• 'I Was Told My Low Milk Supply Was Fake News': 9 Stories of Mom Shaming

    Parenting can sometimes feel like a war. Just ask these moms.
    by Sasha Lim Uy .
  • "We should encourage each other, not judge each other and pull each other down as parents."
    PHOTO BY iStock

    My then-boyfriend and I saw parents at a restaurant once. They sat their toddler in a high chair and plunked an iPad in front of him before enjoying a relatively peaceful, incident-less meal together. “Nice,” we whispered sarcastically, shaking our heads at this seemingly lazy approach to parenting.  My boyfriend, who is now my husband, vowed that we would never resort to such measures when we have our own children.

    Two years later, we became parents ourselves, mentally and emotionally equipped with a checklist: no salt, no sugar, no screen time, no mollycoddling. Our baby is now 10 months old, headstrong (like us) and highly active — he does what he wants. Soon, we were grasping at straws, compromising and compromising. Before his first airplane ride, I found myself downloading Pororo videos to keep him still during the flight.

    It turns out I didn’t need any of those Pororo videos at all: my son fell asleep even before take off and woke up just before we landed, but I came very close to being the parents I judged two years earlier. I tell others not to judge my parenthood, but I did and did and continued to do the exact same thing. In this social media-centric world, making assumptions is easier than compassion.

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    As a parent, I’ve learned (or maybe I’ve been reminded) that there’s a story behind every situation. A toddler eating a lollipop might have just been rewarded for a good pedia day. A baby watching a cartoon on YouTube might have been the result of weary and desperate parents who are merely looking for a quick respite. 

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    Mothers, we’re judged all the time, and with exhaustion and hormones, it can be overwhelming. But admit it: we’re also the worst "judgers." Maybe because we’ve been there and done that, perhaps because our concern for our fellow moms comes across as criticism, but most of us — if not all —have overstepped that boundary at some point.

    Parenting can sometimes feel like a war, and we’re all trying to survive. Just ask these moms.

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    I was once called “pabaya” by someone really close to me

    — Kris, 34, mom of two

    We were talking about my son’s eczema and why it hasn’t gone away. She had a lot of opinions about what I should be doing about it and gave good advice, but also questioned my decisions and called me “pabaya” in the process.  

    I know she was trying to help and probably meant well, but I felt like I was being blamed for my son’s condition. So I felt terrible but chose not to confront her about it. I figured as a mom I’m the chill kind while she’s extremely OC, so it was natural for us to handle the same situation differently. To this day though when I remember that comment I still think “I can’t believe she said that!” and it makes me not want to share stuff with her anymore. 

    Yes, I’m guilty of judging other moms too!

    It’s so easy to have an opinion about parenting now that I have kids of my own. Sometimes I catch myself judging and many times I don’t, especially when I have strong beliefs about certain things, like screen time or discipline or what’s proper or not. I try to keep my mouth shut unless I am asked what I think.

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    My mantra when it comes to judgment

    Keep your thoughts to yourself because a) you don’t know the whole story and b) you don’t owe the world your opinion.

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    I've been judged for bottle-feeding.

    — Trixie, 40, mom of one

    Breastfeeding advocates would tell me, “hindi, meron yan, you have to keep going at it.” They didn’t even ask for the other circumstances or if I had a hard time — they just assumed I didn’t want to breastfeed. Of course, it hurt. It made me feel inadequate.

    I unfollowed a lot of people on social media and just decided one day that I wasn’t going to let anyone else’s comments affect me or how I bring up my child.

    My least proud moment as a mom

    I think, unconsciously, I do judge, but I don’t voice it out. Once you say it, you can’t take it back.

    My mantra when it comes to judgment

    Just don’t [say anything]. Or don’t voice it out. Everyone is doing the best they can, and in the ways, they know how. We should encourage each other, not judge each other and pull each other down as parents.

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    I've been judged for doing sleep training.

    — Crystal, 28, mom of one

     I always get criticized for our inflexibility. My sleep-trained baby, for example, feeds and naps on a sleep schedule, and I remember before one dad even told me that sleep training was baloney — I simply was not trying hard enough to look for the right song to lull my baby to sleep.

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    When I am feeling generous, I tell people the days that we weren’t sleep-trained, everyone in the house was a zombie. People don’t know what it was like before when it took two hours to get our baby to sleep (and sometimes he’d only sleep for 15 minutes!).

    My least proud moment as a mom

    I saw a mom bring what I could only assume was a week-old baby to a crowded mall sale. I was flabbergasted! I don't say it out loud, of course.

    My mantra when it comes to judgment

    Cool it. I don’t know what’s happening in their downtime. Kudos, mom, we’re just doing what we can and what we know.

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    It's usually the older generation who comments on what I decide for my child.

    — Deanne, 28, mom of one

    I'd hear judgy comments when I chose to give formula over breast milk when I decided to sleep train my child when I ask them not to provide him with sweets, or show him videos on Youtube. I don't like confrontation, so I rant to my husband or write about it. Then I let it go because I know my son is flourishing because of our decisions.

    My mantra when it comes to judgment

    You don't know the whole story so just let them do what they do.

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    My number one critic is my mom.

    — Mel, 29, mom of one

    But I never really saw her inputs as judgments. I never appreciated my mom more until I became a mom myself, so I value her inputs very much. But if ever I feel like I am judged, I will absorb it depending on that person's value or closeness in my life. Does s/he know me/my husband/our families/how we grew/our beliefs well? If not, then I'd just consider his/her remarks as background noise. Motherhood/parenthood occupies me too much even to bother! It's a good practice to filter the comments. Sift through the judgments and the concerned advice. 

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    My least proud moment was when I was single

    I used to judge parents for letting their child be glued to YouTube or games while eating (I used to ask why the parents allow it), when their kids had tantrums or where dirty.

    Now that I became a parent myself I understand. Motherhood can make you crazy with all the highs and lows of emotions and physical activity and maybe that single moment that I saw was just a lapse in otherwise healthy and selfless parenthood. I only have one, but I can’t imagine those who have multiple. Now when I see parents with kids, I see them in a different light.

    My mantra when it comes to judgment

    We used to comment on our neighbor all the time. Their baby just wouldn't stop crying. We thought maybe they were not taking care of the baby well enough. When I had my baby, I ate those remarks. My son was also crying most of the time (especially in the newborn phase).

    There are just too many reasons to mention while a baby must be crying despite all the love. Ever since then, our mantra has become don't judge a parent by his/her crying baby.

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    I was judged for not being the right working mom

    — Chinkee, 40, mom of one

    One time, I was at a restaurant covering an event, and a female acquaintance approached me to say hello. She had her baby with her, and I actually admired her for being so calm and serene despite carrying around a fussy infant in a sling at a somewhat cramped and festive venue. She asked how I was and where my daughter (who was just a toddler then) was. I said she was at home, and my acquaintance asked with a smile but raised an eyebrow, “Why?” I replied, “Well, I’m at work.” But then clearly, so was she, and to her, it was completely natural and logical to have her child with her.

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    The incident made me feel inadequate. It made me feel small for a minute, but I quickly got over it. That person’s reaction was on her and has nothing to do with my capabilities in raising and caring for my daughter. I know what works for me and what makes me happy, and that makes me a more effective mother.

    My mantra when it comes to judgment

    Every day is a struggle and mothers should know better than to put another mom down. We’re all just trying our best.

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    I get judged for letting my kids walk barefoot, eat sweets, jump around and explore.

    — Chesca, 29, mom of two

    I’m very dense when it comes to these things. I don’t get affected because at the end of that day it’s about our children and us. No one knows them more than we do.     

    My least proud moment as a mom

    Sometimes I find myself judging kids with many many yayas. My mantra when it comes to judgmentWhen it comes to parenting, to each his own.

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    I was judged for not doing my job as a mom well

    — Maan, 45, mom of four

    Ino was bullied in school. The principal tried to justify the other child’s behavior by saying my child is “more refined” than his classmates. Like it was my duty to raise him to be “manly,” and I wasn’t doing my job.   

    I stuck to my way of parenting — raising my boys to have empathy, to be sensitive to others’ needs, and not to keep their emotions bottled up inside. I don’t care how other people see my style, we each try to bring up our kids the best we can.

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    My least proud moment as a mom

    There are very few instances when I do, and I admit I do it consciously. It’s when I see kids in restaurants glued to their iPads to keep them quiet as mom and dad are on their own phones. That’s no way to spend time with your kids. #SorryNotSorry.

    My mantra when it comes to judgment

    I parent my own way. I do my research about things that can help them develop as better human beings — and I play it by ear. Each child is different, and I react to their cues accordingly. No child is perfect as no parent is perfect, but we always need to do what we feel is best.

    I was judged for not being a super mom

    — Kate, 29, mom of one

    I once had an acquaintance judge me for taking a one-hour meeting a month after giving birth. I also got judged for mix feeding — I was told that low milk supply was “fake news.”

    I was a new mother at that time and felt really inadequate about not being able to breastfeed. But I responded by telling her that it was my doctor who made the call and that I’d rather mix feed than starve my child.

    My mantra when it comes to judgment

    “Kebs!” There are a lot of well-meaning folks out there, and others who are not as well-intentioned, so I’ve learned only to take what’s helpful and filter out the toxic.

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