5 Ways To Respectfully Talk About Different Parenting Views With Family & Friends

Is mom-shaming ever OK?

5 Ways To Respectfully Talk About Different Parenting Views With Family & Friends getty

Mom-shaming is an inherent problem in today's world of parenting.

As a mom and someone who works with parents very closely in my work as a psychologist, I argue that it's vital that we avoid shaming other parents as much as possible.

While we are all human and are going to have judgments and feelings about what others are doing, I believe that it's better not to communicate judgments in a shaming way, particularly towards parents.


And the reason why is simple: We are all doing the best we can with the information we have and the situations we are in.

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I've never worked with a parent who simply didn’t care or wasn’t trying to be the best parent — they all want to give their kids the best life they could.

Additionally, there's already so much pressure on parents in our culture to be perfect and to do everything possible for their kids.

In America, we lack a unified parenting philosophy that we all share and rely on the parenting advice we get from thousands of sources — podcasts, books, friends, family, TV shows, and psychologists and parent coaches.


It's just so overwhelming to have to make so many decisions and do a job that most of us feel is crucial for our kids’ development without truly knowing for sure what the "right" choice is.

Many people don't like the discomfort of not knowing. This leads many to feel like their choices — carefully researched and decided upon — are the "right" ones.

This also often leads to judging others and their choices more negatively, labeling them as the "wrong" things.

As a parent and psychologist, I can tell you that the most important thing you need to do as a parent is to love your child, accept them for who they are, and to try to match your parenting style to their personality.


Parenting is definitely not "one size fits all," and when you cling too closely to a certain parenting style, you miss the opportunity to meet your child’s unique needs.

Not only should you avoid mom-shaming, you also need to avoid holding on too tightly to any parenting ideals — some should be shifted and adjusted in response to your child and their needs.

Here are 5 ideas to respectfully talk about different parenting views with your family and friends.

1. What works for one family won't necessarily work for others.

The idea of "that’s great for you and it’s just not for me" is a good approach to start with when talking about parenting differences with other parents.

If you approach other parents’ decisions from the place that they have the right to make their own choices and that you do, too, it can really help avoid shaming comments.


For example, if a mom is choosing not to breastfeed or choosing to stop, they 100 percent do not need a list of reasons why breastmilk is beneficial. But what they do need is your support as fellow moms.

2. We can all be good moms and not make the same choices.

There really is no such thing as a perfect parent. Everyone is going to make mistakes and make different choices on their parenting journeys. That does not mean that some are "right" and others are "wrong."

You are all good moms, even when your choices don't line up with each other.

3. Remember that you only control so much as parents.

While parenting advice culture gives parents the idea that they can control every element of their child’s personality, that's just not the case.


So much of who your children are and how they approach the world is determined by them — and not by you.

You need to remember that even if there's a child having a meltdown in public, it doesn't mean that parent is doing anything right or wrong.

You can only control so much, and you need to remember this when you witness another parent in a tough spot with their kids.

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4. Moms, we are all in this together.

As parents, a part of our job is to lift each other up. You need to share your wins and failures, so that you can all remember that you're not perfect nor are you alone.

I share openly about my own challenges as a parent with my clients for this exact reason, especially lately, during the pandemic when parenting is on a whole new level.


5. Boundaries can help.

Remember that a lot of advice given to parents is meant to be helpful, not shaming. If anyone is being intentionally shaming, it helps to set boundaries with them around what you're OK with.

You can even firmly state that you're aware that you're doing things differently than they would like, but that you're comfortable with what you're doing and feel that it's the best for your child and family.

You can then kindly change the subject to another topic.


Mom shame is a tough topic to tackle because so much of it comes from a deep desire to help your children have the best lives ever.

Unfortunately, when you approach other parents with judgment, it only hinders all of your growth as parents and for your children.

The best thing you can do is recognize that no one truly has it all together, even parents who seem like they do. You are stronger when you support each other.

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Erica Wollerman is a licensed clinical psychologist who has held a passion for helping people since beginning her career in psychology in 2006. If you would like to read more about her work, check out Thrive Therapy Studio.