Being a new mum, I have joined a few online mum’s groups, and it has opened me up to a whole new underworld, one I never knew existed.
Every now and then I see a video being uploaded by the Facebook closed group moderator angrily going on a rant about how this mum shaming needs to stop, threatening to delete group members who don’t say “nice things”.
It makes me feel like I am in school sitting in a classroom and being reprimanded by the teacher for something I didn't even do. Apparently, the use of a Snap Chat filter is supposed to somewhat soften the blow. Let me ask you, does using the cute bunny filter for your heated rant make it all OK?
We’re told to stop shaming other mums. But what exactly is mum shaming? Because the last thing I heard having an opinion doesn’t classify as shaming. What? Do we live in Nazi Germany where we need to keep our opinions to ourselves? I thought we were living in a democratic society where we could say what we thought.
Obviously, there is a clear difference between bullying and expressing yourself. Of course, swearing or making derogatory remarks is not acceptable. You can share your opinion in the most respectful way possible, or you know how. I’ve found a lot of the time people don’t even realise what they are doing.
This form of political correctness has gone too far. It’s gotten to the point that we’re scared to even say anything. I become fearful before writing anything on these online forums, so I usually don’t write anything at all. Or if I do write something, I spend 10 minutes analysing every word to make sure it is crafted in a way that won't cause offence or open up the floodgates of criticism. In fact, the end result is often not what I had intended to say at all.
Real talk, yep, I think that’s gone down the drain. For me though, sometimes what I need is people’s real opinion, not telling me what I want to hear. Real talk helps me in so many ways. It helps me reflect on myself, my attitudes, my opinions. It helps me question why and how I am doing something. It makes me become a better person. Yes, sometimes I completely disregard the comments, but sometimes it makes me stop for a second and think. I am not the same person I was five, or ten years ago, I am continually growing and developing. Sometimes I need to be challenged and not always be faced with a fake supportive smile, because of passive aggressive, it's a thing too you know.
Yes, sometimes people do make outwardly mean comments, and a lot of the time it’s about their own limitations and insecurities. But maybe, just maybe, we should move the discussion away from blaming other mums for their “mean comments”, and start talking about how we respond to this.
Maybe we should stop taking everything personally, and think for a minute that not everything is about us. I am fearful to even say anything positive too, about my own life, because you know, that could be interpreted as "mum shaming" too. How you ask? Well let me give you an example, I absolutely love breastfeeding, and I have not hid the fact that it's been a great experience for me and my child.
Expressing this to others, especially to some of the other "formula feeding mums" out there, well apparently they feel shamed. They don't say it specifically but you can see it in their face and their responses. You rarely hear them say anything positive back, it's always an awkward silence or passive aggressive reply.
So when you say how great breastfeeding is going for you, or how much of a great sleeper your baby is, or how amazing your husband is, or how lucky you are to be in a financial position to stay at home to look after your child.. People think you are taking a dig at them, especially if they don't agree with you. So many people take these topics personally. Let me celebrate my life journey, we're all on a different path and that's OK. Just because you feel guilty that you chose to not do the same, or for whatever reason couldn't, well that is not my issue, it's actually yours!
Does that mean I need to sit in silence for the rest of my life? I can't say anything negative... because MUM SHAMING... and also i can't say anything positive either... because MUM SHAMING.
Gee, let's shift the responsibility to each and every one of us. Let's not shun the people making the comments, but look at how we process it, respond to it, and let it affect us. What ever happened to a civilised conversation and agreeing to disagree. We are not always going to like what someone says but we can always control how we REACT to it. Please people take responsibility for your own emotions! Stop blaming others!
How someone makes you feel is NOT about them, it’s about YOU. Only you have the power to allow someone else to make you feel like shit, to make you feel like a bad parent, and to make you feel hopeless. No one else. Stop giving other people, strangers even, the power.
It’s time to take back the power! Who's with me?