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From the moment you announce you're having a baby, you may feel that people around you have a lot to say about the parenting choices you make. These pieces of unsolicited advice can range from what you should feed your baby to how you should raise him. Some of them are harmless, but most can cause you to question your own parenting style, which you're probably still figuring out.
Social media has made it easier for even absolute strangers to have the audacity to criticize the way you do your job and cast judgment on whether or not you are a good mother.
Don't let the negativity get to you. Here are ways to deal with mom-shaming—with grace:
1. Try not to be defensive.
It's normal to defend yourself when you feel attacked, but it's better to assume that those who comment on your decisions mean well. It's often easier to offer advice when you're on the outside looking in, so just assume that the advice or criticism you receive is given in good faith.
2. Try not to compare yourself to other moms.
If you're always on social media, you could be more prone to feeling envious of how other moms are handling the challenges of motherhood. But remember that what you see online is a curated version of their lives. Just because you hardly see unfiltered and unflattering photos of tired, sleepless moms online doesn't mean they always look polished and fresh in real life.
3. Try to see where they are coming from.
Other moms' comments you hear and read may come from a place of love and concern. Know that moms who have already been through what you're still going through may feel the need to share their experiences in order to help new moms like you.
4. Try to trust your instincts (and those of your fellow caregivers).
It may not always feel as if you're making the right choices, but your mother's instinct will always guide you to the best decisions for your child. You are not alone, of course. You're in this together with your partner, your support group of family and friends, and your child's pedia. Work hand in hand with them, and trust that they also know what's best for your child.
5. Try to filter the information and advice you get.
The challenges you're facing now are different from those that more experienced moms have faced. Although there are similarities, each experience may require a different approach. And just because it's different doesn't mean it's wrong. Whether you decide to breastfeed or mix-feed, use a stroller or a baby sling, stick with old baby bath essentials or try new ones like Baby Dove, it doesn't make your choices wrong—only different.
There are no perfect moms and no perfect choices either, just real ones. Find comfort in the fact that although moms all have a unique way of doing things, all of you want only the best for your children.
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This article was created by Summit StoryLabs in partnership with Baby Dove.