As a blogger I share many of my own experiences and parenting tips with the world. Since I’m in a public forum, I set myself up for criticism from those who don’t like my opinions…and it ain’t always pretty!
Yesterday I received a comment on one of my recent posts. Usually I enjoy hearing from readers, but this commenter was critical of not only my idea, but the fact that I shared it as well. Basically, this person said it was wrong to share my own personal experience — even if it worked — because I did not conduct scientific research to back it up.
While this is (by far) NOT the most offensive comment I’ve received, I still thought it necessary to respond. This is an issue that affects almost all moms at some point in their lives, and can be devastating to our confidence.
I’m talking about “mom shaming”
“Mom shaming” is bullying or criticizing another mom for her parenting choices. It’s not a new phenomenon, but with the rise of the internet, it’s become more public.
In a recent survey by mom.life, over 80% of moms polled said that they have been the victims of “mom shaming,” whether in private or on social media. Incredibly, the majority of them said that other moms were the ones doing the bullying.
“Mom shaming” is the grown-up version of lunchroom bullies
How many times have you seen a friend’s Facebook post that starts a lively discussion? For example, a new mom in your parenting group asks if anyone has tried the “cry it out” method. She’s at her wits end from sleepless nights and looking for help.
You’ve tried “cry it out” and it worked miracles for your family. You click “reply” and start to type a response. And then stop.
Some of the previous commenters passionately spoke out against the method. Visions of being called “heartless” and “selfish” make you rethink replying at all. You decide it’s not worth the risk of turning the commenters’ wrath on you if they don’t like what you said.
Or consider this scenario: you’re at the park with a weekly playgroup and one of the moms pulls out a pacifier for her little one. Another mom shakes her head and chides her saying, “you know that’s probably the reason he’s not talking much yet. Pacifiers cause speech delays.”
Maybe no one joins in the shaming, but maybe no one defends pacifier mom either. And silence is just as hurtful to the mom being shamed.
So often we keep our thoughts to ourselves to avoid confrontation or public judgement.
It’s hardly any different than the popular girl in high school that everyone was afraid to cross for fear of ending up on her bad side.
Even bloggers are not immune to “mom shaming”
Since my writing is read by a lot of people, it increases the odds of getting negative feedback. However, regardless of who you are, you never really get “used to” receiving criticism or judgement. It might not be personal (random commenters obviously don’t know me), but it still stinks.
I don’t expect every single person to agree with every single thing I say. And that’s ok! I don’t love everything I read on the internet either. Fortunately the internet is a big place, so we can instead visit a site that we do love and agree with. And I think most people do just that.
But every now and then, there is that one reader that can’t move on without letting me know that they think I’m wrong. Or stupid. Or even “dangerously” irresponsible.
And I’m not even talking about the nasty specimens known as “trolls” who leave mean comments for sport! I’m talking about regular people who feel called to criticize those they don’t agree with.
But there IS one parenting strategy that we should all agree on
I know I just said that I don’t expect everyone to agree with me. But I take that back…sort of.
There IS one parenting strategy that we should all agree on.
DO WHAT WORKS.
It’s that simple! Do what works for YOU. And give others the freedom to do the same.
I’m pretty sure that most of us were taught this lesson as kids: if you don’t have something nice to say, then don’t say anything at all.
But somewhere along the way, that message has gotten lost. Well my friends, that golden rule still applies to us moms!
So whether you adhere to the potty train in a weekend school of thought, or the potty train whenever it happens technique — if it works for you then it’s all good.
And if you breastfeed for two years or two weeks — if it’s the right decision for you an your family, then who am I to criticize you?
We have enough on our plates as moms — we don’t need to make things unnecessarily harder on each other.
So mamas, let’s make a promise to each other. A promise to be kind. A promise of support, without judgement.
I’m in. Who’s with me?
This article originally appeared at the Soccer Mom Blog.