Under the best circumstances, moms have a solid support system that offers encouragement during the challenging years of raising young children. At worst, they tackle immense responsibility in the face of negativity and second-guessing of their parenting choices.
Sadly, according to results of a new study out of the University of Michigan, this form of mom-shaming is one most parents endure.
According to the C.S. Mott Children's Hospital Poll, six out of 10 moms you come across have been criticized about their parenting choices.
If you think this abuse most frequently comes in the form of a nosy stranger at the playground or an anonymous troll on Facebook, you'll be surprised to learn that only 12 percent of criticism comes from other mothers encountered in public and a mere seven percent comes from commenters on social media.
So who is making new moms feel so bad? Their own family members:
- 36% are criticized by their spouse or the child's other parent
- 31% are criticized by their in-laws
- 37% are criticized by their own mother or father
The study, which based its research on responses from a sample of 475 mothers across the nation who have at least one child younger than 5 years old, noted these high percentages might reflect the greater "volume of interactions," or that they are more upsetting and thus more memorable. But even if the advice is well-meaning, half of mothers say they avoid certain people who are critical. (Hear that, Grandma?)
"The targets of criticism reflect differences in cultural norms of parenting," researchers stated alongside their results. "Discipline, the most commonly criticized parenting topic, is rife with opposing views, such as spanking versus time outs, or strict adherence to rules versus allowing space for the child to explore. Further conflict can arise when those criticizing have unrealistic expectations for a toddler or preschooler, while the mother feels she has a better understanding of her own child's abilities."
Here is how the most common subjects of mom-shaming break down:
- 70%: discipline
- 52%: diet and nutrition
- 46%: sleep
- 39%: breastfeeding or bottle-feeding
- 20%: safety
- 16%: childcare
Of most concern to researchers are the 42 percent of moms who say that criticism has made them less confident in their parenting choices.
"Sorting through the deluge of information mothers receive about parenting practices, products, and priorities can become overwhelming," they said. "Maternal anxiety, if prolonged or pronounced, is a problem for both mother and child, and for mothers struggling with anxiety, one seemingly innocent comment can become a tipping point into potentially harmful uncertainty."
Just another reason to be nice to a mom today!