Sunday, November 6, 2016

Mom-Shaming: seriously society, please grow up already

So you think that the only ones in need of self-esteem trophies are the little children on the soccer field? Think again. For some unknown reason, members of society have taken it upon themselves, to validate their own style of parenting, by berating other parents, especially moms.

By the way, it's not new.

Apparently, if the nonsense I have seen on the internet is any indication, we have been hit by an epidemic of mom-shaming. That is where complete strangers go up to a mom, whether she is breast feeding, bottle feeding, teaching her child manners or trying to get them locked in their car seat and threaten them, attack them, and basically call them out as bad parents. There are now videos up that decry how we treat one another as moms. You know what. Who cares what someone else thinks about how you parent?

Perhaps its all the years as an autism parent, that I basically couldn't care less what someone else decides about my parenting style. Now that doesn't mean I didn't seek out advice. I have asked for help along the way from professionals, therapists, doctors, teachers, in order to help the boys grow and develop properly. We have always put our heads together to come up with a plan that will enable them as much as any peer. So no, I never did anything in a vacuum, and always, always tried my very best to help the boys the best way we could. And yes, there are still the nasties who think they can have input, but they are ignored and relegated into the trashbin of humanity where they belong.

But I do remember when my youngmen were little, newborn and very young, when complete strangers took it upon themselves to attack me for my parenting choices. I remember at times, that it did cause me angst and anxiety. New mothers are very fragile when it comes to their children. Not because they don't love them, but because they do....

Some examples of my own personal mom-shaming episodes:

I was walking along the streets of Manhattan with my newborn, and some older ladies stopped us and wanted to look at him. They began asking me all kinds of invasive questions and then decided to chastise me for not breastfeeding. Well my mom was there with me and she did take exception to their input. I don't think they expected the pushback they received. You could see it in their faces. What gives some stranger the right to tell you how to use your body and what would be best for your child? I didn't live in the middle of a desert island. I lived in the middle of one of the largest cities in the US, with access to some of the best pediatric advice available in the world. Meanwhile, I understand mothers today are even still attacked for bottle feeding, or for even breast feeding in public.

I had a man scream at me from a car in the middle of Manhattan because of how I was walking with a stroller, telling me I have no right to be a mother. I wasn't up on the sidewalk and he felt it was his butinsky duty to correct me. As if I would endanger my child. I would hate to have been related to that horribly nasty abusive man.

There was a sales person in Bloomingdales making fun of me using a child-lead for my toddler son, asking me if he was a boy or a dog. I replied, he was a very well protected child...she of course walked away quickly....

I had an old man in the post office call the boys "brats," because I was letting them run around like children and have fun while we waited in line for our turn. That's right, in a small enclosed place, two small boys didn't have the patience to wait without playing tag, so some creep thought it was his right to attack two children that he didn't know. Well I told that nasty old-man off. Mr. GS1, at the time, 6 years old, told me I did a good job. The sad thing, was that not one person told him to be quiet. In fact all the other people in the post office were old women. Probably deciding he was right, or simply not caring that this old man was being a shit. By the way, the boys never came near him or anyone else. Their crime was laughing and having fun.

What is it about people that they think they know what is best for your life, your child, and the choices you have to make? What insecurity is in them that they so badly need to tell others what to do? Are they so weak willed about their own choices, that if everyone doesn't follow their regime, it means they are doing something wrong?

It is bad enough when you have family members, or their friends, decide what you should or should not do when it comes to your child. They at least may actually care about your existence and your child's future. I would of course argue, that they too need to keep their mouths shut and listen and learn about what is happening and their place in your family. But that is just me.

But strangers! Complete strangers, with no connection to your life whatsoever, coming up to you and telling you what to do?

Listen, the government has laws that protects children from abuse, neglect and harm. If you think a child's life is in danger, get the help that is needed. But if something being done does not fall within these categories, then people need to mind their own business. Whether you are in Bloomingdales, a postoffice, or walking down the street in any city, you are allowed to make choices for your child without anyone else's input.

People simply need to keep their mouths shut.

But funnily enough, you never hear anyone chastising dads or grandparents. It's usually only moms. I wonder why that is? Actually I don't wonder, I already know. Yes its misogyny. And yes I went there. I don't usually blame issues on some social justice claptrap, but I can't figure it out any other way. No one has ever chastised the hubby for his choices when it came to the boys. When we walked around Manhattan with the boys in strollers, no one from a car screamed at him that he was a bad father. And no one in our little town ever called the boys names or challenged hubby on any level when he was parenting, and no it's not that they were better behaved with him.

What is it that makes people think they can denigrate moms? What is it that makes people think they can tell a mom how to use her body-aka, breast feeding? Yet it's ok that father's never get a chance to hold their child during bottle feedings? Putting all the responsibility only on mother-child bonding....what about the dad and his role in raising a newborn? What is it that makes people think they can look down on the choices a mother makes, yet celebrate simply if a dad changes a diaper?

This may be an old topic. At least it is for me. My sons are grown men. But I think it has something to do with how we still see women's roles in society and who we expect them to be. It is also something, when as a new mother, or a mother of a newly diagnosed child, when people attack you as if you do not love or care for your child. There is that feeling that you never forget. It is visceral. (Hubby says my memory is not always a good thing. Perhaps when I can't let go of issues from decades ago he may have a point.)

Here you are holding, loving, caring for probably the only people in the world, for whom you would lay down your life, and some asshole stranger thinks they can tell you what to do when it comes to them as if they love your child more than you ever could.  I think we need to begin to laugh at these know-it-alls. Put them in their place. Give them one resoundingly simple statement:

"Mind your own damn business." Then send these losers on their way.