Mommy Shaming: The New American Past-Time

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Whatever the questionable parenting practice is, there’s probably a group of upstanding citizens ready to rip a mom to shreds because of it. Look at the controversial TIME cover. Women who don’t breastfeed are made to feel like horrible failures who are selfishly denying their children. But now women who discuss breastfeeding into the toddler years are warned that they’re ruining their children for the rest of their lives. For a while it was Tiger Mothering, now it’s Attachment Parenting that will get to face scrutiny and contempt.

Let’s not even get started on Toddlers & Tiaras. As we’ve discussed plenty of times here at Mommyish, we’re firmly against the show that encourages women to sexualize and exploit their daughters on the kiddie pageant circuit. But does that practice justify the serious hatred and vitriol that these women seem to inspire in people? I’m just not sure anymore.

The fact is, we all seem to feel pretty comfortable passing judgment on parents for big or small offenses alike. So often, we see extreme stories like T&T or “Tan Mom” and we don’t have a problem piling on the negativity. Lately, we’re allowing that mentality to come out at smaller and smaller debates. And we’re letting a single facet of a parent’s life become the only thing that matters about them and their children.

Here at Mommyish, a woman was criticized ruthlessly because she didn’t know the dangers of organic toothpaste. No fluoride = cavities for her toddler. And apparently, that single lapse in judgment makes her too “stupid” to adequately raise a child. This mistake is so egregious to some that she received the Holy Grail of mommy insults, “I feel sorry for your kids.”

Maybe I’m still a little defensive, but I think in general that the kids will be alright. The new generation of little ones will adapt to the cultural changes just like we have. It’s the moms that I worry about. What divisive parenting practice will come up next, leaving a whole new set of moms open to ridicule and hostility?

Obviously, I think it’s important to talk about parenting. I do it everyday. I think that having discussions about parenting practices helps us all make more informed decisions. But I also think that this openness and communication has led to the vilification of moms for big and little offenses alike.

We don’t have to agree on everything. But as parents, maybe we should start trying to support each other, even when criticism feels like the natural reaction. Maybe we should step back and ask, “Is this practice actually endangering a child?” Because if the answer is no, hold back on those insults and try discussing your opinions without passing judgment or insulting anyone.

The truth is that almost all moms are just trying to do the best they can. We simply all have different ideas of what that is. It doesn’t make some right and some wrong, it makes us different. That’s okay. We can still support one another.

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