It is hard enough being a mother—either new or experienced—without the onslaught of the infamous “Mom Shamers.” Yes, “mom-shaming,” (making a mother feel ashamed about a decision she has made in relation to motherhood), is happening to mothers around the country at an alarming rate. Whether it be the number of children one decides to have, whether or not to go back to work after maternity leave, or how to feed baby (breast or bottle), when it comes to motherhood, there seem to be countless, unsolicited advisors.
The sad situation is that oftentimes these comments come from those closest to us—family. The University of Michigan’s C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital conducted a national poll surveying 475 mothers of children aged 5 and younger. According to the study, “The moms who felt criticized said their own parents (37 percent), co-parent (36 percent) and in-laws (31 percent) were the most frequent to pass judgment.” The reflection of this evidence shows that the highest volume of interactions unfortunately happens with family members.
What do the experts advise on handling these opinionated people? Are there methods of turning these negative comments into positive ones? Take some deep breaths, mamas. Read on for a few tips on how to deal with this phenomenon and turn it into something positive.
METHOD #1: It is all about a positive spin. Supermodel Chrissy Tiegen is notorious for her honest, down-to-earth approach to motherhood. Her Instagram has countless real-life photos and explanations for how she handles life with her children. While her photos are inspirations for many, some of her followers choose to make harsh comments about her actions. In response to one follower, upset that she was no longer breastfeeding her baby, Tiegen quickly put the person in their place with the witty remark that her husband John Legend, “never breastfed Miles.”
METHOD #2: “It is not you; it is them.” Often these comments are a reflection of one’s own insecurities, when it comes to parenthood. Everyone has flaws. Unfortunately, rather than fix their own flaws, some out there find comfort in picking out others’ areas to work on. When on the receiving end of a negative comment, try to take a step back, breathe and remember that this is more about that person’s insecurity than your own.
METHOD #3: Remember, the coin has two sides. While it is hard to be the one receiving the mom-shaming, it is vital to realize we may have done the same thing ourselves. Whether it be the small act of eye-rolling when we see a mother with a screaming toddler in line at the grocery store, or the smirk we make after a mom yells at her teenage son to get off his phone while at church, we are just as guilty through these small acts.
METHOD #4: No long response needed! It is easy to get down on the level of a mom-shamer by resorting to a sarcastic and demeaning comeback. However, the easiest way to stop that person in their tracks begins with a simple, “I’m okay with my decision to ________” statement. When questioned about why a child is allowed access to an iPad at night, all one has to say is “I’m okay with my decision to have my child on their device, thank you.” This gives the control back to the receiver, not the one disgracing them.
METHOD #5: “It takes a village to raise a child.” There may be times when unsolicited advice has good intention. While it may seem that older Aunt Sheila is always giving advice on how to handle a colicky baby, recall that often this advice comes from a good place. Remember the old saw, “It takes a village to raise a child.” This is true when it comes to child rearing. Those older relatives may have just the tips and tricks that can help your child.