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I once wrote an article for Mouths of Mums, which was about things that people say to a working mum. It was an honest article; all comments have been directed at me personally.

My hope was that other working mums would read it and either laugh in recognition or perhaps could seek some comfort in the fact that they are not alone.

What I didn’t anticipate was a lot of comments from stay-at-home-mums who came out with guns blazing, keen to compete with the comments, which are directed at them.

The Mummy Wars

I don’t doubt for a minute that those comments are real and frequently bandied around. However the comments led me to think about the “mummy wars” – a phrase coined in the media.

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If you Google “mummy wars” you will be inundated with articles. Authors attacking one another, making judgements, competing with other mothers. There are also posts commiserating with others and showing empathy and understanding.

I like to think that we are moving to a space where mums stop judging and start supporting.

There is no doubt that being a mum is hard. It is a 24 hour a day, 7 day a week gig. The best-made plans can go out the window at the drop of a hat. It is tiring; there are long sleep deprived periods.

Whichever path we choose to travel, there are tough decisions and worries that we are not doing the right thing or the best thing.

Perhaps it is the tiredness and worry that we haven’t quite got it right that leads to scorn and judgement. Or perhaps it is merely a phenomenon promoted in the media. Either way, here are seven topics which, are almost guaranteed to see mums with an opposing view come out and launch an attack:

1) Pregnancy

I for one did not enjoy being pregnant. In fact, apart from the end result of a beautiful baby, there was nothing I enjoyed about it. I felt terrible; I had complications, which made me worried and anxious. I was in pain. I couldn’t eat. I was huge. I was also a little bit scared to voice that for fear of offending someone. When I did complain, there were times I was told I was lucky to be pregnant and obviously hadn’t experienced loss or difficulty conceiving.

With neither of those being true, I have nothing but sympathy for women in that situation. However, my physical pain and worry was still real. I don’t think it is insensitive to talk about how you are feeling.

There isn’t a competition for which is worse, being pregnant and feeling awful or suffering loss or not being able to conceive.

2) Delivery

Another topic which ignites passion and argument.

Why do we need to pass judgement or make unhelpful comments about the birth of children?

We do what we need to do. I am sure we would all love to be able to have a home birth, drug-free in front of the fireplace at home and be up and about the next day with a completely healthy baby. Sometimes that just cannot happen.

A safe delivery is the number one priority. Hearing about problems specific to c-section births or toxicity of drugs used in labour is not helping anyone. Often the birth decision is out of the mother’s control and we just need to keep our eye on the goal.

Instead of judging and scaremongering, we should simply be celebrating a new life.



3) Feeding

Just like delivery, we often have an ideal that we will exclusively breastfeed and then wean to organic home-prepared food.

I am sure nobody anticipates the pain and distress that breastfeeding can cause.

Putting pressure on new mums to do something which is making them cry and fill with dread every two hours is not helping anyone.

Judging mums who feed from bottles or those who feed from jars is commonplace. How often have we heard the “breast is best” phrase? It may well be best in the perfect situation, but is it really best if it takes the mother to a dark, dark place and damages precious bonding time with her baby? I don’t think so.

4) Sleeping

How does your baby sleep? Do you co-sleep? Do they have a routine? How many hours do they sleep in the day? What about at night? How many times are you up? This is an area of hot competition.

I remember when my 2 month old was still waking several times each night (which she did till she was 2) a mum telling me that her son slept all night and it was because I hadn’t established a routine.

Everyone has his or her opinion on how to get baby off to sleep. Don’t lie with them, don’t form dependency on you being there, don’t leave them crying, don’t walk up and down with them…..

All of us sleep-deprived mums are following our own instincts and attempting to do what we think will work for our own families.

5) Vaccination

We have all seen the raging arguments here. There is obviously a lot of passion on this topic.

Perhaps some would argue that this area is slightly different as for once your decision can impact on my family and me. However, there is nothing like expressing an opinion of vaccination to start a huge debate.

6) Television/ screen time

Again, everyone has their own view and their own approach, backed up by what they have researched, what they feel and what works in their family.

I think it would be a dishonest mum who has never used a screen to get a minutes peace.

Unfortunately, there are still many who will judge and will be quick to stand up with unkind comments and supporting research of how we are damaging our children’s development.

7) Working mum or SAHM

My previous article saw the comments start. The reality is that there are tough days for all mums. They are not exclusive to working or SAHMs. Both have positives and both have negatives.

It is hard not to defend our positions, after all we put a lot of time, thought and emotion into decisions, which affect our children’s lives.

Trying to convince others that we have worked through it all and have come to the best decision is understandable.

However, we do not know other mums’ stories nor do we know the reasons behind their choices.

Next time you find yourself judging or questioning another mum’s decision which has no impact on your life, remember that she will be facing her own challenges.

Instead of judgement, let’s offer kindness.

What other controversial topics would start mummy wars? Tell us in the comments below.

  • I feel that platforms like social media and even here on MOM allows people to say anything they like without them having to think about the recipient at all. When you are talking in a group then people temper their reaction because it is a face-to-face situation and they can see instantly what reactions are being had. I have been both SAH and working mum and found both ways difficult but also uplifting. I feel sorry that you have had to endure the backlash.

    Reply

  • People really need to learn to get off their high horse and be more accepting. So, another mum is raising her kids different to yours, it obviously works for her and she’s not hurting you.

    Reply

  • Acceptable behaviour. Parents who always think their kids will never do the wrong thing and/or what they deem acceptable vs others.

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  • I had some awful things said to me about my cesearean after a really traumatic birth. It made it so much harder to process what happened and be ok with myself than it need to be!

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  • Just wanted to say I absolutely agree and sorry you had some comments on your earlier article that may have been a bit rude. That’s never nice to hear.

    Reply

  • I found Baby Led Weaning to be a topic that many mums were very opinionated about, but not nearly as much as whether your baby is breastfed or not.
    Each to their own, let it be.

    Reply

  • For me, any criticism of my mum skills gets my back up. I know I’m not perfect, but I do a pretty good job, so I’m not keen on criticism especially from those who are also not perfect. Stop criticising and start assisting those that are struggling

    Reply

  • I feel these days most mums understand and don’t judge as much.

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  • It’s a pity not all women can support each other and not have to attack others. It says to me they are defensive as they are self doubting.

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  • hilarious that some mums judge other mums, when it is mums who should understand the difficulties of being mums and therefore should definitely not be judging.

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  • We are all too quick to judge others. It’s just human nature. However we all have a choice as to whether to say it out loud or keep it to ourselves. Sometimes it’s better to keep our opinions to ourselves and mind our own business. What works for me, may not work for anyone else. And that’s ok. I think we should all just do parenting our own way with what works for the parents and baby as they grow.

    Reply

  • It’s insane how super judgey mums are. However I have to admit that sometimes you can’t help not too, especially when you really believe in something.

    Reply

  • I agree – screentime, sleeping arrangements (co-sleeping or not) I don’t even want to tell people what I’m doing with my son, because I feel I will be judged. I must admit, before becoming a mum for the first time I thought SAHM wasn’t as hard as it actually is…. and I thought it would be the cruisiest thing out there.. I’m wrong. I love it :) but it was far different to what I had imagined.

    Reply

  • SAHM vs working mum is the worst!

    Reply

  • 100% feeding and screen time. If you say anything that’s along the lines of government recommendations you’re seen as mum shaming. Facts aren’t mum shaming, they’re just facts.

    Reply

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