10 Dos and Don’ts Every Mom Needs to Know About Mom Shaming

upset mom on computer

Every day we hear stories about public shaming. From the “people of Walmart" photos to the Kim Kardashian bashing, there is always someone taking heat for something they have done. But there is a new type of online shaming that attacks every day women, and it is called mom shaming.

From comments about moms in bikinis at the pool to photos of moms nursing their babies in public and everything in between, moms are being attacked for just about anything. And it takes mom bullying to a whole new level.

There is no doubt that being a mom is already a tough job. Besides dealing with feelings of uncertainty and frustration, moms today are under a microscope. The last thing any mom needs is to be shamed for trying to parent her kids.

Why Do People Shame Moms?

While mom shaming is not new, the Internet, along with social media, has turned up the heat. Whether it is criticizing Kelly Clarkson for not losing her baby weight or calling moms at the park lazy and uninvolved, it is something that occupies people’s minds.

Typically, when people shame others, they feel justified in blasting them on the Internet. They rationalize that the victim's behavior, actions, or photos warrant that type of treatment.

When it comes to mom shaming, many times the moms have not done anything blatantly wrong.

Instead, moms are being attacked for something as simple as when to introduce solid foods, whether to breastfeed or use formula, and whether or not co-sleeping is a good idea.

Most of the time, people who shame others for their parenting decisions feel inadequate in their own parenting abilities. As a result, online shaming gives them an outlet for justifying their own beliefs. Other times, moms will shame other moms because they are jealous.

Maybe the mom being shamed is super fit. Instead of celebrating the hard work it took to get there, she is blasted for being self-absorbed and focusing on her own health over that of her kids, even if this belief does not reflect reality.

Sometimes, moms are shamed because people trolling the community Facebook pages are bored or looking for entertainment.

Or, perhaps they are angry or frustrated with their own situation at home and they are looking for a way to vent. Always keep in mind that there is no way to hear tone of voice or see facial expressions. Sometimes what is interpreted as being mean-spirited may have instead been a poor attempt at a joke or sarcasm.

Finally, some people shame others because they are looking for recognition and validation. If everyone jumps on the bandwagon and agrees with their assessment of another person, that can feel very rewarding even if it doesn't make it right.

Dos and Don’ts of Mommy Shaming

When it comes to mom shaming, every mom is at risk. Even if you try not to post anything inflammatory online, it still doesn’t guarantee that mom shamers will not target you. After all, it only takes one poorly written or misconstrued post on Facebook or Twitter to wreak havoc on your life.

What’s more, you do not even have to do anything wrong to be shamed. Some mom shamers will even take photos or videos without your knowledge and post them online. If you ever find yourself in a mom shaming situation, here are ten things to remember.

Don’t Respond

While it can feel counterintuitive to do nothing when people say rude things about you, the best way to respond to mom shaming is to ignore the posts and comments. Even an apology can keep the mom shaming cycle running. Instead, let the story fizzle out.

Although it is difficult to refrain from posting a rebuttal, or at least trying to explain what you were thinking, do not respond.

Do Delete Your Post, Tweet, or Comment

If the shaming is the result of something you said or posted online, then delete it. While this will not eliminate your content completely from the Internet, it will delete one avenue for people to shame you.

Keep in mind though, people can post photos of you or take screen shots and shame you in those ways. You can contact the social media provider and ask that the post or photo be taken down, but they do not always respond to those requests.

Don’t Obsess About the Shaming

Continuing to think about what others said about you is not healthy. It robs you of your time and energy. Plus, it only makes you feel worse. Focus on other things instead. Have coffee with a friend or go to a movie to take your mind off what is being said online.

Do Keep It in Perspective

It’s normal to experience a wide variety of emotions, ranging from intense humiliation and sadness to anger and regret after being publicly shamed. Allow yourself to feel those feelings but don’t stay there. Watch out if your thoughts are exaggerating your situation. In other words, don’t buy into the idea that your entire life is ruined. There is life after mom shaming.

Don’t Read What They Write

While it is normal to wonder what others are saying, it is not a good idea to find out. Instead, stay off social media. No good will come from reading other people’s negative posts and comments. Do not give them the satisfaction of reading their negative words and remarks.

Consider Stepping Away

Do consider shutting down your social media accounts. In extreme cases of mom shaming, sometimes the best response is to close all your social media accounts.

Once the shaming has died down, you can open new accounts with slightly different account names.

For instance, use a different Twitter name than you had when you were shamed.

Don’t Shame the Shamers

Remember, any communication with mom shamers, including attempting to shame them in return or to seek revenge, rewards their behavior and keeps the cycle moving. People will lose interest in the mom shaming much more quickly if you do not respond in any way.

Stay Positive

Mom shaming can feel overwhelming and devastating. But remember, this experience will not last forever. And while it is tough to deal with the consequences, you can get through it. Stay focused on what is important, like parenting your kids, and do not let this situation define you.

Reject Victim Thinking

The key to recovery is that you do not allow what happened to you define who you are as person. Instead, try practicing gratitude. It is impossible to feel sorry for yourself and experience thankfulness at the same time. Identify three things every day to be thankful for, even if it is as simple as the sun being out.

Reclaim Control of Your Life

Feeling powerless and helpless are common feelings for victims of mom shaming and can carry over into other areas of life. Remember, you cannot control what others say about you and you cannot control who believes that information. But you can control how you react. Put your energy into being a good parent and a person of character instead.

How to Take Back Your Life

If you have been publicly shamed, you are likely feeling a wide range of emotions including everything from sadness and anger to regret and disbelief. Some days it may feel like you will never get back to normal.

For instance, every time you go to the grocery, take your child to the park or visit the library, you may feel like all eyes are on you, judging you. But you don’t have to live like that. Here are four things you can do that will help you get on the road to recovery and feel like your old self again:

Change Your Thought Patterns

Many times people who have been publicly shamed will dwell on what they have experienced, often allowing it to consume their thoughts. The goal is that your thoughts would revolve around things that have meaning or purpose in your life, and not the shaming you experienced.

Changing your thinking also can help you move forward, even on the days where you don’t feel like it. If you have trouble changing your thought processes on your own, a counselor may be able to help you reframe your thinking. Remember, you need to look for the lessons in mom shaming and leave the negative stuff behind.

Get Mentally Tough

It is easy to be strong when everything is going according to plan. But the true test of your strength happens when you encounter problems or hardship. Remember, mom shaming is painful and can take an emotional toll. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Doing so is not a sign of weakness. Instead, it shows your strength and demonstrates that you want to improve your situation.

Focus on Personal Growth

Take a realistic look at your situation. Where do you need to improve? Identify areas where you may need to heal and to grow. For instance, you may need to work on your self-esteem or assertiveness. Or maybe, you are struggling with anxiety and depression and need to talk with a doctor. Regardless of how mom shaming has impacted you, you should focus on areas in your life where you need improvement.

Find Closure

Part of the healing process is being able to recognize the shame and embarrassment you have felt and detach from it. Sometimes that happens naturally when the online community starts to focus on something else. Other times, you will have to make a concentrated effort to put it behind you. The goal is that you no longer allow your thoughts to be preoccupied with what happened to you.

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2 Sources
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  1. University of Michigan, C.S. Mott Children's Hospital. National Poll on Children's Health. Mom shaming or constructive criticism? Perspectives of mothers. 2017.

  2. Samara M, Burbidge V, El Asam A, Foody M, Smith PK, Morsi H. Bullying and Cyberbullying: Their Legal Status and Use in Psychological AssessmentInt J Environ Res Public Health. 2017;14(12):1449. doi:10.3390/ijerph14121449