Parent-Shaming & Mom-Shaming—Has Our Culture of Guilt Gotten Out of CONTROL?

Image via Hyperbole and a Half

Image via Hyperbole and a Half

It has been a weird couple of months. We had our family business move and then Spawn (my 5 year old) was REALLY ill back in March. Ill to the point of a middle of the night ER visit. Hubby and I didn’t sleep for over a month. And now, I am trying to get back in the groove and I just don’t want to.

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I don’t want to be a grownup. I want to color and make a blanket fort. And YES I feel guilty for being a horrible wife and a bad mother.

On some level, I believe all women struggle with guilt, and, when we become mothers, I think the condition only worsens. I was a very different person before I married and had my son. I was always dressed impeccably, had my hair done once a month, and never missed a pedicure or manicure. I knew I’d worked very hard and believed I’d earned these simple indulgences.

In short, I thought like a man.

Trust me when I say my husband does not feel guilty about relaxing in front of the TV when there is a sink full of dirty dishes. Rare is the man who puts aside getting himself dressed until he’s fully satisfied his toddler’s clothes all match. Most of the time, my husband isn’t even bothered if the Spawn’s clothes even fit. And that is an awesome talent and I’m jealous because I know I am being neurotic.

Just an aside…

I have NO idea how my husband does this. I regularly cull through The Spawn’s clothes and pull out what is out of season or no longer fits. When I would delegate “dressing The Spawn” to Hubby, he somehow managed to dress our toddler in the ONE 18 mo shirt I missed and swim trunks…for church. I love my husband, and have THE BEST husband in the world, but seriously????

Mommy! I'm ready for picture day!

Mommy! I’m ready for Sunday school!

Believe me when I say that “clothes not fitting/matching” DOES NOT BOTHER A MAN. Neither do a handful of other things…


When Mommy makes dinner….


When Daddy makes dinner…


***By the way, Men. I am NOT picking on you at all. I am seriously, seriously envious. Your focus is the kid having some FUN, not worrying is his outfit is trendy and that the other dads might “judge” you.

I recall, years ago, being a bit judgy when I’d see some frazzled mom, her hair (much in need of a dye job) pulled back in a scrunchee. I’d think, Good grief. Yoga pants and stained t-shirt? Does this woman even TRY? Her kids aren’t even wearing clothes that match. Tsk, tsk, tsk.

Be careful how you judge, and, as my mother warns…NEVER WONDER.

I Deserved It

I look back at the way I used to judge struggling moms and I now know that I deserve this. I recall thinking, She’s married. Why doesn’t she just get her husband to dress the kids while she does something with THAT HAIR?

Now I know. I didn’t listen to Mom.

I wondered.

NOW I know that this mom probably did delegate. She probably managed to get her hair in a scrunchee just as she caught sight of her husband dressing their kids for church in their bathing trunks and part of their Halloween costumes. This mom then likely stopped doing her hair to intervene and at least get the kids in regular clothes.

Actually, this mother likely would have even had her child’s clothes all matching, but she forgot to move the clothes from the washer to the dryer. Why did she forget? Because she heard the crash from her toddler unsuccessfully trying to scale the cat’s scratching post. And, by the time she stopped the bleeding, she’d long forgotten about the clothes…and this is why she is in yoga pants and the kids are still wearing their Halloween costumes…in MARCH!!! So just back the hell off!

Look at ME!

Mommy! Look at what I did!

The Guilt

I never feel like I am doing enough. Though I practically live in an apron, I can’t seem to ever feel caught up. My house isn’t clean enough, and I don’t read for an hour a day to my child and teach him Italian and art appreciation.

Then we have the magazines full of starlets posing in bikinis three days after they give birth. Despite the fact that I do 6-8 hours of grueling Brazilian Jiu Jitsu per week and eat gluten-free, dairy-free, almost carb-free, I still can’t even wear my pregnancy pants. At a size ten, it is easy to feel like a lazy slacker because I’m not a size 0.

When did 0 become a SIZE?

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I need to get the gym more *scribbles on list.*

Regular Guilt is Bad Enough

Okay, I admit that I need to work on the guilt thing. I should be able to wear makeup without thinking that those 15 minutes would be better served sorting the recycling.

Crap! I threw away that jelly jar in the REGULAR trash. I’m destroying the planet! Worse, I am teaching The Spawn that it is OKAY TO DESTROY THE PLANET!

Most women (okay, maybe just me) already feel like we are not doing enough. If we have a choice of a day at a spa or a day baking for the church or school, donating stuff from the garage to the needy, or volunteering to shuttle Great-Great-Great-Aunt Thelma who’s 97 to CVS for discount butt cream, you can count on us for the cheapest butt cream in town.

Walmart will price match.


The world is a REALLY different place. I know men face their own unique challenges, but I don’t think they experience near the same amount of parent-shaming.

Now that Spawn is five, I feel at such a loss. We have a little boy who lives across the street who is a year older. When I was a kid, if there had been another kid within bike-riding distance, we would have been BFFs.

But, no. They aren’t.

Me: Hey, can your kiddo come over and play? I got Spawn some new NERF zombie guns.

Other Mom: Sure! Wait, my kid has tutoring and then guitar lessons and then we go to karate. But the free hour before he attends Kid Yoga he needs to study his French vocabulary words. We’re getting him ready for Child Entrepreneur Camp where he will learn to build a business. Oh, and ride horses. He’s going with his friends Jackson, Madson, Grayson and Harrison. They met at Kid Chef School making allergen-free puff pastries…

Me: Nice. Um, does your boy like to roller-skate? 

Other Mom: He knows how to, but hockey lessons don’t start for a few months. Been using his off time to catch up on my reading. I’ve been reading all these books on alternative educational theories. Have you read that last one by Dr. Snooty Pants who never had a kid but feels comfortable judging? Why Your Child Will Kill You in Your Sleep for the Insurance Money if You Don’t Stimulate Enough Creativity?

It’s a best-seller. We read it in my book club.

Me: I missed that one.

Other Mom: It is so fascinating. We love all the exercises in the companion workbook. Rebirthing is extra fun if you make the blankets together. I can send you the pin on Pinterest…

Kill. Me. Now.

And this is why Spawn calls me his best friend. I am the one who hikes with him and plays video games and goes to martial arts with him.

Sorry, Spawn. All the other kids were booked, but I think I can call their agent…



Can I Donate My Kidneys? I Have One Extra

I feel like a SUPER terrible mother. This HAPPENED. My mom came over and was helping me clean after Stomach Bug from Hell.

Mom: Why can’t he go outside and play? It’s a beautiful day.

Me: He can’t unless we sit outside with him and we need to be in here cleaning.

Mom: Huh? Why can’t he just go outside and play?

Me: Um, CPS?

I kid you not, we had a woman in the area who was out front with her 5 year-old and ran inside to get the phone. In the 5 minutes she was gone a “Good Samaritan” called CPS on her for neglect. And this is happening more and more often. Of course, I don’t like calling these folks “Good Samaritans” because a Good Samaritan would just have kept a helpful eye on the kid while frazzled mom ran inside to get the phone.

And these are the SAME people who will also call me a bad mom because Spawn is being exposed to way too much time with electronics. That unless I am running my kid to every activity available and scheduling every second of his waking life for “educational opportunities” I am a jerk.

If I pay thousands of dollars for “Educational Software” I’m a great mom. But, if I teach my kid to play XBox and his reading is advanced because of his love for Transformers, I’m negligent. Does anyone else spot the crazy here?

Yes, my Kirby is an educational toy…. :P

Yes, my Kirby is an educational toy…. 😛

And this is a long way of saying that there is a LOT of pressure on parents these days. Look at all it entails!

When I was a kid, we were thrown outside after Sesame Street to PLAY. We made ramps out of every discarded piece of trash on the curb. I had a tetanus shot every YEAR. My mom’s idea of “fun and educational opportunities” involved teaching me the multiple uses for lemon oil and a deck brush.

Want to learn about nature? Let’s go pull weeds.

I’m unsure how this helicopter parenting is healthy for our kids. How it is healthy for us parents. Are we parents or entertainment directors? How will our kids fare when they have to be adults and the world isn’t interested in entertaining them every waking second?

I feel much of this Parent-Shaming/Mom-Shaming is consumerism gone crazy. Shame me because I am not a Size 0 and I buy diet stuff and gym memberships. Shame me because my house isn’t a photo spread out of Good Housekeeping and I hire a cleaning service. Shame me that I am not being a good enough MOM and sell me all kinds of apps, games, camps and activities because OMG! My child might get…BORED.

What do you guys think? Has the Mom-Shaming/Parent-Shaming gotten out of control? Do you run non-stop and never feel like you measure up? Do you have days you simply don’t know where to begin because you feel like a failure at everything? Have you drank the Kool-Aid? Any tips to detox from it?

Guys, do you get Parent-Shaming or Dad-Shaming? I’m curious to know what your experiences are.

I love hearing from you!

To prove it and show my love, for the month of APRIL, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly. I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novel, or your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).

For those who need help building a platform and keeping it SIMPLE, pick up a copy of my latest social media/branding book Rise of the Machines—Human Authors in a Digital World on AMAZON, iBooks, or Nook


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  1. AMEN!!!!

    My gosh is this true or what?!? *sigh* And worrying about what folks are thinking constantly is just about the most exhausting thing EVER.

  2. I feel that guilt too. Mine is mainly when the kids ask me about going on field trips or when they have events going on at school and I have to decide between being there where I want to be or at work so that I can pay the bills. I fight with not wanting my kids memories of me when they are older be only of me working all the time.

  3. Ahhhh this post rang so true with me. I’m about halfway through my pregnancy and one of the biggest things I am dreading is this PC/Helicoptor parenting phenomenon that seems to have inundated our society. My kids will play in the dirt, I will not bathe them in hand sanitizer. Why is there no reverse “good samaritan” shaming phenomenon for busy body parents who seem to care more about busting others then genuinely help their peers.

  4. I am so glad I grew up when I did. Most of my best childhood memories are of spending many a long day outside using my imagination or hanging with the other neighborhood kids. AH, the shenanigans 🙂

  5. Nail on the head! Absolutely, completely, totally! When I was ten I walked down to the movie theater on my own and bought a ticket to see Matilda. My 10 year old daughter can’t walk down to the corner store for a drink. It is ridiculous.

    People need to chill out and remember what it was like to let kids be kids.

  6. Beautiful article, Kristen. Thanks for being brave enough to share it, because it helps all of us feel less guilty about our own “shortcomings.” (I put that in quotes because we’re all too ridiculously hard on our selves.)

    I’ve been working hard on my guilt the past couple of years, trying to read articles about it and trying to love myself more. (I’m like you in that I’m the sucker who never says “no” and volunteers until they’re nearly suicidal, never looking out for myself.)

    A few things I’ve read that helps me are these:

    + Forgive yourself. You know how when a friend or someone we love falls short, we make excuses for them? But never for ourselves? Well, treat our own lives the way we treat others. (They’re trying. They’re going through a lot. They’ve been there for us, so let’s cut them some slack.)

    + Make a list of all the things you’ve accomplished or done for others, so that when you feel guilty, you can look over it and say, “I volunteered for this two months ago. I really need to make some time for me this time and say ‘no.’ ” BONUS: The list of things you’ve accomplished makes you feel better when you fall short.

    + And then I’ve learned to play the whole Jesus card. Like, seriously, sometimes the crowds got on his nerves, and he had to get away. And he didn’t make it to church every Sunday. And he seemed to really love those who fell short and despise those who set tons of rules and judged others.

    So, in short, I’m just trying to love myself more and forgive myself for my “shortcomings.” Life has beat the hell out of me, same as it’s beat the hell out of everyone else.

    We just have to smile, forgive ourselves, and say, “I love me. I for damn sure try my hardest.”

    1. I wish there was a like button for this comment.

      1. Different Kristen, by the way. 🙂

        1. Thank you, Kristen. I’m honored. : )

      • habisha on April 24, 2015 at 11:36 am
      • Reply

      This is really good.

      1. Thank you, Habisha! You guys are going to have me blushing… : )

    2. I’d like a like button too!

      1. Awwww, thank you… You all have made my day.

    3. Love your reply. I actually posted something about this this week, because I have been feeling volunteered- and gotta-cared- and generally bled-out.
      Thank you for the reminders!

      1. Beautiful post, Talena. Thanks for sharing it!

        1. Thanks, Stan! 🙂

  7. We must’ve been separated at birth.

    It’s the Internet. People use it the wrong way sometimes. It’s not a mirror for many, it’s a camera and it’s never without a gotcha “journalist” waiting to catch a misstep.

    I seldom write about my kids anymore. Not that I ever did much, but no. It’s not worth it.

    Good post. I’m glad everyone is feeling better.

    • annaerishkigal on April 24, 2015 at 10:58 am
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    I hear you Kirsten! My day-job is attorney and I used to take state-assigned cases representing parents against CPS. Now in some of these situations, CPS intervention was long overdue. But in a lot of other cases it was that helicopter-parenting attitude run amok, especially amongst all the 23-year-old fresh-out-of-college CPS social workers who HAD not children of their own or came from WASP families. These snot-nosed social workers often have NO IDEA what normal looks like, and then they try to ram that down the throat of a struggling single mother who left an abusive spouse after he put her into a hospital and is having trouble chasing after her five kids.

    ME: This -is- called the Department of Family SERVICES … right?

    SOCIAL WORKER (under oath): Yes

    ME: Did you offer this struggling single mother any SERVICES? Like, um … affordable daycare so she could meet your mandate to keep her kids to get a minimum wage job? Because, uh … with 5 kids and the ex-husband in jail, it’s going to COST her $65 per hour to work that $7.50 per hour minimum wage job you just ordered her to take.

    SOCIAL WORKER (under oath): [*starts doing what we lawyers call ‘tick tock’ … the rhythmic rocking back and forth with arms crossed because you just nailed their @$$ to the witness stand*] … Uhm … no … we don’t actually … uhm … provide any SERVICES at the Department of Family Services…

    It’s gotten so bad that you can’t even let your teenager out in your own fenced in back yard to play on the swingset (yes, I said TEENAGER).

    1. Don’t get me started on social workers. I went to TCU which is mostly trust-fund babies. I was NOT. I worked three jobs (mostly nights) and didn’t own a bed until I was 23. I slept on the mattress left in the duplex by the previous tenants. I actually had a blonde trust-fund baby sorority chick in my face dressing me down because “I didn’t understand the plight of the poor.”

      She was not happy with me when I pointed out that her purse alone cost more than most families make in a month. Talk about a serious disconnect.

      • Stephanie Scott on April 24, 2015 at 3:37 pm
      • Reply

      In defense of social workers, having been one right out of college and raised by one, what leads to bad social work in general is all a trickle down effect of not valuing those who truly need help. In my agency, the preventative program meant to provide services to struggling families BEFORE things got bad enough for foster care, was cut and cut to the point it was doomed to fail.

      My private agency was wonderful, but having my connection with my mom at the state level I heard how bad some of her staff conditions were, and how the state saved money by early retirement for people her age, the people with all the experience and training, and then they’d replace with lower wage staff with little to no experience where training was vastly varied depending whether you had a manager who gave a crap. And depending who your state politicians and governor are, you can get even more screwed.

        • annaerishkigal on April 25, 2015 at 11:25 am
        • Reply

        Yup … no services in the Department of Family Services. All the experienced staff pushed out the door or burned out because the only thing they are mandated to do is take kids away and put them in foster care, not provide services to keep the family intact. And the experienced social workers are replaced with kids right out of college with no real-life experience raising a family on a budget, people who would speak up and buck the system because they can -see- what the helicopter-consumerist-parent role model is an impossible task on ANY budget, much less a low-income person’s budget.

        Unfortunately, kids don’t have a voice or a vote. The same judgmental idiots who give lip-service to supermom syndrome and helicopter parenting are the ones who vote to shoot down a living minimum wage. I’m a conservative, but when people can’t WORK their way out of poverty and provide a better life for their children, there’s just something wrong with this country.

    • Kessie on April 24, 2015 at 10:58 am
    • Reply

    Gosh, yes. We live in an apartment complex with a big grassy courtyard in the middle, with a playground and everything. I get other parents chasing my kids home _from the playground_ which is within sight of my front door. What the heckberries, people.

  8. Would you believe, my HUSBAND is the one who can’t sit and relax. He has to do those few dishes, take out the recycling, throw that load of wash in. Me, I can let go and read my book 😉

    1. LOL You married an alien, obviously. My husband will literally step over a bag of trash left in front of the kitchen door as a reminder to take it out to the can and with clear conscience (apparently) go for a walk or get in the car. When it’s time for bed he just grabs a shower and goes to bed. Me getting ready for bed involves cleaning the cat box, finishing the dishes, locking up the chickens, making sure all cats are in for the night (too many predators around here), making sure there isn’t a pile of laundry on the bed, etc. That last one sometimes occurs in the dark with him already asleep, because he will actually crawl in to bed and leave a giant pile of laundry or whatever on my side of the bed. I shall call him….Oblivious Man!

    2. I’m with you Carrie. Hubby will probably do the last few dishes that didn’t fit in the dishwasher while I sit here at the gym READING. I don’t work out much. Our boys get two hour of supervised play so that I can read or write. 😉

  9. This post was almost like reading something I would have written. You are not alone. The guilt weighs on me too, constantly. I almost celebrated when I finally bought myself some new socks, and I was only because I was running down that isle in the department store because I was heading to buy my kids something. I hadn’t had new socks in…ok let’s not go there.
    Why do we kill ourselves doing the best we can and still feel that we are lacking? I agree. This guilt and parent shaming needs to end.
    Have you seen the Scary Mommy blog? It has helped me a lot. Just knowing that we aren’t the only ones can be uplifting.

  10. It’s crazy.

    Lord knows I got enough of a wide-eyed stare when I mentioned that I left two of the kids ALONE in the house when I walked to the end of the driveway to fetch the other kid off the school bus. Because I’m a crappy mom if I let a five-year-old walk down the driveway alone. And I’ll be damned if I’m going to wrestle two princesses out of their castle and into clothes, boots, coats, hats, and mittens for what should be a two minute process.

  11. My kids aren’t toddlers any more, but I totally forget to move the clothes from the washer to the dryer…especially when my kid’s P.E. uniform is in there. Sigh. 😉

  12. The other thing is, women are working. So you basically have three full time jobs: run a house, raise a family, and bring home the bacon. i honestly don’t know how single-parents do it because even with two adults in the house, it’s a struggle. How do people AFFORD all those activities, let alone get the kids to them, that’s what I want to know!

    As for judging, when my daughter was little, she ALWAYS pulled her socks and shoes off. (We finally made a deal when she was five that she could go barefoot in the months without an R in them. May-August and she still holds me to it. We even went on vacation once and she didn’t bring shoes.) My point is, my neighbour realized that keeping shoes on my toddler was a losing battle and said, “I’ll stop judging those women at the mall when I seem them with babies not wearing any shoes.”

    You think? Thanks.

  13. I thought you wrote this article just for me. Then I realized that I am one of the many moms who would take a chunk of time to brush her daughter’s hair but hand comb hers in the car due to lack of time or start the washer at 11 at night and set up the alarm for 5:30 to put the clothes in the dryer so her son can have his favorite pair of scoks to wear to school. All this, while dad is happily switching between CNN and ABC. I am not ashamed that I do not have activities for my kids all 7 days or 14 times a week but whatever I do with my kids, I make sure they want it and not me.

  14. THIS IS MY LIFE. I totally know you mean, Kristen. I’m in the same boat. It’s exhausting and ridiculous and I’m totally jealous of my hubby too. He doesn’t give a crap if the house is trashed or if the kid’s clothes match or what he eats for dinner. He doesn’t feel guilty for relaxing and having some him-time. I’ve tried and tried to be like that. But it doesn’t work. I can’t figure it out. 😛

  15. They say it takes a village, but sometimes the other people in your village are wearing crazy pants.

    1. Brilliant! 🙂

  16. Fantastic post. Completely relevant.
    Yes, in 1999, I got married and raised two kids full-time. In 2000, we moved into the suburban utopia and I drank the Kool-Aid. Within a year, I’d lost sight of what I really wanted when I quit work to stay home; I wanted to BE with my kids! Not drive them everywhere, not keep up appearances, not be too exhausted to enjoy my husband at the end of the day.
    I felt like every activity they did sought to be the only one, and I remember thinking, “My son is eight, and he hasn’t played outside without a referee in three days!”
    In 2002 I had a baby, and then in 2003, another baby.
    I spent a decade taxiing them all about.
    Fortunately, in 2010, I had a lil breakdown and realized I cannot do it all, and they can’t either.
    I’ve never helicoptered, and I’m fortunate to live in a small, quiet URBAN area now, where children play outside without neighborhood interference.
    I think it’s good for kids/people to have plenty of experiences with art, sports, music, nature — all of it. But do they need to do it all at the same time?!?
    Eat, play, read, work, sleep — who cares about the details?

    1. “Eat, play, read, work, sleep — who cares about the details?”—Hear hear. Over-scheduling of activities for kids deprives them of play, an activity that has a lot going for it. Natural play that’s not dictated by parents allows kids to explore, learn, create, and learn social interaction. They don’t need us to guide them in this (other than making sure they’re safe). Kids are natural experts at playing. As a pediatrician, seeing over-scheduled and stressed kids is disheartening, especially when they’re missing out on sleep. Sleep deprivation is a big cause of poor behavior, inattention, irritability, etc.

      Great article, Kristen.

      1. Yes! I make sure my sons have boredom time because that’s the only time they’ll use their imagination! Of course, it often ends up “backfiring” in a sense, because they are 4 and 2 and get into plenty of mischief! But as long as they are safe—no choking hazards, no exposed wires, bookcases bolted to the wall—I want them learning and exploring.
        I think we all need those signs I’ve seen (on Pinterest, ha ha) that say “Please excuse the mess. The children are making memories.”

        1. Oh, I love that quote. I haven’t heard it before. They are for sure making memories. I think back to the forts my brother and I made or the missions we created for his GI Joe and my Barbie–no parent involvement necessary. As you mention, kids have great imaginations, and we do them a disservice to stifle them with too many pre-arranged activities.

    • christicorbett on April 24, 2015 at 11:19 am
    • Reply

    My twins are ten, and we’ve got a fort and a rope swing in the backyard, and I encourage digging holes to find treasure, climbing trees, creating mud art, and drawing on the fence with sidewalk chalk (It washes off in the rain). Our backyard is full of rowdy kids having fun, our house is usually messy, and hugs and love and fun ideas are endless. I love it and so do my twins’ friends. I’m always stunned when their friends who come over say things like “we don’t get to play outside” or “I don’t have to do chores”.

    School time is serious time and very important, but kids also should be able to get dirty, and learn to interact with each other outside of structured team sports. And know how to use that really cool machine we own that creates a hurricane-style wind tunnel while sucking up everything in its path! (FYI: it’s the vacuum. I made it seem really cool when they were young, and now it’s one of their chores.)

    Also, here’s a great tip for the laundry that’s been dried, but left in the dryer for days and is loaded with wrinkles. Toss a few ice cubes in and run the dryer for about 20 minutes. The ice will melt and make just enough steam to take out the wrinkles.

    1. Love that ice-cube trick! Ah – first make some ice….. (in the UK we don’t do that much. We drink warm beer too.)

    2. Yay for dirt! And yay for ice cubes! Great idea. I’ve always used the “wet wash cloth” method, myself, but ice is brilliant.

  17. So spot on. Yep, I lived your life. My kids are now 23 and 25. Both have scars from falling out of trees, crashing bikes, skateboards, getting bit by skunks at the beach… And both came out fine. When they were little, they ran the neighborhood (all of 12 houses on a semi-circle) with the other rugrats. The troop ran pretty much wild until moms started calling them in for dinner. I worked full-time in a high stress job, shlepped them to ballet and lacrosse, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, band practice… And I did it as a single mom (thank you Mom and Uncle for helping!). And I wouldn’t trade most of it for anything. The one thing I’ve learned through all of it is that it’s simply ok to just be. I’ll never win the mom of the year award and that’s ok. I love them to pieces and I tried to do my best, even though I absolutely failed at stuff. And it’s ok. PS I also forgave my Mom an awful lot lol.

    • Laconicus on April 24, 2015 at 11:21 am
    • Reply

    Great timing. I’m a dad and I work nights so one parent is always home for our 7yo son. I completely lost my mind this morning because even though his morning “routine” has been roughly the same since he started school, his mind is like an Etch-a-Sketch that gets shaken every night, and in the morning I have to completely reprogram him. It doesn’t help that I’m on 3.5 hours of sleep when I’m getting him ready. As far as shaming, I don’t notice and I don’t care. Dudes, y’know?

    But my wife and I are in disagreement about the helicoptering. She wants eyes-on at all times, and I’m like, “Go outside, disappear, come back whenever.” (We live in a culdesac in a nice neighborhood and no, I don’t just let him roam, but give the kid some space!) Come to think of it, though, I did leave him in the car for a few minutes when I popped into the store, and when I came out there was a police officer and a “Good Samaritan” waiting for me. Which was fine, until my son dimed me out to my wife.

    My point? I need a nap.

    1. LOL, LOVE your comment! Love the Etch-A-Sketch analogy, hahahahahahahah. So true!

    • R. A. Meenan on April 24, 2015 at 11:22 am
    • Reply

    Kristen, if you weren’t my hero before (which you were), you’re definitely my hero now. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU for this post. I love every word of it.

    I’m not yet a mom. I hope it’ll happen soon, but when I become a mom, this is the exact attitude I want to have. I hate it when parents drop their kids off at every extra curricular thing they can possible think of for twenty hours a day. When I was a kid, we had the run of the neighborhood. We could run, bike, or skip nine blocks up or down from my house and no one would bat an eye. We came up with creative games and played with all the neighborhood kids. We were CHILDREN. Now parents expect children to be geniuses with a million facts in their heads, three languages under their belts, and perfect A’s in a classroom that doesn’t allow wiggling.

    We are not designed to be robots. We are designed to be UNIQUE. If I want to say “Forget about being a robot, I want to be a magical steampunk unicorn tamer” then darn it, I will be, and so will my future kids, society be damned.

    I’m now going to go share this with all the awesome parents out there. =D

  18. If you ever find the time, you find this a good antidote to the shames of all kinds that you are feeling. It was written by William Morris in the 1880s and describes an altogether more rational way of parenting and existing.

    1. might find, I meant to say.

  19. Okay, that was hilarious about your husband dressing your son. And this exact kind of thing has happened to my toddler when my husband and I agreed that each of us would take responsibility for getting ready one child on Sunday mornings (we have two). How many times have I had to interrupt my own preparation efforts to intervene when he put the outfit I’d picked out the night before on backwards or he didn’t come up with a nutritious enough snack to pack along? Thank you for the good laugh.

    The part about kids not being available because parent don’t value low-key, hanging-around-the- neighborhood-fun? That’s just plain sad. My older daughter would love to play with the girl who lives in the house behind ours, but she is never available and, as far as I can tell, her mother hardly lets her play outside. I sometimes find myself wishing other mothers’ values matched mine a tad closer simply so our kids could better relate–I have an appreciation for everyday moments and a happy willingness to let my child slack off a little in becoming a genius!

  20. I love your Spawn & we haven’t even met yet. You are awesome mom. Your child will function unsupervised, unlike the crippling uber-mommies ‘ brats. Your child will be able to think for himself. Until he suffers testosterone poisoning at puberty & turns into your husband ?

  21. I’m not a parent, but I do know this much: No parent gets it right all the time. A certain degree of failure is guaranteed. I don’t know if mother-shaming’s gotten better or worse, but at least they’re not blaming mothers for autism and schizophrenia anymore. Between that and mis-matched clothes, I’ll take the mis-matched clothes.

  22. Great post today. This has gotten out of hand, and kids would be better served by fending for themselves a bit. Parents might appreciate the hour or two of down time as well.

  23. My best friend has a two year old and I am in total awe when I see her. Sure, she does a lot for him like finding activities and such but he’s such a great kid, I don’t think “Why hasn’t she had time to put on as much makeup as I do?”, I think “He’s brilliant, she’s a fantastic mother”. So when I go for a visit I take cake, and play with him so Mum and Dad can have a break!

  24. All this and more when you are an autism mom. The pressure is insane.

    • habisha on April 24, 2015 at 11:47 am
    • Reply

    Kristen, spot on. My kids are grown. I used to send mine out in the yard to play when I got sick of their yelling. I could watch them out the window, or go hang out with them in the yard if I wanted (normally not; I needed just a couple of minutes of peace, thank you). We didn’t have anyone ready to call CPS because I wasn’t out there. Yes, we live in a weird world today, but honestly, when did the world change so much that we now have to keep an eye on our kids 24/7? I don’t think there is a kidnapper around every bush. We live in a hyper-vigilant society, and if I see a child alone, I wonder if it’s safe for the kid. Sometimes I have to shake myself and say, yes, there are about two people around here and I’ll just keep an eye out to make sure he’s safe to get down the street to his friend’s (or whatever).

    You are right about not judging or wondering. Acceptance is a beautiful thing. My mother was hyper-sensitive about other people judging her as a parent and tried to judge me into being like her. I refused. Yes, I made sure my kids clothes matched for church, but I didn’t care if their hair was perfect or not sticking up in back — or even if my daughter did cartwheels down an empty aisle before everyone else arrived (she was a gymnast; she did cartwheels. A church aisle was as good as any place to do them, and she was 5).

    I wish you the best and encourage you to be gentle on yourself. You only get this one chance to have your child young. Make it fun for him and fun for you and let the judgers go fly kites. You rock!

  25. This is crazy-making but at least these cross-arguments are going on at all. I call that progress. What bugs me most is the parents who are so busy fulfilling themselves that they have no clue who their children are.

    Born in 1948, I’m one of those whose father thought it was silly to send me to college since I would ‘just get married anyway.’ And even now, so long after the ’70s, many adjectives are applied to women but never to men: Would anyone, male or female, call a man ‘bossy?’ ‘Pushy?’ ‘Aggressive?’ or one of a dozen or more demeaning words that shouldn’t even be applied to children but still are applied to women all the time? I thought not.

  26. Brilliant and so true!! I was not accepted into a Mom group because I didn’t give them a five page resume of all of the activities my son had already accomplished at 3 years old. At 3, he was catching lightening bugs, pulling dog tails, and painting with his fingers. He didn’t, and still doesn’t at 6, play the piano, write poetry, or give dissertations on post modern art. He plays soccer and took swimming lessons at the Y. That’s it! Both of those activities he asked to do. I just thought it would be fun to go to the zoo and science center with a group of moms and their kids. Now we go as a family or with out-of-town guests. I don’t try to keep up with the Jones, and I never will. And my husband is exactly the same as yours. I don’t know how he finds them, but he always puts on the clothes that don’t fit and don’t match. He’s worse with my 18 month daughter! But he’s a fantastic father, and that’s all that matters. I think we’re doing an awesome job, and I believe our children are the better for it. Thanks for such a wonderful post! 🙂

  27. “I feel much of this Parent-Shaming/Mom-Shaming is consumerism gone crazy.” EXACTLY! How refreshing to hear someone call it for what it is. At the center of most advertising and consumerism is shame and people will kill themselves to avoid that shame. They’ll spend money they don’t have and never question their actions. The result? They raise children primed and ready to embrace their own shame.

  28. Kristin, I loved your column so much that I want to past it on Facebook. Is that permissible?

    1. Share away!

  29. Right? It’s ridiculous. I haven’t worn contacts since my daughter was born and only started having time for makeup when she started school & could semi-dress herself. That article you linked to is spot on. I especially liked the ending – we all can choose to ignore it or help out!

  30. My 4 kids are between the ages of 20 and 30. My two daughters have moved out and are living together in Seattle, trying to make it work and raise my one daughter’s grand-daughter. They are forever doing the shuffle trying to keep the house clean, the kid clean, the toys put away, the food made, all while balancing full-time jobs, college, dance class for the kid, and a gazillion other things. I was always the one rushing around in the morning when my kids were young. I was always frazzled. Where is this? Where is that? Is your homework done? Do you have on clean underwear? Did you brush your teeth? My oldest daughter even wrote a poem about me being crazy, harried mom that actually was published. My hubby…he was either gone to work or still in bed. He’d come home from work and sit in chair, kick back and watch t.v.. Me, I’d come home, get the kids to do their homework, start the clothes, make dinner, clean the bathrooms, clean the litter box, on and on and on. I was exhausted. On top of that, I was writing my book in my ‘down time’. And then hubby wanted hubby and wife time and I could barely keep my eyes open, much less be sexy and alluring. Why do we do this to ourselves? I guess it’s drilled into us that we are the caretakers and men are the hunters and gatherers. Now I’m middle-aged, I have the spread, I still work, but I don’t care about what the house looks like anymore. And make-up? I only wear it when I go to some place that requires it like the symphony or a play. Nails? I do my own and hope they don’t look like crap, but if they do, oh well. I still try to take pride in me. I don’t look grungy, but I’m no longer into that false sense of self. It comes with age for women, the ability to let our hair down and be women, not moms, chaperones, taxi drivers, chefs, accountants, mathematicians, scientists, and the thousands of other hats we have to wear for many years. Finally, when the kids grow up, we can be gentle to ourselves. I’m kind of liking these mid-life years. If only I had a money tree to do the things I want to do now that the kids are grown. If I can share any advice it would be just that. Save some money because there will be a time when it’s just you or just you and your partner. The kids will be gone, and the house will be empty. That will be the time for the two of you to reconnect. Travel, do things together time and kids didn’t afford to you when you were younger and crazy. Time goes by too fast. Slow down, take a deep breath, and revel in the moment. Moms, hug yourselves every day. Pat yourselves on the back for a job well done. You deserve it. Sorry for the long post.

    1. Don’t be sorry! Love the comment!

    • Rachel Thompson on April 24, 2015 at 12:12 pm
    • Reply

    Guilt like most emotions should never dictate what you do. Feelings are false indicators of reality. Some feelings sometimes can steer you right, but mostly they do not. Why are men immune to reactionary negative feelings? Because they generally do direct fact based thinking over emotionalizing. Don’t trust feelings, they lie. Think first always. Thinking beats emotional response every time when it comes to reality. Of course men have their version of priority emotional responses but that too is false and counter productive. Punching some guy for cutting you off in traffic isn’t logical either.

  31. Hi Kristen,

    I loved this article. I had my son at the age of 18 and I feel like everything you talk about here I felt 10 times worst. I was constantly dealing with the judgmental looks and parents not wanting to have play dates with my son .. due to the fact he had a young mother.
    I have learned at the age of 28 (yes my son is almost as tall as me now ) that the relationship I built with my son was what I really wanted to concentrate on. That parents or outsiders will always have something negative to point out and that my son needed to understand that things in life are never meant to be perfect.

    I’m glad I stumble upon your article.

    1. Great to meet you! I imagine that is another layer of judgement. Older moms get crap, too. I had Spawn when I was 35.

      1. Same age my wife had our Bang, now about to turn 4 😀

  32. you are an awesome mom!

    • nicolezoltack on April 24, 2015 at 12:22 pm
    • Reply

    I so understand where you are coming from. As moms, we feel the need to do it all and it’s not possible to. It’s just not. Hence the shaming and the guilt. It’s an awful, vicious cycle.

  33. I honestly don’t know what to say about this because you’ve said it all. You’ve basically described my life. My kids are 13,12 and 9 and still have issues with their clothing! (check the laundry basket, kids! Lots of clean clothes that I have no time to fold!!) So i’ll just tell you THANK YOU for posting this!! I thought you were cool before but now I think I might worship you. (in a non-creepy, stalker way btw. I have no time to stalk anyone!)

    1. LOL. ((HUGS)). Right? I just washed the clothes. Hubby took them out and put them on the dining room table…SO THE CATS COULD SLEEP IN THEM. And now I need a nap *whimpers*

      1. Don’t you know that’s what fresh laundry is FOR? It is at my house, anyway. Argh.

  34. Granted, I would really like it if my children could speak 3 languages (my youngest asked if sarcasm counted), play multiple instruments, excel in all academic arenas and sports, and dress impeccably. However, I’ll settle for happy. Since they are my children, well-adjusted might be a stretch…

    As far as I see it, our job is to take these selfish little savages and turn them into productive members of society. The truth is, and all parents of more than one child know this with certainty, what works for one child doesn’t work for the other. I have four children, therefore I have four methods of motivating, punishing, teaching, feeding, and dressing them! Because they are individuals, some will crave independence while others need helicopter parenting. We need to be sensitive to this and allow them to grow in the way that fits them best, and not judge other parents for doing the same.

    As long as our child(ren) are educated, knows they are loved, how to play, work, and be respectful and kind, then we are a success as parents. That’s what really matters. Everything else is just window dressing.

    1. I admit I agree with the sentiment but when we live in a world where psychos can send CPS to your house when they don’t even know WTH is going on? CRAZY. I had family members who dealt with this last year. The one boy’s eating had gotten out of control and he was very overweight, so they restricted snacks and gave him healthy meals. He told the teacher his parents were starving him. They spent MONTHS fixing the mess with CPS when anyone who took one look at the kid knew he’d never missed a meal.

      1. I shudder to think of the assumptions and misunderstandings that could occur if daughter repeated half the stuff Hubby thinks are funny jokes.

  35. Too funny and so very true. Thankfully, I gave up wondering long ago. At my Spawnette’s birth, I made a vow NEVER to interfere with how my hubby “worked” with our child knowing that any interference might give him the ultimate permission to “let me do things my way” since I so clearly didn’t like his way. Now, our daughter and him have an excellent bond that I’m truly grateful for, although I’m fairly sure her habit of wearing mismatched clothing (including socks) and/or pajamas as outdoor wear is one of the many results of father/spawnette dressing sessions. *sigh* She does, however, have the creative and independent spirit he assured me would result….

    Enjoy an awesome weekend, Kristen!

  36. I wasn’t blessed with children, so perhaps my view is slanted. I think moms are superheroes. When I’m struggling to pick up a bag of groceries, I wonder how that woman can hold her four-year-old without stretching her arms out of the socket. I’m not sure who’s standards the critics are trying to impose, but they should cool it. Unless the child is in immediate danger, such as a crocodile is about to close it’s jaws on the kid and Mom is too far away to get there in time, you’re probably catching them at an off moment, and Mom probably already knows what’s wrong and doesn’t need it rubbed in. Eating a little dirt is good for kids. My mom and dad said it helped build resistance. I thank you for pointing out that offering to help out isn’t seen by all moms as a no-no. I’ll do so next time I see a mom struggling.

  37. A very interesting read Kristen. As a dad of two, let me tell you and any other mothers here something. I know that I could not do it without my fiancé. We as fathers owe you more than you can imagine. I am sure you are all doing a fantastic job.
    Being a parent is one of the hardest things we will ever go through so don’t beat yourself up too much. Our kids love us regardless. That is fact.

  38. Aw, I could cry with empathy. Seriously. I feel so frazzled all the time. My little girl is just 6 months, so not a lot of time to be shamed, but I HAVE already gotten a lot of guff over breastfeeding. Or, more properly, choosing to pump and not breastfeed and then recently just go formula. Granted, friends have been kindly supportive of my choices, but there have been a few individuals who have tried to make me feel like the worst mom ever because I couldn’t breastfeed (never mind the fact that it was a painful experience for me and a pointless one for her).

    But then my house…well, my husband’s not one to keep it clean, and it gets just sloppy bad fast, but then since I was up either until or at 4am taking care of the little girl all I want to do during the day is sleep. Apparently it’s bad enough that when a friend came over with some of his friends, he apologized to them for our mess? I’m glad I was in the other room when that happened.

    Most of all, I empathize with the crushing guilt. I always have problems with thinking I’m not good enough anyway but being a wife and mother just lends itself to feeling entirely inadequate. Good times, eh?

    1. At least you know you are not alone 😀 . ((HUGS)). I, too, was a breast-feeding failure. I tried but yeah… I would like to say it will get better but our world is spiraling into CRAZY TOWN.

  39. Excellent Blog. I feel your pain, although (fortunately) cannot identify with it. Maybe things are easier in the UK. Maybe things are just easier in my street (a cul-de-sac with a big green space at one end where all the kids played when younger and all the neighbourhood gathers for a street BBW every summer), but I didn’t really feel all of this. I remember getting a little miffed when my brother in law questioned the fact my kids had taken on the challenge of climbing (unsupervised and aged 8 and 6) every tree in the area. I said “If they fall out they’re not going to kill themselves.The worst they’ll do is break a bone.” And he said “Um – you feel slightly differently when you take your child to the hospital for the second time with the same broken bone in the same place from falling out of the same tree…”
    In the summer we go to the same beach with the same set of people and the rule has always been that you wave goodbye to them in the morning and they come back when they’re hungry. If it rains then you either have blessed peace and quiet or you have all of them (at least eight) crammed into your tiny chalet. I love to see the children just wandering about on the foreshore, unsupervised, picking up rocks, hunting for crabs, building sand fortresses against the tide…
    On the other hand, my husband and I once left our (then) 4 year old in the hotel room asleep while we went to have a formal gala dinner in the dining room 2 floors below. We checked on her between each course. Returning to the room after coffee we discovered the door open and her bed empty! She had woken up, got lonely and come to look for us. It was the longest 30 seconds of my life before the Hotel Reception said “Relax – we have her here. She’s having a whale of a time playing with the switchboard” (This was obviously before the tragic case of Madeleine McCann: nobody would leave their child in a hotel room now). Nothing was said to us about being bad parents; everyone was just happy to help.
    And – kids need to be bored; it fosters their creativity. (Well, that’s my theory and I’m sticking to it!)

  40. Wow. I’m reading these comments as well as your post and thinking, “This is so damn sad.” Kids can’t be kids now. I’m almost 50 so you can guess how I grew up. I never had kids either and given these comments I’m glad I didn’t, although mine would likely be old enough now to be on their own if I had.

    But man, these kids can’t even play in a playground visible to a mother from her own front door or walk home from a school that is a few blocks away from home without the cops being called. It’s ridiculous. The people calling CPS and even the cops sometimes are the same people who are shaking their heads and talking about how kids never play outside anymore.

    It’s a crazy making contradiction and double standard.

    1. EXACTLY! The same jerks that make it a NIGHTMARE for me to let Spawn play outside are the SAME asshats who will tell me I suck because he spends too much time watching TV or on an iPad. It is a NO-WIN. I love my boy. Wouldn’t trade him for the world, but my heart aches that he cannot enjoy the same childhood I did. That he will never know the freedom of that first bike and being allowed to play outside until the street lamps come on 🙁 .

      1. Yeah, I’m sorry that you and so many other parents are dealing with that. 🙁

      2. I am sooo glad we live in a tight-knit neighborhood where we all looked after each other’s kids. We still do. When my kids were younger, I felt comfortable with them riding their bikes and staying out. My hubby could whistle really loud and at sundown, if the kids weren’t home, he’d go outside and give the call. We always had other parent’s phone numbers and there were usually only a couple of places they’d go. The big thing for me was getting over the thought of someone trying to take them, not CPS showing up. The thought of someone stealing my kids I think made me want to protect them a bit more than I should have.

    • msugar13 on April 24, 2015 at 1:36 pm
    • Reply

    This post resonated with me. I mean it touched me deep inside my soul. I thought you wrote it for me or at least you had to be talking about me (even though you don’t know me). So much of it applied to our home life that I don’t even know where to begin, but I will start with the unkempt looking, frazzled mom with her hair in a scrunchy. I bet she had already dressed her four darlings in their semi-mathicng (not too mathcy) monogrammed clothes and sent them off to read while she got dressed, but after one squirted ketchup on another and the other two decided to help mommy weed her flower bed, she ran outside to salvage what was left of the new outfits, only to get splashed in the face with the water hose. There went her made up face and hair she spent 20 minutes with the straightening iron. She hollered for hubby to help. but he was engrossed in the second- afternoon Sunday NFL game, in the same chair he was in when the noon games began. So realizing he would offer no help, she scooped his empty beer bottles and tossed them in the trash. When she made it back to her bathroom she realized she didn’t have anything else to wear — nothing that was clean anyway, and certainly nothing that fit her body that refused to go back to the cute little size it once was. She glanced at her watch and realized she had less than twenty minutes to get to ____ place they had to be. Frustrated and pulling her hair out, she did the only thing she could, she grabbed the tacky scrunchy, pulled her unruly hair up and threw on her work out clothes. Heck, they fit, and she could always tell people that she’d just come from the gym. Meanwhile back in the kiddos room, they’d dressed themselves, pitched those girly, ugly matching clothes that the boys hate into the toilet (yup the toilet) which now overflowed. She took one last look at her beautiful kids, now dressed in overalls and ill fitting shirts and her precious little girl adorned her halloween costume in May. What the hell, we have to go, so she hustled the kids to the car where she spent the next half hour securing them in their car/booster seats and making sure she had all four diaper/toy/play bags, her purse and all the other crap a mom can’t leave home without.

    I can’t believe some ““Good Samaritan”, — nosy, crabby woman would call child protection. Where are these good samaritan’s when the kids in the lower economic neighborhoods are sitting outside their locked homes waiting on a parent to come home or missing three meals in a row, or living inside a roach infested home with no electricity. Ms. Goody Samaritan should haul her butt over to a neighborhood were her nosiness might actually help a child in need.

    My kids and I have this argument daily. “But mom, why can’t I ride my bike to the movies at night? You said ya’ll did it when you were a kid? What do you mean times have changed?” It’s a never ending merry-go-round, and the only thing I’ve learned or taken away from my years as a mom is that I no longer judge other moms. We have no idea what kind of hell they are experiencing at home, with their spouse, their in-laws, kids, financially, their career. We all do our best and the moms who don’t, well shame on them, but its not my place to scout them out and call them on it.

    Melissa Sugar
    Twitter @msugar13

    1. Amen! I’ve been trying to clean the house for the last two hours. Every time I make the bed, Spawn unmakes it and harvests it for pillows. He is still wearing his gi pants from yesterday because I ran out of clean clothes *weeps*

  41. I’m not a man, but (no, I don’t play one on t.v.) my husband went through what might be considered the male version of parent-shaming when at his office he was surrounded by other men with young children (or teens) and they were the little league coach, scout master and they always seemed to be teaching their kids how to take a car apart and put it back together or they had full-blown woodshops in their backyard where they made custom cabinetry, etc. All the while, they went to the gym each morning, ran 10 miles a week and bragged about the latest piece of diamond jewelry they just bought their wife. I worked as an Executive Assistant to many of these men – they would leave work early and change schedules at the last minute so they could be at every game, every award presentation (why are there so many of these now?) and heaven forbid he not be available on the exact day of his wife/kid’s birthday or anniversary. I literally had one of my executives have to change a flight at the last minute (that ended up costing much more money) because of a birthday party for his 7-year old – he would have arrived the next day and the wife had a fit.

    I let my husband know right up front that our kids don’t need to do every activity available to them. I would often tell the kids, “one extracurricular activity at a time… pick one” (usually it was gymnastics or basketball). And I didn’t care how many clubs/activities they participated in at school (debate club, track, band, etc.) just as long as they realized it was THEIR activity to participate in, not mine. We supported them (drove them when they needed it, paid for MANY fees) but they always knew we wouldn’t be at every single meet or game.

    My husband still to this day, after the kids are all graduated high school and two are on their own, he still says things like “I should have been there more when they were little”. I remind him that he WAS there, no not at every singe even, but so what? He worked and provided and was wonderful, as he still is! The kids are smart, athletic, creative artist and they have a fantastic work ethic, which I attribute to their father.

  42. ‘Oh, just the one child?’ ‘Yes, that’s right,’ I say with a big smile, ‘and I feel blessed to have her.’ That’s the judgy stuff I’ve run into, that I just have the one child. Despite the complications I had, the surgery I had to have before I could even carry her, the miracle that she’s here at all. Sideways comments about being selfish for just having the one, that I am somehow depriving my daughter by not providing a sibling. So now I answer such comments with, ‘that’s right, would you like the history of my uterus?’ Again with a big smile – usually ends the judgy comments.
    God forbid anyone get into me about her activities – she’s a great kid, I’m grateful every day I have her, she’s healthy and smart and that should be enough. I don’t live in the US but the sound of all those ‘good Samaritans’ sticking their noses in is pretty awful. The comment thread here is great, very much enjoying everyone else’s viewpoints.

    1. Wow, people just want to complain/judge about everything, don’t they? First: none of their dang business how many kids you have. If you had four kids they’d raise an eyebrow because of your giant brood.

    2. Helen, I feel for you after trying everything known to medical science right up until they yanked that useless uterus & gotten nothing but grief for not being a mom. I’m blessed my friends trust me with their minions so I can share the experience. (Ya’ll are better women than I’ll ever be!) but why in earth do people feel like it’s any of their business whether we’re able to adopt or reproduce & how many times we managed a successful outcome?

      There was a time when agencies and the military looked at active duty women like we were perverts for wanting children. God forbid the single woman wanted to be a mom back in my day.

  43. You are absolutely correct, Kristen, that this helicopter parenting is a.) consumerism gone wild and b.) not necessarily good for the kids. I read an insightful article the other day, which I’ll link, which basically says that this overbooking overscheduling eyes on the kids every second of every day situation leads to unfulfilled and troubled young people.

    • Shelby on April 24, 2015 at 2:51 pm
    • Reply

    I think because you are your kids bff, you are a great mother. I am more of a free range mom myself, but I think parents, mostly, I am fostering so I know there are terrible parents out there, but I think they know best.

    1. It concerns me that I AM his BFF. He NEEDS to play with other kids. Problem is, unless I want to sign him up for cello lessons or Young UN Ambassadors, we are on our own…

    • Stephanie Scott on April 24, 2015 at 3:14 pm
    • Reply

    I’m not even a mom, but YES mom shaming is happening. I can be unbiased since it’s not my plight 🙂

    What I’ve been seeing are more articles and blogs from parents who declare they are not cruise directors for their children’s lives. I agree. This expectation that kids have to be scheduled and worse, entertained, at all times is overall damaging. Some of this effect of helicopter parenting is being seen in upper grades of school, college, and the workplace. If you don’t let your kids figure things out themselves, fail once awhile, whatever, that kid’s gonna be dependent forevah. And now who’s selfish?

    Let’s stop shaming each other, women! Mind your own business unless somebody’s hurt or bleeding. I can’t fathom kids not being able to play outside in their own yard. Sad.

  44. All you need to do is take one look at my baseboards to know I have no business parent shaming anyone. The things that are important get done. The kids are still alive (at least they were the last time I checked). They still hug me and let me kiss them good night, so I must be doing something right.

  45. Oh my goodness I just had to say my husband used to drag all the outgrown, mismatched clothes from the backs of the drawers and stuff our poor kids in them, too! How do they manage that? 😀

  46. I don’t let my younger kids outside alone, but we live on a farm and my youngest has no fear (also, he’s three). Now, if my older two kids are outside with them? I do a happy dance and lock myself in my room. 🙂

    I can’t wait for the days when I can shoo them all outside and have some peace and quiet, which makes me feel all kinds of guilty because I already feel like I don’t spend enough quality time with them, even though I only work three days a week nine months of the year. And since I try to focus what unscheduled time I have on writing, my house is a disaster (for which I also feel guilty, thought it’s cleaner than the house I grew up in, so, progress?).

    I feel like the whole guilt thing has gotten way out of control at my house, and yet, it’s like a drug – I can’t seem to stop. This isn’t helped by all the stuff I see my other mom friends posting on Facebook (you know the posts). All I can hope is that my kids won’t end up in therapy one day because I make them entertain themselves and – gasp! – do chores.

  47. I have always tried to live by “it is was it is, they are who they are” philosophy. It’s not my place to judge. Though, I’m sure I have judged unintentionally. I am just trying to be the best version of myself and assume everyone else is trying to be the best they can be. Even if their picture turns up on The People of Wal-Mart website. Also, helicopter parenting isn’t helping. It’s creating kids who are too dependant on others. I speak from a teacher’s perspective on that opinion. Great article!

  48. I laughed out loud at this in several places. Now there is something called a “snowplow” parent who doesn’t hover but clears the path so the child doesn’t even have to face opposition at all.

    1. I hadn’t heard of a “snowplow” parent. Yes, there are parents like that. Great term!

  49. Love this times a thousand. My kids are grown, but I am so thankful I don’t have to parent in todays world…..y’all are rockstars in my eyes!

  50. This post was awesome! I related to every syllable and LOVED how you put it all together. Such an enjoyable read. I am so happy I am not alone!!!

  51. Reblogged this on Perfectly Imperfect and commented:
    i am so glad I am not alone in this. What a fun, real life article. 🙂

  52. My favorite one to date is the shame involved around Attachment and Natural parenting. I didn’t get so much of it with my first baby (now 3), but my second one? Holy crap. At least I’m someone who can hold my ground when someone else judges me, but I wouldn’t have “known better” with my first child. I would have definitely been shamed into something “for the well-being” of my baby.

    1. Our daughter was born nine weeks early because I was going into kidney and heart failure. At the time, we were young and trying to do all the “right” things until her neonatologist said, Feed her when she’s hungry. she won’t go 8 hours. Then we started learning and then teaching Natural Family Planning and she began to sleep with us and I was nursing her long past a year. We had family members judging and even my grandmother asked our daughter “Is she still giving you that old tit?” My husband said, “Those are the only ones she has!” We stood together against all that because we truly believed it was the best. My mother asked if I thought I was better than she was and I told her everyone tries to do the best they can with what they know. No judgements on this end.

    • Janine on April 24, 2015 at 5:32 pm
    • Reply

    Right on Sister! I agree that a 1970s childhood was less stressful and more fun for kids than today, but I think it was also harder in some ways. That was the first decade that divorce became a common thing and everyone was doing it. It was like Mad Men, but without all the good looking people, nice cloths, or sophisticated New York living. 🙂 Thanks for the great article.

  53. *happy sigh*
    I know you’re taken and happy with your family and all but can I marry you?

    I spend pretty much every day lamenting how awful a parent I am. Feeling guilty about leaving my boys (twins by the way, nearly three) to watch a bit of TV so I can wash up, or leaving said washing up (meaning we eat of teeny weeny plates that probably still have last weeks food on them), so I can wash some clothes, or leaving the clothes (how many times CAN you wear a bra before you HAVE to wash it) so I can get some food in, or leaving the shopping (take aways won’t kill you, right?) so I can just sit quietly in a chair for two minutes.

    It just goes on and on. And, if I’m honest, NOBODY is as rough a judge on me as myself. And don’t even get me started on the work situation. The other half works while I care for the boys and though that is financially the best option for us right now (believe me, I know, I’ve checked. Repeatedly) I still feel GUILTY for not going out to work to bring in some more money for the household (y’know… because writing – which is what I do – doesn’t really pull in big £££).

    It warms me to know I’m not alone and I guess the point of this mega rambling comment is to say that I wish more mothers were as honest as you. I KNOW we’re all out there thinking the same thing, feeling the same things, worrying about the same things, but I never SEE it. We all hide it for reasons that I don’t understand, trying to be ‘the best’ or ‘perfect’ or ‘super mum’ which is impossible because that ideal always belongs to SOMEONE ELSE.

    I get to the end of the day (it’s nearly midnight here) and I creep into my boys’ room and kiss them on the forehead. I listen to them snore for two minutes (like trucks, it’s shocking!) then I creep out again, collapse into bed and thank the universe for getting me through another day without a trip to A&E (the day that did happen – long story, involved a dentist surgery, two balloons and a squigy wall thingy – was awful and I never want to repeat it).

    I love motherhood. I never planned for it or thought I’d survive, but I love it. I just wish I could figure out how to enjoy it without the guilt. Because I’m sure I’d enjoy it a hella lot more if I could suss that out.

  54. I can so relate. My particular Spawn is in her late 20’s now but still lives at home and has only just started helping out with the cooking. I’d write more but I’ve got guests coming and despite cleaning solidly for the last 2 days, I’m still not done… [I wish I was kidding]

  55. The “best mom” is not a Size 0 who poses in a bikini three days after birth. The BEST mom is a human being who loves her children, and truly acts in their best interests to encourage them to grow into being the best adult they can possibly be.

  56. I am crying right now, I feel just like this. My kids are older so the guilt is more money based. Why can’t I afford to get them ______? Have a prepared them for life? Will they be happy? Do they know how to make something nice for a potluck party? What if they go out into the world and need help and I’m still broke? And so yes tot he food/ weight 90% of the time no grains, no dairy, and also no weight loss. The list of my failures is massive, and overwhelming, and doesn’t look like it will change soon.
    I know over all I’ve made positive steps and my kids are happy, but yeah judgment, failure, hiding under the covers.

    • mitziflyte on April 24, 2015 at 6:18 pm
    • Reply

    Wow! Hit a nerve, you did.
    You hit one of my biggest nerves. Forty + years ago I was a working Mom, mainly because my husband of the time (her dad) didn’t bring home a good paycheck and I was an RN. After the divorce, of course, that continued. But our house was the one where all her friends gathered after football games. I made sure that if she wanted to learn how to ride horses, she learned. If she wanted to play the piano, she had a piano. She was able to try everything she wanted; I made sure because I wanted to be a “Good Mother” even if I was a working mother. I went to all her activities and games. I took her to museums and concerts. I volunteered for the PTA (one of the few working moms who did). I had to do all of that because 40+ years was not thought to be a good thing. But the guilt was still there…even though I had to work (no child support or monetary settlement).
    Being a mother is the most important job in the world.
    Every woman should support other mothers, not turn them into Protective Services on a whim.
    As women we have enough bullsh–t to deal with: poor gender roles, less pay, less respect.
    The least we can do is respect each other. And not call the cops on a mother (never called on the father, of course) if a brother and sister (10 or so) are walking home alone.
    Climbing down off my soapbox.
    Thank you for this post.

    • Alison on April 24, 2015 at 7:17 pm
    • Reply

    Thank you for this. My boys are 1.5 and 3. I am tired. And yet I can’t sit down because the work is never done. And it is all invisible to my (really very wonderful) husband. I truly envy his ability to ignore chaos.

    Love the picture of your boy on the cat tree. My youngest is a climber. It is his driving force. People look at me in horror when I let him monkey up every surface in our home, but honestly, there is no stopping him and I figure at least this way he at least gets better at it? Sigh…

  57. I decided not to have children for various reasons, one of them being I believe(d) there are too many people on the planet for it to support comfortably. And, I figured there were children out there who needed a family, and that would be a better option for me.

    But now? With all these crazy, nosy, holier-than-thou interfering peeping-Toms and -Tomasinas lurking around every bush and telephone pole?

    I don’t think I’d be able to deal with it.

    My hat’s off to everyone who’s doing it. You’re better women than I could ever hope to be. I don’t deal well with willful stupidity and asinine, idiotic laws, and I would have no problem telling those nosy *itches exactly what they could do with their wandering eyes and over-long noses!

    Keep doing what you’re doing, Kristen. Their opinions don’t matter.

  58. When I was a younger woman with young children, my aunt once said to me, “I try never to let guilt be a motivator.” I have never forgotten that line and it saved me a lot of angst while I was raising my kids. To be able to ask myself if I was truly blowing it, or if I was simply allowing guilt to be a motivator changed my perspective many times. I learned that feelings of guilt, like feelings about anything, are a choice I could make to indulge in, or not. Mostly, I chose not to. The temptation and the pressure is always there, though.

    As you said, the judgment of society is harsh and mean, toward mothers especially. And the expectations of parents to provide their little darlings with everything is strong. But now we’re seeing the results of that kind of parenting—lazy, entitled kids who expect everything to be handed to them and are virtually unemployable because they haven’t a clue how to work.

    I’m happy to say that my children have grown up to be productive and happy members of society, I suspect mainly because I didn’t buy into the current nonsense. Parenting is a tough job and if you can get it done in yoga pants with your hair in a scrunchy, you’re doing pretty well.

  59. Well, it’s not much better here on the childless side. It’s still the woman who gets grilled as to why they aren’t having children (as though the man has nothing to do with it), and the woman who gets given the sideways looks if the house isn’t clean and orderly (as though the man is just a paying guest).
    I am fortunate to have a husband who pulls his weight, despite his ill health. I’m also trying out the FlyLady thing (my minister recommended it when I was really not coping at all) which seems to be helping. It’s encouraging, it’s do-able, and it doesn’t give a d*mn about keeping up with the Joneses.
    And I wouldn’t worry too much about Spawn not playing with kids his own age. The idea that people need to be segregated into age-groups is a fairly modern one, and not necessarily a good one. After all, he’s not going to learn maturity from his peers, is he? And he seems to be having a good time hanging out with your inner child 🙂

  60. Does it ever end? Wait till you get to the shame grandma phase. I definitely relate to all this. I could write a book in this comment. I love your humor, Kristen, but your points are well taken. If we lived closer, I’d have the Spawn come play with the grandkids. Spawn looks like he could be grandson’s older brother.

    If we’re not going anywhere, I let them wear whatever they want. Shirt inside out, fine with me. Pants on backwards, I giggle to myself. I love the Spawn’s outfit for church that Shawn picked out. Thanks for the laughs!

    By the way, size 10 is normal. Stop picking on yourself. You look great! Be good to yourself. You’re an awesome mom.

  61. 17 years I’ve been a stay at home Dad. It’s only now with the last one only a couple of years off high school, that check out tellers have stopped asking me if my wife is having the day off.
    The helicopter parent thing is way more serious – I met the Meitivs through your course, and watching the agonies they’ve been going through because one of their “caring” neighbours keeps calling the police every time they see the kids outside is insane. My girls cycle to school a lot of the time, and we have bears out here, folks. BEARS!
    I’m proud of my girls, and I’m happy with the way we’ve raised them. Anyone thinks different, they’re welcome to their opinion, I just don’t wanna hear it.

  62. Reblogged this on Christine J. W. Chu.

  63. Wow! Such great insight into the parenting world! I got married almost a year ago now and my husband and I decided that to take a baby step towards the responsibilities of parenting, we would get a dog. In the six months that we’ve had her, we’ve paid for the heartache and wallet-ache of a $4,000+ surgery, taken her to as many classes as we could to get her to be more social with other dogs (spoiler: it didn’t work), installed doggie doors, cleaned pee-soaked carpets, and have thrown her muddy butt into the tub many, many times. She makes sure we wake up every morning at 5:30 to let her out, even though my husband and I are not morning people. (Remember those doggie doors?? She doesn’t seem to!) Anyway, it’s been quite a year with figuring out how actual parenting would be. Congratulations for braving the world of judgement on parents- moms in particular. You’re carving a path that many of us will some day go down!

    • SAO on April 25, 2015 at 3:09 am
    • Reply

    My observation is that the judgement lessens when your kids get older. Maybe it’s the random chance thing. Some kids in Middle School got kicked out for smoking pot in the boy’s bathroom. One was a kid with good grades who was always helping others. If a kid dropped his books in the hall, this kid would pick them up for him. I figure that these kids had little experience with pot, otherwise they’d have known there’s a tell-tale smell and a gazillion people going down the halls and in the bathrooms. However, this great kid disconnected his brain and landed in a huge, boiling vat of crap.

    I have a husband who can relax in the living room/dining room while a huge pile of dishes are left on the DR table. I take a look, figure out who is going to be doing them all if I don’t take action and announce that everyone needs to work until the dishwasher is full. This works pretty well as it’s not that much work and there’s a clear end to it and everyone works. If there’s still a mess in the kitchen the next day, I say everyone has to do a counter and the first one to start gets to pick the counter. This gets my procrastinating son to hop up *fast*.

  64. This shaming business is bat-shit crazy! My heart goes out to all of y’all who are parents. If something I say helps someone end up less stressed, less shamed and feeling better in general than I’ll be thrilled.

    I had an abusive husband, worked a full-time job, cooked, homework, after school activities-doing the Super Mom thing as much as I could. The only me time was lunch when I’d read or write. If I was lucky I’d have the chance to write after the nightly news when I finally got to sit down. When the boys were older it was a little better in some ways.

    The constant stress from all sides (including my family) and being in survival mode helped lead me to where I am today with a number of chronic illnesses. I lost my job in 2001 because of the fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue. Choose what is most important to you and focus on those things. There’s no way you can do it all or do it perfectly anyway.

    When I was dealing with massive amounts of guilt my best friend told me to remember The Serenity Prayer. It really has helped.

    As for people who are offering their unasked for opinions consider this: Is this person someone I love and respect what they have to say? If not, they don’t matter. This particular lesson is one I’m still learning. My best friend learned counseling techniques from her husband, who is a counselor and they both have been working with me on boundary setting skills. It was a necessary life skill I never learned. Again, I’m getting better, but I’m still learning.

    You have a right to say no and not feel guilty. Yeah, this took a loooong time for me to be able to do. Wearing yourself out by spreading yourself thin as tissue paper isn’t going to do you or anyone else any good. Guilt and shame are so destructive. Life is short. Drop the guilt you put on yourself. Take that load and dump it into the abyss where there’s a monster at the bottom who eagerly gobbles it up.

    Love yourself and the wonderful, creative human being you are. Being your child’s BFF is a most wonderful gift. Be grateful for the blessings both great and small.

    Hugs and love to all of you!
    Tambra Nicole

  65. Dang it! I forgot to add this. The words to this song fit the topic. Hope it brings a smile to your face. It’s called Biscuits by Kacey Musgraves

  66. Definitely feel your pain Kristin. I live w/a hubby and son who LOVE to be at home, and relax. They aren’t introverts in that they don’t like other people, they do. But none of us really want to be busy all the time. There’s this constant “keeping up” feeling like, my kid needs to join some team. Or go to every community event. Or be in something after school every day. Or spend every day over the summer going to enrichment camps. Living in a small town, it’s like this one big giant clique. Honestly, kid hates sports. Loves to read. Play Minecraft w/friends here or on the phone. And when he’s outside? he doesn’t need a camp to play in the river and catch tadpoles or learn his plants and mushrooms in the woods, or plant a garden. We can do that here at home in our backyard. I force myself to squash the guilt. It comes back. I squash it again. Never-ending battle. I don’t however subscribe to debate on the free-range parenting. I think in many cases, “some” parenting and oversight is a good thing as my 10 year old WOULD walk in front of cars if left on his own….I read and keep up on it but think the divide is getting to be too much. Just because I don’t let my child walk to school doesn’t mean I’m “helicopter” and the media is kind of making it either one or the other–there’s a HUGE gray area on this topic….

  67. I was going to try to say something great and involved, but you already have a lot of those for this post. Yes, it’s a great post!

    I have to say, my kids grew up without all those activities and with all the electronic experience and they are great adults. Fairygirl is going to college to be a teacher, Oldest boy is a great father and works hard for his family, and bugbear is doing great as this is his first year on his own he has to adjust to adulthood…

    Just remember, “This, too, shall pass” and don’t worry about the size of your pants. You should worry more about the size of the “size 0” girls heart! I think that’s where they lose their weight at! Just a thought…

  68. Reblogged this on Cholontics Writerly Musings and commented:
    This is something we need to think long and hard about as people, not just as parents!

  69. I haven’t really experienced the full-on shaming, but the guilt. Oh the guilt. Like the fact that my nearly 8-month old wants to walk. Forget crawling. If I put him on his stomach he rolls over and wants help to stand up to walk. But crawling is good for the spinal development! I feel guilty that he’s not doing it, but he won’t.

  70. Whew! You really hit a nerve with this post, Kristen! Two comments that I appreciated are from jml248 and kford2007. Jml248 and other readers: as parents, we have the power to stand up and say, “Enough ridiculosity!” Some parents are beginning to do just that. And so the pendulum begins to swing back to the center balance. As a teacher, I’ve seen the over-scheduling and over-protectiveness go from a rare occurrence to a manic obsession, and the entire family suffers when this happens. What kford2007 said is so true; now that my kids are out of the house, I can relax. Life is good. I’m sitting here right now, with chipped nail polish. (EGAD!) Don’t worry folks, I’ll do my nails before the birthday party I’m going to attend this afternoon. I’m reading Kristen’s blog instead of cleaning. (HOLY MOLY!) And guess what else? I’m going to have another cup of coffee before I start my writing work. Which I love, so it isn’t really work, it’s play. I might even skip yoga today! (YIKES!) While I’m writing, I’ll probably look out the window and see my next door neighbors’ three kids climbing the tree and hitting their baseball into our yard. Do you know what’s the best thing of all? I wouldn’t have it any other way. My mantra is be happy and enjoy life. Don’t stress yourself out trying to live up to someone else’s expectations. I figure if I don’t stress over things, I might have more years of life to enjoy!

    1. You REBEL, YOU!

  71. Amen to the third! I read this as I was trying to clean my house as my children played “dress-up” from the dirty laundry, then “helped” me by mixing up all the dirty/clean laundry, unfolding the clean laundry, and folding it all “better” for me. ARGH!!!! I try so, so hard to give them all the love, educational extras, and time that I can, but dang…you can never get it all done. Ever. At the end of the day, I’d rather have a house explosion and sane kids, but there are days I clench my fists at the sky, screaming, “I WANT A NANNY AND A MAID AND MILLIONS OF DOLLARS!” And a sister-wife. Can I just have an extra wife to do laundry and grocery shopping? Without the weird sex stuff and bad hair? But even, it still wouldn’t get done. Thanks for voicing what’s going on in every mom’s head. All the time. Every day.

  72. Really enjoyed this post. I have seven children, the oldest 24, the youngest 4. I’m no longer afraid to tell other moms my boys (we have five sons) play with sticks in the backyard for entertainment. I guess that’s a perk for being a mom in my forties. Younger moms never question me on this, some even think I’m building my children’s imaginations. Years ago we pulled out of the rat race and decided to raise our kids with faith, family, and farming in mind. Knowing what to focus on has helped me let the rest go without guilt or shame.

  73. Reblogged this on Sharon Lee Hughson's World and commented:
    I’m so thankful that I had a wonderful husband to balance my negative attitude toward myself when I went through this “phase” of child-rearing.
    Guilt is NOT a good motivator. Making someone feel ashamed is counter-productive (because it generally makes them want to give up rather than do better).
    Thanks, Kristen, for once again telling it like it is. And, no, 0 is NOT a size (and don’t even get me started about 00).

  74. I was a single mom when my son was a kid. Whenever it was nice enough to be outside, I let him go with strict rules on where he could be and couldn’t be. If he didn’t follow the rules, he was grounded inside. Because I was raising him to love being outside, he hated the grounding routine so he usually stayed with the rules. To me, this is good parenting. My son learned that there are always rules to follow and bad consequences if they aren’t followed. That sounds like what society is all about to me. I did have fun with my kid too. Much of it was planned though because I had to work outside the home to pay the bills. Still, it did happen on a regular basis until his teenage years.

  75. Heartfelt and well spoken – you echoed the cries of women and mothers everywhere. My kids are adults but guess what – I still feel guilty for being a bad mom, for every single mistake I ever made as a parent. And Lord help any mother who has an under-achieving child or a child with mental health issues or a child who can’t seem to get their life together as an adult. Kids (before and after adulthood) – make horrible decisions at times that may haunt them (and their parents) for the rest of their lives, and not because of how they were brought up. But we are quick to judge the parents without knowing all the facts, and we are quick to judge OURSELVES for the wrong decisions our children make.

    We raised two beautiful, vibrant, loving children, but their personalities, work ethics, passions, and ways in which they think and reason are completely different. Night and day. But both raised in the same house with the same parents.

    Thank you for writing this post and for all of the comments it inspired.

    1. I feel the same way, Sue. Right on. And God help the parents of adult children who blame them for all their problems in life. Double whammy when it comes to the shaming game. 🙁

      1. Yes! Totally agree.

  76. I totally agree….. EXCEPT…I feel like the current trend is swinging back the other direction, where we’re starting to shame moms who do have their crap together. It almost feels like the only way we can validate how frazzled we feel is by mocking the “too good/too in shape” moms.

    Before I go any further, let me explain: I am not one of those “has-her-crap-together” moms. Proof in point? This morning my four year old got so tired of waiting for me to make breakfast that he filled up on frozen chicken nuggets, straight out of the bag.

    Obviously, I am not one of the moms I am defending. I’d also like to say: I am not saying this about you specifically or even this post, but just musing out loud about a trend I’m seeing.

    What I am seeing an increase in jokes and memes and snickering done at the expense of those moms who are the rockstars of the mom world, especially on FB. I think shaming them for how hard they’re working is just as bad as pointing a finger at me for my frozen-chicken-nuggets-for-breakfast Mom abilities.

    Now I’m not guiltless – I’ve made plenty of jokes about the size 0, uber-scheduling moms…. but you know, I’ve never once heard them make fun of me, at least not out loud. I’ve also never seen a meme with 6 million views where I am the butt of their joke… but I have seen it the other way around. I think there’s got to be a middle ground where we’re not rolling our eyes at each other for the way we try to parent, you know?

    1. True, but no one calls CPS on them. I don’t follow Mommy blogs and kinda live in my own world, but I get this probably does happen. That is unfair. But we live in a world that makes them the standard. Sort of like I can’t find clothes to wear because if I am not a size 2 then I must need the PLUS section. That middle of the road is vanishing in MANY things. What happened to the SIZE 8-10? She is NOWHERE to be found. Not magazines or movies or fashion. Same with age or lifestyle. It all seems to be one end of the spectrum or the other and the middle folk get lost.

    • janetwellington on April 25, 2015 at 12:30 pm
    • Reply

    I don’t have kids, but I have to say thanks for sharing your soul here! I started reading this post and couldn’t stop. Sure, I’ve observed what you’re writing about and have had young mothers hint at this much more complicated world they are parenting in, but your insight and the way you have articulated your feelings and the facts is spot on….and your honesty is refreshing! Thank you.

  77. I would have to conclude that the Spawn is indeed trendsetter – clearly a trait he picked up from his father. 🙂

  78. I definitely have been parent shamed I am guilty of having pets which of course means my house cannot possibly be clean, I work which of course means I neglect my child, I am overweight which is actually the result of three slipped discs and two spinal surgeries but hey I look oka so it must just be over eating, as I actually said on my heart to heart vlog I posted yesterday even my skeleton will not be a size zero my actual hip bones will not go below a size 12 unless I win the lotto and have the bones shaved. I am probably also my little boys best friend, I don’t let him play on the same unsuitable games as his school friends do and it makes him different along with the fact he has had speech issues but the most important thing I have taught him is it is okay to be different, like what you like not what you are told you must like and love life.

  79. I hear ya, sister. I showed parts of this post to my husband, too. (I usually have to be at church before him and the kids. “He let them out of the house in that?!!” crosses my mind frequently, followed by “at least they are on time! Yay!”) We chose to live in a tiny mobile home in the country rather than a big house in town so our kids could go outside and PLAY and use their imaginations and we didn’t have to protect them from the bogeyman (or “Good Samaritans”) every time they stepped outside. And my kids learn all kinds of things from Dora the Explorer and Sonic the Hedgehog, because they instruct AND entertain so I can work for a few minutes in a row. And I often feel like a bad mother. I own that our lives aren’t perfect. I guess I need to realize that this is actually normal so the guilt can stop. Thanks for posting this, Kristen!

  80. Kristen, I love you. Now that I am a mom, one you also did some wondering of her own prebaby, I am realizing everything I thought I knew about parenting and life after baby was wrong. Thank you for sharing this! And btw, you look great! Hair and all 🙂

  81. I’m pregnant with my first child and I already feel the pressure of all of this. I thought it was just the good ol’ Catholic guilt, but looks like I have some extra mom guilt headed my way. I try to just relax and tell myself that yes it is okay to choose reading a book over doing the dishes. It helps having a husband who fully supports those types of decisions. Oh ,and when growing up my father was just about as good dressing us. My mom freaked when I ended up in public in sweatpants that had been mended with duct tape. He saw nothing wrong with the solutions 🙂

  82. Parent shaming is so damaging. We are all in the beautiful struggle to raise little humans together. instead of judgment and ridicule, we should be each others tribe. I’ve been both a home mom and a work outside the home mom and I’ve seen the judgment from both sides. people don’t realize that it’s just their own insecurity showing.

    great post!

  83. I was a house husband who worked part time in the evenings after my wife got home from work. Mom made sure that they were dressed properly and given their breakfasts in the morning, and I took care of the rest. I didn’t feel all that much pressure to have a model home and yard, but kept things as orderly as it was reasonable to do so. I quickly realized that looking after kids was just a process of disaster management, that the most ugly and offensive mess was the first thing requiring my attention. There were lots of other messes, and I planned to get to them, but I knew that there was an endless string of them in the future just waiting to happen.

    We had two kids, and while the first year of my second child’s life was fairly insane (my eldest was two when her brother was born), the benefits down the line were immense. They were each others’ companion and playmate until my daughter got old enough to discover that her brother was an offensive dweeb.

    I read some advice written by a parent that gave me a lot of comfort. They quoted some research that said that children grow up to be well adjusted, relatively happy adults when they knew that they were loved. Discipline could be faulty, the home environment could be a disaster, etc., but if they were given consistent, loving guidance and knew that there was someone who was always there for them, they turned out all right. And that’s the real goal of parenting.

    I occasionally taught kids’ art classes and encountered some very driven parents who were anxious and ambitious about their child’s performance. Their daughter could be five, and they expected her to produce something that they could frame and put on a wall. I would show them a lovely and imaginative painting, and they would say, “What’s that supposed to be?” I felt really sorry for those kids.

  84. I kept it relatively together until the third one came. Now, instead of ‘let’s make our own baby food out of organic kale and brown rice’, it’s more like, ‘supper is gatorade, french fries, and anything the dogs didn’t already eat off the floor.’ Best babysitters in our house: giant pile of haybales, hill to roll down, tween obsession with reading, and the river. “Be back by supper kids – and remember, pointy-tailed snake: good, round-tailed snake: bad.”

  85. What a heartfelt post–loved the ‘dialogue’ between you and that SuperMom across the street.

    So much to touch on, Kristen. Something tells me that my alter-ego, who started an all-things parenting blog, might be referencing/linking this post at some point.

    My kids are now 18 and 16. So far, I’m pretty happy with the way they seem to be turning out, but not b/c I patted myself on the back every day for being a Premium Parent.

    Society sets up all kinds of impossible expectations. We wind up feeling ‘less than’ and guilty. As a very Jewish-looking, first-born, first generation American and only daughter of Italian immigrants, I was built for guilt. I know counselors who help me deal with it. 😉 ).

    Our kids have no attention span (i.e., bore easily) b/c we set them up for it. We feed them every toy on the planet from the second they’re released from the umbilical cord. Laura Ingalls had ONE doll her entire life. Bet you she learned to play with it.

    Guess I’m lucky my yard was fenced in. One frigid MLK weekend, I was kid-fried by the Monday of that long weekend. (Kids were probably 5 and 3, or close to it.) I bundled them up and tossed them into the yard. I could hear them from the kitchen windows, where I washed dishes. They got 45 minutes of air, and I got peace.

    Carry on, Momma. You’re doing great. Don’t let society shame you into thinking any different.

  86. Just catching up on blogs. Hear ye, hear ye. I am with you all the way on this one. My kids are older now, but it wasn’t that different 10 years ago. We have tons of kid sin the neighborhood but I if I sent my kids to a neighbor’s house to knock on the door and see if Tommy could come out and play, they inevitably came home a few minutes later… because Tommy was at piano/karate/enrichment-activity-du-jour. My kids are teenagers now and spend what I think is way too much time playing computer games, BUT they also hang out with friends and bike downtown for lunch.

    The one thing I haven’t yet mastered is residual guilt over feeding them (or not feeding them). When I’m not around to cook, God only knows the crap they eat. I know they’ll live, but I still like to try to get something halfway decent into them half the time.

    Thanks for keeping the flame of sane parenting burning!

  87. Reblogged this on diary of a bewildered mother and commented:
    I feel like I could have written this same post, and I’ll bet some of my readers will feel the same way. My children don’t have neighborhood friends available to play with them, either! We have to schedule a play date a month in advance!

    One thing that has helped me to get over the perfectionist tendencies (at least as far as being a housewife) is visiting other families’ homes. The most well-adjusted kids I knew in North Carolina lived in houses that were messy, with moms who cared more about their children exploring and creating than about scheduling rigorous activities and having magazine-worthy homes. Now, I leave the scribbles on the wall, and I hope I can encourage other moms to be content with progress (baby steps), not perfection.

  88. My eldest spawn just turned 21. I raised him making all the “mistakes” you listed. I felt the pressure and the guilt, but then said screw it and raised him from my heart. I now have proof that creative parenting can produce awesome kids.

    I’ve been planning to share my bad parenting tips…I think now is the time. I am now old and can say, been there, survived that, and no one died from mismatched clothes or a cupcake.

    *When insanity strikes you, please remind yourself- NEVER trust perfection. It’s better to wear your crazy on your sleeve than to beat the hell out of it with a stick and try to keep it in the closet.

    • Elizabeth on April 27, 2015 at 9:19 pm
    • Reply

    I have two families. My oldest son is 33, and the other two are 14 and 16. (Hint: Don’t re-enlist). I have learned so much from all of them. My path has given me understanding of many situations.

    Anyway, you might get a laugh out of this.

  89. I have five kids, so I learned to not give a crap about three kids ago. The mom-shaming thing isn’t new. I remember being overwhelmed with it back in 2002 when I was pregnant with my 3rd child while #2 had colic and reflux, keeping me up all night so that I was too tired to deal with my two-year-old. A few years after that I realized how stressed I was making myself and decided to trust my parenting instincts and the way my parents raised us.

    Luckily we live in a very “free-range” friendly part of the country now. Kids are outside all of the time here, and no one thinks it’s odd or concerning. I kept trying to get my almost five-year-old to go play in the front yard (he likes to roll his cars down our steep driveway, but won’t do it unless someone sits with him). My other kids (14, 13, 12, and 9) have an all access pass to the neighborhood, and the town beyond for the older three. The moms that helicopter are seen as kind of weird; I’m in the normal mom camp. I don’t always know where my kids are at because they are off playing with friends. They’re around somewhere and will be back when it gets dark (best part about summer is that it doesn’t get dark until 9pm) or they get hungry. They need water? There’s a hose outside. Need to pee? There’s a bush. Okay, not really on the last one, but the park has a bathroom.

    I don’t really have any tips. I guess it helped that I stopped reading parenting magazines and visiting parenting sites. I don’t interact with a lot of parents offline because they work, and I don’t–we live in different worlds. Also finding Lenore Skenazy helped a lot: Free-Range Kids

  90. Kristen, it seems to me you’ve earned a rest after these exhausting few months. I hope you’re finding ways to relax and allow yourself some space in the wake of it all.

    Forcing yourself back into a groove before you’re ready is cruel, though not unusual. Three words: Do, The, Minimum. Sending loads of compassion your way.

  91. Thirteen years ago, we adopted an 8 week old baby boy. Our only other child was 12 at the time, and I had FINALLY figured out how to have a house that was half way presentable to the House Beautiful contingent. Part of that was due to home visits by the social workers who held our lives in their hands. Then they finally agreed to give us this precious baby boy and all my housework went to hell in about 24 hours. I hadn’t had a baby in the house for years so all the caretaking took its toll. Now, this darling child is a different race than we are and there is a whole set of shaming issues in THAT sphere. Could we teach him HIS cultural traditions? (Um, my son, my traditions) They gave us a stack of papers to read when they handed me this kid I’d prayed for for 10 years, and at every check up visit, they would say “Did you read them?” Sorry, no. Kid in middle school, baby, husband doesn’t get home from work until 7. After what should have been our last home visit right before Christmas, we got a letter saying they were extending things because we “didn’t understand the seriousness of raising a child of another race (the kid couldn’t walk yet, what should we have done? Enroll him in Black History classes in college??) AND I had admitted that my housework had suffered! The letter mentioned THAT specifically. We were in torment until after the first of the year to figure out what they were going to do. It was horrifying and professionally parent-shaming! Let me say, my son is a great kid who loves Doctor Who and video games and our dog, Molly. Take that, social workers!

    1. Whew! What a relief when I got to the bottom of your comment. I thought you were going to say they took the baby away from you. I’m sorry you had to endure all that. Nice to hear he’s a great kid and still yours!

      1. When we got the letter, there was no threat of taking him away, but my husband saw that. We spent part of our Christmas holidays figuring out escape routes to Canada (maybe that was just me.)

        1. I would have been too! OMG! Happy it all ended well.

        2. Good thing your hubby saw that in the letter. How cruel to scare parents like that. I can’t even imagine the toll it took on you.

    • M. Barrett on January 16, 2019 at 6:23 am
    • Reply

    I am a mom of 2 boys. Married for 10. Together for 21 years. I also volunteer at our local cub scouts pack, there for 6 years. I felt like all the new parents, mostly moms, wonder why I am there. What are my intentions? I am there for the scouts, not for a future husband. I get a vibe from the moms, they will sit in the back, never come & talk to me. I have never been a confident woman. I go to camp-ins, all events and even car pool other scouts. I can handle the other moms because they don’t know me. But when my husband, questioned me, because I didn’t take all 3 scouts, this last meeting. Really makes me rethink about continuing scouts. We have been working on pinewood cars, the last 3 meetings. My 3 scouts are done & didn’t want them to run around chruch. While I try to help other scouts with their cars.

  1. […] And not so much a writing post, but this one from Kristen Lamb was good. On Parent & Mom-Shaming. […]

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