Mom Shaming: When Your Decisions as a Mother Come Under Attack

Receiving judgment, criticism or comments from others about your decisions as a mother can undermine your confidence and create anxiety. We'll tell you more about mom-shaming and how to shield yourself from it.
Mom Shaming: When Your Decisions as a Mother Come Under Attack
Elena Sanz Martín

Written and verified by the psychologist Elena Sanz Martín.

Last update: 11 June, 2023

Do you ever feel that, as a mother, you do everything wrong? In the eyes of others, there’s always something to change or improve. Everyone has a different opinion about your parenting and something to criticize or judge. This can be very wearing and can generate guilt and confusion in women. In fact, this phenomenon is so common that it has been dubbed mom shaming.

Far from being harmless, the tendency to attack or judge mothers can be very damaging, especially for new moms. The natural doubts that every parent experiences are magnified by these comments, and insecurity grows more than ever. That’s why we want to share with you some information about mom shaming and, above all, show you how you can deal with this criticism.

What is mom shaming and how does it manifest itself?

Mom shaming is a term used to refer to the tendency to shame mothers. This practice can be reproduced by people without children who believe that they’d act better in your situation; but also by other fathers and mothers who’ve made different decisions to yours.

According to an article published in the magazine of the International Communication Association called Communication Culture & Critique, there’s a strong tendency among mothers to compete and rival each other for their different parenting ideologies.

This probably sounds very familiar to you, as every mother faces judgments and criticisms about her parenting. From family and friends to acquaintances or even strangers on social media, everyone feels entitled to evaluate your role and give their opinion about your day-to-day life.

And, although this need to shame you as a mother can be reflected in any area, there are some that generate particular controversy.


Do you breastfeed or formula-feed your child? When you started complementary feeding, did you offer purees or did you opt for methods such as baby-led weaning? Does your child eat everything or do you follow some kind of diet based on vegan or organic products?

When it comes to mom-shaming, it doesn’t matter what your answers to these questions were, because everything is susceptible to criticism. Many mothers are shamed for not breastfeeding their children. However, many others are criticized for being “slaves” to breastfeeding on demand.


Regarding sleep, criticism can begin at birth. The choice between co-sleeping or crib-sleeping already generates a lot of unsolicited opinions and advice.

But you also get criticized for the way you help your baby sleep train, whether you follow traditional methods or the newer, more respectful ones. In some cases, you’ll be labeled as permissive, as spoiling your child, and in others, you’ll be judged as a cruel, cold, or distant mother because of your choices.

Parenting style

What about discipline? This word means different things to different people. No matter how much affection or boundaries you set for your children, there will always be a neighbor, partner, mother-in-law, or friend who’ll think you’re acting inappropriately.

Educational choice

The choice of school, type of education, or extracurricular classes for children can also generate controversy and mom shaming. Proponents of traditional schooling will claim that new pedagogies are a waste of time. In the reverse case, a mom who chooses traditional schooling will be branded as uninvolved or out-of-date in parenting.

Mom shaming

Finally, it’s very likely that people have shamed you for your choice to stay home or go out to work. In the first case, they may judge you as lazy and say that you’re wasting your life. And, in the second case, they’ll say that your children need you and it’s selfish not to be there for them.

All these situations generate feelings of guilt in the mother who’s just trying to do her best. Worst of all, the consequences of these “comments” can be serious in the long run.

What are the consequences of mom shaming?

For some mothers, receiving these judgments and criticisms may just be uncomfortable or unpleasant. But for others, it can completely undermine their confidence in their role. This is especially true if the mother doesn’t have the support of her husband, as this has been found to be one of the protective factors against anxiety. (Dawenan & Shanti, 2022)

So, if you suffer from mom-shaming, it’s common to start to question all your decisions, feel lost and confused about how to proceed, and even experience a block and not know how to continue.

You’re likely to feel anguished because you think you’re doing everything wrong and guilty and full of remorse. And that perceived discrepancy between who you are and the idea of the “perfect mother” can cause strong discomfort (Türe, 2021).

In fact, according to an article published in the Journal of Child and Family Studies, intensive mothering (thinking that everything you do as a mother is crucial and must be just right) decreases satisfaction with life and has negative repercussions on a mother’s mental health.

Therefore, it’s important that you learn to manage these situations so that they don’t affect your well-being or that of your children.

How to deal with mom shaming?

Here are some keys that you can take into account to respond to the judgments and criticisms of others, as well as to protect your emotional health while you exercise your motherhood:

Don’t be afraid to set limits

When someone offers you criticism disguised as advice, remember that you have every right not to accept it and even ask them not to make certain comments or suggestions. If mom-shaming occurs over the Internet, you can ignore the comment, but you can also go a step further and delete or block the user.

In real life, you can overlook the criticism and not make a big deal out of it. But you’re also allowed to set limits and tell that person that their comments hurt you or that you prefer to make your own parenting decisions.

Don’t listen to anyone who’s not an example for you

Before taking into account the opinion of someone else, ask yourself “Is that person in a place I want to get to?” Because we can use the experience of others to learn and improve, but often those who practice mom shaming have a lifestyle or family that’s not at all in line with your principles. So why would you waste brain space on their opinion?

Look for reliable and expert sources

If you have doubts about any aspect of parenting, consult with qualified professionals or look for reliable information in books and other media. It’s this expertly vetted information that can show you which practices are best along with the risks of each option.

Trust yourself and give yourself credit

Lastly, and above all, always remember that you’re doing the best you can, and that’s wonderful. Don’t make the mistake of blaming and criticizing yourself or of being your own worst judge. On the contrary, encourage yourself, recognize your efforts and your achievements, and observe how you’re improving every day.

Also, trust your instinct and your feelings more than the opinions of others. At the end of the day, you’re the one who knows your children and your family’s needs best.

Shield yourself from mom shaming

The truth is that there’ll always be people who’ll make harsh comments and evaluations without taking into account the damage they cause. That’s why it’s important to increase your confidence in yourself and your role as a mother so that those criticisms don’t make a dent in you.

Remember that if you keep yourself informed and make your decisions freely, listen to yourself, and are always willing to learn and improve, you have nothing to fear and nothing to reproach yourself for. You’re doing better than fine.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Abetz, J., & Moore, J. (2018). “Welcome to the mommy wars, ladies”: Making sense of the ideology of combative mothering in mommy blogs. Communication Culture & Critique11(2), 265-281.
  • Dawenan, F. N., & Shanti, P. (2022). The Correlation Between Husbands’ Social Support and Anxiety in Mothers Who Have Experienced Mom-Shaming in Malang City. KnE Social Sciences, 109-124.
  • Doonan, C. (2022). There’s no formula for a good mother: shame and estranged maternal labour. Feminist Theory23(4), 512-538.
  • Rizzo, K. M., Schiffrin, H. H., & Liss, M. (2013). Insight into the parenthood paradox: Mental health outcomes of intensive mothering. Journal of Child and Family Studies22, 614-620.
  • Türe, D. (2021). Mother shaming memories: the role of maternal self-discrepancy on negative emotions and shaming experiences of mothers.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.