“A lot of the choices that I make for my baby, I have to fight for [them],” admits one mom in an emotional new video that explores the way parents shame each other and how to stop it. “So when I see someone doing the opposite, I definitely find myself judging them.”
The video, released Thursday morning, is part of a campaign by formula company Similac, which has been on a mission to #EndMommyWars. Its last video, “The Mother ’Hood,” has been viewed more than 8.2 million times on YouTube since it was released last January.
A whopping 91 percent of moms say they’ve judged another mother, according to a Yahoo Parenting study released in October as part of our similar campaign, #NoShameParenting, which aims to share families’ stories to inspire compassion and change — for moms, dads, any caregiver, and people without children.
In the latest #EndMommyWars video, parents talk about strangers quizzing them about not breastfeeding, or putting their kids in childcare. And then you learn that one mom feeds her kids with formula because she was diagnosed with breast cancer, or her kids were born prematurely and spent weeks in the hospital. Or that the mom who went back to work has no other choice when it comes to paying the bills.
Moms have told Yahoo Parenting that they feel judged on just about everything — pregnancy (47 percent felt shamed about their diet and the amount of weight they gained), how they feed their babies (35 percent), working status (48 percent), and not working (22 percent of working moms said they felt stay-at-home moms have it easier).
“It’s very easy to be judgmental of others, and I think that’s why people are judgmental — because it’s really easy,” admits one mom in the #EndMommyWars video.
So what causes parents to rush to shame other parents? It comes down to one thing: confidence.
“Judgment is typically a result of a lack of confidence,” psychotherapist Andrea Nair told Yahoo Parenting earlier this month. “So people who criticize or examine others usually do it when they’re not 100 percent sure about what they’re doing or if they feel powerless. It’s a bit of a control maneuver to try and feel better about yourself.”
To stop the hurtful cycle, “be aware that you feel judgmental, but don’t act on it,” Nair suggested. “Instead, turn that thought into a question: ‘What can I do to be more confident as a parent about this?’”
And realize many of us are in the same boat: Nearly half of the moms surveyed by Yahoo Parenting say that trying to be a “perfect mom” is stressing them out. Sixty percent admit they judge their parenting skills more harshly than anyone else could.
“I still every day believe that I could do this better,” says a mom in the #EndMommyWars video.
A promising statistic: 63 percent of moms say they are confident in their parenting skills.
The #EndMommyWars video finishes with the mothers coming together to meet each other in person. At first, they admit to looking down on each other. “When I arrived and saw all the moms, [I thought], ‘They’re so pretty, they must not be nice,’” admits one mom, “which is totally ridiculous, but that was something left over from middle school, I think.”
But soon they’re in tears and holding each other’s babies as they learn each one’s personal story. “It doesn’t matter what other people think is right or wrong,” says an emotional mom. “It matters what is right to you.”
In the end, the women felt validated.
“There’s nothing more satisfying to hear from another mom than, ‘You’re a great mom. You’re doing a wonderful job,’” says one of the women. “That’s sometimes all you need to hear.