… May not work for me. The same can be said for what I do.
Mom shaming is big business. As someone who tries very hard to keep the peace and not offend anyone, I’m pretty broke in that area. Unless something is dangerous, I don’t interfere. What’s best for Mom 1 may not work for Mom 2 and, let’s be honest here, Mom 2 may not give a rat’s tuchus about Mom 1’s perfect parenting advice. We could be the most confident people in the world, but you give us advice based on how differently you parent your child and our backs are up. It feels like an attack. We will protect our young from the well-meaning (and sometimes not-so-well-meaning) advice givers! *insert battle cry here*
I’m super happy that, though you have no children, you once babysat a 4 year old and know you know everything there is to know and I’m obviously doing it wrong. Hell to tha no. Momma don’t play that way. This just leads to another horrible track; “You just wait until…”. That’s the one that basically scares the crap out of the childless and minimizes the current woes of new parents by, you guessed it, scaring the crap out of them.
I was recently in a position that made me uncomfortable; being the mom of three, I consider myself to be a bit of a sounding board for new moms. I strive not to say anything to make another mom feel judged or shamed. I saw something that someone I loved was doing with her child and I was sick to my stomach because it was, I felt, one of those times I would have to say something. Filled with guilt and worry for what I was about to do, I prefaced my message with many apologies and I love yous. Thankfully she was grateful and understanding for/of my message. However, I still felt no relief. Why?? She wasn’t mad at me. I’d done my duty as a loving family member. I had been kind and non-judgmental. So why was I still so bothered?
I realized that, as well-meaning as we may be, as much as we love the person we’re trying to help, as knowledgeable as we think we are — we’re not. While we may be passing on some genuine advice to a new mom (car seat buckles, coats in car seats, when you start feeding your baby and what), we (should) know that regardless of how well-intentioned we are and how grateful that mom might be, she is still going to feel guilty. She is still going to think that she’s done her child a great disservice.
Here are some tips:
- If you think that breast is best, so you tell Mom 2 that she needs to whip that breast out until she has a perfect supply and nursing child, leave it be.
- If you think that formula is best, so you tell Mom 2 that she needs to give up being such a hippy, leave it be.
- If you think that disposable diapers are the devil and that reusable is the ONLY way to go, leave it be.
- If you think that Huggies are miracle diapers and Mom 2 needs to stop being so crunchy, leave it be.
So, when “should” you say something?
- If the baby is not in a car seat, but enjoying mom’s lap in the car, say something – gently and PRIVATELY
- If the car seat chest clip is at baby’s tummy, say something – gently and PRIVATELY
- If mom is feeding baby something that can cause them actual harm (regardless of baby’s age), say something – gently and PRIVATELY
What am I trying to say? Hm. Be gentle with others. None of us is perfect, regardless of what we might think. Talk to your fellow moms the way that you want to be spoken to. Understand that no matter how nicely you say something, they will probably still get their backs up and either cry in private or tell you off to your face.
There is so much wrong with the world these days and these children are our future. The way we treat others is how our little ones will treat the people they meet in their lives. Let’s try to raise a more unentitled, less judgmental and friendlier future, shall we?