We all have strong opinions about our kids and when our parenting style or our child is criticized we’ll have strong reactions. Mom-shaming happens. I experienced it more than once as a parent from complete strangers and from family members. I certainly hope that I didn’t shame other moms. We know that our kids aren’t perfect and we aren’t perfect either. A lot of parenting is trying to learning through experience and knowing that every single day, we’ll face new challenges. Sometimes we make it up as we go.
Sometimes a well-meaning relative or friend will offer advice. When it’s unsolicited it’s often unwelcome. It can seem to be judgmental or condemning. The normal reaction is to feel hurt or defensive, which then leads to conflict.
I found an interesting article on a website called Your Tango by Erica Wollerman, parenting expert and psychologist, called 5 Ways To Respectfully Talk About Different Parenting Views With Family & Friends. Here’s an excerpt:
Is mom-shaming ever OK?
Mom-shaming is an inherent problem in today’s world of parenting.
As a mom and someone who works with parents very closely in my work as a psychologist, I argue that it’s vital that we avoid shaming other parents as much as possible.
While we are all human and are going to have judgments and feelings about what others are doing, I believe that it’s better not to communicate judgments in a shaming way, particularly towards parents.
And the reason why is simple: We are all doing the best we can with the information we have and the situations we are in.
I’ve never worked with a parent who simply didn’t care or wasn’t trying to be the best parent — they all want to give their kids the best life they could.
Additionally, there’s already so much pressure on parents in our culture to be perfect and to do everything possible for their kids.
In America, we lack a unified parenting philosophy that we all share and rely on the parenting advice we get from thousands of sources — podcasts, books, friends, family, TV shows, and psychologists and parent coaches.
It’s just so overwhelming to have to make so many decisions and do a job that most of us feel is crucial for our kids’ development without truly knowing for sure what the “right” choice is.
The author has specific tips and some great advice. I like it when she said the most important thing is to love your child and accept them for who they are. She said to “try to match your parenting style to their personality.”
She offers five tips to respectfully talk about parenting differences with family and friends. Here are the first two:
1. What works for one family won’t necessarily work for others.
The idea of “that’s great for you and it’s just not for me” is a good approach to start with when talking about parenting differences with other parents.
If you approach other parents’ decisions from the place that they have the right to make their own choices and that you do, too, it can really help avoid shaming comments.
For example, if a mom is choosing not to breastfeed or choosing to stop, they 100 percent do not need a list of reasons why breastmilk is beneficial. But what they do need is your support as fellow moms.
2. We can all be good moms and not make the same choices.
There really is no such thing as a perfect parent. Everyone is going to make mistakes and make different choices on their parenting journeys. That does not mean that some are “right” and others are “wrong.”
You are all good moms, even when your choices don’t line up with each other.
Do you have any advice or experiences to share about mom-shaming or discussing different parenting advice with family and friends?