Can we stop with the mom-shaming for a few minutes to think about the struggles mothers go through on a daily basis? The other day I was scrolling through my newsfeed on Facebook and came across a post that was something along the lines of telling mothers that give their kids a phone (or any other electronic device) while at the grocery store are part of the problem. What problem you ask? The social issues of being more disconnected and the next generation not learning how to be social but rather narcissistic and turning into numb-like individuals. I won’t get into the validity or discussion of the “social issues”, but the post in general rubbed me the wrong way. For background, this was posted by a woman who didn’t have kids and wasn’t even married.
What bothered me the most was the instant mom-shaming and judging of a mother who was just minding her own business trying to get essential grocery shopping done. The comments went on to further judge all mothers who turn to electronic devices as a means to keep their kids occupied. They even went as far as to site links to articles about limiting screen time for children and the dangers/harms of allowing your children too much screen time. Most of the negative comments were from non-mothers. One woman was explaining that the reason mothers give their children the electronics is to avoid tantrums and melt-downs in public because of the embarrassment. She was even gracious enough to go on to further explain that instead of turning to the easy choice of just shutting the child up to in turn allow them to have their tantrums and not worry about the embarrassment because no one is going to judge a mom for her child throwing a tantrum. How nice of her to allow the mother this comfort, I thought. It was pretty much at that point I had to join in the discussion (typically I avoid commenting but really, I couldn’t hold back on this topic and the judgements of these women without children of their own).
I pointed out that tantrums are often more than just screaming and crying. Often, they include the children throwing themselves onto the floor and kicking and thrashing about. They might even start picking stuff up and throwing them. The level of the tantrum depends on the child. So simply allowing a child to throw a tantrum in an uncontrolled and unfamiliar environment isn’t about embarrassment but rather about the safety of the child at that point. So if giving a child their phone to watch videos while the mother gets done what she needs to, what’s the harm? Further, who are you to judge her or shame her? I’m sure the mother of that child knows way better than anyone what’s in her child’s best interest. Other mothers also joined the conversation (even more upset than I was). They went on to say that we can’t judge a mother based on a five minute snippet of their life we glimpse at a grocery store. How do we know what kind of day she had? How do we know the circumstances surrounding her life? How do we know that because this mother occupies her child non-stop on electronic devices all day long? But most importantly, how is it any of your business to judge her?!
The original poster went on to explain that she didn’t necessarily mean to judge but rather discuss the lasting effects of screen time and allowing children free reign on electronic devices. To which all the mothers replied, those are two separate statements and the original statement was extremely judgmental as opposed to a generic statement to the state of society. Even though she kept to her judgements using the age-old excuse of “Well how did our mothers do it?” At this point, I pointed out that we can’t raise our kids the same way we were raised because times change and we must change with them if we want to keep up and more importantly keep our children competitive and not fall behind. Even schools are incorporating electronic devices into their curriculums because that’s where technology and society in general is headed. Every generation uses the resources available to them to help raise their children and move forward. So I see nothing wrong with using electronic devices to both entertain and teach children when appropriate.
The underlying issue, however, is that other women had no problem undermining and criticizing other women. This is a bigger issue of women not supporting women. If I see another mom with an unruly child and she hands him/her a tablet or her phone, I will smile and cheer her on for avoiding an unnecessary meltdown and a bigger headache for the mom. Mother’s go through enough self-imposed guilt and shaming without the addition of strangers and so-called friends comments and judgements. Women and especially mothers need the support of their friends to help get through the day. It really is true, it takes a village to raise kids. Women tend to “suffer in silence” for so many reasons. One of which is the judgements of society and the fear that either no one will reach out to help or they will instantly criticize you. Mothers and women feel alone because of this. So let’s try to be more encouraging and help build them up instead of tearing them down. When you see a mom struggling, ask if you can help. If a child is throwing a tantrum, don’t just stand around giving dirty looks see if you can help in any way or just keep moving and give her an encouraging look and smile. We are all in this together, women should always stay united and mothers should stick together. With all that being said, never let anyone make you feel less of a mother or a woman for how you choose to raise your children. You are enough and I’m sure already working as hard as you can so keep it up and don’t listen to anyone criticizing or judging you because at the end of the day, they have no effect on you or your life. Mommy’s, you got this!