Do You 'Mom Shame?' Well, Shame On You
A pediatrician (and mom) on how others make moms feel bad
Ok I'll go first, I'm a bad mom because I let my baby roll off the couch ... well, both babies.
I have moms in my office tell me all kinds of variations of the "I'm a bad mom statement" and it is always for minor things - still using a pacifier, let them have too much candy or still lay with them to help them sleep. I know a lot of this is looking for reassurance but I also think we do this to ward off mom-shaming. If I say it first then you can't shame me about it.
We live in a world where many small joys and achievements are shared online, but also in which we can see and judge each other's actions easily. This causes some of us to doubt our own ability and choices as mothers.
Maybe this doubt causes some of us to make other moms feel bad about choices that were not the same as ours. Maybe we want to shout loudly about the one thing we feel we are doing right and push away all the things we are doing wrong.
In either case shaming a mother is really a selfish act of making one person feel better at the expense of another - even when it is coated in words like "I'm just trying to help."
Moms often come to the end of a well child checkup and have one or two questions they feel they must ask to make someone else happy. Things like - "I'm not really worried, but my mom thinks hitting is not normal at this age" or "my friend says my child is not getting enough milk but I think it's OK, what do you think?"
One of things I love most about being a pediatrician is supporting parents to be the best parents they can be and affirming their skills and abilities.
Parents are showered with choices on how to feed, discipline and teach their children, and it feels like the "rules" or advice is always shifting. Thankfully for many things, there is no single perfect way to raise your child and anyone that tells you there is, is not thinking broadly enough.
Part of our job as pediatricians is to help you raise a healthy child. We will advise you on safety, health and what we have seen work, but we must also take into account different family styles that impact choices around feeding and sleep.
The "I breast fed for a year," "my 2 year old loves broccoli" and “my child slept through the night at 6 weeks of age" are all statements that are wonderful accomplishments of child rearing. But they can be also be used to shame other moms to feel bad about their own parenting.
I want to remind new moms, especially by the time your child is 10 no one will care about how you did any of these things. Your child will be wonderful because YOU are his or her parents.
And if you care enough to read this and ask your pediatrician questions then you are doing a great job already.
Get to know Vanessa Charette, M.D.
Dr. Charette is currently located at Cook Children's Fort Worth (Magnolia) office. She has been a pediatrician at Cook Children's for 10 years and joined Dr. McGehee in 2013. She feels blessed to join Dr.McGehee in a pediatric practice that has been a Cook Children's legacy for over 70 years. Dr. Charette embraces the many components that contribute to health: nutrition, physical activity, emotional/psychological stresses and the environment. As your pediatrician she will spend time with you discussing nutrition, child development and take the time to address any concerns you have about your child's health. To make an appointment with Dr. Charette, call 817-985-3158 or click here for more information.