good enough, each parent-child relationship is different.
  4.  

  5. Surround yourself with support. If you belong to a pushy mom group or are tired of dealing with chat rooms that make you question your parenting, make some different choices. Surround yourself with encouraging people who are more concerned with being supportive than judging others. Join a different play group, attend a different daycare, and seek out parents who are uplifting.[11] Spend time with friends and family who are non-judgmental. Have a support network that encourages you and supports you, both as a parent and as a person.

    • While you look out for your child’s safety, look out for yours, too. If you don’t feel safe in a parenting group, find a different one.
  6.  

  7. Keep in mind that there are many different ways to raise a child. The way that you raise your child is based on your personal experience, values, and family culture. No two families are exactly the same, so no two parenting styles will be the same. Try to remind yourself of these differences when you are feeling self-conscious about what other people think of your parenting.


Sources and Citations

  1. https://www.rileychildrens.org/connections/mommy-shaming-how-to-stand-your-ground-and-put-others-in-their-place
  2. http://www.womansday.com/relationships/family-friends/advice/a2616/10-parenting-etiquette-dilemmassolved-123560/
  3. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/living-single/201402/10-steps-getting-over-humiliation
  4. https://www.rileychildrens.org/connections/mommy-shaming-how-to-stand-your-ground-and-put-others-in-their-place
  5. https://www.rileychildrens.org/connections/mommy-shaming-how-to-stand-your-ground-and-put-others-in-their-place
  6. http://gailbrenner.com/2014/07/10-life-changing-ways-to-move-through-shame/
  7. http://www.parenting.com/article/6-new-mom-confidence-boosters
  8. http://www.parenting.com/article/6-new-mom-confidence-boosters
  9. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/mommitment-campaign-aims-to-put-an-end-to-mom-shaming_us_55f1afeae4b03784e278429d
  10. http://abc3340.com/archive/local-psychologist-helps-young-moms-deal-with-mom-shaming
  11. https://www.rileychildrens.org/connections/mommy-shaming-how-to-stand-your-ground-and-put-others-in-their-place


Article provided by wikiHow, a wiki building the world’s largest, highest quality how-to manual. Please edit this article and find author credits at the original wikiHow article on Mommy Shaming. Content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons License.

 

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