Is mom-shaming ever ok?

randk 5We 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.

randk 6The 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.

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Do you have any advice or experiences to share about mom-shaming or discussing different parenting advice with family and friends?

Moms Feel the Heat From Family in “Mom Shaming” Study

18 years ago.

As a mother, I’ve been critiqued and criticized and apparently so have a majority of other moms. According to C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health from the University of Michigan, 60% of moms with young kids have faced criticism and mostly from their own moms and other family members. That’s what hurts. I believe your family should have your back. But, when they criticize your kids or how you’re raising them, it really hurts. It’s not easily forgotten or forgiven. Even though comments are offered with the best intentions, we tend to take what family members say much deeper than from a busybody stranger.

According to WRDW TV in Augusta, GA:

The survey, conducted between February and June, found that six out of 10 mothers with kids ages five and younger felt they received some sort of criticism about how they parented their children. But what’s surprising is so many of those critiques come from the people they feel closest too – their own family members.

A recent survey by the C.S. Mott Children’s Poll on Children’s Health (CPCH) and the University of Michigan surveyed moms across the country with kids ages five and younger 60% felt criticized by members of their own family. Discipline was the most common topic of criticism, followed by what mothers were feeding their kids, how much sleep they were getting, how much time they spent outside and how much time was spent on electronics.

The survey found that generational differences between grandparents and newer parents were some of the biggest reasons behind critiques, followed by issues between mothers and their in-laws.

 

friendsatbeach

My kids and friends exploring tide pools.

 

An article from Live Science called “60% of Moms Have Been Mom-Shamed” had this to say:

The survey found that 61 percent of moms of young kids said they’d been shamed for their parenting at some point. Twenty-three percent said they’d gotten criticism from three or more different sources. Family was a greater source of criticism than strangers, friends or social media commenters. Only 12 percent of respondents reported being criticized by other mothers in public, while 14 percent reported getting criticism from friends and 8 percent reported hearing criticism from a health care provider. Just 7 percent reported receiving criticism from people online.

These findings could reflect the fact that new moms likely interact more frequently with family members than with online trolls, or that moms might be more sensitive to criticism coming from family members whom they expect to be supportive, C.S. Mott researchers wrote in a report accompanying the findings.

The report, called “Mom Shaming or Constructive Criticism? Perspectives of Mothers,” has interesting findings:

The targets of criticism reported in the Mott Poll reflect differences in cultural norms of parenting. Discipline, the most commonly criticized parenting topic, is rife with opposing views, such as spanking vs time-outs, or strict adherence to rules vs allowing space for the child to explore. Further conflict can arise when those criticizing have unrealistic expectations for a toddler or preschooler, while the mother feels she has a better understanding of her own child’s abilities. Family visits can create unique challenges, as the child’s usual routine is disrupted to accommodate travel and special events; mothers who believe their child’s behavior is impacted by the family visit may be particularly irritated by family criticism of her discipline choices.

Mothers also report being criticized about breast- vs bottle-feeding and sleep. These are just two topics where national guidelines have shifted in recent years, such that parenting norms of older family members may not reflect the current best practices.

The report can be downloaded here.

 

merobkat

Me and my kids.

I believe most of us think we’re doing a pretty good job parenting. It’s easy to be critical of others, but keep in mind that every kid and family is different. What works for your child may not work at all for another. Or, what works today for your kid might not tomorrow.

 

Now that my kids are no longer young, but are young adults, we’ve talked about what they think of my parenting style. What’s funny is that we have entirely different perspectives. I view my style as laid back and I wouldn’t get ruffled. I let my kids explore without too much interference. My kids perceive me as super strict and hovering. Probably the reality is somewhere in-between.

Were you ever criticized by a family member for your parenting? How did it make you feel? Also, do you view yourself as a permissive parent or overly strict? Do you parent the way your mom did?