Moms on hate, mommy wars, being judged by sanctimommies (which is a made-up word that ties mommy with sanctimonious) and it means the same thing – moms that are being bullied by those who don’t agree and like with their choices. Those who bully these moms feel they must make it clear that they don’t like what they are doing so they put them down. They cannot simply keep their opinions to themselves. They couldn’t care less than they never stepped in the mom’s shoes for a day. They lack empathy and are full of judgment. Or perhaps jealousy is in the picture that is influencing them to shame. Or, they cannot simply agree with their values and think their way is the only way to go. There really are countless reasons why so much bullying occurs.
Another common term for this issue is mom-shaming. And mom-shaming can happen by anyone and can happen anywhere. Mom-shaming can happen in public by strangers whether they are parents or not. They can happen online by other moms (the sanctimommies) or by any troll or keyboard warrior. Unfortunately, the mom’s parents, siblings, and in-laws can shame them as well. And, moms can be the worst mom-shamers towards themselves as well.
Based on what you have read so far, you can see that mom-shaming is a major problem, and even more of a problem when it is -the mom-shaming herself. Let’s firstly take a look at 12 common examples of mom-shaming that you hear about quite often.
1. Breast Is Best
The fact of the matter is that feeding babies breast milk is the ideal choice as it is completely natural. However, not all moms are able to breastfeed, and not all moms want to breastfeed and immediately put their babies on formula. Unfortunately, these moms are judged by those who only advocate for breastfeeding. They are called selfish and lazy as well as other names.
First of all, not all moms want to breastfeed and that is their choice. Secondly, this is a bitter thing for moms who are unable to breastfeed who want to take it. Perhaps some of them did try to breastfeed and weren’t able to due to having low milk supply which is often caused by PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome). Perhaps some moms have to be on medication that is not safe for breastfeeding. There are a variety of reasons that moms cannot or choose not to breastfeed and they should never be shamed. With that said, let’s all agree that fed is best.
2. Milestone Shaming
There are many moms in particular who shame other moms who have babies or toddlers that are not hitting their milestones. If a mom has a 10-month old baby who isn’t crawling, then she will be asked by another mom if she had her baby assessed. And if she said no, then she will be chastised for not caring enough about her baby for not having the ‘delay’ looked into. This only makes moms feel shameful about themselves and makes them worry more.
Besides, it is not another mom’s (or any stranger’s) job to chastise another mom for not being proactive about her baby’s development (or lack of). The pediatrician will be the one to point out a problem if there is one and to come up with a plan of action for assessment.
3. Working Mom VS SAHM
Both stay at home moms (SAHM) and working moms get plenty of judgment. The working mom is frequently judged for not spending time with her baby and ‘escaping to work’. The SAHM is criticized for being lazy for not working and are thought to be doing ‘nothing all day’. Both statements are incorrect and judgemental. It is the mom’s choice whether she wants to work or not, and in many cases, the mom doesn’t have a choice because life is expensive.
4. They Don’t Like How The Mom Parents
It is common that moms are shamed for how they parent their babies. That is when others who are shaming them tell them that she should be doing ‘this, this, and that’ instead of how she is already parenting her child. The rule of thumb is that as long as the child is clothed, fed, loved, and is living in shelter, then there is no reason to judge and to keep opinions to oneself. Parenting is not a one-size-fits-all approach.
5. Shaming Moms For Not Feeding Kids Organic Foods
It happens often that moms are given the stink eye when they are grabbing McDonald’s takeout for their kids, or are feeding them foods that may not be GMO-free. They are told that they don’t care about their kids since they are feeding them ‘garbage’. That is quite untrue as these moms only care about getting their kids fed while they are rushing around. People who shame them don’t know their stories and know what is happening in their lives. Chances are the shamer who grew up on processed foods and is obviously still around to shame other moms who do the same.
6. Only Sharing The Perfect Life On Social Media
Moms who share ‘picture perfect’ lives on Instagram or Facebook are shamed because they are portraying that they have ‘the perfect life’. It is pure jealousy that causes these judges to shame these moms.
However, let’s be the devil’s advocate for one moment, and perhaps it is a good idea for moms to share some of the not-so-perfect moments online. It gives others a glimpse that they are relatable. Of course, it is up to the mom and it is her business for what she shares, but it is recommended for moms to give a true picture or make some statements about their struggles. That is not pessimism, as that is a dose of realism.
7. The Pinterest Mom Gets Shamed Too
This point is somewhat of an extension of the previous one. And these Pinterest moms enjoy cooking, enjoy throwing parties, and appear to have it together. Those who judge these moms are clearly jealous and these moms have every right to show off their baking skills and their masterpieces. They are proud of their creations so let them post pictures of those and let them be happy.
8. Body Shaming
You would think that any mom would understand the struggle of managing that baby weight. Some of them manage it well and lose it fast, and others do not. But they all get shamed one way or another. Those who are jealous will judge moms who have lost their baby weight and who are naturally thin, to begin with. They will be told that these moms thought it was more important to exercise and stick to a diet than to care for their babies.
And, the moms who don’t lose their baby weight, or worse – gain more weight are also shamed and are told that they are lazy. What those who judge these moms may not know is that some of them may have to be on medication for postpartum mental health disorders which can cause weight gain. Either way, body shaming is a problem when it comes to mom-shaming.
9. Criticizing Birth Choices
Moms that are questioned about their birth choices are questioned not out of curiosity for the sake of being curious. They are asked out of curiosity so that they can be shamed if they answer the question that the person asking doesn’t like that is. Moms are shamed for choosing a medicated birth and are told that they are wimps for not managing a little pain. And, moms that go natural are criticized by those who can’t imagine doing so because they think that those who choose to have a medication-free birth are ‘show-offs’.
Neither is true, and it is up to the mother how she wants to give birth. It is no one’s business other than her own and that of her care provider.
10. Shamed For How She Spends Her Free Time
Moms who go to the gym or go for a coffee or to the spa even though her baby is in daycare are judged often. Those who judge these moms think that they really don’t care for their babies and care more for themselves. The fact of the matter is that every mom needs ME time in order to recharge so she can be the best version of herself. And how she spends her ME time is completely up to her.
And, if other moms are judging these moms, they are likely burned out and it is not fair to resent other moms that may have more help than they do. It is essential that every mom finds time alone to recharge even if that means spending a half hour taking a bath after the kids go to bed. It can be done and sometimes it requires planning.
11. Drinking Coffee Or Eating Junk Foods While Pregnant
This is a common mom-shaming issue. Many pregnant moms drink coffee and eat fast food or junk food. There was a story that happened in 2019 about a Starbucks barista who shamed a pregnant mom for ordering a coffee. That is mom-shaming to the core. Firstly, it is safe for pregnant women to consume up to 200 mg of caffeine a day, and secondly, perhaps some pregnant moms are too sick during their pregnancies and can only handle eating junk food.
Either way, it is no one’s place to judge what a pregnant woman does. Sure, it is easy to shame a pregnant mom if she is smoking or drinking. But, still, keep those opinions locked up. Mom-shaming is never okay.
12. Judging A Special Needs Mom For Placing Her Disabled Child To A Group Home
This, unfortunately, is a common problem. Moms that have kids with disabilities are quite limited as far as how they can care for them. And unfortunately many times, the only solution is to place them in a residential facility that can provide these kids with the care that they require. Moms in the special needs community are judged often because those who don’t understand their struggles think they are ‘lazy’ or ‘are taking the easy way out’ when they do this. Even moms in the special needs community who believe in martyrdom will judge.
Just like it is a special needs mom to care for her disabled kid 24/7 is a choice, it is also a choice for the mom who cannot care for her disabled child. And sometimes that isn’t even a choice if her mental health and overall well-being are at stake. Especially if other kids are involved.
Those are some common and heavy examples of how moms are shamed. What can be done about these mom-shamers?
What Can Be Done About Mom-Shamers?
Firstly if the mom is shaming herself, then she needs to start being gentle with herself and accepting the fact that she is not perfect. If the mom is encountering mom shamers for any reason, then it is best for her to block them out. She can change conversations if she is being mom-shamed by those who she sees in person. She can block mom shamers online, and walk away from her phone or computer and remember that not everyone is empathetic.
Additionally, those who mom shame often need to be educated. However, there are always many who will not be open to being educated and will hold onto their beliefs for good. But whatever the mom is being shamed about, she could educate others about as well by blogging or by talking about it on social media. Perhaps the mom who is being shamed for going to the gym even though her kids are in daycare should blog about how ME time is so important.
Perhaps the mom with PCOS who couldn’t breastfeed should blog about how PCOS was responsible for reducing the milk supply and she had no other option than to formula feed. The bottom line is that the moms who are mom-shamed have an opportunity to do something positive about it and provide some education and awareness about what she is being shamed for.
Either way, mom-shaming is wrong. And if a child is evidently neglected or abused, then there is still no need to mom shame. Do something about it instead of contacting social services. However, only do so if you know for a fact that a child is being abused or neglected. That tactic can be abused as well.
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