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Parenting Coach Gets Major Backlash After Sharing Why She Ate Dinner Alone Instead Of With Her Husband And Kids

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exhausted mom

There's virtually nobody who doesn't struggle to carve out time for self-care. Still, for most moms, it's even harder — not just because of their workload but because of the societal expectations placed on mothers to never, ever stop putting their families first. 

A parenting coach and mom ate dinner alone to take a moment to herself — and got major backlash for it. 

Marcela Collier is a parenting coach whose work centers on helping moms and dads learn skills for "gentle parenting," a method that focuses on developmentally appropriate approaches to discipline and child-rearing.

   

   

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Much of gentle parenting focuses on teaching parents how to manage their own emotional well-being so they can remain calm and focused with their kids, rather than losing their patience and resorting to yelling, for instance. 

Collier recently posted to her Instagram Story about one of the ways she helps herself do this with her young twins — by occasionally eating dinner alone so she can catch her breath. She never expected such a simple thing to stir up so much drama.

Collier explained that eating dinner alone helps her recharge before evening parenting duties, and it made some other moms furious. 

"My twins and my husband are in the other room eating their dinner at the dinner table, and I'm here by myself," Collier said in her video as she ate a salad in silence. 

   

   

"I chose to be alone, not because I don't love them, but because I need to recharge," she continued. "It's the right thing to do. It's about honoring what I need to be the best parent I can be later tonight." 

She ended her video by giving some important reassurance to moms: "It's okay to take up space to meet your own needs." That's, of course, something moms are often forbidden by society to even consider. But it turns out it's other moms enforcing those unfair rules too.

"I got so much backlash in Instagram stories when I posted this," Collier wrote in her TikTok caption. "Not from men, from other women!" She went on to say that the outrage left her feeling shame and anger — at first.

"But then I started feeling a lot of compassion," she wrote, "because if these women can be so hard on other women, that means they are hard on themselves." She then gave moms some much-needed validation. "Momma, your needs matter, and don’t apologize for needing a break from your kids and husband."

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Moms all over social media thanked Collier for her approach to what moms are all too often denied: self-care.

"Thank you for absolving guilt for wanting — no, NEEDING — to take my own space to cultivate healthy relationships with myself and loved ones," one mom wrote. Another pointed out the obvious hypocrisy of the criticism Collier received. "Excuse me," she wrote, "but the male counterparts…take breaks all the time."

Another mom perhaps put it best: "It’s better to recharge than to go off on every one out of pure exhaustion/overwhelm!"

One mom highlighted the detriments presented by doing what Collier did. "How many of these mamas who shamed you have sat at dinner emotionally depleted and transferred that energy to their children?" she mused. "I know I have…"

   

   

And it's not just Collier who benefits from this time away. One mom pointed out the great example Collier and her husband are setting for their kids — one in which they see "a capable father who wants to care for his children and a balanced mother who can meet her own needs when she needs to."

Not every parent's solution is going to work for every family, of course — virtually nothing in life, least of all raising kids, is one-size-fits-all. But the notion that a mom taking 20 minutes to herself to eat in peace is somehow a damaging dereliction of duty is patently absurd. 

Life, to say nothing of parenting, is hard enough without enforcing repressive standards on each other. There's a reason they tell us to put our own proverbial life jackets on first before helping others with theirs, after all. The more of us who start listening to that advice, the better. 

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John Sundholm is a news and entertainment writer who covers pop culture, social justice and human interest topics.