The internet is on fire with strangers mom shaming Meghan Markle (what else is new?). While out on a walk, pictures showed her baby carrier strap had slipped off one shoulder. One hand supported a tilted baby Archie while the other held her dogs’ leashes. Critics called upon child development experts to comment about whether the Duchess is an unfit mother. I eye-rolled through the comments, thinking, “This is absolutely ridiculous. The baby’s fine!” One thought quickly followed another: “I see this judgment all around me,” after which I had an uncomfortable thought: “I’ve judged other mothers, too.”
It is all too easy to see a tiny slice of someone’s life and jump to judgment. Mothers need support and encouragement from each other. Are you guilty of mom shaming, too? Here are five strategies to nix the habit.
1. Expectations of motherhood are heavily colored by personal experience, so MYOB.
Every mother’s journey is completely unique. What you say about another mother reflects more on your experiences than on hers. If you spent a day in her shoes, you’d understand why she does what she does. Since you can’t, it’s usually best to mind your own business. You are allowed to be a work in progress, and so is every other mother.
2. Approach conversations with curiosity rather than judgment.
You may think you know everything about a situation, but it’s likely you only have part of the story. The mother whose discipline methods you disapprove of may have been through the wringer trying everything else first. Plus, her child’s personality is likely different than your children’s. Ask her open-ended questions and consciously stop yourself from casting any judgment in your replies. Take the other mother’s words to prayer and self-reflect: “Why does this make me uncomfortable?”
3. Choose words wisely.
Often, we don’t realize the impact of our words. What felt to you like a friendly hint might have come across to her as a cutting condemnation. Once words are spoken, we cannot take them back. Choose them wisely.
4. Give the benefit of the doubt.
Say to yourself, “She’s doing her best.” Try to see the good in the other mom. If you are seriously concerned that she is causing her child harm, bring it up to her gently and lovingly. Don’t allow yourself to take enjoyment in judging her and don’t gossip about her. Remember that no one has appointed you a judge over others nor has anyone appointed others a judge over you. You probably know how it feels when the tables have turned. Here are 5 ways to handle being mom shamed.
5. Ask for forgiveness.
This one is hard. Admitting you did something wrong is never fun, but the other mom will appreciate it and it will give you both a chance to air out the hurt and let it heal. Admitting you were wrong doesn’t make you weak. It makes you strong.
What do you need to change in your mindset to stop mom shaming?