MOTHERHOOD is hard, and people have different beliefs on how certain aspects of parenting should be managed. As such, society is more often than not highly critical of some parent-child interactions, often labelling them as inappropriate, while belittling the parents, especially the mothers.
Casting aspersions is usually emphasised on social media platforms through the posting of pictures, videos and lengthy statuses aimed at embarrassing parents, simply because they do things differently than we would.
All Woman asked a few of its readers who know all too well how painful mom shaming is, to share their stories. Here’s what they had to say:
Salvia, 42, nurse:
I was a young mother, 24 at the time, and I was travelling on a minibus with my daughter who was then about six months old. While we were coming from the clinic the rag got lost, and I prayed she wouldn’t want to be breastfed. But my worst fears were realised when she started tugging at my bosom. Now, I wasn’t going to deprive my child of her meal, and as I popped my uncovered breast into her mouth, an older woman turned up her nose and started talking loudly about young girls who get pregnant in school and who don’t know how to care for children but want children. She then claimed that some women were seeking to attract men by showing off their breasts even though they had just given birth. By this time most of the passengers were staring openly at me. A few told the woman to mind her own business, but that made her spill even more insults. It is now almost two decades later, but women are still being shamed for breastfeeding their children in public.
Sharon, 30, store manager:
As a single mother, to make ends meet I work six days a week, and on the seventh I do house chores and get a little sleep in between. If I am to get things done I need to organise myself, so I often allow my child to spend the day with relatives or with her godparents. This act is frowned upon by those who accuse me of getting rid of my child and not wanting her in my space. It’s apparently a sin to want to get a little rest... after all, mothers never get tired, do they? So I am considered an uncaring mother because on my day off my child seldom stays home with me.
Melissa, 35, nutritionist:
Yes, children will be children, and perhaps my parenting style isn’t in line with most parents, but I refuse to engage in certain practices, one such being the fairytale narratives — the Santa Claus, the tooth fairy, you name it. When one of the moms in my book club overheard me explaining to my four-year-old that Santa Claus doesn’t exist, she criticised me for “ruining” the child’s innocence. She also told me not to share these ideas with her children. I discovered that I was the subject of discussion at the next book club meeting from which I was unavoidably absent.
Kerreice, 25, sales representative:
I have a two-year-old son and I am often accused by not just my family, but by friends and even strangers of bringing him up like a girl. I am told that I should make him cry when he hurts himself because he is a boy, and that he shouldn’t be pampered. I have an issue with this as a nurturer and I cannot see the logic behind it.
Joanne, 29, nurse:
My child is at that stage — the “terrible twos” — when he feels the world revolves around him. This can be very difficult to deal with in public, and when he acts up and I don’t respond with a slap or tussle with him to calm him, people stare and whisper mean things about me and my parenting style. But I have learnt that without understanding your situation or knowing you, people will talk. It doesn’t bother me much any more. I used to be very embarrassed, though.