From kissing kids on the lips to formula instead of breastfeeding, moms across the internet are being shamed for their parenting choices.
Six in 10 mothers of children ages 0 to 5 say they have been criticized about parenting, says a new survey from the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health at the University of Michigan, which surveyed 475 moms. The moms were asked about everything from how they discipline bad behavior to breastfeeding.
“Our findings tap into the tensions moms face when parenting advice leads to more stress than reassurance and makes them feel more criticized than supported,” says poll co-director Sarah Clark. “Mothers can get overwhelmed by so many conflicting views on the ‘best’ way to raise a child. Unsolicited advice — especially from the people closest to her child — can be perceived as meaning she’s not doing a good job as a mother. That can be hurtful.”
One shocking part? Although some criticism came from anonymous people on social media, most moms found that it was their own families that nitpicked their mothering skills. Even worse, it was their own parents who scolded them on their mothering. Thirty-seven percent of the moms surveyed said it came from their mother or father. In-laws were offenders too, with 31 percent of moms saying their mother-in-law or father-in-law meddled.
There biggest criticism came on how exactly moms disciplined their kids. Next came diet and nutrition, sleep, breast vs. bottle feeding safety, and child care.
“Family members should respect that mothers of young children may have more updated information about child health and safety,” the poll says, “and ‘what we used to do’ may no longer be the best advice.”
Many of the mothers in survey felt shamed by the criticism but often consulted a health care provider for professional advice afterwards.
“This indicates that most mothers view their child’s health care provider as a trusted source of accurate information and advice, not as a critic,” says the survey. “Child health providers can help by encouraging mothers to ask questions about any parenting uncertainties, and offer reassurance and practical advice that helps boost mothers’ confidence and reduce anxiety around choices.”
The survey said that overall, half the moms asked said they just void overly critical people. And that when those who want to criticize should get their message across with “empathy and encouragement.”
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