If you have been pregnant or a new mom, then you know in public it can feel like you are a product under review. People comment on your situation in all sorts of ways. Some will comment on your baby’s features, others ask questions about your baby and yourself as well as comment on your parenting style. Mum shaming happens all the time and in different forms.
- Mum shaming by strangers
A while ago I remember reading a comment on a post of Facebook about a young mum in a supermarket with her toddler about 2 years old. Her toddler had been throwing crazy tantrums every time she felt that her parents were not giving her attention. The young mum and her partner were having such a difficult time because they could hardly do anything around the house. The toddler would want their attention every passing moment. It was overwhelming for them. So they tried different methods until they got advice that they should try and ignore the toddler every once in a while. This way the child would get used to doing things on their own without needing the parents’ attention.
The young parents tried out the method. It killed them inside to see their toddler crying for attention and they had to act as though they were ignoring her. However, it worked because the child gradually became more independent. That’s not to mean that the fits for attention didn’t still happen from time to time. So on this particular occasion the young mum and her toddler were in the supermarket when the child started being dramatic so in line with their method of changing the behaviour, the young mum put on her earphones. She pretended not to notice the toddler. An elderly woman then came over and gave her an earful on how young mums today deny their children attention and are always on their gadgets. The elderly woman then walked away.
The young mum was deeply offended by the stranger’s comments. She did not know the background of the situation yet felt very justified to offer an opinion. This is not a unique case as this happens all the time. Some talk behind the mum’s back but others will openly comment on someone’s parenting style to the mum’s face.
If this happens then as a young mum it can be very hurtful. Some of the comments can touch on something that you as a mum are struggling with such as the baby’s weight. If this happens, the best way to deal with it is to ignore it. Develop a thick skin because you cannot go around explaining yourself to everybody.
- Mum shaming by family
This kind of mum shaming happens all the time. It could be your mum or your aunties who often comment in a negative way about your parenting style. For example, in African societies, there’s constant friction between the new-age parenting style and that of the older generation. Things like choosing a different disciplining method besides canning often elicits snide comments. The choice of using uji flour from supermarkets over the traditional posho mill ground flour also invites comments.
The difference between mum shaming from family members is that this type can come from a place of love. The problem is not necessarily the concerns raised but how the person said it. The communication of such issues can feel like attacking the mum. In such a situation, a mum needs to be very objective about it. Look past the way something was communicated and evaluate what the person was saying. Did what they said have merit? Do your research by consulting your doctor or reading on scientific material. You can then decide whether you want to continue with a certain type of food or parenting method.
Comments from family can really affect a person especially if it’s your first child because you are still learning. However, each parent has their own style and it requires constant revision depending on its impact on the child. Take time to learn from all corners but be confident in your ultimate choices for your child.
- Mum shaming online
In the era of sharing our personal lives online, strangers comment on people’s parenting style quite often. unfortunately, many people on the internet say mean things without considering how it will affect the child’s mother. Some even practice mum shaming as a way to get clout and interaction with their comments. Out of the blue people will comment on the baby’s looks, developmental progress, parents’ divorce and so on.
If you experience online shaming then the best thing is to ignore the comments. You can also exit the social media site. However, you could also consider keeping your child’s pictures and life off the internet.
People cannot comment on what they don’t know about. Sometimes though one will post their child because they want to inspire other parents or pass on a message. Despite being genuine about such intentions they still receive a lot of mum shaming. Similar to dealing with mum shaming from strangers, develop a thick skin and ignore the negative remarks.
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