Parenting styles are a lot like jeans; there are many options to choose from and you may have to try multiple ones on before finding what fits just right. Due to the plethora of parenting options and choices, it's inevitable that your views are going to clash with those of your friends. After all, parenting is something that many people consider quite personal, and passions over methods and ideologies can make for some uncomfortable disagreements. Hopefully, you'll learn how to respect one another's differences, but you may start to sense ways your friends are subtly shaming your parenting, which could mean your friendship is headed for splitsville.
Most people don't want to outright shame a friend, so they try to create some smoke and mirrors around the jabs and agenda pushing. But I can't say I'm not guilty of subconsciously letting a few subtle shame bombs slip. As psychotherapist Alyson Schafer told Today's Parent, “in order for us to feel confident with our choices, we have to believe that the other ways are wrong.” We reinforce our rightness to ourself, by making others feel like they're the one who hasn't figured it out — sometimes in very subtle ways that feel a lot like shaming.
You may have been suspicious that some of your friends were shaming the way you parent. If any of these 13 examples sound familiar, it's time to have an honest talk with your friend, or just call it quits.
1. They Use Other People As Examples
When your friend makes critical comments about others, sometimes you feel that ridicule is directed at you, as the New York Times' Motherlode section pointed out. If your friend is making negative remarks about other people's parenting choices — but they are some of the same choices she know you have made as a parent — then it's easy to feel like she's pointing a finger at you.
2. They Talk Over You To Your Kids
In my experience, when someone thinks they know how to handle your kids better than you, they tend to step on your toes. This means talking over you, interrupting, or follow up with her ideas to your kids even when you are already handling the situation.
3. You Sense Underlying Anger
If a friend is trying to discuss a parenting topic with you, but you sense underlying anger, she is subtly sending you a message about how she feels. According to Psychology Today, when people want to discuss something negative in an effective and helpful way, there is no anger present. So if your friend can't deliver her message without some anger, she may be shaming your parenting without even realizing how her emotions are coming across.
4. They Say, "My Kids Know Better"
No parent loves it when their kid misbehaves. But when a fellow mom turns to you, and instead of offering support, says, "Oh! My kids know better than to do that," she is suggesting you allow this behavior and your child doesn't know better.
5. They Tell You What They Don't Do
In an article for Today, New York City mom and writer Kim Brown Reiner recalled a time when she offered a friend's child a cookie, the other woman responded with, "we don't let our children have any sugar." I have seen this reaction before, and it has nothing to do with food allergies and everything to do with thinking that giving kids sugar is an abomination.
6. You Feel Defensive
If you constantly feel like you have to defend your parenting style to certain friends, it's time to break up with those friends. As Mind Body Green pointed out, when you feel the need to defend yourself or the way you're doing things, it's a sign the person who is making you feel this way is shaming you.
7. Their Face Says It All
Sometimes it's less about what a person says with their words, and more about what their facial expression tell you. According to a study published on the website for the American Psychological Association, when a person isn't pleased with you, you can tell by the look on their face. So when your friend furrows her brow when you serve non-organic milk, that's a subtle way of shaming your choice.
8. They Use Facebook To Take Digs
Facebook can be a dangerous forum for expressing beliefs. When your friend posts various articles and personal opinions on how only sadistic parents would circumcise their son, when she knows your son is circumcised, it's easy to feel like she's judging and shaming you.
9. Backhanded Compliment
Many subtle shamers will try to disguise their jabs with flattery. Dropping a backhanded compliment about your parenting, like, "you're so laid back, I could never stay calm if my kids acted like yours," is a sneaky way of trying to look nice when you're actually saying something mean.
10. They Give The Silent Treatment
If it isn't the look on their face or their unkind words, then silence might be their way of shaming. When sharing a decision you made when parenting, like choosing to not vaccinate your kids, that silent stare is a form of disapproval.
11. They Drain You
Being around a person who feels the need to shame in any form can be draining. As Very Well pointed out, we like being around certain friends because they bring positive energy to the relationship. But if someone's negativity about your parenting is making you depleted, they are not worth your time.
12. They Claim They Don't Have Time
Every mama needs some me-time to recharge. But some people love to use their busy badge to make you feel selfish about taking time for yourself, and not spending every moment focusing on your kids. They claim that to be a good mother, you must live life for only your kids, even though that can wear you down.
13. They Give Unwanted "Advice"
Part of being a good friend is simply being supportive when someone needs it most, according to Family Circle magazine. If your friend is constantly giving you advice when you didn't ask, and suggesting you do things her way, there's an underlying sentiment that she thinks your choice is wrong, and wants you to change your mind.