Whenever I read yet another story about mom shaming, I just want to face palm. I’m so bored of reading about people shaming mothers for breastfeeding in public, or not breastfeeding at all, or attacks on attachment parenting or helicopter moms or moms taking their sons for manis and pedis. Snooze!
I absolutely know what it’s like to be mom shamed over the way I raise my children. (Read my book The Mommy Mob, if you want to see how brutal people can be. Yes, I had so many examples of how I had been viciously shamed that I was able to compile a 300-page book!)
From the moment I announced my pregnancy, I was shamed, because I wasn’t married before getting knocked up. And then I had another baby with another man, who I also didn’t marry. When I didn’t teach my own kid to ride her bike, I was shamed, When I took my daughter out of school, for fun, I was shamed. When I helped her with her homework, I was shamed. When I allowed her to watch horror movies, I was shamed. The list goes on…and on…and on.
Because of how almost every aspect of my parenting has been picked apart and shamed, I consider myself the least judgmental mom out there. Feed your kids only McDonalds? OK. Your choice. Let them go to school in shorts the size of napkins? Fine. Your kid. Breastfeed your kid still, even though they can cut up and eat a piece of steak by themselves? Your choice! Have a few glasses of wine during your pregnancy. Your life. Swear in front of your kids. Fine. Not my business. Tell your kid you voted for Trump. That’s your prerogative.
However…and, yes, this is a big however, I do believe that there are times that moms should be shamed and should shame each other!
Recently I posted on my Facebook page about how happy I was to be yelled and sweared at first thing in the morning, because I was driving while plugging my phone into my car charger. I wasn’t using my phone, yet from the outside, it probably looked like I was.
So when I heard someone yell at me, ‘Get off your f***ing phone!” I was happy about it, because it’s dangerous to text while driving. (Take a look at your last text. Would it be worth it to type whatever it is you typed while driving? The last text I wrote, for example, was ‘Thanks babe!’ How would I continue living my life if I had texted those two words while driving and hit someone, who could be a mother, a child, a grandparent, a sister, etc?)
So I didn’t find the stranger’s outburst rude. I had it coming. I thought it was wonderful that someone spoke out when they saw a potentially very dangerous act.
For that same reason, I also believe you can shame a mother who smokes while kids are in the car. It may be none of my business, but, really, you can wait to get home to have that drag. Or at the very least, if you’re THAT desperate, pull over and have your smoke.
We know the dangers of second-hand smoke. We also know that the health of your children should come first.
In the same vain, I also believe you can mom-shame another mother if you see her with a baby or toddler who is not strapped into a car seat. It’s dangerous, speak up!
And, of course, if you and a friend get together and a few drinks are had, I think it’s perfectly acceptable, if not the only right thing to do, to get those car keys out of another mom’s hand. I don’t think this needs any further explanation. If you see a mother drunk driving with or without kids, yes, call the police.
Recently, Leslie Kennedy, my colleague over here at Savvy, wrote that expectant-mother parking spots, reserved for soon-to-be moms, are a privilege and not a right. I disagree. (See, we can have our opinions, without having to be nasty about it.) I think they are a right, and if I saw a mother, who, let’s say, had a ten-year-old, with two perfectly working legs, then, yes, I do think you can say something, in a nice way. Like, ‘Are you sure you need that spot?’
This is not to say that all mother’s should be screaming, ‘Don’t smoke in your car with your kids!’ Or, ‘Don’t drive if your kid isn’t buckled in!’ Be civil. In the area I live in, there are many stop signs and many speed bumps to slow down traffic. Yet some insist on rocketing down the streets. I have, and will continue to, yell ‘Slow down!” to these people who speed through residential and school areas.
I may not swear at them, but I certainly will call them out. Likewise, I wouldn’t be offended if someone asked me, civilly, if I took that parking spot marked for pregnant women.
So, yes, it’s okay to shame moms sometimes, because there are certain circumstances where it is completely warranted. Think of it this way: we should not only be looking out for our children, but the safety of children anywhere. Just do it civilly. And go ahead and tell me to get off my f***ing phone while I drive, because guess what? You’re right.