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Top Tips to Identify and Combat Mom-Shaming

By Michele Borba, Ed.D., parenting expert and author of UnSelfie: Why Empathetic Kids Succeed in Our All-About-Me World

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Every day, moms are shamed and labeled for their parenting styles. The insults are so commonplace they’ve almost become ingrained in our vocabulary: the tiger mom, the stage mom, the helicopter mom – the list goes on. And it’s not just happening to celebrity moms. It’s happening to regular moms every day, whether it’s at the check-out line at the grocery store or on Facebook.  That’s why it’s important to understand the effects of mom-shaming and develop your own toolkit to use when you face it yourself.

According to Beech-Nut’s recent survey, nearly 80 percent of millennial moms say they’ve been shamed by someone they know. What’s more is that nearly 70 percent of moms think the issue of mom judging and shaming has gotten worse over the last five years. That’s probably no surprise given the rise of social media usage, which was listed as a top environment where shaming takes place.

Bottom line, no matter where or when mom-shaming occurs, it’s taking a serious toll on moms as well as their children. It’s no longer an issue we can ignore. Here’s why:

  1. Shaming Lowers Mom’s Confidence. Whether deserved or not, moms doubts themselves and questions their parenting decisions after being shamed.
  2. Shaming Reduces Mom Effectiveness. Moms get further away from doing what works best for her and her family. If kids see their mom being judged, they may second guess her parenting.
  3. Shaming Boosts Stress. When a mom is stressed, kids pick up on their mom’s anxiety and feed off of it, negatively affecting children’s mood and self-esteem.
  4. Shaming Sends a Bad Example to Kids. It’s important for moms to set an example for their kids. We can tell our kids “Be nice,” but the example we set for kids is the example they copy.

Perhaps one of the saddest effects I learned about in a recent panel discussion on this issue is that mom-shaming zaps moms’ energy. So many moms simply said they just weren’t themselves after incidents they faced. They didn’t have as much energy to do all the things that make them a great mom – meaning the shaming is having a direct impact on kids.

The survey results also showed that nearly 70 percent of moms wish they’d received more support as a new mom. That’s why all moms need to start a dialogue to share strategies for moms to bounce back from being judged and to stop themselves from judging others. Below are a few ideas to help all moms:

  1. Create Your Mom Tribe – A solid support system is essential to raising children. So, reach out to moms in your area, build relationships with them and help one another be the best moms possible.
  2. Know Your Hot Zones – Bus stop? Grocery Store? PTA meetings? Mom-shaming can happen at all of them, so be ready. Maybe enlist your Mom Tribe when you know you’re headed to one of these locations.
  3. Practice What You Preach – Children learn good behaviors by copying good examples, so it’s important for moms to be nice to one another so our children understand what we mean when we teach them to “be nice,” even if it’s on a subconscious level.
  4. Take a Minute to Yourself – When you find yourself facing a mom-shaming incident, take a moment to collect yourself before responding. In the same vein, take a minute to determine if a comment or suggestion is actually mom-shaming or rather someone trying to show you support.

When moms support one another, we can raise happy, healthy and caring children – and that’s the most important thing we can do as moms. I challenge you to reach out to a mom you know to tell them they’re doing a great job, so we can turn this problem around, one mom at a time.