Anyone who is a mother knows that mom-shaming, unfortunately, is a part of motherhood. For every decision a mother makes, there will always be someone who thinks its the wrong one.
If you formula feed, you’re depriving your child of valuable nutrients. If you breastfeed, doing it past an acceptable age means you’re damaging your child’s mental health. Stay-at-home moms are not allowing their children to develop precious social skills while working moms are neglecting their poor children. There really is no right or wrong and most days it can feel as if you’re damned if you don’t and you’re damned if you do.
Most moms adjust to the judgmental nature of others and learn to be happy in their decisions. Over the past 4 months, that has changed completely though. The coronavirus pandemic has brought about a whole new level of mom-shaming that moms are struggling with.
Despite trying to figure out the best way to navigate through a difficult time that was unexpectedly thrown their way, too many moms are living in fear of judgment that they’re facing on a daily basis.
Moms who normally work outside of the home are being judged for not putting their careers on the backburner to nurture the needs of their children. These moms are already torn up inside that they can’t give their kids the time and attention that they need, but they’ve also worked hard for their careers and don’t want to give them up. Additionally, they don’t understand why the entire onus of homeschooling and childrearing has to fall on their shoulders based on their anatomy.
Parents who don’t force young children to wear face masks get angry glares out in public while parents who do have their children wear faces masks are judged when their children wear them wrong. Its probably not that the parents who don’t force it don’t understand the importance, just that they’ve given up in frustration and are trying to pick their battles. The parents of children who may be wearing them wrong are trying to teach them but this takes time.
People who employed nannies when daycares and schools shut down were thought to be heartless. They were enjoying the privilege of working from home but not extending that same privilege to nannies. These parents are lucky to have resources needed to hire help and those resources may come from demanding jobs that require them to have support.
Parents who went hardcore social distancing judged parents who allowed their kids to continue to play with a friend or family member. The social needs of each child and parent vary and for all we know, that minimal contact may keep a parent from breaking down or a child from regressing.
As the debate of schools reopening has taken over everyone’s attention, parents are at each other’s throats about what the right thing to do is. Parents who are deciding to send their kids back to school are judged with “just wanting to get rid of their kids”. Parents who are deciding to keep their kids at home are being accused of being privileged and ignoring equity issues for parents who don’t have that option.
Tragedies and hard times are supposed to unite people. Motherhood is a particularly tough endeavor and knowing that you would expect parents to support each other even more. The last 4 months this has not been the case though. No one situation is easy and every single parent has been tasked with making tough decisions. Where it might seem as if a parent casually made a choice, they probably actually labored over that decision for quite some time. Even after making it, they probably experienced a fair amount of anxiety and doubt. They made that decision not because it was easy but because that’s what they determined was in the best interests of them and their families.
It’s natural to judge. We all want to believe that we’re doing what’s right. This can cause us to think that if we’re doing what’s right, anyone doing something different is wrong. This isn’t the case though. Every mother is unique and every situation is different. Expecting everyone to be on the same page or make the same actions is unrealistic.
As mothers, it's our job to support one another rather than condemn. Changing this mindset won’t be easy though and will involve a lot of awareness. The next time a parent does something that deviates from what you believe to be the right thing, rather than immediately thinking that they’re wrong, try to put yourself in their shoes. Support them in their decision. Let them know that you know it must’ve been a difficult decision to make. That parent is probably already beating themselves up and don’t need any extra help from anyone else.