The Mommy Wars. Mom-on-mom hate. Mom-shaming. It’s all the same thing and it’s running rampant at your neighborhood park, it’s rearing its ugly face on Facebook, and is overheard in grocery store checkout lines and yoga studios around the country.
Mom-shaming is bullying other moms for their parenting choices in subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) aggressions sprinkled into play group conversations. It’s a small way for some women to gain stature among a group by tearing down others. And as horrible as it sounds, it’s an easy trap to fall into.
In fact, sometimes you may be unintentionally shaming other moms by what you’ve said. Being a mom is tough! And you know as well as anyone that hormones run high among new moms. Which means what you think might have been a totally harmless question or comment could be taken by another mom as hurtful. So, before you speak up, make sure you’re not doing one of these things that might make your fellow mamas feel badly about themselves and their choices.
- Preaching to Her About Breastfeeding. We love breastfeeding here at Medela. And chances are, you do too! But some moms are either unable to breastfeed, or choose not to breastfeed for a variety of reasons. And that’s ok! So when you ask a mom “Why didn’t you breastfeed?” or “Why did you choose formula when breastfeeding is better and cheaper?”, what she hears is criticism of her choice.
- Questioning Her on Her Baby’s Milestones. “Aren’t you worried she’s not crawling yet?” or “ Don’t you think he should be sitting up by now?” All babies are different and they all develop at slightly different rates. And chances are, she’s reading the same websites and books that you are and is already aware her child isn’t following the milestones to a tee. The only thing you’re doing when you ask is making her worry more.
- Commenting on Her Choice to Work or Stay Home. Even if you think you’re in the clear by saying something like “I would miss my baby too much to leave her all day,” or “I’d be so bored if I had to stay home all day,” be careful. These types of statements can be subtle and passive aggressive way of judging another mom’s choices. These choices may also not be choices at all, if a mom needs to stay home or go back to work for financial, health, or other reasons.
- Correcting How She Parents Her Baby. Have you even found yourself citing the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) guidelines to another mom? Or said something like “You really should be doing it this way instead?” Even though you may have the best intentions, another mom can see this as overstepping and judgmental. Ask yourself if her baby is healthy, happy, and well-loved. If so, cut her some slack.
- Pushing Your Values and Choices on Her. Maybe you and your partner have agreed to only feed your children organic snacks. Or maybe you’re trying to raise your little one in a gender neutral way. Whatever choices you’ve made when it comes to parenting, those choices are unique to you. You may believe whole-heartedly that your choices are the best for your baby, but it’s not your job to encourage other moms to do the same. Each mom is doing her best to raise her children according to her values and her preferences – just like you. So keep snacking on organic crackers, but don’t bring it up at your next play date.
- Portraying the Perfect Life on Instagram. Ok, so this one is trickier. Most of us are guilty of staging our Instagram photos a little bit. But it’s also important to show the not-so-picture-perfect moments. These real-life shots are incredibly relatable for any parent, and are a great way to connect with other moms.
- Judging Pinterest Moms. There’s been a trend lately to hate on the sort of mom who always has it together. She throws Pinterest-level parties, always has perfect makeup, and somehow always has her little ones clean and color coordinated. And we get it, there is a temptation to be envious and judge her. But hold back. Instead of gossiping behind her back, embrace her for who she is – and delight in her to-die-for homemade cupcakes.
- Commenting on Other Moms’ Bodies. “She’s already lost her baby weight? She must be neglecting her baby to work out” or “She still hasn’t lost her baby weight?” This one is so easy to avoid – just don’t ever comment on another mom’s postpartum body. See how easy that was?
- Questioning Her Birth Choice. Some moms choose to have their babies at the hospital with an epidural. Others choose an un-medicated birth, but in a hospital or birthing center. While others favor a home-birth instead. Every mom has a right to choose how she brings her baby into the world. And questioning, judging, or criticizing her choices won’t do anything – except maybe cause you to lose a friend.
- Criticizing How She Spends Her Free Time. “She’s always going to the gym – she must never spend any time with her baby,” or “She sends her baby to daycare on Fridays even though she doesn’t work – how could she?” We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again. Self-care is important to being a well-balanced and level-headed mom. So before you judge another mom for sneaking in a little time for herself, remember that “me” time can make a lot of women feel like better moms.
What other ways have you been mom-shamed?