Urban Dictionary defines mom shaming as “Criticizing or degrading a mother for her parenting choices because they differ from the choices the shamer would make.“
Mom shaming gets a lot of attention these days, and the term is used frequently in accusation. I’m writing this post because in the past week, I have been accused twice of mom shaming in comments on my post Why I Won’t Put My Kids in Daycare.
As with other controversial topics, I would like to address the issue of mom shaming (and the ensuing accusations) head on.
I did some research, because I’m not a mom. I’ve never personally been shamed for the way I raise my kids. I found this insightful article from The Huffington Post, written by a mother about her top five mom shaming pet peeves. I also read this wonderful post from mommy blogger Brittany Ferrell over at A Mama Tale.
After reading these posts and more, I’ve decided that I, too, am against mom shaming. In fact I wrote an entire blog post series about parenting trends around the world and why it’s okay to do things differently. In a heterogeneous society such as the United States, we inevitably come across lots of parents with unfamiliar or strange-seeming methods of raising their children. That doesn’t make what they’re doing wrong. Just different.
The phrase “mom shaming” has taken on a whole new meaning recently.
It’s no secret that we live in a permissive culture. As the United States (and many European countries) become progressively more liberal, the lines between right and wrong become blurred.
Is it mom shaming to give parents advice on what’s best for the children? Is it mom shaming to publicly state the way you intend to raise your kids? Is it mom shaming to post your success on social media, where another mother might happen to see it and feel deficient?
What the heck is mom shaming anyway?
Nobody knows everything. Nobody has it all together. We’re all learning how to be parents, good parents, better parents.
Read people’s advice. I read blog posts from other parent bloggers every day! And I incorporate them in my nannying and babysitting, because that’s the platform I have to use their advice right now. One day, I’ll use their advice for my own children. There is no shame in taking people’s wise advice.
If their advice isn’t wise, don’t take it. Simple as that.
There’s no need to throw around accusations of mom shaming just because someone’s advice doesn’t line up with your personal life choices. They were probably just trying to be helpful. I know I was.
Our permissive culture has hampered our ability to call people out when they do something wrong. Everyone’s so anxious not to step on any toes. Everyone is so quick to take offense when they perceive a criticism or critique.
You’re going to make mistakes. Everyone does. It’s silly not to let someone help you because you’re embarrassed about your mistake, or because you’re so stubbornly set in your ways that you would rather be “right” than do what’s best for your children.
I’m all for stopping mom shaming, but let’s be clear about what mom shaming really is.
- Mocking a woman for choosing to publicly breastfeed? Mom shaming. Stating your intent to breastfeed in public? Not mom shaming.
- Aggressively criticizing a mother because she chose co-sleeping over crib sleeping? Mom shaming. Publicly sharing the potential dangers of co-sleeping? Not mom shaming.
- Gossiping about how so-and-so failed to pull off a Pinterest-perfect party? Mom shaming. Sharing the pictures of your Pinterest-perfect party on Facebook? Not mom shaming.
Are we clear?
If you are purposefully degrading someone, check yourself. If you’re trying to share some helpful advice, go for it.