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I still remember saying goodbye, while forcing my voice to sound cheerful, just long enough to hang up the phone and burst into tears.
I’d been vulnerable. I’d been transparent. I’d poured out my frustrated mommy-heart.
And…I’d been shamed.
What I had considered the most loving approach to my child’s tantrums, someone else had deemed wrong. And she let me know it.
“Mommy shaming” is a common, yet fruitless way of voicing opinions about parenting—opinions that can make a very hard-working and loving mommy feel like pond scum.
You see, the modern mama is overloaded with advice! She takes it all in, arming herself with ideas for potty training, getting her kids to eat veggies, setting bedtimes, and choosing the right school. But, despite her best intentions, she sometimes finds herself bravely trying to keep her chin up, as she senses shame from other moms.
Sisters, when will we ever learn that it’s not our business whether little Johnny breastfeeds until he is 4, or little Susie wears her “Snow White” costume to school every single day?!
Maybe it’s because I learned the hard way that guilt and shame hardly ever make a real difference. I think it starts with getting real with ourselves. As moms, we mess up…a lot. And the next generation of mommies will too. Perhaps, it would be more encouraging to share our blunders alongwith our breakthroughs; to offer camaraderie instead of criticism.
Here are a few insights that have replaced my own tendencies toward “Mommy Shaming.” These small concessions have made a huge difference in how I relate to other mothers. I hope my admissions will help you as well.
It’s Okay if Her Kids are Dirty
My two oldest boys were the cleanest toddlers on the planet. I didn’t allow even the slightest bit of spit-up to remain on their little onesies. I bathed them so frequently they both developed terrible eczema. And we were all miserable.
It took another decade, a couple more kids, plus two active grandsons to finally accept dirt.
What does it matter if the neighbor kid is like the Peanut’s character, Pigpen? That mommy doesn’t need us to be standing nearby, with hand sanitizer, ready to squirt her dirty little kid. She needs us to be supportive and non-judgmental, even if it means “accepting dirt.”
It’s Okay if Her Discipline Methods Don’t Align With Mine
Method after method of discipline has been written about, promoted, rejected, and…reinvented! Some work, and some don’t.
I remember when my oldest son was three and I tried to get him to stay in the time-out chair. He kept getting down and running away. Finally, in desperation to win the battle,I sat on the time-out chair, holding him on my lap and pinning his arms to his sides.
It took about three seconds to get kicked in the shins.
It’s ok to admit when something doesn’t work. What was effective in 1965 may not even come close in 2016. What worked last week might never work again!
Instead of “Mommy Shaming,” let’s be supportive of each other, realizing that we aren’t perfect. Let’s turn to the Bible for godly wisdom, knowing that His Word endures forever. (Proverbs 22:6, 23:12-14, and Isaiah 40:8)
It’s Okay if Her Children Don’t Nap Like Mine
I was one of those moms who cherished the small amounts of “down time,” afforded by regular naps and bedtimes. For me, it was a way to refuel and gear up for the energy it took to be a hands-on mom.
However, I’ve seen plenty of moms choose to let their kids sleep when they want, where they want andif they want. It has nothing to do with me, so why would I frown upon it? If that works for their schedule, so be it.
I recently read a hilarious post about getting a toddler to bed. You can view it here.
Sometimes, moms just have to learn by trial and error. They may grow weary of not having some peace and quiet, therefore implementing structured nap times. In any case, it’s not our place to judge.
It’s Okay if She Educates Her Kids Differently Than I Do
Remember the song, “Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys?” That old country-western tune has been around for decades, and so have strong opinions about school choice!
Public school, private school, charter school, home school, un-school…hmmm…
Our family has chosen almost all of these at one time or another. My oldest son started in the public school down the road, moved to a charter school until the seventh grade, and was homeschooled until he graduated and went off to college.
Feeling judged over this decision is awful. School pressures are heavy enough. Truly, this is a family decision that no one else can make. The best part is, God is the true Giver of wisdom. When we ask for it, He gives it, even when it comes to choosing a school. (James 1:5)
If I could go back, maybe I would have let my baby grow up to be a cowboy. I certainly would have stressed a lot less over school choice. I would have realized, that at the end of the day, what really mattered most was that our children were nurtured and trained in the light of God’s Word.
This “Mommy Shaming” thing…we’ve all done it. Whether we’ve come right out and said what we were thinking, or simply given one of our disapproving glances, we’ve all participated.
I’d like to suggest that we start giving a thumbs up to other mommies; that we show more compassion than criticism. There might be a mom out there who needs to hear about the mistakes you made—and what you learned from them. She might really appreciate knowing that she is doing the very best she can and that you are on her side.
Jennifer Waddle is best known for words of encouragement as an Author, Speaker and Musician for Women’s Ministry. She currently has three published books on Amazon and is a regular contributor for WomensMinistryTools.com and GotQuestions.org. Jennifer is committed to sharing authentic messages of hope to women of all walks of life. She loves being a wife of 24 years, mom of four, and nana of two. Most of all, she cherishes her time spent in the Word of God, with a cup of coffee and a beautiful view of the Rocky Mountains. Contact Jennifer here: www.jenniferwaddleonline.com or [email protected]