I recently came across a post that said ‘mothers are doing the best they can’. Shaming their way of doing things because they are different from yours, isn’t the way to go. Now, I may not be a mother myself, however, I have seen my fair share of mothers being criticised for their parenting styles.
As if they aren’t already trying their best at the ‘mom-thing’, the criticism adds salt to the wounds from battles fought silently while trying to be the perfect parent. Mom-shaming isn’t a new phenomenon; however, it is definitely something we need to do away with, and what better way than to address the elephant in the room through conversation.
What is mom-shaming? Mom-shaming is known as bullying other moms for their parenting choices, which can be done in an intentional or unintentional manner. Unfortunately, this is an easy action to fall into. Being a mother is not for the faint-hearted and as if caring for your own needs wasn’t enough, being a mother means you’re also responsible for the health, safety and wellbeing of another human. However, because parenting styles differ, some mothers are often shamed for their differences. For example, if you don’t breastfeed your child – you’re doing it wrong. Mom-shaming is an intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that you are flawed and something you’ve done or failed to do makes you unworthy. This is dangerous because it breeds insecurity and anxiety, and is also damaging.
With the ever-evolving unrealistic picture-perfect glimpse of social media standards portrayed on Facebook, Instagram and/or Twitter about parenting ways that are the “right” ones, moms often feel the pressure of comparison, which in the end, make them feel like they are not doing their best for their children. When mothers can’t meet these unrealistic expectations, they are set up to be disappointed, feel like failures, or become insecure about their parenting abilities.
It is of paramount importance to remember that mothers go through a lot of things while juggling parenting and their lifestyles. Some of these mothers are battling postpartum depression in secret and have no one to talk to, because they are afraid of being shamed. Some of these mothers are
exhausted because they only have three months of maternity leave before they go back to work, and they are still expected to show up and treat their children with care and gentleness. Meanwhile, nobody is giving them a break to be themselves again without being a mother. Thus, we need to remember to always be kind, gentle and keep in mind that mothers have different motherhood journeys.
• Frieda Mukufa’s lifestyle section concentrates on women-related issues and parenting every Friday in the New Era newspaper. She also specialises in editing research proposals, proofreading as well as content creation.