Over the last decade there has been a huge increase in social media use and unfortunately alongside this has grown a huge movement of parenting shaming.
So, what is parent shaming? Parent shaming is when people feel the need to make unnecessary comments on how other parents are doing things. They judge another parent’s choice and make them feel bad. For example, if a parent chooses to co-sleep, they would immediately say that’s a bad choice and it’s not safe and that they are going to cause huge problems when baby grows up as they will not sleep in their own bed. Or if a woman is giving her baby formula. They will give the Mum a disconcerting look.
Unfortunately, these comments are neither helpful, asked for or appreciated and often come with very little knowledge and research behind them. To give a lady bottle feeding her baby a look that suggests she’s not doing the best thing for her baby is not fair. They do not know the reason why the mother is bottle feeding and the possibility that it was a very hard process for her to come to. She could be struggling mentally with this decision and unhelpful comments or looks are not going to help her.
There are lots of different parenting styles and who is to say which is better or worse. We are all individuals as are our babies. What works or one family will not work for another. On top of this we have outside factors that have an influence on us and how we do things.
How you have been brought up, really affects how you are going to parent. People tend to either parent in a very similar way to how they have been raised or quite dramatically differently. If you are brought up in a culture where it is expected that you will go back to work when your baby is young, you won’t think that is the norm as it is for that society and may find it very odd that other parents take so much time off work.
Who your children spend their time with is going to affect how you bring them up. For example, perhaps your parent’s will help out while you go back to work or may be your child will go to day care. These play an important role, and everyone has their different opinions on what is the best. Some people have fabulous parents who they feel really comfortable leaving their baby with, whereas others might have older parents who just aren’t able to care for a baby.
To some degree financial factors do play apart in how we parent. If we have more money it may mean that we can choose whether to go back to work or stay at home. It can affect how many activities you take your baby to and how you generally spend your days. Also, with money comes the opportunity to get in touch with specialists. However, even lower income families have the choice on what they do spend their money on, and parents find money when they need to, especially if it’s on their baby.
Comments are not just from face to face interactions though and some people feel like when they get behind their keyboard, they can say what they want without thinking of the implications and how it will make the other person feel. Keyboard warriors are a very real problem and can really damage a parent’s confidence and self-esteem, making them second guess their decisions.
We need to be building each other up and supporting each other as parents and a community. You will have all heard the saying it takes a village to bring up a child – it’s true. Look at diversity as a positive. Somethings you will not gravitate to but looking at a situation only gives a snippet of what’s going on, you don’t know the background and what kind of day someone has had. We’re all individuals and what works for one isn’t necessarily going to work for another. I often hear from parents who will say my friend did this and it worked for her little one, but what they often forget is that babies have different temperaments and so different techniques work for them.
In the groups I run or help out with we accept everyone, in any state. If you are exhausted, having a bad day, baby is screaming or you’re having an awesome day because baby finally slept in their own bed – it’s all good with us. I’m happy to help through the good, the bad and the ugly, whatever that may look like for you. No judgment because I’m not perfect. I have bad days when I’m grumpy, I have days when I just want to cry and when I’m super happy. I treat people as I’d like to be treated and babies as individuals – if they are crying there is a reason.