Haters Gon’ Hate: So Here Are 3 Tips for Handling Mommy Shamers
Much is made of the mixed bag of advantages and drawbacks that comes from waiting until you’re of “advanced maternal age” to have kids. Older moms may be in a more financially secure position, but they may also face fertility struggles. They may be more mentally prepared for the trials of child-rearing, but less physically prepared — given just how much stamina the job requires.
But as someone who delivered my first children, twins, seven days after my 37th birthday, I’m here to tell you there’s another huge advantage to being an older mom: I mainly do not give a single F about what people think or say about my parenting decisions.
I had no idea what I was doing from right out the gate, but before long, I took comfort in the assumption that no one else knew how to do it better. I’m doing the best I can, and I cannot easily be shamed for my approaches to motherhood.
But that’s not the case for everyone: Mommy shaming is widespread, vicious, and oh-so-real. You get it from the Facebook groups, which can be cesspools of shaming and fear-mongering masquerading as rah-rah mamas-helping-mamas support networks. You get it from family members, who did it differently back in their day. You get it from colleagues, whose judgment you can absolutely feel when you’re just standing in the office kitchen trying to get a donut and small talk turns to hurt feelings.
Yuck. There’s just so much judgment out there. And while you can’t escape the feedback, you can escape the shame spiral — if you know how to approach those shamers boldly, confidently, and without fear. Here are some things you can do to minimize the damage:
Remember that it’s not about you.
When people come at you critically, it’s almost always their deep issue, not yours. This is as true about mommy shaming as it is about most other things — whether someone has something to say about your choice to breastfeed in public, or your weight, or your priorities, or whatever. What motivates people to shit talk? Usually jealousy. They are unhappy inside, or insecure, or somehow empty of the things you actually have. Do I wish ill on other people? No. But if they come for me, I make myself feel a lot better when I tell myself (accurately) that their BS is about them and not about me.
Confront it head-on.
One thing I’ve become in my old age (much to the surprise of my younger self) is confrontation averse. I hate it. But if someone comes gunning for me about my parenting style, I clap back pronto. That’s because I don’t want — or deserve — to have that negative comment ricocheting around in my brain after they walk away. No, I don’t owe anyone an explanation — but I make it a point to come back firmly, swiftly, and decisively when I get mommy shamed. Haters gon’ hate, but they’re not gon’ get away with drive-by mindfucking on my watch.
Now, I do make some exceptions to that rule: I write about parenting, and it’s people’s favorite topic to rage about in the comments. I wrote about schools’ undue attendance pressure for a major digital outlet and I got slammed for my “entitled” and negligent approach in the comments. That was my latest reminder: Never read the comments. Don’t feed the trolls. And that brings me to…
Back away from social media.
The internet giveth (cute baby pics! relatable mom stories!) but the Internet taketh away (mean-ass comments! ruthless trolls!). If you find yourself getting shamed on social media, you might want to take a breath and step away. While clapping back to mean, anonymous comments can sometimes end up being satisfying, it’s also a hard game to win. And your energy might be better spent in a much happier pursuit: hanging with your kiddos, or getting a damn massage. You deserve it, mama. And don’t let anyone tell you differently.
Written by Alesandra Dubin