A Shameful Cycle of Shaming

These days, it seems like every mom with a computer becomes an immediate motherhood professional. From website to blog and back again, these moms pour out their wisdom and advice.  I find myself marveling at the wealth of information I can find in any one of these sites, and also the ridiculous amount of judgmental bull crap that I read in nearly every one.

On one site, a mother proudly proclaims she let little Junior cry himself to sleep last night; best decision she ever made and just who the hell in their right mind co-sleeps anyway?  In another article on the same site, a mom is complaining praising herself because she slept in a rocking chair all night, soothing her baby to sleep and why on earth would anyone in their right mind let their baby cry it out?  Both are shaming the other in their storytelling, while complaining that they are being shamed for their own choices.

It’s not so much the contradictory advice I constantly see (sometimes in the same damn blog) that bothers me.  It’s the sheer hypocrisy I see from some of these New Age Mothers. This “newer, softer” generation of parents are outraged at anyone who dares to judge them for their parenting techniques. They shame the “mommy shamers,” brutally. They encourage the battle cry “mothers unite!” and push hard against those who have the audacity to judge other parents.  This in and of itself is a very good thing.  Mothers SHOULD stick together.

I guess these writer-moms must be exempt from their own outrage, though, not to mention their own rules, because every other article I’ve seen is a harsh judgement against parents who think differently from whatever parenting protocol they happen to be writing about. When they run out of “their words,” they resort to memes to make their point.

When I’m navigating my way through these “Mom” groups and see memes outright mocking so-called “helicopter” parents or zingy little one-liners criticizing those with only one child (because apparently, they’re not actual “parents”), I think to myself:  For a group who berates mommy-shamers, you guys sure do a lot of shaming of your own. Why do you care how others parent their children so long as they’re loving and caring, and not abusive?  Isn’t mocking someone else’s parenting technique the very thing you get angry about, or is that just when others do it to you? Alas, I get no answers to my questions since the inquiring voice is only in my head.

Now as I’m sure you know, I’ve never been one to say I won’t judge. Hell, I do it all the time. Oh, I won’t judge you on your looks, your education, your job, your religion or anything of that nature, and I won’t judge someone doing the best they can with what they have.  BUT, I will judge you on being a hypocrite. I may judge you for white shoes after Labor Day, not stopping at the crosswalk, or for using the Express Lane with eighteen items, and I will definitely judge you for being a jerk, a bully, or an asshole.  It’s part of my charm. But some of these writer Moms are caught in an endless shaming cycle. While they decry those who judge them on their parenting choices, in the next breath they shame others for choosing a different path for their kids. You can’t have it both ways.

Bottom line, despite the competitive nature of the world, raising kids should not be a game or a contest, and if your child is growing up healthy, polite, and able to function respectfully in society, then congratulations.  You’re doing it right.  It’s a wise mother that knows there is no “right” or “wrong” answer to raising kids; it’s mostly just a hell of a lot of trial and error and making shit up as you go along.

Choose your parenting path, and travel it proudly.  You do need to take ownership, though, and realize that if you choose to judge – those you are judging will be judging you right back.

22 thoughts on “A Shameful Cycle of Shaming

    • I have not. I just looked it up though (the book, not the series) and found the premise extremely interesting in so many ways (although I can also sense it will have a great many “triggers”). I’ll have to look for it at the library. Did you like it?

    • I have yet to have that pleasure, but I do know my mom enjoys it! For her, it’s all of the fun and none of the work — although she worries just the same. So maybe there is some work there after all. I look forward to the day, though it doesn’t have to happen any time soon! 😀

  1. I am not a mother so I don’t know much about parenting.. but I think there can be no defined lines for parenting…it’s a continuous learning curve for both-parents and children. How can shaming in parenting be relevant.. wouldn’t parents know the beat for their children

    • I couldn’t agree with you more. There is no instruction manual or set of rules that work for each child or each parent. It’s a learn as you go kind of thing. And with some exceptions (abuse, neglect, intolerance, etc.), one way of parenting is not necessarily better or worse than another way.

  2. I agree with you, Wendy. What’s that saying about living in glass houses? At the same time, I get it. Notice we’re not mentioning fathers here. Maybe it goes back to Freud, but society tends to blame mothers for everything that goes wrong with kids even as these kids grow into adults. The fallout is that mothers are constantly trying to convince the world, and themselves, that they did it right. The truth is we pray that our efforts don’t end up as a story in the notepad of our kid’s therapist and held as an example of what not to do.

    • I wrote about moms specifically because those are the blogs/articles I read. They are always written by moms to moms about moms. Not always in a good way, not even usually in a good way. However, I agree wholeheartedly with what you say about mothers getting blamed and how society holds them to certain standards. I mean, mothers have a parenting role and dads babysit (seems to be the norm from what I hear being said anyway). I know that’s not how all men look at their role, but it’s how much of society does. Men taking care of their kids in public get praised, women aren’t even noticed unless of course the kid is throwing a tantrum in which case, it’s obviously the mother’s fault. Even in those instances, if it were the dad, it would be — oh that poor guy, look at him doing the best he can. There are so many men who step up to the plate and do a hell of a job as a single parent or a co-parent, but society either belittles what they do by trivializing it (as babysitting) or puts it on a pedestal. It seems like there is no inbetween. I think many women in general are concerned they’re doing something wrong (in many aspects of life) because it’s ingrained in us from a young age, and parenting is just one of those roles where we feel as though we’re failing because our house isn’t perfect, our family isn’t perfect, maybe we’re a little disorganized, etc.,and aren’t living up to the June Cleaver stereotype. The articles I’ve been reading lately (as a research project) aren’t helping matters any. Quite the opposite I would think.

      • That sounds like a fascinating research project. Good luck!

        As far as June Cleaver is concerned, isn’t it funny how more than a half-century later we are still haunted by 1950s stereotypes? Those misguided images of women have done irreparable harm to the female psyche, and now we have a new generation of women working to cultivate a different albeit equally delusional version of the perfect mom.

        Have you read “Homeward Bound: Why Women Are Embracing the New Domesticity” by Emily Matchar?

        • I have not, but I looked it up on Amazon after reading your comment. I’ll definitely give it a read. Regarding June Cleaver, what I find amusing (and somewhat ironic) is that the whole reason the actress wore heels all of the time was not to look “perfect” or espouse the whole women should look a certain way idea…it was to make her look taller and therefore the two boys look younger (since they were growing so fast). Lo and behold because of a simple prop (among other props used for various reasons) a generation of women were affected. Just goes to show that images in media matter.

  3. I personally believe all the advice is overdone. It’s because of the Internet, We should learn that there is not only one truth out there. I suppose people get calmer, more tolerant and somewhat smarter with age, so it’s easy to view everything as if from a distance.
    I also think it is much easier to raise kids when parents are young. I was thinking the other day: if I had teen kids right now as many other people here do, I had hard times being for my daughter what I was. We were like sisters and we were attending events, parties, concerts together, and there was no specific parenting needed. I also cannot recall my parents were following any specific guidelines: they had to work, so I was watching my sister since the age of 5. We learned very early to cook our own lunches, clean the house, keep it clean, and it was totally unacceptable not to do our part about daily chores justifying this with too much homework at school. I think kids are on one hand so much praised for nothing in North America. They get not encouragement, but every smallest thing they do is described as some kind of hugest achievement. On another hand there is a real detachment with reality. There is parents’house, and then there is the wild world, and kids are not adapting to the necessary roughness which is out there. I might be too strict, but I’m seeing so much unnecessary efforts finding some fits-everybody parenting, eating, living style. We have to follow our instincts, good moral principles and be honest and genuine in what we do. Instead, there are so much lies and pretense and trying to always make some kind of appearances. Everybody assumes being an expert when it comes to raising a kid or teaching this kid. This is why I gave up teaching kids and teens drawing and painting. It was not because of kids, but because of their parents. It very often felt like the kid doesn’t matter or the opposite: this kid is a wonder-kid, so they feel offended when corrected or shown the right way of doing things in art. I really feel sorry for school teachers nowadays. I worked for 17 years with teens 13-18 and young people up to 24-25 back in Europe, and that was wonderful, but seeing North American kids and teens I don’t think I would ever want to return to teaching them. It’s not because of kids, it’s because of parents. It feels like walking on a blade of knife. Nobody ever can please absolutely everybody, but still there is some neutral middle ground. I’m writing about life matter in my secondary blog: https://inesepogalifeschool.com/

  4. Brava!

    I got enough judgement watching my parents. I still see it in the half of my brothers and sisters who have fully embraced the “my house can look more like a museum and/or Trump’s penthouse than yours can!” lifestyle. What a crock! Our house always had tons of STUFF for the kids and me – books, video games, books, movies, books, music, books, board games, and if they tired of all of that, more books. There were the occasional parents who tried to do that judging thing on me – I just noted that given the choice, their kids were a lot more likely to be choosing to play at our house than my kids were to be choosing to sit still and behave at theirs.

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