Mom shaming is a topic mothers are well aware of. "Mom Shaming" is described by the Urban Dictionary as "Criticizing or degrading a mother for her parenting choices because they differ from the choices the shamer would make". Mothers being passionate about certain parenting topics combined with social media has made mom shaming an epidemic.
One thing I have found difficult, though, is to know when what I say will be taken as advice or as mom shaming. Here's an example:
I'm a first time mom. A few days after my baby girl, Davona, was born we went to see a certified lactation consultant. The consultant told me all of the things I wasn't supposed to consume while breastfeeding and really stressed how I shouldn't have any caffeine until Davona is around 6 months old. She said that not only can the caffeine cause the baby to stay awake and get fussy but in some cases can harm the physical development of the baby. Basically caffeine is very bad for newborns (I would go into more detail but caffeine isn't the point this example is trying to make). I was so glad she told me because I had no idea of this previously (hey, I had a lot going on!).
Fast forward to about a week ago. I saw multiple of my fellow new mom friends posting pictures of themselves drinking coffee with their newborns (and I know these moms are breastfeeding). My first instinct was to let them know what a licensed lactation consultant had told me. I was new to breastfeeding myself not too long ago and was so glad when someone told me. But I stopped and didn't. Because I was so afraid of being labelled as a "Mom Shamer" that I was scared to share good-natured advice.
My example is just one of many: Someone posting a picture of a child in a carseat wrong, having a dangerous crib setup, giving their child soda in their bottle, etc. These are all topics that aren't even that controversial because they have been proven to need to be done a certain way by medical professionals. But nowadays moms are scared to share advice that is for the good health of a child for fear of mom shaming.
So what is the solution?
I think the biggest part of the solution starts with the mom receiving the advice. I know I myself am way to quick to turn to my pride and think "This mom thinks I don't know what I'm doing! How dare she talk to me like that," when, in reality, there is a good chance that I actually don't know what I'm doing and need to listen instead of rebuke. Instead of turning to pride moms need to graciously receive the advice and if they are questioning it then ask a professional and do further research. The majority of moms are giving advice out of good intentions, not trying to shame you or make you look bad. Realize that.
The other biggest way is how you actually give another mom advice. If the mom is asking for advice on a certain topic I say you have free reign. However if they are just making posts/comments casually as part of their life and aren't directly asking for advice here are my rules: If you don't know the person well enough to give them the advice in person then don't give the advice. And then actually give the advice in person in a non-confrontational way. If for some reason you can't, private message the person instead of commenting it for the whole world to see. Things that are written can be so easily misconstrued, so another mom will have an easier time seeing you have good intentions in person versus taking something you wrote the wrong way.
If you don't know them well enough to say it in person then pray for them. Pray that God would reveal the truth about the topic to them and/or that a mom who knows them better than you would see the issue and say something to them.
You also need to realize that you don't know the whole story. The mom could have loosened the car seat straps after the child was out of the car and then taken the picture. The mom could have put all the blankets and pillows in the crib for a picture and then taken them out once the baby is inside. The mom could have been drinking decaffeinated coffee. A picture says a thousand words, but not all of them are true.
Also please never give someone advice that doesn't come from a reliable source. Just because some websites from your google search say it's true doesn't make it so. Always consult a professional. It's what they are there for.
What are your thoughts on Advice versus Mom-Shaming? Let me know by commenting below or reaching out on Instagram. @daniellevupshaw