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Nancy Kenney is featured in this Right as Rain article on Mom Shaming.

Why Mom Shaming Happens — and How to Shut It Down


It can come out of the blue from that stranger behind you in line at the grocery store. Or from your mother-in-law. Or that Facebook friend. All you know is one minute you’re busy wrangling your kid, and the next, someone is lobbing a whole bunch of unsolicited parenting advice at you.

Isn’t your son a little old to be using a pacifier? I would never give my daughter formula. How could you go back to work and leave your baby with a stranger?

Ah, mom shaming. These unwanted, judgmental remarks — sometimes thinly veiled as helpful suggestions — are just plain annoying and hurtful.

“Mom shaming is criticism directed at moms by people who basically try to control how women mother,” says Nancy Kenney, Ph.D ., an associate professor in the University of Washington Department of Gender, Women & Sexuality Studies. “Any time the mother takes a step in a direction that whoever is doing the shaming does not approve of, fury flies, one might say.”

If you think this is just a problem for celebrities on Twitter (hey there,Chrissy Teigen ), think again. According to a nationwide poll of mothers with infants or young children, 61 percent say they’ve been criticized for their parenting skills. What’s more, 88 percent of the time that shaming came from someone the mother actually knew, such as friends, family or even her spouse or partner.

The internet and social media have only amplified the problem, with thoughtless comments materializing at the speed of texting.

What makes mom shaming unique and unlike other forms of criticism is that it targets something intimately linked to a woman’s sense of worth. And in today’s society, the parenting bar tends to be much higher for women than it is for men. Mothers are often the target of scorn, whereas fathers are treated far more leniently for the same parenting decisions.

“It’s the belief that the female-bodied individual has these innate skills and is supposed to be doing this,” Kenney explains. “You’re dealing with motherhood, a role that’s clearly of very high importance. I don’t think any of us can doubt that being a mom is something important, so commenting on parenting may feel more impactful than commenting on something else.”

Read the entire article here .