Instead of tearing each other down over parenting choices, let's remember everyone is doing the best they can. Leave your judgement at the door please.
Whether your kids are newborns, grouchy teenagers or one of the stages in between, parenting is – we can all agree – a tough job. Thankfully the rewards are pretty awesome, but there are also soooo many moments of self-doubt, mum guilt, hysterics, mum rage and, we’ll be honest, sheer panic along the way. Which means that unwanted opinions really hit where it hurts.
We’re all doing the best we can and those parenting fails have a knack of lingering in our minds way longer than our parenting wins. Which is why we’re tired of the Parent Shaming Brigade passing sweeping judgement on everything from c-sections to bottle feeding, screen time to baby-led weaning: support not shame, we say!
We’ve all been there, right? That sneer from a ‘friend’ as you whip out a bottle of formula (or a nipple!), or the opinion of a ‘well-meaning’ relative who just doesn’t understand why your six-month-old isn’t fully potty trained yet. And no, my three-year-old is not sleeping through the night. Find out how some of our past and present HoneyKids mums have been shamed and why we’ve decided not to let flippant comments and obnoxious opinions bother us a moment longer… We’re all just doing the best we can. #nomoremumshaming please.
1. Angela, mum to Xavier and Marcel
The first experience I had with mum shaming was when I was still pregnant. I had dinner with some girlfriends, and we were talking about listeria and what foods to avoid. I mentioned that I was avoiding runny eggs etc, all the normal things, but had eaten mozzarella balls in a salad. One of my friend’s eyes widened, she took a deep inhale and quickly said: don’t do that again. Needless to say, I felt awful and didn’t attempt to eat fresh mozzarella again during my pregnancy, even though I knew it was fine!
2. Amy, mum to Ruby and Teddy
Eugh, so much judging – I hate it so much! When mum guilt is your go-to emotion, a ‘harmless’ offhand comment can completely shatter your confidence (“Oh wow, you work full time? Your kids are so young, though!”). I used to really struggle with other new mums entering into competitive mode: how their kids were only three months but already nailing trigonometry problems and running their first marathon.
OK, so I exaggerate, but you know what I mean! I felt pretty rotten when I admitted no, I wasn’t making my own edible paint, taking the kids to jungle gym and teaching them three new words a day. We all rock as mums and should be supportive of each other – we don’t need to beat each other up. Also, don’t get me started on judgey, smuggy parents while your toddler is throwing the mother of all tantrums in a library…
3. Selina, mum to Maxton and Grayson
I’m amazed at how often I’m asked, “How can you work full-time when you have two kids?”. This comes from complete strangers, from chatty taxi uncles to specialist medical professionals. Really? Is this still so mind-boggling in this day and age?
I also find it a real shame that some people are so bothered by children behaving like children. If a kid isn’t hurting anyone, being hurt or in danger of hurting themselves, it’s really none of your business. We just call busybodies and eye-rollers the “fun police” because I’m far more interested in giving my boys a happy and fun-filled childhood than caring what some random person thinks.
4. Tracy, mum to Jack, Angelica and Rafferty
When I first arrived in Singapore with my then four-month-old bubba and five-year-old in tow, I was having some real issues coping with breastfeeding (which came as a surprise, having aced it with the eldest). I turned to a well-known service for mothers… big mistake. Turns out the support only really extended to persevering with breastfeeding, and the judgy pants came at me so fast I barely had time to duck, much less whip out a bottle of formula.
Anyone would think I was trying to feed my newborn blended Happy Meals; such was the vitriol reaction from narrow-minded advice-givers. I didn’t consult the group again, and I didn’t let them pin their shame blaming on me either: my daughter thrived on formula. Because #fedisbest. Incidentally, now she’s a happy, well-adjusted, healthy nine-year-old who loves an occasional Happy Meal. Yep, my kids eat McDonald’s. And I do, too.
5. Brynie, mum to Isabella, William and Penelope
I am sooo over the judgy comments when it comes to screen time, what foods kids should eat… blah blah blah. I didn’t have a helper from when my third child turned six weeks, and I spent eight long months managing a home with three kids, all aged under four years (poor me, eight months…). This experience allowed me to develop a newfound respect for mums that really did do it on their own.
I concluded that any parent who said things like ‘I would never feed my kids that’, ‘my kids only watch 20 minutes of TV a day’ or post pics on social media of that wonderful endless crafting experience with their brood is either lying or they have damn good help! With pride, I will admit McDelivery and screen time was my saviour on the days I had my head in my hands, sobbing away while trying to survive on minimal sleep. Shame on me…
6. Lindene, mum to Edie and Frankie
I was shamed by an older ‘gentleman’ upon walking into my local café one bleary-eyed morning with my baby in a carrier. He thought it would be amusing to disguise his judgement by speaking directly to my daughter, cooing, “You’re getting some caffeine from Mummy, are you?” When I did sleep training with my second baby (the first one survived and is a brilliant sleeper and happy child, thanks for asking).
My helper didn’t intend to shame me, but she jokingly said, “Oh, you’re torturing her, ha ha… ha.” Anyone who’s ever attempted sleep training, even of the most gentle kind, does not joke about sleep training. Also, anyone who’s ever travelled solo – or at all – with small kids will know that to shame a parent on a plane is nothing short of cruel. It was done to me when I boarded with a baby, a toddler, and not even a hint of another adult to help me. My fury was so great that the shamer started helping me with my bags within a matter of seconds and spent the rest of the flight telling me what a great job I was doing.
7. Jana, mum to Alonso and Luis
I have never been mum-shamed by someone else – only myself! I feel like I am constantly adjusting my mothering style based on people’s expectations, and always worry I’m doing the wrong thing. I know we shouldn’t care about what people think or say, but being a mother is one of the most highly respected jobs out there, and I feel like I need to live up to that.
8. Ilona, mum to Zygi
Oh, the shame – it started with my baby’s conception! He’s an IVF baby, and I’ve heard everything from “you’re cheating nature” and it being “a rich person’s luxury” to my personal favourite: “That’s what you get when you wait!” Some comments are direct, others indirect in the way of links sent to articles or passing comments.
Then there was my ‘shameful’ decision to use an epidural during my labour and, ultimately, the birth, which ended in an emergency C-section. Apparently, if I’d gone drug-free, I could have manoeuvred myself into a position for an optimal natural birth – a ‘real’ birth – according to the non-experts.
I also ‘didn’t try hard enough’ to breastfeed because that didn’t work out either. At the end of the day, my son’s a really good sleeper (I’ve subsequently been shamed for ‘sleep training’ my son – which I actually didn’t need to do). Although shouldn’t I have lost that baby weight by now?
9. Dawn, mum to Gemma and Tessa
My kids are not the quiet kind. I also give them space to express themselves. I ‘love’ how some people perceive curious and vibrant kids as ‘naughty’ or ill-behaved. Not that they’re angels by any means.
Thanks to our Honeykids mums for sharing. Remember, we’re all in this together, mamas!