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It is a phenomenon that has been around for ages. So many parents have had to deal with the pressures of raising children while battling the effects of negative criticism. And these days the Internet, with its ease of use, has made parent shaming even worse. Today not only do we see celebrities getting parent shamed, even non-parents fall victim to this type of bullying. And moms aren’t the only ones experiencing this, even dads have fallen prey. Because for parent-shamers everyone is fair game.
How often have we heard people say : “It’s all in the way you discipline your kids” or “Stupid mother!” after seeing a toddler tantrum in public. Parent-shamers are quick to judge, with their ready-made nasty remarks or criticism designed to make the less-than perfect parent feel bad and in turn make herself feel better for being superior.
It is important to note that there are instances when relatives, loved ones, and even well meaning strangers genuinely have the interest and well being of the child and parent in mind. But it is easy for parent-shamers to abuse this premise. They sometimes throw criticism cloaked in a thin veil of concern, justifying the mean comments as them looking after the well being of the child and the parent. But parents, are not stupid, not as stupid as these shamers make them out to be. Parents know in their gut, and in their heart that this person is using them, their mistakes, their misfortunes, their struggles as a way to feel superior and a lot better about themselves and their supposedly “perfect” and “blessed” lives.
Parents should know that it is not about them, it is never about them. Shamers usually feel the need to step on other people, bully, and abuse them because they have issues within themselves, left unresolved. Those nasty words of contempt is bitterness they carry everywhere they go, this is about them not the parents. Why else would anyone carry so much poison and spew so much vitriol?
What’s even worse is that many parent shamers are parents themselves. How often have we heard a parent ask about another child’s sickness, antics, or general misfortune only so she can go on a tirade which basically says she along with her spawns are blessed, perfect, superior, and lucky? While it’s difficult to brush this off, it helps to remember that this treatment is borne out of a parent’s guilt. She too, behind the perfect social media image of her family, feels inept, she too feels as if she’s not doing enough for herself and her kids. So she goes on a look out for a parent whose situation is suppsoedly far worse than hers so she can feel better about this guilt.
This culture of competing with other parents, projecting a perfectly flawless image of ourselves, and making others feel bad about their parenting has got to stop. And it has got to stop now. No parent should lose sleep over a nasty comment, he/she has lost enough sleep when his/her child was born. It’s time to foster acceptance of our flaws, and encouraging each other to ask help without fear of being ridiculed and criticised.
I wrote a piece about The Internet and This Nasty Monster Called Parent Shaming in the August 26, 2017 issue of Manila Bulletin Click here to read the article