noun - a painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior.
verb - (of a person, action, or situation) make (someone) feel ashamed.
Opinions - we all have them. What we think is right or wrong typically guides not only our decision making, but the advice we give to others. Since becoming a parent, this idea of Mom Shaming has become more and more popular.
Maybe it’s because of the rise in social media, but it seems like we as a society are becoming more and more comfortable with pointing out they way things “should” be or “correcting” someone whose ideas or actions oppose what we would do. As a mother, I have been shamed - and, in turn, have shamed others.
I’ve been shamed for working instead of staying home, for missing not picking my kid up from school, for choosing to bottle feed instead of breastfeed, and many other things.
In turn, I look down on parents who give their babies cell phones as soon as they’re old enough to hold them. I turn my nose up if someone gives their kid soda or cusses within ear shot.
It’s a vicious, vicious cycle- so why do we do it? We know how awful it feels to have others judge our actions yet we turn around and do the same thing. The truth is it’s so much easier for us to bash others or point out what they’re doing ‘wrong’ than it is for us to admit where we’re falling short.
We tend to have this mindset of I’m not perfect, but I’m going to grin and bear it and point fingers like I damn sure am. No one can know I that I lose my temper and yell at my kids or that I hide in the bathroom to eat chocolate without them seeing. NO. ONE. CAN. KNOW.
Being a parent is hard, y’all. We have absolutely no idea what we’re doing, but we’re trying our best and figuring it out a day at a time. Some things we’re very intentional about: we don’t let our child co-sleep, drink soda, or play on a cell phone. On the other hand, he eats candy, watches more TV than he needs to, lives off of chicken nuggets, grilled cheese, and cold hot dogs, and has never been to the dentist.
As women, so much of our identity is tied up into motherhood. You’re shamed if you have kids too young or too old. You’re shamed if you use an epidural or go natural, if you breastfeed in public, if you go back to work, and for a million other things. Hell, you’re shamed if you choose NOT to have kids. From the moment we have our beautiful little babies, every single step and action is watched and judged. Who we were pre-baby is slowly pushed to the backburner as we manage laundry, house cleaning, toys, technology, and keeping tiny creatures alive. We’re fiercely protective of our children so when a someone judges something we did, we immediately go one the defensive and start pointing at others. Because we get in our own heads and start doubting ourselves - and doubt sucks.
Brené Brown’s research on shame is incredible I LOVE how she breaks down guilt vs. shame:
“Based on my research and the research of other shame researchers, I believe that there is a profound difference between shame and guilt. I believe that guilt is adaptive and helpful – it’s holding something we’ve done or failed to do up against our values and feeling psychological discomfort.
I define shame as the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging – something we’ve experienced, done, or failed to do makes us unworthy of connection.
I don’t believe shame is helpful or productive. In fact, I think shame is much more likely to be the source of destructive, hurtful behavior than the solution or cure. I think the fear of disconnection can make us dangerous.”
Shaming is not healthy. Shaming ourselves or each other causes more negativity and a world that’s full enough as it is. Just like with everything in life, our way isn’t the only way. Just because they’re doing something differently than you doesn’t make it wrong. So stop acting like it is.
Stop worrying whether or not other people are vaccinating their kids or giving them too much screen time, breastfeeding, bottle feeding, co-sleeping, working too much, volunteering too little, or a million other little things that are none of your business.
Instead, worry about making sure all the children in your community are safe, healthy and loved. Make sure you’re raising your own kids to be kind, helpful human beings who are so comfortable with themselves that they don’t feel the need to shame others. Above all, cut yourself (and those around you) some slack.