There are about 3000 different ways to be a parent. Each person and family is going to do it differently. And to go farther than that, each child will need something different too. This is just one reason that parenting is a really hard and long journey. The only way to make it through is to do what works best for you, your child, and your family. And you do that by always making sure to parent your way. Stop by the Resource Library to get your copy of FREE printable How To Choose The Right Chores For Your Toddler Worksheet.
Mommy-shaming: Passing judgement on another mother for the decision she makes on how to parent her child.
Okay, I’ll be honest. I made that definition up. But the experience is absolutely real. And it happens to just about every mom today. And it comes from just about any source imaginable. Family, friends, strangers, anyone and everyone.
Whether someone doesn’t understand your situation, or would personally choose to go about it in a different way and they openly judge you for it. It is happening constantly.
“A stranger at Walmart shamed me for buying formula. I broke down and cried, yelling ‘mind your own business,’ explaining ‘I’m buying hypoallergenic formula,’ and ‘instead of shaming a new mom you could congratulate me on my baby being perfect even though he drinks formula instead of breast milk.'” – Rachel, Wisconsin
“I got a comment about dressing my newborn boy in boy clothing. I was told that I shouldn’t assume the baby’s gender.” – Haley, Wisconsin
If you ask a random mom, she will probably have a story or 2 like this. People judge moms for just about every decision they make. And give their opinion as if we left out a box asking for them. They try to disguise telling you how to raise your kids as ‘advice’. But soon enough, you learn who is being helpful and who is being judgemental.
Now that is not to say that anytime people are giving advice, they are trying to shame you for choosing to parent your way.
“I am a full time single mom to my 5 year old little girl, and have been doing this on my own since she was 3. I’ve found that everyone wants an explanation as to why or how I came to be raising my daughter on my own. I am happy to share my story with people I feel safe sharing with. When I’ve just met you, and you’re asking me about custody or legal matters, not so willing to share.. It seems that an explanation is expected when I share that I am the solo parent. That’s a pretty loaded conversation… I think this shame can be applied to SO many areas of motherhood. I also know that sometimes I’m perceiving judgement, when in all reality someone may just be trying to get to know me.” – Becky, Michigan
Mommy-shaming is real. And far too common. Parent your way anyway.
Becoming A Strong Parent
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, parenting is hard,
It’s one of the hardest things you’ll ever do. And a huge part of that is because you are forced to work on yourself and be a better human being. You need to be a good role model to be a good parent.
That doesn’t mean you need to be perfect, but it does mean potentially making some changes. Like swearing less, eating better, and dressing right according to the weather. Simple things, but hard habits to break.
Now there are many ways to be a strong parent. But, in my opinion, there is one that stands out above them all.
Standing up for yourself and your child when their voice is too small.
It starts from the moment you get pregnant. You will feel the need to defend every choice you make. From the food you eat, to how you feed your child and what religion you raise them as. Everyone has an opinion, and far too many will share it.
Make sure that if it is necessary, you will stand up and defend your family on the choices it makes. No one has the right to tell your kids that you should parent differently and are a bad parent. And unfortunately, you may one day have to tell someone that in front of your kids to teach them that it’s okay for every family to be different. And that you parent your way, just like one day they can parent in theirs.
At the end of the day, sometimes people just need to be reminded that all mom’s are doing their best.
“I’ve been making my own baby food – I think it’s cheaper, easier, and I have a lot of it here anyway. I’ve had family members criticize what I make – veggies that they may not have given their kids, or the fact that I don’t mix things or give him processed food yet. I have celiac and my son has issues with dairy and soy. So we are just trying to do what we think is best.” – Sarah, Wisconsin
“We bottle propped. My child has a genetic condition that means she does not have a hunger drive. Before we knew this, bottle propping was the ONLY way to get her to drink anything. We worked with her GI, pediatrician, and occupational therapist. They all agreed that if it was the only way to feed her we should do it. She ended up needing tube feedings, but to this day she refuses to eat/drink unless she can manage it herself. We knew we were doing what was best for her, so when people told us how they felt, we ignored them. It’s just one of the ways we have had to adapt ‘perfect parenting’ to fit our special girl.” – Aeriel, Maine
When someone passes judgement on you for continuing to parent your way, remember that you do your best. And if your kids are happy and healthy, it is perfect.
Not Judging Doesn’t Mean Not Having Opinions
As a fellow mom, I try not to be judgmental of any other parents. However, I can honestly say that there are some things other parents do that I wouldn’t.
But that doesn’t mean they are any better or worse than I am.
In fact, there were some things I felt that way about, but now I do them. The best example is that I had briefly looked into cloth diapers when I was pregnant with my first and said I’d never do it for whatever reason. And now, 2 years later, I am 2 months into cloth diapering my 18-month-old and 2-month-old. I can honestly say that I am enjoying it! And that I wish I had started out that way 18 months ago. If you are interested in reading about that click over to Cloth Diapers: How To Make The Change
So I remind myself to keep an open mind. And to talk to other mom’s.
Mom’s should interact with other mom’s. It can remind you that you’re not alone in the parenting struggle. You can share what you do and why. Then maybe another mom will realize maybe that will work for them. Or you might see something another mom is doing and it may be exactly what you need. We all think differently and parent differently.
Sometimes the best way to parent your way is to try what someone else suggests and fit it into your routine and family!
Just remember that no matter what, be kind! And support your fellow mom’s. We are all in this together and need the extra support to ‘parent your way’.
What ‘Parent Your Way’ Looks Like
I asked mom’s from all around the country about their experiences with mommy-shaming. I got so many responses it was incredible. And it started an amazing conversation between them all that was good for everyone.
Not only did many of them find out that others had similar struggles to themselves. But many also had their eyes opened to why other mom’s do things that they never understood. It achieved my goal in writing about this topic before I even started. So I hope that this can help even more mom’s find what they need!
I’m going to share ore of what was said because maybe you will find out that someone is doing something the same as you. Or you’ll get an idea that will help your family! Don’t forget to stop by the Resource Library to get your copy of FREE printable How To Choose The Right Chores For Your Toddler Worksheet.
“I’ve been judged for taking my daughter off the bottle before she turned 2. More like yelled at for it, by my mother. I just stopped giving it to her around 18 months and stopped answering to my mom. I had to actually get rid of the bottle because my mom said the sippy cups didn’t work and kept using the bottles. The reason I changed is because the doctor said it was for the best and I agreed.” – Rachel, Ohio
“Extended breastfeeding and nursing uncovered. I want my children to self-wean when they are ready. Plus, it’s important for society to see breasts for what they were intended for – feeding babies. The older generation are the ones who have something to say if anyone. Most of the time I just hear ‘You’re STILL nursing?!’ like it’s weird. People my age are very supportive.” – Carin, Wisconsin
“I chose not to breastfeed with either of my children. I did not want to. After 9 months of being pregnant, I wanted my body back and did not want to have a baby attached to me or to pump every few hours. This shocked people! But honestly, I think a fed baby is what matters. And it allowed my husband to help me, especially with middle of the night feedings. I so appreciated him diving right in WITH me. And it not being just all me to feed them.” – Beth, Maine
“We use the appropriate names for body parts. I have girl/boy twins and they both use the words penis, vagina, nipples, and breast when talking about their privates. We did it because we didn’t want to reinforce the ‘dirtiness’ of the words. In our opinion sex organs don’t need to be sugar coated with words like ‘pee-pee’ or ‘we-we’. We get sideways glances from some people when my daughter will say ‘she’s a girl, she has a vagina’.” – Kate, Michigan
Religion and Spirituality
“We’ve been very open with our kids that while Santa, the Easter Bunny, and The Tooth Fairy, make our holidays and milestones more magical, Christmas and Easter are special and celebrated not to get presents and candy, but because of Jesus and his purpose on Earth. My 10 year-old recently told younger kids on the bus that she doesn’t believe in Santa or the Easter Bunny, and explained why. I had some parents hot on my tail and I responded that she is not one to ruin the magic for others, and was just answering questions. I didn’t apologize for being honest with my kids.” – Emily, Pennesylvania
“We’re open Atheists. We live in a very religious community. Nearly all my family and friends are Christians. I think we’re often judged for raising godless children. But you know, I’m raising good, smart, kind kids so the judgement doesn’t bother me much. I do worry about my children facing prejudices from classmates, friends and teachers. The best I can do is lead by example and arm them with knowledge. We teach them about religions and explain why we don’t participate and are always clear that it’s a choice they can make. We have no prejudice and respect everyone equally.” – Kirstin, Michigan
“I grew up a Catholic, Western New Yorker. My husband is Muslim and moved to the US from Yemen when he was 9. People obsess over the differences and say, ‘but what will your kids be?!’ I am worried about my child being kind, hard working, and well rounded. We just had a wonderful Christmas and we will have a great Eid. People need to focus on who is kind and good, not what someone is.” – Lauren, New York
“I’ve actually had comments from my own mother about letting my 5 year old dress herself. Because she dresses like 5 year olds do most days. I was told that it was my job to correct her style so people wouldn’t think she was weird. I’m a super self conscious person and that comment made me more determined to let my daughter be 5 and raise her to be who she is…not who I, or anyone else, thinks she should be.” – Tamara, Arizona
“I also cloth diaper (both my boys) and before I had my first, lots of experienced Mom friends doubted my choice and said ‘oh you work full time you’ll never make it more than a couple months.’ Well here we are baby #2 who is exclusively in cloth diapers. I’ve saved a TON of money using the same stash of cloth diapers on two kids. It’s all what you’re willing to put up with.. one extra step to rinse a poopy diaper is a breeze. Our family of 4 maybe makes one bag of trash a week. Convenience is not always what I want.” -Carin, Wisconsin
“Going back to work is one of the hardest things to do as a new mom. It is even worse when your family makes negative comments about it. I was the first woman to be a working mom. My great grandmother, grandmother, mother and sister-in-law were stay at home moms with husbands as sole providers. When I had my son, I went back to teaching when he was 12 weeks old. Questions that were asked by family members included, “Are you going to let strangers raise your child (daycare)?” “Can’t you stay home?” “Why would you want to leave your baby?” “Do you think your son is sick all the time because of daycare?” Although not intentional, each question stung with a form of judgement that working moms don’t provide as much love as stay at home moms.As a teacher, I have the unique ability to be a short-term stay at home mom during the summer and working mom during school year. Both type of moms are hard work but beneficial in their own way. I love that I can make memories with boys by going anywhere during the summer days. However, the house never stays clean during summer months no matter my efforts. Also, stay at home moms don’t have adult outlets unless specific actions are set in place. As a stay at home mom, you can’t clean and expect the house to stay that way with two tornadoes playing in the house. People often wonder ‘what you do all day.’ During the school year, I love being a working mom because the boys and I have consistent routine. Although the majority of my check goes to daycare, I know that I am providing for our futures (fun trips to Disneyland & personal retirement which is important for boys to see as model).The benefit of being mom is loving your babies in your own way. Your babies don’t care if your love comes from a stay at home mom or working mom.” – Angela, Arizona
“Two times in my kid’s 4 years can I recall being openly shamed: bringing her to Mall of America at 10 days old and getting her ears pierced at 2 months.When she was 10 days old, I needed to get out. It was February in Minnesota and I wanted my coworkers to meet her and get a decent cup of coffee and just generally not be in the house. Total strangers would coo over her then chastise me for having her out in winter. Or having her out in winter AND bringing her to such a public, touristy, germ-y place. She was in the stroller or being worn or being fed. I didn’t lay her on the floor or let a million people hold or touch her.And guess what, strangers who should have no opinion? I took her back every week to walk and meet my coworkers for coffee. It was a great new-mom ritual for me and, true, I may have been exposing her to elements and germs she didn’t *need* to be exposed to, but I have an incredibly healthy kid and I partly attribute her exposure to that, all these years later.We took her to the mall to get her ears pierced at 2 months and had a very large, very judgmental audience the entire time. She did great, hardly made a peep and had no idea it was done and as we were walking out from behind the counter, a older mom/daughter duo that took in the show felt the need to loudly share a conversation about how dirty that is, how she was too young, etc. I looked my smiling daughter in the eyes as I walked past them and just said, “But you survived!” Ear piercing in my family is a big deal. Mine were done at a few months old, my cousins had theirs done as babies and in turn, our daughters had theirs done, too. True, we could have bucked tradition and waited but this was important to me.And I shouldn’t have to defend that choice to anyone but she’s almost 4 now and I STILL DO! People are incredulous in trying to make me feel bad for doing it as a baby with *gasp* a piercing gun! She lived and had no infections or irritation. She loves her earrings and gets to pick new ones for special occasions and that’s a tradition I’ll always have with her, just like my mom had with me.” – Michelle, Florida
“Our 16mo loves her paci. She’s in and out of the hospital and often not allowed to eat or drink. Her paci keeps up her oral skills when she can eat. People looove to chime in and let us know she’s too old for it. We offer to have them come spend the time in the hospital soothing her while she tries to sleep in unfamiliar surroundings hooked up to tubes without her comfort item.” – Aeriel, Maine
“I co-slept/sleep with my little one from early on once she grew out of her bassinet next to the bed. It worked for us. Even at 10 months if she’s sick and won’t stay in her crib I will bring her in bed to nurse. As a peds nurse I definitely get push-back and judgement since I also thought I wouldn’t… but it works for us and she is a laid back, easy tempered, healthy girl.” – Mary, Wisconsin.
“I’ve been judged for having backpack harnesses for my twins. They have been walking since they were 10 months old, I’m a single working mom and got injured. My mom brought home the back pack harnesses for me to use and I definitely got dirty looks and glares when we went to the mall with them. Being told ‘those are children not animals’. I had what they called nurses elbow when I was a kid so my mom couldn’t hold my hand my elbow would pop out. I never wanted to do that to my kids and I would much rather keep them safe and on a leash than having something happen to them and say I wish I could have prevented it. Also, I live at home with my boys and parents so they fought back with the cry it out method but I think now that they sleep through the night mostly they are thankful I did it. As long as they had a clean diaper, fed, and burped I would let them cry if it was time to sleep.” – Kim, New York“I potty trained my two boys by letting them pee outside in the grass. They thought it was funny and they had very few accidents during the process. My husband was in Afghanistan so I was home alone to try and potty train our oldest son. It worked, I have no regrets. Moms with boys think it’s great, moms with girls seem to judge. I now have two boys and two girls…no regrets!” – Meagan, Arizona
Parent Your Way
After all that’s been said here there is one thing I hope everyone takes away.
Be kind to each other. Support one another and the parenting journey. Stop mommy-shaming. And most of all, parent your way.
P.S. Check out these articles for more parenting inspiration!