Caregiving, Parenting and Caregiving

On Mommy Shaming: Judge Less, Support Instead

A few weeks back I learned of the Victoria Beckham and Hilary Duff internet blow up over their Instagram photos of them kissing their children on the mouths.

I’m not here to rant on whether they should or should not be doing that and that’s the point of this entry.

In my adult career as a caregiver, I’ve worked with at least twenty families. Some have been long term arrangements, others just on evenings, some just after school, and some over long weekends. The families have been of different race and religion. One of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned is this:

Every family has their own rhythm, their own values, and their own beliefs that guide their behavior. Different families love and nurture in different ways and it ‘s okay to let others do as they do.

I always feel a little let down when I see women harshly criticize each other on their parenting, whether it’s outright or not. There is, of course, such a thing as bad parenting, when parenting become abusive.But there are also a lot of right ways to parent. There is no single right way to parent. And this is where most people get hung up.

When speaking with young mommy friends I’ve heard passive-aggressive statements about how they’re staying at home, and therefore everyone should, a subtle knock on my occupation. It doesn’t feel good to hear this, but it’s fine because I know already that great parents, like the ones I work for, find the best way that they can parent. What they can offer their child, maybe another family cannot. There are so many different ways to be supportive, loving, and nurturing.

Not every family can afford to have a parent at home. Not every family has as much time with their children as they may want, but while for good reasons.What would happen to so many of us if there weren’t emergency personnel like firefighters or doctors busy working at all hours? Never mind the amount of military personnel all over the world making sure we’re safe. Like I said before, families have rhythms, and mothers have a knack for setting the rhythm for their families. It’s every woman’s choice for what kind of mothering is right for her family. And it’s okay for her to do that, even if it’s not right for your family. 

It’s hard to ignore the power dynamic of mommy-shaming. By mommy-shaming, one mother is able to put herself “above” another by criticizing one particular aspect without showing any shortcomings. I understand the need for reassurance in the way you’re treating a child. In the beginning I always wondered if what I was doing was right. It took some time, experience, and lots of reading to find what worked for me. I’m sure if and when I’m a mother it will be different. I can’t claim to know what that feels like, I can only observe. But what I do know is that judging others does not make you a better parent.

Judging others does not make you a better parent.

It just doesn’t. It might make you feel that way but it doesn’t. Making observations and decisions as to what is right for your family is great. That’s your opinion and your right and in a way your responsibility. But Mommy shaming is cruel, thoughtless, and unfair.  Every parent has something they wish they could give more of to their child, whether it’s time, money, or something else. And everyone reaches their limit at some point and turns on the tv, gives a sugary treat, or lets the kid off the hook. And it’s okay.

Your energy is much better spent on your own family rather than casting judgment on someone else’s.

I just wish that more women could find it in themselves to be respectful of other women’s choices and to support, not shame, them.

And if not that, then at least trust in yourself and your ability without the need to publicly shame someone else. Your research online, your talks with your mom or friends all make you a great parent. It amazes me to think of the amount of time parents have spent since man’s creation worrying about their children. That alone shows a certain depth of love and that is what is most important. Worry less. Trust yourself more.

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