Parenting Expectations vs Reality: Why We Are Bad Moms

We all love unsolicited parenting tips, don’t we?

People sharing their “wisdom” that we didn’t quite ask for. Ways that they did it better, ways that we should be doing it.

It hurts, doesn’t it? It makes you feel inadequate, like you’re failing your kids. After all, for most of you, your deepest desire is just to be a good mom.

Truth bomb time.

I’m an awful mom.  Really.  My kids are wrecked for life. Why is that, you ask?

For one thing, I don’t feed them a completely organic diet. We’re big junk food lovers.

I’m awful at sleep training. They still wake up looking for me at 4.5 and 3.

And I let them- GASP- have screen time. Yep. They love Blippi.

So, yeah. I’m a bad mom.

Well, that’s what the average keyboard warrior would have me believe.

I- Me. Their mom. The person who gave birth to them, and loves them more than anyone- know that I love my children and would do anything to keep them happy, warm, loved, fed, and snuggled up tight for as long as possible.

Chances are, you’re the same way. Keep reading to find out more about mom shaming, and what you can do instead to support your fellow parent.

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Are you a bad mom?

What happens when you vulnerably expose yourself online? When the community you thought you had found on Facebook turns against you? When you reveal the tenderest flesh of your heart, trusting your ‘friends” (ie, followers) to build you up, and tell you that, despite your insecurities, you have it all together?

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Sometimes, we post about our parenting insecurities online, and we are met with backlash.  Maybe it is in the form of a derisive comment or unwanted message.  Maybe it’s in the form of a family member taking you aside in private at a gathering. But it happens to all moms.

Knock on wood, this has not happened to me recently, but I wanted to address an epidemic that I see tainting social media on a daily basis.

A mom makes an innocent post.  Maybe she posts a picture of her messy house. Maybe it’s a picture of her baby drinking a bottle of formula.  Or maybe her kids are watching TV so she can get things done.

Usually, most of her friends are supportive, their comments showing understanding, and the very NOW sentiment of “You go, girl.” But sometimes… sometimes there is THAT PERSON.

Maybe it’s an aunt that you haven’t seen in years but don’t have the heart to de-friend.  Maybe it’s a friend from a mommy group. They see your post, and they can’t help but comment or message you telling you that you suck at this momming thing.

We have all had it happen.  Hell, we have all done it to others.  I have. And I know anyone reading this has.  At the very least, you have THOUGHT those things about someone. So what can we do? How can we learn from this, and make Facebook and Instagram kinder places?

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Parenting expectations vs reality

YES, sometimes it is helpful to say something. (For example, if you see someone post a picture of their child in a car seat and is not strapped in correctly. That is a matter of safety and a POLITE message is acceptable if it comes from a loving place.)

But… we need to remember: Not everything needs to be commented on.

  • That mom who does not work outside of the home and has a messy house? She might be going through a really tough situation that is depriving her of the energy needed for house work.
  • Baby drinking formula? Cool, that baby is being fed.  NEXT.
  • The mom whose kids are watching TV? Listen, moms need time to chill.  Parenting is very taxing, and yes, sometimes my kids watch TV. And I watch TV.  Quietly.  On my phone. With subtitles.
  • The mom who is just desperate to make it through the day so she can take a bath and down a few glasses of wine? Despite what you think, she actually DOES love her children. Being with little ones all day is really freaking hard.

What can you do instead?

I wrote a post recently all about how long our days are as moms.  A day in the life of a mom is so hard. So, when you see a mom online who is struggling in some way, what can you do instead of judging her?

  • Offer a play date so you guys can catch up and have some adult conversation while the kids play.
  • If you are in the position to, offer to help with child care so she can get a break.
  • Cook dinner for her to help lighten her load.
  • Most importantly, STOP JUDGING HER.
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parenting expectations vs reality

Momming is hard.

Yes, bad moms exists, but more often than not, we are all just tiny specks floating in a sea of diapers and chaos and mucus, hoping we can make it til bed time. Confession time: I love baths, working out, watching TV, letting my kids watch TV, and venting about the day to my husband. Also, I love my daughters.  With all my heart.  So does that mom online. Remember that.

Have you ever been shamed by another mom? Or, be honest, have you ever done it to someone else? Let me know your story in the comments, and don’t forget to share this post!

Remember: we all have different parenting styles, and we’re all doing our best.

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What to do when you’re struggling

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19 thoughts on “Parenting Expectations vs Reality: Why We Are Bad Moms”

  1. Mom-shaming is terrible – and we do it to ourselves just as often unfortunately. Being a mom is an incredibly hard job and moms do such a good job at it it’s a shame that there’s so much doubt or judgment cast their way.

  2. What a lovely post for Mother’s Day and the perfect length to keep me reading! I love how you started out with some negative remarks, and then showed the life behind the mothers who give their kids screen time.

    Everything is a choice, and I think we need the freedom to make our choices, and respect from our fellow beings to be happy in our choices. It is incredible what one ill-meant remark can do to make us feel bad about ourselves and our messy houses. As long as we are happy, that is what counts! 🙂

    1. Thank you for the kind feedback. Life is definitely about choice and balance, and we all just need to be a little kinder to each other. Especially now!

  3. I’m not a mum but have definitely seen what you describe happen. Parenting is hard and no one teaches you how to do it- no one is perfect and just you doing your best in your circumstances is all anyone and any child can ask

  4. Yes! I love this. Mom shaming has been going on for years and it needs to stop. My girls are grown now but I will never forget the guilt over not breastfeeding (I tried) and going back to work after my mat leave (I had no choice). Someone actually had the gall to say to me “WE decided we did not want strangers raising OUR kids.” Fast forward 15 years and my kids have turned out to be decent human beings despite being formula fed and cared for by a loving child care provider who was like a third grandma to them.

    1. Another formula fed baby here! I personally stopped bf-ing after 6 or 7 months each time because I HATED IT. To each their own. Thanks for sharing your story, and for reading 🙂 Happy mother’s day!

  5. This is the best post I’ve read all weekend! What an amazing message to put out in the world and I’ll be sure to share. Being a mom didn’t come with a Manual, kids don’t come with a Manual, heck even life but we all do the best we can and that is all that matters. What is failure anyways? My mom thinks she failed me and truth be told things were bad but she didn’t fail me, she made me strong and resilient. Momming isn’t easy…but I bet you’re doing GREAT! Happy Mothers Day!

  6. I love that you point out there is no need to comment on another mother’s post, especially if it is negative. It is fine to think your judgemental holier than thou thoughts, but keep them to yourself. My other pet peeve is sharing how they’re doing it right. Unless the person asked for help, keep it to yourself. We are all just stumbling through, trying to do our best.

  7. OMG – YES! Today my child had TV on while playing. She was allowed to play games on my phone. AND I let her watch YouTube. Because today she stayed home sick and I had calls and work to do.
    Like you, I’ve had to learn to manage my expectations of what single parenting looks like – what do I want it to look like as a mum?
    How’s my relationship with my daughter? What am I teaching her?
    It’s tough! Every day.

  8. That’s a really lovely post? I have 4 kids and do my best…but it’s easy to be self-shamed by”perfect” mums out there on social media. I love it when people are honest & admit they’re not perfect either! I also think- do we want our kids to grow up believing we all have to be perfect & it’s not ok to try & ‘fail’ & try again?…

    1. Mom to 8, wow! I agree sometimes we are our own worst critics, and the last thing we need is shaming from others. Thanks for reading and feel free to share!

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