Have you ever been bullied? Perhaps it happened to you during childhood. Your mind may have just transported you back to elementary or middle school days when someone repeatedly made fun of you for how you looked, dressed or learned. Or maybe your bullying experience happened later in your teens or early adulthood when it came in the form of demeaning sarcasm or exclusion from activities.
Now consider this: Can moms be bullies to other moms when it comes to how we parent? I am not suggesting that mom-bullying happens the same way it does with kids in school; but what about gossip, name-calling, sarcasm, judgement, mom-shaming and just being outright rude and mean? Aren’t those textbook descriptors of bullying? The practice of parenting, and mom-ing, is such a subjective act that we, oftentimes, believe our way is the best way to do things. I believe this is what fuels the practice of gossip, sarcasm, judgment and mom-shaming; AKA bullying.
The more I thought about mom-bullying, I thought about when (and where) in my life I have had this experience and I can recall many times when it was right in my face and others when it was revealed to me second hand. Some of my experiences came from those closest to me who expressed their dissent over choices I made concerning Tre. In these moments, did these other moms think they were ‘bullying’ me? Did they realize their repeated comments to and about me were hurtful? Did they know their sarcasm pushed me further away from seeking them out when I had questions? Or did they even think about it? You may be reading this thinking there is no possible way for moms to bully each other in the traditional sense of the word, and you may also think someone sharing their opinion with me is not bullying. I am challenging the idea that says mom-bullying is not a thing, because it was in these moments when moms who were more experienced than me were being intimidating and they disguised it as something other than that.
Consider how we as moms can, and have, stood in judgement of another mom for parenting her child in a way that is opposite to how we parent. I’ll be honest- I have had those, “Girl let me tell you what [insert a mom’s name] did with [insert a kid’s name].” I have judged and privately shamed other moms for different things such as their kids’ food choices, words they’ve spoken in moments of frustration, and even what I see on social media. It’s so easy to do. In the moment I don’t think about how my actions are contributing to mom-bullying. But, it is not until those same judgements are directed toward me that my faults come rushing back to my mind and I am face-to-face with my own stuff.
Judgement is easy. Gossip can seem exciting. Sarcasm can make you laugh. Excluding a mom can feel justified. Ignoring can feel convenient. In the end, it only creates divides among us that lead to insecurities, that are followed by moms feeling unsupported and alone. There is clear difference between stating a fact and adding your opinion to that fact. Think about how it feels when another mom tells you what you need to do or should have done, instead of suggesting that you consider another point of view or asking if you have thought about an alternative. Word choice, tone and body language is everything and it impacts how our messages are received.
The reality is that we make the best decisions for our children using the tools we have. We do the absolute best to make sure we raise our children right and in order to do that well, we need support. We need a community of moms to call on when we have a question we think is silly and we want to be vulnerable enough to reveal our flaws and not be judged in the process.
As October (National Bullying Prevention Month) comes to end, I encourage you to become aware of mom-bullying and how you can do your part to offer support to another mom instead of judgement, sarcasm and intimidation. –krystal
“Opinions are like a**holes, everyone has one but they think each others stink.” – Simone Elkeles