Mom shaming: how to defend against mother-to-mother bullying and advice on how to be a mother, especially if we are new mothers
When we become mothers, more or less everyone feels entitled to ask us questions, express ill-concealed judgments, make suggestions that always have a guilty implication. Today we have a precise definition of this phenomenon: it is called Mother Shamingand it is time to learn how to defend ourselves, but also to understand how to avoid becoming the bullies ourselves.
In this article
Meaning of Mom Shaming
That Mother shaming it is a real action bullying towards mothers, very often committed by other women and mothers. It is an explicit judgment of someone else’s parenting choices and can be made intentionally or unintentionally. It is certainly a very widespread phenomenon and only recently has it become the subject of debate on social networks and among parenting communities.
There is no doubt that when a new mother has to contend – as well as with all the psychological and practical burdens of her new life with the baby – also with the judgments of others, it is easy to feel that they are unable to meet unrealistic expectations and they feel easily disappointed, let down and unsure of their parenting skills. All this can favor the onset of serious problems such as anxiety and depression.
How to Recognize Mom Shaming
According to a study by CS Mott Children’s Hospital, nearly two-thirds of mothers were ashamed of their parenting skills at some point.
We can understand that we are victims of mother shaming when a person is there criticism for a parental choice (e.g. about breastfeeding or sleep habits or fitness). This type of judgment generates insecurity and anxiety in the mother, but also a sense of shame that is not only ineffective but also harmful.
- Assessment of fitness after birth
- comments on breastfeeding and choice of infant formula
advice on private life and the union between work and motherhood
comparison between children at developmental stages with implicit criticism.
How to Avoid Mom Shaming
In fact, if we reflect for a moment, we can realize how many times when we talk to a friend or acquaintance who has just become a mother, we feel that we are free to express hidden judgmental advice “from the top of our experience”.
Based on the premise that advice is only given if it is asked for, and that we should always think before we speak, it is nonetheless very easy to fall into Mom Shaming’s trap and risk harming the newborn mother.
To recognize this behavior in ourselves, we try to:
- don’t judge another person’s choices. Let’s face it, there are many factors that play a crucial role in a person’s decision making process and it is natural for people to come to different conclusions.
- Support other mothers because people never like in this moment need support instead of criticism.
- Reframing our thinking: Instead of seeing another person’s choice as a personal attack on us, let’s try hard to understand how they could have come to that decision. This mental approach opens the door to more compassion and less judgment.
How to Defend Yourself Against Mom Shaming
The first thing to do is keep calm and use disarming phrases which displaces the interlocutor and in most cases forces him to change the size of himself immediately. Phrases like:
- “Thank you for sharing your opinion”
- “Ok, I’ll have to think about it”
- “I don’t like it when my choices are questioned.”
We try that too reframe our way of thinking. Let’s pause and keep our instinctive feelings in check to try to understand why our interlocutor has come to this belief.