Parenting, one of the toughest jobs you will ever have. There is no handbook or Dial A Parenting Coach Hotline, and you will undoubtedly do things wrong a gazillion times. Wonderful thing is, you will also do a lot of things right. The right things will not receive near the attention nor get the kudos deserved but let someone catch wind of something that is wrong in their eyes and let the Parent Shaming begin!
I’ve even had perfect strangers threaten to kidnap my infant daughter because I happened to have her in a car-seat in her stroller (asleep) rather than in my arms, while I was in a checkout line..
I am uncertain when the notion of parent shaming came about. When it became socially acceptable to interject your two cents about someones actions and or parenting. (Disclaimer: If you see something that is putting a child in danger, this is the time to speak up.) I have not been parent shamed publicly yet but I know the day will come. I have read comments and stories however and wow, good thing I am a christian woman is all I have.
Hmm.. the little old ladies who came up to me in the grocery store and told me flat-out that I was “Trash” because I happened to have a lot of little kids with me..
So how do you avoid parent shaming? I would like to say that you limit your exposure on social media but the mom’s I have talked to mostly are shamed in public. So here are a few things that you can do/ avoid: Put on your best Mary Poppins every time you walk out the door. Make certain that your child is well dressed, hair brushed, face washed, and well you get the picture. Make sure you have snacks that are allergy friendly to anyone you may encounter and healthy snacks. Be certain that you say thank you and please to everything you ask your child to do. Scratch that, don’t ask them to do anything as it will be misconstrued that you are overbearing and not allowing them to live their life. If they misbehave breath and beg them nicely to relax and you will give them anything they want if they will. Never discipline in public! I repeat this is the number one way you will be parent shamed. Make sure that you are not on your phone for anything even emergencies and paying attention to your child’s every whim and need. If you are able, hold them and never use a stroller! On the same note skip the sling, you may have it on wrong. If you have more than one child try to get a sitter and only take two at most out at a time, for appearance sake of course.
If you work full-time, never let anyone know! Don’t bottle feed. Never let them sleep in bed with you. Don’t bribe your kiddos to do chores. If you can avoid sharing anything that has been a success on Social Media. IE. My little one is walking around with a toothbrush and it seems to be soothing their gums vs screaming in pain. That is another sure-fire way to be shamed so please keep successes to yourself. One more thing, don’t “Over Parent” or be a “Helicopter Parent”. Yes this is a thing! Too much parenting! Who knew! You must find balance and if you can’t find it I am sure someone will be right there to tell you how.
I was once on my phone texting my daughter about the flood in our bathroom while my 5 year old was in the library waiting for me to read to her.. and the other mom that came up to me told me to get off my phone..
Okay the above is all very extreme but these are some of the things I have heard parents be shamed over.
Point is we are all doing the best we can. Some of us may “Over Parent” , some are the perfect Walton’s family and good for them if they have found the key to successful parenting. For the rest of us we are learning at the speed of Toddler. Parent Shaming needs to end and the Takes a Village to raise a child make a come back. We can all learn from each other and raise happy, successful adults. There is no right or wrong way to parent. There is no perfect parent, just parents doing the best they can for their child.
Next time you are out and you see a “Mom In Distress” lets swap the judgement out with support. If you are able, see if you can assist and see how far kindness will go.