Being mom shamed happens so subtly, you might not even notice. Michelle decided to really buckle down and get back in the gym to get healthier. Another mom at school “complimented” her by saying, “You look great. It’s hard for me to get away from the kids and get a workout in. I just hate neglecting them.” Michelle walked away from the conversation feeling like she must be a bad mom because clearly, she enjoys neglecting her children for the elliptical machine.
Dr. Brene Brown says, “Shame is the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging—something we’ve experienced, done, or failed to do makes us unworthy of connection.” My friends, why in the world are we giving other people, sometimes strangers, that much power? If you’ve been mom shamed, here are 5 ways to take back control.
If the Shame Came From a Stranger
Oh, that sweet lady in the grocery checkout line who grumbles when you give in to your kid’s request for a candy bar. Bless her heart.
This one is easy. Ignore it. Yes, that comment might try to burrow its way into your subconscious and make a home there. But remind yourself: She does not know you! She doesn’t know a thing about what else your kids are eating, if they earned that candy, or if you are just picking your battles today! She can cram it.
If the Shame Came From Your Own Mother/Mother-in-Law
Ok, you can’t tell her to cram it. This is tough because she knows you well and she’s done the mom thing, so her words hold weight. This version often sounds like, “When I was raising you, I did all this without the help of…”
When it comes from Mom, start by showing her some grace. She probably means very well and wants what’s best for you and her grandkids. Hear her out and then respectfully share your side.
If the Shame Came From a Mom Friend
This one seems to hurt the most. She should know how it feels and how hard motherhood is, but when your friend Sarah says to your 1-year-old, “Mommy must’ve forgotten your socks at home! I bet your toes are cold!” Ouch, Sarah. Ouch.
Don’t retaliate. Understand that Sarah has her own insecurities. Just let it go.
If the Shame Came From the Internet
All the experts come out online! I posted a photo of my son on my dad’s lap in the car, steering as they drove down our block and the shamers came out in force. In this case, I had three options:
- Fight back, but that usually just leads to angry threads that do not show your best self.
- Delete the post if it’s not worth the fight.
- Put the phone down and walk away. Funny how the angry people get silent with a simple log out.
For many moms today, online shaming is very closely related to the most dangerous of all sources of mom shame:
If the Shame Came From Yourself
All you have to do is open Instagram and swipe a few times to see some version of life that looks better than your own. You see a mom who dresses her kids perfectly or is in crazy-good shape. She has a beautiful home and a happy husband. Or offline, you lose your cool with your kids and shame yourself for not sticking to your promise to yell less. You ask, “What’s wrong with me? Why am I so bad at this?”
Give yourself some grace, for goodness sake! A great practice is to imagine yourself saying to a friend the words you’re telling yourself: “Why can’t you manage to keep the house clean? Geeze! You’re lazy and unorganized.” She would be out the door in a heartbeat. Be kind to yourself and know that you are a great mom! You were created with everything you need in your hands, heart, and mind to love your children well and there is no shame in that.
Where does mom shame come from the most for you and how do you fight it?