When Ella was going through her I-have-absolutely-no-interest-in-going-to-sleep-phase a while back, it was frustrating. I was exhausted.
I posted a picture on Facebook and mentioned that I had to wear dark glasses to cover my bags because she was a total insomniac – I was bombarded with comments. Most were, “it’ll get better” comments. But, a few folks said I should toughen up and let her cry it out. I know they likely meant well, but – um, don’t tell a sleep-deprived mother what to do. Just don’t. Besides, I didn’t want to let her cry it out. I know how quickly those baby years fly by and I’d rather snuggle her than listen to her cry. I’d rather be tired than see my baby girl get upset. That’s me. I have no problem with other moms or dads letting their babies cry it out. None at all. The moral here – I felt mommy-shamed.
And I hated it. I’m not alone in getting criticized.
According to the results of the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health released recently, 6 in 10 mothers of children ages 5 and under have been criticized for their parenting, most commonly by family members. There’s really not much new about moms being criticized for the way they raise their children. It’s a tale as old as time.
As written in an article in Marie Claire Magazine, you can’t tell a mom-shamer by her socio-economic class or zip code, she’s anyone, “She criticizes your parenting style, calls you out on Facebook, or slathers you in snark. These are the mean girls, all grown up and blossomed into adult bullies with kids of their own. You’ve probably encountered a few at your local playground. Hell, maybe you are one.”
But things have been taken to a whole new level with social media. The brutality of it can be sickening. It has become an insidious problem that’s disturbingly common. I can remember reading that tragic story about that little boy who was snatched by an alligator at Walt Disney World – the comments were downright atrocious. Blaming the parents. Can you imagine? Who would EVER think that your baby would be taken away with you just a foot or two away – by an alligator? The parents were in the most hellish nightmare anyone could ever be in, and some awful, terrible person – people – want to blame them? I mean, really?
And it’s basically the norm these days.
Celebrities get brutalized.
The Today’s Show’s Savannah Guthrie was abused on social media after posting a picture of a hat-less baby Vale on a beach vacation (seen here from her INSTAGRAM). The photo elicited quite a few opinions on her parenting skills. She was slammed by strangers with comments mostly saying, “Baby needs a hat.” Or “Cover that baby.”
She finally responded to those oh-so-worried commentators, “Oh my goodness. Of course Vale has a hat, but more to the point, that was the one very short moment she was even allowed in the sun,” she wrote. “Trust me, I’ve had skin cancer twice. I’m not about to let her sit in the sun unprotected.”
I don’t know about you, but I LOVE that she fired back!
Celebrities have surely come to expect it. But, they are not the only ones to face such criticism. So often people are judging, blaming, and questioning moms. From breastfeeding habits, to the clothes they put on their children, to the car seats they use, to the strollers they push, to the crib they have, and on and on and on. It’s absurd.
With the prevalence of social media, it’s all too easy to share your opinions – some of which may be harmful – with the click of a button, without any regard to the way it might affect someone else. But since there’s a pretty good chance that every mom has been shamed in some way or another, it’s more than beneficial to think before you post, speak, or share.
The sad truth is – from postpartum depression, to negative body image, to suicidal thoughts, to questioning our ability to be good moms, mom shaming can do nothing but wreak havoc on our fellow mothers.
The big question is what can we do? The best advice is to really think twice before criticizing others – even if you have good intentions. Spread positivity. Don’t be passive-aggressive. And perhaps most importantly – think about that old saying that many of us have said to our children countless times, ‘If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.’