Let’s Play “The Shame Game!”

As school ramps back up, so do the opportunities to measure our own parenting skills against  others. “Hmm… she never makes it to drop off on time. That lady needs to get it together.” For further proof (as if you needed it) scroll through your Facebook feed any day of the week and you’ll undoubtedly come across some scuttle involving parent-shaming, specifically mom-shaming. Under the cloak of social media anonymity, stinging words, and accusations get thrown around like candy at Halloween. “What a terrible parent! How can she raise her kid that way?!”

And what about those mom meet-ups that turn into thinly-veiled opportunities for bullying and emotionally-loaded “microaggressions”? “You’re still nursing your daughter? Oh… how interesting.” Sound familiar? This behavior is the opposite of spreading and living the character strength of respect!

Respect doesn’t mean we agree with one another’s parenting style or philosophy, but we give each person the grace to choose what is best for every person’s family and children. We do that from a place of seeing a fellow parent eye-to-eye, figuratively of course. When we “see” someone from that vantage point, on level ground, we are less likely to look down on them in a judgemental way. That's operating from a place of mutual respect. Maybe, you’re thinking—well, I’ve never shamed another mom…

Fair enough, but consider the following questions to test your Emotional IQ in the Mom Shame Game:

Would you ever ask a mom, “Why did/didn’t you breastfeed/bottle feed?”

Never        Sometimes        Yep, regularly!


Do you ever directly question moms about their kids’ major milestones, like,  “Shouldn’t he be reading by now?”

Never        Sometimes        Yep, regularly!


Are you likely to monopolize the conversation about your amazing parenting methods, like your uber-effective discipline plan, or your specially-formulated organic kale & meat diet?

Never        Sometimes        Yep, regularly!


Would you ever scoff at someone who shared a child’s bedtime routine that was waayyy different from yours?

Never        Sometimes        Yep, regularly!


How regularly do you post picture-perfect (not a hair out of place) parenting moments on social media?

Never        Sometimes        Yep, regularly!


Do you ever gossip about or criticize other moms—whether it’s “Pinterest-y” moms who always seem to throw the perfect color-coordinated, themed parties, and look crazy good doing it, or moms who repeatedly show up late, looking flustered & lost?

Never        Sometimes        Yep, regularly!


Are you likely to comment about how some moms spend their free time, whether it’s going to the gym, crafting, shopping, decorating, throwing parties, enjoying a glass of wine, or napping?

Never        Sometimes        Yep, regularly!


Scoring—If you answered with:

Mostly YEPS! Vulnerability builds connection. Try to be more willing to share your own trouble spots in family life. Keep in mind for future interactions—what you consider to be a totally harmless question could cause real hurt. Think about leaning in and listening rather than spouting strong opinions or asking pointed questions. Moms desire support, affirmation, and respect. With some intentionality, you’ve got this!

Mostly NEVERS & SOMETIMES You can be a supportive mom friend, but occasionally it borders on too much advice. Try asking more neutral questions that you wouldn’t mind answering yourself. Respect requires empathy, so consider what it’s like in someone else’s shoes before getting on your high-horse.

Lots o’ NEVERS! You’ve earned our respect. You try not to weigh in too forcefully with other moms, and instead you understand that every parent, (including yourself) no matter how experienced and wise, is a work-in-progress. Your acceptance of others communicates trust, which fosters true connection.  Keep building up moms and modeling respect to your kids.

Tell her what she’s won, Johnny! A lifetime supply of… Respect. Sadly, losers of the shame game gain no consolation prize. So, let’s make a commitment to collectively win by building a culture that supports moms and dads just like you! Parenting is stressful and very personal. We need to recognize that there are countless roads that lead to happy, well-adjusted kids. Let’s remain committed to respecting the incredibly heroic role of all parents by offering encouragement instead of criticism.

Together, let’s promise to support, encourage and respect all of our fellow parents on this wild adventure of family life and raising kids.

Who is one parent you can reach out to this week to offer some much-needed affirmation & respect?

Looking for more uplifting and thought-provoking commentary on navigating the craziness of family life? This blog contains excerpts from our Adventure into Character, Destination Respect Kit. Inside each kit, parents and kids unbox fun, engaging prompts to be the best versions of themselves individually and as a family. Find out more about the family adventure of a lifetime that leads to a brighter future. Did we mention, it’s delivered right to your doorstep?

If you have an issue you’d like our help with, drop us a line at Hello@FamiliesofCharacter.com. If you’re experiencing a problem, chances are thousands of other families are in the same boat. We’re ALL in this parenting boat together! 

Remember to tap into our Thrive Community on Facebook. It’s free and our team’s very own clinical counselor offers helpful tips and encouragement to parents who are adventuring together. 

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