One would think that in the 21st century, people would be a little more progressive, a little more compassionate and a little more inclined to empathize with mothers struggling to raise children in a world which is becoming increasingly difficult to live in. However, as is society’s signature move, it never ceases to surprise us with it’s douchebag-ery, which means people not only shame women, the homeless, the poor, the lower classes, people belonging to the LGBTQIA community and everyone else who is essentially not a straight, white, man; they also shame mothers for their apparent ‘shortcomings’ at raising their children.
Whether you have been consciously or unconsciously involved in this process of bringing down other mothers, or you have been at the receiving end of unnecessary criticism as a mother yourself, it is important to understand that this is a thing that needs to stop immediately because there are a lot more important issues in society and many more topics of mass interest that need to be broached, other than bringing down mothers who are trying to raise their children the way they deem fit.
Suggested read: Types of body shaming behaviors that need to stop
Here are 7 predominant mom shaming trends:
Image source: Google, copyright-free image under Creative Commons License
Breastfeeding is a highly natural biological process, whereby mothers produce milk via their mammary glands which is composed of all the essential nutrients for the proper growth and development of the child immediately after birth. Even though every single mammal in the world has been engaged in this process, human beings have found a way to shame mothers for their decisions regarding breastfeeding as well.
Breastfeeding in public is considered ‘indecent’ while men who whip out their penises and urinate on the road are allowed to relieve themselves because “the call of nature” compels them to do obscene things like this without social ostracization. However, the nourishment of a child is considered obscene.
Some mother may however choose not to breastfeed their child, or they may be compelled to not do it because of biological complications that would threaten both their own lives as well as their child’s. The lack of mother’s milk is compensated with manufactured baby formula which contains the same nutrients and the same components for the growth and well being of the baby. People however think it is necessary to shame mothers for not breastfeeding their children and forcing formula on them. This is yet another instance of not allowing women to have a choice.
2. Working moms vs. Non-working moms
This is one of the most striking instances where the hypocrisy and the two-faced nature of society is exposed. Some women choose to not work after they have given birth to their babies, which is perfectly explicable because they want to devote time to their child and raise them by spending every moment with them. However, the moment a mother says that, they become a stay-at-home mom, who is apparently incompetence, and people waste no time telling them about how they are dependent on their partners for the expenditure of themselves and their child and other such bigoted, misogynistic comments, which frankly, make no sense.
However, if a mother decides to go back to work after she has given birth, she is again criticized and downright abused for being a mother who abandons her child to strangers or other family members, and for being too ambitious and career-driven and non-motherly, which is equally absurd. The dichotomy of opinions is enough to discourage any mother, whether they are working or not.
3. Baby shaming
Image source: Pixabay, under Creative Commons License
When people engage in mom shaming, they automatically engage in baby shaming, meaning they waste no time criticizing the babies, the children and how they behave and conduct themselves; and God-forbid it doesn’t conform with what society deems fit, then the mother is bound to be on the butt-end of more criticism than one would think possible for something as absurd as non-conformation to conventional norms of parenthood. Children are criticized for being too adventurous, for being too excited, for not eating healthy, for crying, for not crying, and everything else that you would expect any normal child to do. This automatically takes a toll on the mother, whose upbringing is being questioned in the process.
4. Adoption, surrogacy, and single-parenthood
In a heteronormative, bigoted and un-adjusting society, anything that is ‘not normal’ is criticized to the point of exclusion and quarantine, whether it is alternate genders, alternate sexual preference, or ‘unconventional’ trends in parenthood. People will be satisfied only when a male and a female have sex, and as a result the female produces a healthy child without physical or mental anomalies. Even though this is what happens in most cases, couples who might not want a biological child or are unable to produce one may choose to get children via methods like surrogacy and adoption. However, such parents, especially moms, are shamed because such children aren’t their ‘real’ children which is the most depressing comment for a mother.
Another popular pastime for people is to shame single mothers, raising children while maintaining a job at the same time, because instead of congratulating them on their grit, talent, perseverance and independence, they are shamed for being inadequate and for being unfair to their children for denying them the love of a father.
5. Comparing babies
A terrible way to mom shame mothers, who are raising young children, is by repeatedly comparing their offspring with others’. Statements like, “My child would never do something like that,” or “Oh my God, your kid still hasn’t been able to do this?” and “I would never teach/say this to my child,” are regressive, insulting and absolutely unnecessary. Different children have different levels of information intake abilities and cognitive understanding, which means they all learn at different paces, and expecting one child to keep pace with some other children is expecting too much of the child and putting unnecessary pressure on the mother.
Saying one child is able to do something which another child is not at the same age is something which affects the mental space which mother and child are in, debilitating them from further development because they are constantly under the impression that they are lagging behind and they are not fast/smart enough. It is also a dig at the mother for her lack of ambition and teaching skills, because of which the child is unable to learn as fast, apparently.
Conversations and digs like these are not only super regressive, they are also a sign of a mental handicap and a constantly inferiority complex, meaning that the people who say such things to other mothers are constantly suffering from the fearing of falling behind themselves. They have completely missed the point of motherhood- which is essentially all about the child and their well-being and as long as they are healthy and happy, comparisons make no sense and stand redundant.
6. The sloppy mom-syndrome
Image source: Google, copyright-free image under Creative Commons License
What could possibly be the sloppy mom syndrome? In fact, when I first learnt about it, even I was greatly taken aback at the extent to which people can go to bring other people down and find some reason or the other to judge the crap out of a hardworking, sensible individuals- like mothers. People think it is a cool thing to shame moms who are apparently ‘sloppy’, meaning they drop their children to school in sweatpants and casual home wear and they don’t bother putting on makeup when they are picking their kids up and they ‘don’t take care of themselves.” Apparently, being a good mother is directly related to how good you look, because your child will obviously learn his/her values from the brand of lipstick that you wear and whether it is good enough for society or not.
The worst thing about this is that people fail to understand what a trying job it is to be a full-time mother, and to raise an entire human being in a way that they are successful and happy and secure. The fact that they do not care about their appearance stands as proof to the fact that they would rather devote the time they spend on dressing up, on their children. However, moms who take the time to look good are no less good at parenting. My point is why are people even bothered with how a mother looks, when talking about her parenting skills?
7. Lack of intense child monitoring
This is a trend which actively shames mother’s that children like to call ‘cool moms.’ For children, a mother who lets their children freak out once in awhile, and roll in the sand, and come back home laden with mud without screwing them over, and lets them eat junk once a while without constantly force feeding them shit things like soya milk and mothers who let their kids have their own privacy, are cool. The fact is that these moms are actually cool, a concept which some people who seem to have taken it upon themselves to shame mothers, do not seem to understand. The magical trick to good parenting is letting kids act their age, and not imposing your stupid adult rules on them from the moment they gain consciousness.
Mom shaming is something which is extremely absurd, but also extremely real, and all the above points stand true to the fact that people will judge you, no matter what you do as a mother. The idea is to prove them wrong and to eradicate mom shaming once and for all.
Featured image source: Google, copyright-free image under Creative Commons License