One of my least favorite parts of being a mom is being shamed for my parenting choices. Sadly, I have a ton of personal experience in this specific parenting area. I've been a mom for over nine years and, so far, I've been shamed for everything from how I birthed my babies and supplementing with formula, to sending them to daycare and letting them pick out their own clothes. But because I've had a lot of practice, I’ve also been able to figure out the best ways to handle mom-shaming, and perhaps more importantly, what not to do when I encounter other moms who make different parenting choices than the ones that work for me.
I didn’t always have such a thick skin, though. When I was a first-time mom, unnecessary comments and passive aggressive questions about how I fed my baby, why I decided to go back to work, and even the rate at which my child was meeting developmental milestones seriously hurt. As a result, I lost friends and confidence in my abilities as a mom. It took a long time for me to recover and grow brave enough to say something when I, or other moms, are mom-shamed, but now I have no problem speaking up. After all, if we don't collectively demand better from one another nothing is going to change.
It seems that mom-on-mom shaming has become synonymous with motherhood, and the amount of isolation and self-doubt moms feel as a direct result of this bullying cannot be understated. So we have to find ways to combat these judgmental, hateful, and inappropriate comments, questions, and outright attacks if we're going to help the next generation of moms feel loved and supported. So why not take a page out of the following veteran moms' book, right?
"I still struggle with this. If it's someone I'm not close with I can pretty much ignore it or just let them know I'm not playing that game, but if it's my grandma I'm not nearly assertive enough. I'm just silent and my husband has to hear me rant about it later. I'm working on it because, really, it's her problem."
"Nip that sh*t in the bud immediately. Defend others vigorously. Own whatever my choice is like it is going out of style. I am a horrible shaming target, and I wish I could gift this to others. No one needs others opinions weighing them down."
"Sometimes I ignore comments and other times I say something. I’ve had several people say it was too cold for me to be out with my baby. I respond with: 'If I choose to leave the house with my baby, it’s my choice. We need groceries despite the temperature.'
It’s obnoxious. I’m just trying to do my best. Thanks but no thanks for your opinion, stranger."
"I was a single parent when my oldest was a baby. We were at a parent-child event, and I was talking about work and daycare with another mom. A mother sitting near us turned to me and said, 'I could never leave my child at daycare.' I responded, 'I’m a single parent, and she doesn’t work so I don’t have many options.' It shut her up quickly."
"I don't let myself react to mom-shaming. I continue to do what I feel is best. Generally speaking, I often find a way to move the topic away from parenting if it becomes too hostile. I've even gone so far as to avoid the topic altogether if I know the person is a 'shamer.' My ability to let my personal experiences be mine allows me to focus on helping other moms feel less affected by the shame as well."
"I have had no one shame me to my face. I think it’s because of my tattoos and resting bitch face. However, I have overheard moms talking about me or my kids because I refuse to helicopter and [choose to] leave my kids in the car when I return shopping carts.
I look at them and smile a ridiculous smile so they know I heard them. Or I talk really loud to my kids about what mommy is doing and why so they can hear me."
"I don’t handle it well, honestly. I lash out/back. Recently though, I came to the conclusion I’m just as bad, and witness it especially in the special needs community. I’m vowing anew to just not."
"My mother said that if I needed IVF maybe it was nature's way of saying that I shouldn't have more kids and that I was being selfish. So, even before the baby born, I was doing things wrong. I don't talk to my parents much anymore."
"I posted about being mom-shamed for going out to eat with our twins when they around 12-weeks-old. Ironically, my friend jumped on the bandwagon about how I was being selfish by going out to eat. I responded by heavily restricting her access to any kid posts. It took a few weeks before I felt comfortable talking about my kids on my Facebook page.
The kicker is she has no kids of her own. She didn't know I was struggling with postpartum depression at the time and that her comments would further isolate me and feel like I was failing as a parent."
"My response depends on the manner of shaming. If it’s 'just' someone asking, 'Oh, isn’t she freezing/overheating' or something along those lines said in a nice manner, I try to be polite but firm and say, 'No, she’s fine thank you.'
If it’s someone loudly trying to rudely shame me or my decisions I ask them: 'Are you a doctor? Because guess what, I am and I don’t care about your opinion.' That usually shuts them up, though if I’m in the mood I will definitely lecture them if it’s a topic like vaccination."
"To be honest, I don't handle it well, at all. I internalize way too much of it. I've been in therapy since my daughter was born and dealing with mom-shame is an ongoing thing I've been dealing with/learning to deal with."
"I say something sarcastic, or bombard them with scientific evidence. Or both."
"Mom shaming is so prevalent I’ve realized the best way to handle it is to be super-selective of the moms with whom I surround myself. I’m only in a handful of Facebook mom groups with other like-minded parents. I don't have many 'real life' mom friends and keep my circle intimate.The best way I’ve found to deal with any shaming is to state facts, let the person know that we do what is best for our family, and delete them. Moms have enough baggage to carry without outside negativity."
"Depends. If I'm tired, I'll roll my eyes. If I'm down, I'll rant to my support circle later. If I'm bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, well, look out. Maybe that's why people who know me don't usually engage in shaming."