Sure we’ve all had our fair share of comments or parenting tips from those we love. But, along with this, comes the few who dole out a little too much-unsolicited advice and leave you feeling like maybe you did something wrong. It’s called Mommy Shaming. It’s not right, but it happens a lot more often than we think.
According to a recent poll from the University of Michigan, “Six in ten mothers of children ages 0-5 say they’ve been criticized about parenting, on everything from discipline to breast feeding.”
As if a mother doesn’t have enough on her plate just trying to navigate her way through the crazy beautiful storm we call motherhood, sprinkle on a little criticism and voila, she’s made to feel incompetent.
We teach our children that if you have nothing nice to say, then say nothing at all. Even if the person feels their advice may be helpful, consider stopping and putting yourself in the mother’s shoes. Could this possibly be taken the wrong way? Giving birth to a child is a miraculous thing, but that doesn’t make someone an expert. There’s always room to grow and learn.
So who are the biggest offenders? Grandma, friends, a stranger on the train platform? You may be nodding your head yes to any one of these, but believe it or not, it’s the mother’s parents. In fact, thirty-seven percent of moms have been second guessed by their mother and father.
More than likely they are doing it out of love not knowing the lasting effect it can cause. Among the laundry list of most criticized topics, the study says that discipline is at the very top. This issue is not surprising since parents deal with it on a daily basis. However, with each new era, comes different ways of regulating children. From spanking and timeouts to positive reinforcement or logical consequences. What works for one parent, may not for the other.
“Family members should respect that mothers of young children may have more updated information about child health and safety,” says the poll co-director Sarah Clark, M.P.H.,” and ‘what we used to do’ may no longer be the best advice.”
What else is on the list of contenders? Diet and nutrition (52 percent), sleep (46 percent), breast- versus bottle-feeding (39 percent), safety (20 percent) and childcare (20 percent).
Clark goes on to say, “It’s unfortunate when a mother feels criticized to the point where she limits the amount of time she and her child will spend with a family member or friend. To guard against that situation, advice to mothers of young children should be given with empathy and encouragement.”
In other words, stop the shaming.