First of all: I am not a mom. Except to a very sassy cat, and I’m pretty sure that doesn’t count.
Therefore, with regard to what I’m about to write, I am either an objective outsider, or I’m completely out of my depth. I’ll go ahead and let the mom’s who read this be the judge.
I am on social media. As a result I see A LOT of posts about women, both friends and aquiantences and their children. I see everything from the birth announcements to the monthly photos, requests for input on getting through a difficult a time. Sometimes theses mom’s even message me about nutrition questions for either themselves or their kids, (not to sound egotistical but I still find this to be flattering, and am always happy to help).
I also see a fair amount of unsolicited advice, and the even worse offender: mom-shaming.
It’s kind of bullshit. Ok not kind of, Mom-shaming is bullshit.
As I mentioned above: I am not a parent. BUT it seems REALLY hard, and even that seems like an understatement. Whether you have two involved parents or 1, like it just seems super hard. So first all: bravo.
To build on this, because it seems so difficult that it seems like most parents should feel accomplished by things like keeping their kids alive/getting them to eat etc.
It seems to me (a health professional with pediatric experience) that the only times unsolicited advice is warranted is:
- You are putting your child in danger. (Many will argue that vaccines fall into this, and while I personally agree I don’t think berating a stranger on social media will change their mind).
- You’re neglectful to the point that your child is a jerk, and said jerk child is damaging myself, my property.
To be fair, my second point excludes kids who choose to be assholes despite parental interventions (hey it happens).
And even then the unsolicited advice is probably not best given by an acquaintance and/or via social media.
But back to mom shaming. Don’t do it. Don’t comment “why” unless you’re genuinely inquiring/trying to learn.
I was perusing my feed a few weeks ago when I saw this article come up. I was immediately infuriated by this campaign. I think I understand what message they were trying to convey, but then they (Pedatric Society of Rio Grande) just took a WAYYYYYY too extreme approach. I get it, encourage breastfeeding moms to have a diet rich in nutritious foods.
Here’s the thing, this campaign not only mom shames but it promotes the idea that some foods should make you feel “bad” or that there are bad foods.
Two things I have a HUUUUGE problem with.
Foods fall into two “basic” categories. Foods are either nutrition providing or nutrition lacking. A doughnut really doesn’t provide any real nutrition. But are they fun to eat on occasion?! Oh hell yes.
When you become a parent you are essentially opening yourselves up to being a Denny’s (open for food 24/7). So eat the freaking burger on the occasion you crave a burger.
I am glad La Leche spoke out about their dismay regarding his campaign (La Leche League is an international organization that promotes support, and evidence to women who are breastfeeding/considering breastfeeding).
Again to be clear my beef isn’t with the article it’s with the campaign discussed in the article.
So speaking of breastfeeding- just because you breastfed your child for a year does not give you any right to condemn someone who bottle fed or “only” breastfed for “a few months”.
The evidence does support that there are significant health and immune related benefits with breastfeeding for at least six months. But some women CANNOT for various reasons, and it’s not up to random women (or men) on social media to question a mom’s decision of what/when/how/and in which manner their child is fed.
The reality of children is you can have one child who will literally eat anything, then you can have another child that you have to negotiate with them every meal to get them to ultimately eat a peanut butter sandwich because ultimately that is better than no food. This happens in kids who are breast for 6 weeks to 2 years, KIDS ARE NOT PREDICTABLE. It seems like most parents know this, so again mom-shamers out there. You’re the worst offenders as you’re pointing out the obvious.
Here are a few examples of things NOT to feed children:
-Unpasteurized formula (I.e. Made from goats or cows milk)
There is a certain celeb who has posted about giving her small children fresh goat milk. In the spirit of not mom shaming I’ll leave her name out. But the issue the arises with unpasteurized milk is infants digestive tracts aren’t matured. But unpasteurized milks can be a breeding ground for Ecoli- harmful to adults and infants alike.
-Honey, until the child is at least 12 months. Again due to the infants’ immature digestive tract there can be spores of clostridium botulinum (botulism) in honey and putting the infant at risk for getting ill from botulism as the spores are able to germinate in the immature digestive tract.
-Foods they are allergic to. Seems obvious but worth the reminder to meet with a dietitian to learn about hidden sources of an allergen after meeting with an allergist.
I’m not even touching organic foods in this post.
Social media is a double edged sword. On one side it creates an outlet for connection and discussion (and this blog!- haha). On the other side, everyone with an opinion is essentially allowed to share said opinion whether its offensive or not. It provides a conduit for people to take the snarky things they say (we all say) inside their heads and put it out there for someone to read.
The take away from this post is a reminder that there is a lot of BS on social media, mom-shaming is one of the worst offenses (there is a lot of offensive crap on social media). There is also a lot of misinformation. So don’t feed into both of these epidemics. Speaking of misinformation remember that even though you may be “correcting” someone on their belief or statement, and even if evidence is on your side. Remember to not be a jerk about it.