We all suffer from it. Whether it is self-inflicted or brought on by someone else’s judgement we all feel shame. We may be ashamed of something that happened in our past when were we young and inexperienced, we may be ashamed of something that someone close to us did that reflected poorly on our choice in associations, we may just be insecure and ashamed of it. But make no mistake, we ALL feel shame, and that is OK! What is not OK is shaming others. Judging people for the decisions they make based on their own lives and situations when we have no idea what their life is actually like.
Personally, I feel that Mom Shaming is the worst kind of shaming. Every mom (and every dad) is doing the absolute best they can do for their children with the resources they have. Whether they choose to breast or formula feed, rock their babies to sleep or let them cry it out, send their kids to daycare or stay at home. All of these decisions are made based on the resources, parenting beliefs and experiences of the parents making them. We do not know what their situation is, so who are we to judge them. A mom may be a breast cancer survivor that had a double mastectomy and cannot breast feed no matter how much they want to. A mom may want to formula feed because they cannot get over the debilitating postpartum depression but cannot because the cost it too high. A mom not be able to stay home because she needs to work to support her family. We do not know what the situation is but it is none of our business.
I try to never judge any person on this earth for the decisions they make, but especially other parents. I am certainly not perfect and there are times I find myself having that judgmental thought but when I catch myself I stop and ask that mom if there is anything I can do to help them in that moment if they look as if they are struggling. Or I offer a kind word of encouragement because let’s be honest we can all use more kind words offered to us on the regular. The kind words I offer could be the only kind words that mom has heard all day.
I was catching up with my friend Jamie yesterday, she recently had her son about 5 months ago and my second child is 2 months old. We were chatting about the difficulties of midnight feedings, strategies for sleeping, dealing with the incredible amount of weight that we moms deal with on a daily basis. We also talked about the joy our babies bring us, the smiles, the laughs, the coos, the looks of love and how all the hard parts are worth every stressful moment when they look at us. As we parted ways and made loose plans to be walking buddies she made a comment that hit me like a ton of bricks, “You can never have too many mom friends!” This is unbelievably true! We should not be breaking each other down but building each other up. We should be helping each other make it through the day if need be. We are all moms that could use a shoulder to lean on, or a helping hand, or a kind word. We are a village going through the same thing no matter how different the situation.
So when you see a mom struggling, offer a kind word or helping hand. If you are talking with a mom about their parenting choices hear what she is saying. Take it in. Understand what she is saying. You don’t need to agree with her choices but you do need to respect that these are her choices. If you are staunchly against her choices make the conscious decision to not be a mom shamer and keep your mouth shut. Unless they choose to not vaccinate their children, then you should make the conscious decision to never bring your child around their child.