Bullying, by definition, is the use of coercion to abuse or intimidate others. It can be verbal, emotional or physical in nature. It often involves the use of social status to harass or threaten. Often times a bully will criticize a victim’s socially significant markers, and resort to name calling, silent treatment and arguing into submission to gain power.
As women, we’ve come a long way from calling each other hurtful names on the playground. Yet bullying is alive and well among moms today, and it’s never been more apparent than it is in the media. From the infamous Time Magazine article on attachment parenting to the powerful female executives who are now speaking out, a conversation – and a controversy – has been sparked. And it’s forcing us to take a side.
What may have started as women simply sharing their parenting philosophies, has now morphed into mothers judging other mothers, and in some more severe cases, ‘mullying.’ (Mullying is a hot-off-the-press new term – you heard it here first(ish) – used to depict ‘mom bullying.’) It’s happening everywhere.
Mullying is most apparent online, where there are no ‘real’ faces behind our names. Instead we can form groups that support our own beliefs and ban together with those who think just like us. Until (wait for it), someone joins the group who has a slightly different view (what?! NO!), and then that’s it, they must be verbally lashed, ostracized and then swiftly kicked out of the group.
It happens offline too; though it’s slightly less obvious and definitely less courageous. Offline, mullying mostly comes in the form of sh*t talking about other moms behind their backs.
Since I’ve become a mother myself, I’ve become acutely aware of how unfair we are to each other:
You gained too much weight when you were pregnant and you’re not losing it fast enough. You obviously don’t care about yourself.
You didn’t gain enough weight when you were pregnant and now you’ve already lost what you did gain. You obviously don’t care about your baby.
You got an epidural. You had a C-section. You didn’t feel everything you should have during birth.
You went without drugs. You had a home birth. You had your baby in water. You’re crazy.
I’m breastfeeding. I’m practicing extended breastfeeding. I’m breastfeeding in public. You’re a bad mom if you don’t.
I’m pumping. I’m bottle feeding. I’m formula feeding. You’re a weird mom if you don’t.
I’m co-sleeping. I’m baby wearing. I’m not circumcising or vaccinating my child. You’re not doing what’s best for your child if you’re different.
I put my baby in a crib, in their own room. I circumcised my child and I will vaccinate them too. You’re being selfish for not to doing the same.
You went back to work too soon. You’re taking on too much. Your nanny takes care of your children. Your career is more important than them.
You didn’t go back to work at all. What about your dreams and aspirations? They are more important than you.
You put your kid in time-out. You raise your voice. You punish your child. You don’t consider your child’s human rights or emotional well-being.
You let your child do whatever they want. There are no real consequences for their actions. They are asking you for rules. That’s why your kid is a brat.
The list is potentially never-ending.
But have we asked ourselves lately, why do we care so much about what other moms are doing and how they are doing it? Shouldn’t we focus more energy on defining ourselves as a quality parent, rather than passing judgment on how others are running their families?
Given the fact that most of us can agree that parenting is not the easiest job in the industry, shouldn’t we be supporting each other more and evaluating each other less?
I’m not going to say I’ll never judge again. That would be unrealistic … and really, really hard. But I will say I’ll try not to.
So don’t pretend you’re better than me, and I won’t pretend I’m better than you. Neither one is true. We’re all just here trying to do the very best we can. At the end of the day, how can we fault each other for that?