What were we thinking! promote confidence and reduce distress in parents with a first baby

Mummy (and Daddy) Shaming

By Jane Fisher

Mummy (and Daddy) Shaming

‘Mummy shaming’ is a social phenomenon where the actions and activities of mothers are judged harshly or criticized by others. Most commonly, this shaming comes in the form of comments or non-verbal disapproval from strangers about the way mothers interact with their children or how they spend their time.

Shaming and blaming mothers is not new. The name might be new and social media may have made it more visible, however, the choices women make as mothers have always been the subject of judgment and criticism from others.  Critical comments could be about personal attributes (such as appearance) or about caregiving, including things like breastfeeding (or not), the age children go to childcare and the kinds of toys to let your children play with. Fathers experience criticism too, often disguised as humor, criticizing their ability to care for their children.

This kind of “shaming” is generally unhelpful and can undermine confidence. Criticism from your intimate partner is especially destructive. The things we say to each other can have a big effect on the way we feel, especially as we are learning how to do something new and difficult, like care for a baby. It is important to try and think about how your comments are being received and how your partner might feel. You might think that you are asking a simple question or making a throw-away comment but this might not be the case.

How does it feel when your partner says:

  • Why can’t you stop the baby crying?
  • What have you been doing all day?
  • The house is a mess

The Things You Say and Do worksheet is a great resource where you can compare how you and your partner feel when you say certain things to each other. Work through it together and discuss your answers, you might be surprised by the power of your words.

Whether it is a comment from your partner or a comment from a stranger, the things you say and do can build confidence or can diminish it. 

Posted in:  Parenting Experts