The 9 Types Of Moms In Every Parenting Play Group

Photo: Jacob Lund / Shutterstock
group of mothers with their babies

Every group of women has a mean girl. We’re not talking about her as “aggressive” or as “powerful” either, so step on back the feminist retort. We’re talking full-out, balls-to-the-wall, Heathers-style mean girl, and there’s one in every pack.

Mom groups are no exception.

In fact, between postpartum hormones, pregnancy hormones, kid battles, and all the righteousness of the "Mommy Wars", mom groups have more than their fair share of meanies.

Since you spend so much time at playdates and carpool lines and class trips, you need to identify these moms and keep your distance. Here’s how to tell which kinds are out there — and if you’re dealing with one.

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Here are the 9 types of moms in every parenting playgroup:

1. The political mom

She has a cause. It might be breastfeeding. It might be circumcision, or cry-it-out, or that eat-sleep-play idea. Lots of mamas have causes, and every lactivist doesn’t deserve a place on this list. It’s her tolerance for dissent (or rather, her lack thereof) that makes her a mean girl. Maybe she thinks everyone ought to have a natural childbirth.

But if she grills everyone about their birth experience, tells people that doctors will kill their baby, and disparages anyone who disagrees, she’s a mama with a cause. ***Bonus points if her Facebook name includes a middle name like “Co-Sleeper” “Birth Activist” or “WiccynWomyyn”.

2. The sanctimonious mom

Social media nasties destroy your Facebook feed. These mamas may sanctimommy your parenting articles and start feuds about nipple confusion with your best friend from high school. They fill your newsfeed with picture-perfect snapshots of their stainless brood or spend every status update talking about them.

They spill a good amount of virtual ink virtually judging everyone else, with a dose of cyberbullying thrown in for good measure. A true social media nasty will be involved in constant online drama, be it the local yard sale page or a cloth diaper swap. Remember: if she’s nasty online, she’s just tamping it down in real life.

3. The drama queen mom

She’s always got something going down with someone. Either someone’s kid said something to her kid, or some mom said something to some other mom, or she just feels like starting some drama, then complaining about it to everyone at the playdate. If she’s always in the middle of some mama drama, run the other way. You can safely assume you might be next in line.

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4. The mean mom with a mean daughter mom

Hey, they’ve got to learn it somewhere. Very seldom do sweet, kind, helpful women turn out children who consistently behave like little Regina George's. Watch her daughter. Is she a bullying queen bee? Does she make fun of someone’s shoes? Seem like one of the problem girls in Reviving Ophelia? Manners start at home — and so does meanness. Save your kids some strife and keep out of her way.

5. The kid-comparer mom

Did Johnny learn his alphabet? Because Andrew already learned to read.

The kid-comparer has no confidence in her parenting and very little self-esteem but that doesn’t make her any nicer to be around.

Her kids always have to out-run, out-read, out-smart, and out-trophy yours or she’s worthless as a human being. When every conversation turns back to precious Andrew and his even-more-precious achievements, run. You don’t need to hear that stuff.

6. The gossip mom

Maybe she’s not in the middle of the drama. But she has been the one to tell you all about it and did you hear what so-and-so said about such-and-such? Gossip Girl’s favorite topic of conversation is someone else and she knows no bounds: autism testing and divorce proceedings are a fav.

She may not be in the know, but she knows some things and she wants to know what you know, too. Then she can tell it to all the other mamas. She’s got the biggest mouth in town and be warned: If she isn’t talking to you, she’s talking about you.

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7. The self-centered mom

And not just some of the time: this mama needs playdates planned around her and dietary accommodations provided for her. Her damaged ego needs to be constantly massaged. She doesn’t care about your kids or your life. You’re just someone to orbit her sun.

She never asks about you because she doesn’t care and may not even remember your name. But she needs you there, so expect some pullback when you try to disengage.

8. The queen bee mom

Every mom’s group has cliques. But when the clique’s dominated by one woman who everyone seems to kowtow to, watch out. Does Bethany need to be there to plan a playdate? Do we always need Bethany’s input on cupcakes?

If a group of women might as well have tattooed “What Would Bethany Do” on their foreheads, find some new friends. Because once you get on the wrong side of Bethany, you’re on the wrong side of everyone.

9. The everyone-else-is-ruining-my-child mom

Practically perfect in every way, she’s somehow magically hit on the One and Only True Way to Raise Children. She will nitpick your car seat, poo-poo your school decision, and criticize your diaper brand.

To her, every choice has giant ramifications and if they aren’t identical to the ones she’s chosen, they are automatically invalid and wrong because then she’s automatically invalid and wrong. Everything is black and white, including the moral ramifications of 50 Shades of Grey.

But most of all, watch out for feeling you’re constantly on trial. If you’re worried so-and-so might judge your snack choices, either you have a psychiatric disorder, or she’s a Grade-A Mean Girl. Watch out for feelings of inadequacy, sly side comments (“You brought ... gummy bears?”), and a general sense of dismissal. You don’t need women like that in your life.

You also might need to do some soul-searching. If you’re feuding with the stroller strides, using a middle name that isn’t your own, or watching your daughter take down kids with a single withering glance, you might actually be the one you’re looking for.

But it’s not too late. See the problem, admit the problem, and fix the problem. Realize parenting isn't your entire life. Realize there’s more than one way to parent. And most importantly, realize that’s okay.

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Elizabeth Broadbent is a writer and regular contributor to Scary Mommy. Her work has appeared on Today Show Parents, Babble, xoJane, Mamapedia, and Time Magazine Ideas.