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Apparently, there is this guilt-driven world I was previously unaware of, where moms feel shamed by one another. It begins with a mom making the best choices she knows how for her children, only to find out another mom made a different choice. This leads to comparison, and questioning her decision, which leads to justifying her side as the proper way, leading to judging the other mom that chose something different. In many cases, this is happening on both sides, sometimes leading said moms to attempt to convince all other moms they need to do it their way. All the while, the mommy shaming is building steam on both sides, as insecurities lead ever more moms to join in on the game.
Let me know if I explained that wrong; I'm new to the game.
I find this "game" to be depressing, yet it calls out to all of us moms to join in and play... and my little girl isn't even born yet! As a friend said recently, we all feel the draw to be the best mom in the world (a noble, though unlikely, ambition), and so the comparison game is like a siren's call.
Sharing Opinions isn't Bad
Something that I think is important to recognize is that every mom is going to have an opinion of the best way to do things. It is not wrong to have an opinion, and I would find it odd if you didn't have a reason for the way you do things. I don't even think it's wrong to make those opinions known. Other moms need to resist the urge to throw around the term "mommy shaming" just because another mom lets her opinion not be a secret, and even the fact that she thinks it is the wisest choice. What I'd hope for in that situation is that all the moms involved find their security in being a child of God - a position that doesn't need to be perfect or compare, enabling themselves to appreciate another's point of view. I think it is perfectly legitimate to admit we think a certain way of doing something is best, while still admitting others can be good moms doing it another way.
When it Becomes Wrong
True mommy shaming happens when we project our opinion onto another mom, and make her feel stupid for her differing choice, or that she must choose our way in order to be a good mom. Sure, have your well-researched opinion, and be proud of it, but let the other mommy have free reign in her own life to do what she thinks is best. That's just how individual family units work, we get to choose what we think is best. If we want to offer opinions, fine. But we shouldn't judge or make a mom feel less-than for not doing things our way. I've already had moms telling me that I "need" to do something a certain way. It's usually not meant to be hurtful, but it does cross the line from letting each mommy make her own choices for her family.
I know I'm just beginning this motherhood journey, and have probably already fallen into the mommy-shaming trap. I want to be secure enough that God will redeem even my poor mommy choices to confidently not play the comparison game, and to think the best of my fellow mommies. I know I'll probably keep letting people know what I have found to be best; it's just my personality to share my research. But, by God's grace, I'll do it in a way that isn't forceful or shaming, just informative. I never want a mommy to feel like she can't talk to me about how she mothers differently than I do. We all want to be good mommies, and all have valid reasons for doing what we do. And those opinions can and should be shared. Let's not silence each other by shouting "mommy shaming!", feeling too insecure to even have a conversation. And let's also love each other enough to not even roll the dice in the mommy shaming game. Maybe then we can get back to what matters, enjoying and caring for those sweet little children that sparked all of this to begin with.