We are well into the 2nd month of 2021 and some things have simply remained unchanged despite the annual “New Year, New You” mindset that traditionally kicks into full gear come January. Parents and caregivers globally are continuing to grapple with distance learning, elevated stress levels, anxiety due to the unknown, and repeated parent shaming. As if there was not enough to deal with, many parents are finding themselves unfairly criticized in a “Mean Girl” type of way over their child rearing decisions during these unprecedented times.
As a mother and primary caregiver to a 9 year old, 6 year old, and a 4 year old, I am finding it increasingly difficult to strike a balance in managing everyday mundane tasks and work due to ever changing school, activity, and CDC guidelines. Now, add the pressures of whether or not I should tend to my children’s mental wellness and host that outdoor playdate, enjoy dinner at a restaurant indoors, and *gasp* go on a family getaway. Immediately, the repercussions of my proposed actions begin to rapidly swirl around my already clogged ‘mom brain’, I instantly feel stressed out, and gone are my ambitious efforts that were unselfishly composed for the good of my babies who are often suffering inwardly.
Due to the restrictions covid-19 has brought upon us, my husband and I ensure we are outdoors and engaging in activity with our children every single day regardless of the weather conditions. While on an early Sunday morning family bike ride in our quiet neighborhood that borders a nature center and where you see more trees than people, we suddenly see a middle-aged woman speedily walking towards us a couple blocks away shouting and her arms flailing. As we rode past her (ensuring to be on the opposite side of the road) we now clearly comprehended her hysterical yelling…
“Your kids are going to get covid, what are you doing? Where are their masks? Go home!”
Getting publicly shamed for taking an outdoor and socially distant bike ride was not what I expected that morning. This was just one example of the many covid related mom shaming incidents that I have encountered over the past year. Every parent makes what they believe are the best choices for their family, this does not entitle us to pass judgement on anyone’s choices for their family.
Parenting in a pandemic is just plain HARD. Somehow, everyone is always at fault and fear paired with mom shaming is running rampant. No matter how many parenting podcasts you listen to or mental wellness professionals you speak to, nothing just nothing can alleviate or help you react methodically when you are in a difficult situation. What makes circumstances worse is that children heavily rely on their parents for safety, both physical and emotional, and when they see that someone or something has upset their parents, they are directly affected emotionally. What was one problem that affected the main caregiver, has promptly multiplied and is having a negative and dangerous mental impact on the innocent children involved.
Now more than ever, parents must support and love each other by coming together as a community rather than breaking each other down. We are all in this TOGETHER.
We have enough to worry about, can we maybe stop with the mom shaming cycle?
It may be easier said than done, but here are some tips to try the next time you are faced with unwanted criticism of your parenting choices:
4 Ways to Cope with Covid-19 Mom Shaming
- PAUSE and take a deep breath before reacting. Know that YOU ARE THE BEST mother for your child and no one can give them more love than you. Ignore and move on.
- DISCONNECT with the negative people in your life, especially the mom shamers. Spend more time with those who support your parenting.
- Use HUMOR. Maybe we all need to be a little more like Chrissy Teigen and learn to use sharp wit to clap back at the internet or in-person mom shaming trolls.
- SPEAK UP for yourself. Everyone has an opinion, but that does not mean they have the right to impose their views on you. Next time you are in such a situation, make direct eye contact and politely reply with: “Thank you for your concern, but we are doing just fine.”
When we stop shaming each other and start supporting each other’s differences and idiosyncrasies, parenting becomes a whole lot easier — and more enjoyable even during a global pandemic.
Hang in there mamas, we’re all doing the best we can.