“Bringing your kids everywhere is inappropriate. You should find a babysitter.”
“Don’t you know that breast milk is so much better for your baby?!”
“You shouldn’t have any more kids until you get your life together.”
“Your kid needs to eat normal food.”
“I can’t believe you would waste your degree and be a stay at home mom.”
“You’re spoiling your baby by picking him up too much.”
I recently posted this photo in a mom’s group on Facebook and I knew I would get responses but I was blown away to find that my post received almost 400 comments!
Here are just some of the things mothers shared being shamed for:
- Breast feeding too long
- Not breast feeding long enough
- Formula/Bottle feeding
- Sleep methods
- Hair color
- Potty training
- Being an single mom
- Having too many kids
- Not having more than one kid
- Not spanking
- Carrying their baby too much
- Discipline styles
- Being over protective
- Being too laid back
- Car seats
- Putting their kids in public school
- Being a stay at home mom
- Not contributing to the income of the family
- Being a working mom
- Having a cesarean
- Screen time
Can we all agree that this list is ridiculous?! No matter what you do, somebody is going to have something to say about it. I’ve had my many experiences with being mommy-shamed too. I once had a complete stranger post on my daughter’s picture “This is not good parenting. What is this mother thinking?!”
Exxxccccuuuuuussseeee me? For those of you who know me, you know that our family loves to cook. My daughter has been “cooking” since she was 2 years old. She is well taught in safety procedures in the kitchen and has not once burned herself or anyone else. But you wouldn’t know that from looking at the picture and this stranger’s comment just shows how prone we all are to make snap judgments and postulate on another person’s parenting style & technique.
In May we celebrated mothers and this month we will celebrate fathers, but there is a fairly new national holiday that doesn’t get a lot of traction, though its message is one we need to embrace. On the fourth Sunday in July, is National Parent’s Day and the opportunity for parental figures in the United States to receive recognition for the role they play in their children’s lives. In 1994 President Bill Clinton signed into law a resolution adopted by the US Congress establishing the holiday. According to the Congressional Resolution, Parent’s Day was created for, “recognizing, uplifting, and supporting the role of parents in the rearing of children.”
Parenting is a friggin’ difficult job. Some say the most difficult thing you’ll do in your lifetime. The culture around us promotes egocentricity & self-gratification, whereas parenting requires selflessness & unconditional love (and who, besides Jesus Christ himself, is good at that?!). Instead of tearing each other down and adjudicating, we should be encouraging each other in our familial commitments and responsibilities. We should be ‘recognizing, uplifting, and supporting’ each other instead of eviscerating each other based on this idea that there is such a thing as a perfect parent.
The belief that perfection, or even something close to it, is possible in parenting promotes a tendency to blame & accuse. If a problem arises, then it must be someone’s fault. Mothers, especially, are in the hot seat on the blame train. If your kid acts up in the grocery store, or if they won’t eat their veggies, or if they lose their blessed minds when you leave them with the babysitter- you get glares, whispers, unwanted advice, and end up feeling like a failure as a parent. If only we could be perfect mothers, then we could create the perfect life for our children, and in turn they would be perfect. But since our kids are not perfect (and far from it!), we think that there must be something wrong with us- that it’s our fault. But here’s the thing, perfect does not exist. There is no proven formula for raising children. And even if you were the “perfect” mom, that’s not what would be best for your kiddo. Perfection is not relatable… or obtainable. Our children, just like us, suffer from the human condition of sin. At some time or another, we all have reduced our lives down to our wants, feelings, and happiness instead of living for God and willingly staying inside His boundaries. The lies, deceit, and disobedience that comes from my preschool aged children, drive home the fact that they and we are sinful- dreadfully sinful. We, as mothers, can lovingly and patiently bring our children to the point where they acknowledge their need for redemption & restoration and find it in God. We all fall short of pleasing God because we do wrong things but Jesus, even though He was perfect, suffered the penalty of our wrong-doings and gave us His righteous standing with God. This is good news! By teaching our children that Jesus paid the price for us because we couldn’t pay it ourselves, it gives us and our kids permission to stop aiming for perfection and allows us to live in the freedom of grace. There are no perfect mothers and there are no perfect children, so let’s stop pretending!
Let us give ourselves & each other grace and strive to be good enough mothers. Changing your mindset from “perfection” to “good enough” is not meant to be an excuse to slack off or dismiss wisdom. We should always aim to be better and seek wisdom from the resources around us, but being a good enough mother is about being confident in your own parenting abilities, rather than worrying about how others see you or if others seem to be doing it better or worse. A good enough mother loves her kids but not all of their behavior. A good enough mother breastfeeds. A good enough mother formula feeds. A good enough mother stays at home with her children. A good enough mother works full time and puts her kids in daycare. A good enough mother is human and makes mistakes but learns from them. A good enough mother uses her best judgement. A good enough mother does what works for her family and the personalities of her kids. If we accept our own limitations, we are better to accept those of others. In that way we become good enough mothers. And good enough mothers are the real mothers.