10 Ways to Fall Into the Trap of Mom-Shaming
If you have pregnant women or young moms close to you, think about how you talk to them. They already reflect quite enough whether they are, or how good they are as mothers to their child. If as a friend, mom, mother-in-law, cousin, neighbor or a passerby you have some well-intentioned advice, be careful not to wound the mom and consequently fall into the trap of mom-shaming.
If you have a pregnant woman or a young mom in your surrounding, consider how you speak to her. Specifically, women are very sensitive in that period. Due to the aggregated fear and concern for the child, the pain experienced during childbirth, distorted view on privacy, hormonal disbalance and crushing emotions, they really do not need further shaming, judgment and criticism.
The introspection they bring upon themselves whether they are or how good mothers for their child they are is quite sufficient, and combined with them being a moving target for innumerable unwanted advice, degrading and shaming, it can only make them feel additionally insecure.
Therefore, if you are a friend, mom, mother-in-law, relation or a passerby and you surely have good-intentioned advice to impart, be careful to still not hurt- the mom you care about and not to fall in this trap.
It may happen that we mothers of somewhat older children have forgotten the trials of pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, preparing the bottle, and now, as more experienced, we want to consult those who could profit from our advice, since we've been there and we know how they feel. Will every advice do them good? We fall into the trap where we ourselves become the ones who pry into doings of others, from our best intent. We'll not be excused even if we say "but I didn't mean it that way" afterwards.
1. Stigmatizing the behavior of a pregnant woman
If you see a pregnant woman with a bag of snacks or in a fast food restaurant, and get a craving to comment how it is not good for her fetus, just bite your tongue. You don't know if that mom's perhaps vomited for months, or may have felt sick from even a glass of water, and now finally she is enjoying the return of the sense of taste. She knows what is good for her unborn, and anyway it is hers and none of your business, but sometimes she needs a respite from the sensation that her only purpose is as an incubator. Try to overlook the occasional moment of joy in some vice.
2. Inquiring about reasons for the choice of method of birth
A woman who gives birth by a cesarean is neither a coward or spoiled to have made that choice. In the majority of instances that is not her decision, but a better and safer way for both mom and baby. And anyway, the cesarean also hurts, and recovery can be much harder than after a natural birth. A woman who opts for epidural is not a coward or soft, but doesn't want to suffer needless pain to greet her baby the most relaxed. The woman who is afraid of needles and possible undesirable consequences of epidural is neither a coward of spoiled, rather she consciously makes the decision for her own benefit, as it makes her feel safer. Do not question the courage of moms at birth, surely every one of them is a hero in that situation.
3. Commenting the physical appearance of moms
Oh, mom, are we getting chubby! Oh, mom, two more kilos and you'll be as good as new! Never, never, never comment a mom's appearance. It is impolite, frustrating and terribly annoying!
When you see a baby of a few months being breastfed or fed by bottle in public, you should know that they have endured several weeks of real struggle. And moms who for some reason or other feed their children with formula are no less worthy moms, but moms who have given their best and made the best decisions for themselves and their child. Simply, don't ask anything, neither why she is breastfeeding or not, nor how good her milk is and whether she has enough of it, nor if she's tried everything to maintain breastfeeding... All moms would then rather swear at you, but instead you usually bring them to tears. From your best intention.
5. Analyzing the baby's progress
How could she have only gained 700 grams, when the neighbor's gets kilo and a half? Is it sitting at six months, does it crawl with nine? Who starts walking when, and why doesn't yours on time? Every child has it's time, every child is different and comparison with other children can only torment the mom.
6. The issue called "Hat"
Is it apostasy not to put a hat on a child even when you yourself aren't wearing one? Is it apostasy to take it's socks off in summer? Is it apostasy if we do not cover its kidneys, not cozy it in a warm baby's nest and don't put on it a vest whenever a grandma thinks we should? Or is that nonsense... perhaps?
7. Criticizing feeding
Is it proper to introduce carrots weekly, or should one rather start with zucchini? Just imagine, some shameless moms opt for the jar! And if the older child happens to dislike cooked vegetables, it is solely the mother's fault for the imprinted bad habits. Stop preaching!
8. Imposing your own value system
Every decision we've made about our child's upbringing ought to be the result of consideration and discussion between the partners, and not the whole village. It is not easy to please everyone, and how much you'll cuddle and kiss your child, or be strict, should not be anyone else's business.
9. Condemning mom's position on work
If she decides to go back to work quickly, she's a careerist and bitch, and if she resolves to be a housewife, she is ignorant. You've heard this, haven't you? Behind this important decision must lay numerous factors which the mom has already considered. First of all, for some women it is an unachievable luxury to stay at home and dedicate their maximum to the baby, since their family livelihood would be in jeopardy. Some are much happier working, and a happy mother means a happy baby. And some women truly enjoy being just moms and housewives and feel no need for a career and have a full right to behave that way, as long as it's not oppressing others. Then don't you oppress them!
10. Analyzing mom's free time
It is very important that a mom is content, which she can be only if she achieves a good balance of commitments, leaving some time for herself. Therefore it is pointless to analyze her reasons for leaving the child, as that way she is working for the child's benefit. An occasional outing with a friend, sport or dinner with partner, can only bring a smile on mom's face and relieve anxiety and stress.
Let's not fall into these traps! Let's encourage moms instead of criticizing and condemning them.