Most Mamas Feel Shamed For Their Parenting Choices, Study Finds

Most Mamas Feel Shamed For Their Parenting Choices, Study Finds

A new survey has found most mamas have been shamed for their parenting choices.

Well, duh. It just adds to the long list of things we all knew before a study confirmed it. Walk into any playgroup and a quick chat with the parents if you have any doubt.

In fact, a quick visit to a prenatal class will prove judgement starts long before the babies are even born.

Most Mamas Feel Shamed For Their Parenting Choices, Study Finds

The CS Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll surveyed mothers of children aged 0-5 years, and found most women had faced criticism for their parenting choices.

The results of the survey confirmed criticism is a standard part of modern day parenting, and those who haven’t encountered it are in the minority.

What Did The Study Find?

Over 60% of participants said they had been criticised for their parenting choices, with family members most likely to be the culprits. Over a third of those surveyed said the criticism came from their spouses or their child’s other parent.

Grandparents were also found guilty of criticising parenting choices. Maternal grandparents were more likely to dole out criticism than paternal grandparents.

Almost 15% of participants had been criticised by friends, and 12% had faced criticism from other mothers they had encountered in public.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, social media had a role to play. About 7% of mothers said they had received criticism online. With celebrity Instagrammers being mum-shamed at every turn, it’s hard to believe this problem affects such a small number of mamas.

A quarter of those questioned had been criticised by three or more groups, which shows criticism is something many mamas are dealing with on a regular basis.

Why Are Mamas Being Shamed?

Of course, none of this will come as a surprise to most mamas reading this. We're criticised for our baby’s sleep patterns, how many clothes they’re wearing, what they’re eating, and how we deal with unwanted behaviour.

We let them sleep too much, we should put them down more. We’re making rods for our own backs, we aren’t cuddling them enough.

Sugar? We give them too much, or we’re too strict about it. We are ‘helicopter’ parents, or we let them take too many risks.

It’s endless. Mothers just can’t do anything right.

Most surprisingly, the survey found only 62% of mothers felt they received unhelpful advice from other people. Really? Only 62%?

I receive endless unsolicited advice from family members, strangers and care providers.

And I would say most of it is unhelpful. Luckily, ignoring unwanted advice is my mama superpower.

The most frequent topic of criticism was discipline. No surprise there.

As soon as your kids throw a wobbly, all eyes are on you, because, of course, it’s all your fault. And people are quick to let you know you’re to blame. You give in too easily, or you’re too strict, or you’re the wrong kind of parent.

When your kids are behaving impeccably, on the other hand, nobody notices what a great mother you are.

Was There Any Upside To Mama Shaming?

The good news is that 67% of mothers said the criticism served to help them feel more confident about their parenting choices.

Wouldn’t it be great, though, if we could have our confidence boosted with compliments instead of criticism?

Receiving criticism from others also encouraged over half of mums to stop criticising other parents. That's definitely a good thing.

We should be focusing on building each other up, rather than tearing each other down.

Parenting is hard enough some days without also having to ward off unhelpful comments and judgemental looks.

Check out The New Mama Code: What All New Mamas Should Live By to see what we mean.

So, next time you see a mama at the park having a bad day, don’t judge her. Help her out instead. Throw her a smile, or a quick compliment. Empathise with her.

If you need more encouragement, here are 5 Reasons To Say Hi To A Mama You Don’t Know Today

Let’s treat other mothers the way we want to be treated, and put an end to the ‘sanctimommy’ trend right now.

It takes a village, right?

Let’s make sure the village is a caring and supportive one that everybody feels part of.

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Fiona Peacock CONTRIBUTOR

Fiona Peacock is a writer, researcher and lover of all things to do with pregnancy, birth and motherhood (apart from the lack of sleep). She is a home birth advocate, passionate about gentle parenting and is also really tired.


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