Sometimes we shame ourselves, but a lot of the time it's other people who shame us. From breastfed to formula fed, working from home or at a 9 to 5 office job, having a clean home or a messy home, your birth plan, how you school your kids, and so much more. Shame comes in all directions and most of us feel like we never do anything right because we are being shamed all the time. But we have to stop this! No one is going to come in and help us with this. We have to be on each other's side. We have to shut this down. We have to stop judging each other. All we have is each other and we have to stop turning against each other. Who is with me?? Let’s do this together.
In This Episode Allie Discusses:
Specific ways we shame one another, especially as women.
The importance of surrounding yourself with people who support you, not tear you down.
What you can do to help fight against shaming.
How powerful “not knowing” can be.
Mentioned in this Episode:
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Mom life. We are surrounded with the message that it’s the tired life. The no-time-for-myself life. The hard life. And while it is hard and full of lots of servitude, the idea that motherhood means a joyless life is something I am passionate about putting a stop to. I’m on a mission to help you stop counting down the minutes till bedtime, at least most days. I want you to stop cleaning up after your kid’s childhood and start being present for it. Start enjoying it. I believe in John 10:10 “that we are called to abundant life” and I know mothers are not excluded from that promise. Join me in conversations about simplicity, minimalism and lots of other good stuff that leads to a life of less for the sake of enjoying more in your motherhood. I’m Allie Casazza and this is The Purpose Show.
Hey, beautiful! Welcome! I'm really glad that you're here! We're going to dive right in to a very important discussion about real women, strong women and mom-shaming.
Sometimes we shame ourselves, but a lot of the time it's other people who shame us. Other people that we love and respect who shame us. This can be a heavy episode, but while focusing on the heavy things, it's also going to be an incredibly lightening episode.
I'm just excited to dive in.
Right before I recorded this, I was sitting at my desk just looking at my notes on the things that I want to cover today and just feeling really honored that I even get to have a platform that I know people listen to, to talk about this on. This is the kind of stuff that just lights me up and makes me feel like everything that it took to build this platform is worth it. If I can shine a light on these things and help bring truth and life to you guys in these areas, then it was all worth it.
I want to discuss the things that are often viewed and treated as failures for women. And I want to point out before I go down this list that I'm going to read to you guys...there's a list that I have here of things that women in my actual audience responded to when I asked them, “What are some things that are a part of your motherhood that you have felt shamed and judged for?” That's all I asked. I didn't give them any other preface to it. I just asked, “Off the top of your head, what are the things in your motherhood that you have felt shamed and judged for,” and they were able to submit their answers.
There wasn't a long space for answers. It was very short. It had to be just really short. I did that on purpose so that they could, “what’s on the top of your head, what's the main point of it” and not give the backstory.
And these responses are incredibly disheartening.
I want to point out the irony of the opposites on this list. Okay? I'm going to read them to you:
Having C-sections. Formula feeding. I get disapproving looks in public and even comments. Mistakes in parenting. Working and not being a stay-at-home mom. Being a stay-at-home mom and not working. Being too young to become a mother when I was 21 and we felt ready. Homeschooling my kids.
Having a clean home. Having a messy home. Extended breastfeeding. Prioritizing our marriage and leaving the kids with a sitter once a week. Not having an out-of-home date night away from the kids because I didn't want to leave them with anyone. Having a home birth. Choosing to be a single mom and not stick it out in an abusive marriage.
Having a large family and overpopulating the earth. My child's meltdowns due to special needs that are not obvious to the casual observer. Co-sleeping with my baby. Losing the baby weight right away without trying. I got so much hate for that.
Being organized and put together. Overscheduling my kids and extra activities. Not having my kids in enough extra activities. Educating myself like crazy and choosing not to vaccinate my kids. Researching a ton and choosing to vaccinate my kids.
Planning to have a natural childbirth but opting for an epidural during labor. I am treated like I was weak.
Feeding my family nonorganic foods. Changing my mind. Having childcare so I can work.
On this one she wrote quote from my mother-in-law: “I don't know why you bother having kids if you're just going to have someone else raise them.”
When these were coming in on my phone, I was reading them live. I left my phone open and let them pour in. For about an hour, I just sat there journaling some thoughts that I had for this episode and some things that I wanted to say, and then I would periodically look at my phone and see what responses had come in.
I got so emotional and just started to cry. My mom was actually over and we talked about it. It just poured out of us. How ridiculous this is. How sad this is.
And the irony of the opposite answers, these opposite responses. Having an outside date night with my husband so we can prioritize our marriage; not having an outside of the house date night away from the kids because I'm not ready to leave them. Homeschooling; sending my kids to school. Like these are opposite - vaccinating; not vaccinating. These are opposite responses.
Some moms feel really judged that their house is clean; some feel judged that their house is messy. “I'm shaming you because your house is clean and it brings out something in me that I feel inadequate about, so I'm going to make you feel bad about it.” “Oh, your house is messy. Why can't you get it together?” You know, it's these opposites? So ironic!
And the fact is what this shows me is that this is ludicrous. We can't win no matter what we do there is someone who is unhappy about our choice. Why do they even care, first of all? And that person lets you know exactly what they think in a very judgmental, shaming way.
I was having a conversation with my friend Kendra, some of you guys know her. She runs motherlikeaboss. We were talking about passive aggressive comments that lead to mom-shaming.
It sounds something like this. Someone asks you something and you answer them and say whatever it is that you and your family do. Like let's say it's not vaccinating, or not feeding your kids every single thing that's organic, whatever it is. And the person will respond with something like, “Wow! I would never do that. But I guess I'm just different.” Something like that. So passive aggressive that it leaves you standing there with your mouth open. Like, “I feel like crap. And what do I even say here?”
There was a study that was done recently that I read about in an article that revealed that most mom-shaming comments come from family members. That is so sad.
And in that same study it showed that 42% of the women who received critical remarks said that it made them feel unsure about their parenting judgment that they'd previously felt really good about after a lot of thought.
So, basically these women are raising people - that's scary in itself. They're doing the best they can. They're thinking it through, probably talking it out with their spouse, researching and they land on a decision: “This feels good to me. For me and my kids, this feels right.” And then they get shamed and judged verbally and it leaves them feeling unsure about a decision they had previously felt really good about.
Here's the thing, those people are not the parents of your kids. I say this all the time and it is worth saying again here: You, sweet mama, you, were chosen out of every single woman who has ever lived in any era of time to be the mother of your child or your children.
It doesn't matter if you have bio kids, if your kids are adopted, if you are a stepmom, it doesn't matter. You were chosen. In some way, shape or form, you were intentionally chosen to be their mom.
It is on you how they're raised. What decisions you make. What kind of food they eat. What kind of school they go to. What kind of stuff you put into their body, vaccine or otherwise. How many siblings they have or don't have. How many babysitters are in their lives or not. How many date nights you and your husband have or not. It's up to you. It is up to you, not them.
So first of all, I just have to say that. Just remember it is on us. And when all is said and done, how our kids turn out - honestly, it's kind of a toss-up. I really am not a fan of when people blame the parents for everything. It's not, you know what I mean? That’s not the case.
Kids are their own people. They're going to grow up with their own brains. They're getting influence from other people in other areas and they're going to do their own thing. They're going to turn into adults. But for now, as we're raising them, it's our responsibility and our choice how their childhood is. How they grow up. The things they eat, see, do, and get signed up for. Where they sleep and how we handle their meltdowns. All of that.
And you know what's really sad is that one. That one that said, “My child's meltdowns that are due to special needs, which are not obvious to the casual observer.” I can just see this poor woman in Target trying to check out and her child having a massive meltdown that just looks like ‘what a brat’ and it's special needs and you can't tell from the outside, not that that should even matter. And strangers leering at her and shooting her looks like ‘get it together’ when she is trying. Even the fact that she's out at Target with her child who she's gone through so much with is a win and people are shooting her down.
We as women have to stop this. We have to stop. No one is going to come in and help us with this. We have to be on each other's side. We have to shut this down. We have to stop judging each other, leering at each other, speaking ill of each other and gossiping about each other. It's poison. All we have is each other and we have to stop turning against each other.
Having said that, I get super emotional about this, obviously. Having said that, I want to go over some things. These are some things I've had come up in conversations with friends, some things that I've learned, you know, by myself and some things that just came to me as I was journaling through this episode while reading these responses from women in my audience to what they felt shamed about.
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I want to go over some things that you can do about this. Unfortunately, it's a real problem. It's probably not going to go away anytime soon unfortunately. So on top of being a part of the change and not being a part of the problem, and cutting gossip straight up out of your life, stop talking about other people no matter what you think they did or didn't do.
Guys, I know it's hard. I know it's hard. I had somebody who is very dear to me and worked for me, steal from me, and we're in the same circle. We’ve got friends in common. I will not speak badly about her and her character. I won't. I can say the facts, say what happened, this is what we did about it, and that relationship is over. It's very sad, but I'm not going to pull the whole defamation of character thing. Even if it's true, it doesn't matter. You've got to draw a line.
It's awkward. I've had to say, “I'm not going to gossip about this.” We've got to do that because the line has to be drawn somewhere. That's an example of someone actually doing something terrible.
When one mom is doing parenthood one way and you don't like it, what gives you the right to shoot her a look, put her down or talk badly about her to somebody else because it's different than what you would do? Who cares? It's her child.
So, first of all, we’ve got to go there and stop that. We've got to stop it.
For the moms who are dealing with this kind of thing, who are feeling this way of feeling these reactions from people in your life about the choices that you're making, here's what we can do about it.
Number one, expect to be judged. A motherhood without judgment is unfortunately highly unlikely. Learn to expect it so that when it does happen, you're not so caught off guard. I'm really sad to even be having to give this point in this podcast episode. But I do think that it's worth saying. Just expect it so it's not so, “I'm shocked by this. I'm shocked that someone's unhappy about this.”
Take it from me. A part of my job is to just inevitably get people's opinions about me - how I look, how I talk. You know, I'm a Christian and sometimes I think there's just no other word to describe things than with a curse word and I don't really care. And that's just how I am. People say things about that all the time. If that's your problem then don't do it. Just don't do it.
Don't tell me how to talk.
Don't tell me that I need to dress different because it's not flattering to my shape.
Don't tell me that I go on too many (I've been told this) I go on too many date nights. What about my kids? First of all, I homeschool them and I work from home. I get plenty of my kids. And that's why we have so many date nights. Not that it's any of your freaking business.
So, I get it. It's part of my job. The con of what I do, who I am, what I've built with this audience, is just getting needless remarks, from people that I will never even meet, about exactly what they think about me and my lifestyle.
So, let me take this lesson that I've learned and give it to you who may not be in the same public situation and say, it doesn't matter what you say or do. You're going to be judged and people are going to be unhappy. So be yourself. Follow your gut. Pray about it. See how you feel. Make your decisions for your kids yourself and expect that you're going to be judged.
I promise you, you're going to feel so much better and you're not going to be so caught off guard. You're not going to be hurt. You're not going to be bothered about it all day. It's not going to ruin your day, or even your hour, because you're going to know ‘we're doing this and I'm going to be judged for it.’
Let's go back to the date night example. Brian and I have talked about this so many times and have landed here. We have a lot of date nights. We have basically a weekly meeting about business and homeschooling because there's a lot going on and we're in charge of a lot of things and we need to go over that together. And then we have a date night every week.
And you know what? Sometimes it's just too much and we just need it and we'll go out again. My brother, he works for us and he watches the kids. He's so good with them and I adore him. He comes over like, “Yeah, okay, I'll come over and watch the kids again.” We get so much flack for that.
And you know what? These people are the people who have other problems. It's not about us, it's about them. Maybe they're feeling guilty that they don't prioritize their marriage or sad that their spouse doesn't want to spend time with them. Whatever it is, whatever it's coming from, it's coming from somewhere negative in them, not negative about us. Who cares?
And I only show parts of how much time we spend alone together. If I actually opened up and showed everything (which I don't even want to do because I don't like even having my phone) then what else would people say? Who cares? Leave us alone. It doesn't matter.
Remove yourself from the situation. Let it go. Do what is going to work for you. You know, these are the same people who would be extremely judgmental if our marriage ended and we got a divorce because we didn't prioritize ourselves enough for what our lifestyle needed. So, no matter what you do, they're not going to be happy with you.
And why are you trying to make them happy anyway? Take it from me. Live your life. Do what feels good to you. Do what feels right for you and your family. Talk to your spouse (if you have one). Decide for yourself (if you're a single mom). Decide what's going to work for you and do it expecting that somebody is going to be unhappy about it and remembering that it doesn't freaking matter.
And when all is said and done, if nothing else, remember that your BFF Allie is getting judged a heck of a lot harder than you are. Maybe that will help you feel a little bit better.
Going back to what do we do about this? I think number two has to be realize that, like I said before, that this so often has nothing to do with you as a mom and everything to do with them as a person. For example, maybe your mom makes a comment only to insert herself in your child's life and your parenting so that she feels more involved. That's about her feeling like she doesn't matter. It's not about you being a bad mother. So remember, almost always comments have nothing to do with you and everything to do with them. And that's a really powerful piece of knowledge to remember when you're struggling with something that somebody has said or the way they looked at you and made you feel.
Next thing is ask yourself if this person is just a know-it-all who's talking just to hear themselves talk and to seem smart about something that they're actually really insecure about, or maybe they're making up for something else in their life that they feel ashamed of. A lot of people bring others down to avoid the shame they feel about themselves.
So again, this goes back to #2. It's about them and not you. It brings it into a new light. It can help to feel sad for somebody who's being mean to you and judging you for something if you see it that way. That basically they're just really insecure. They're feeling shamed by themselves so they are putting that shame out on you instead to make themselves feel better.
Next, I think you need to limit your time with the shamers. If they're in your life, if they’re family - as that study showed that most people who feel shamed from somebody, the shame is coming from family members - set some boundaries. Get away from them. Don't spend time with them. Don't say ‘yes’ to that dinner party if you know you're going to leave feeling dogged for your momming. Don't do that.
Read the book Boundaries. Like now. I'll link to it in shownotes. It's amazing and a classic and a life changer.
Limit your time with them. Set boundaries. Step away. Get away from them. Don't make them a part of your life more than they need to be.
Also find your people and surround yourself with the people in the outlets that lift you up and get you. If you're a single mom, find a single mom’s group to hang out with, breastfeeding groups, formula feeding groups, friends who love and accept you, even if you're doing things differently.
Even podcasts and following certain public figures online who make you feel good, inspired, and encouraged can be super helpful if you don't have an in-person circle.
So basically, what is the venue you're feeling really judged and shamed for? Find people who agree with you.
I never want to be closed-minded and only hanging out with people who agree with me about everything, especially in faith and Christianity, that's a dangerous thing to do because people are very closed-minded. They're very judgmental. Honestly, I say this all the time and I'll say it again, Christians can really suck and they can be really embarrassing. So much so that I often don't even like to label myself that because it's embarrassing. They're full of hate and they just are embarrassing.
And so, you know, find people that agree with you.
You know, again, we don't want to be closed-minded and just only hang out with people who are like us and avoid all conflict, but if you're feeling really shamed about something, go and find somebody who gets you. If you're feeling really bad that breastfeeding didn't work out for you, or you just didn't want to do it, you're formula feeding your baby and you feel super dogged about that, go and find a formula feeding group. Be encouraged there. Make a friend. Let yourself be immersed in people who are doing what you're doing and that'll help you so much.
Also, I think you need to know that some days you're going to have guilt and you're going to struggle with a feeling that you've messed up, with or without the shaming, and that's a normal part of being a parent. So here are some things you can do. Maybe you could jot these down. I purposely left this at the end of the episode so you could easily go back and find it. Jot these things down and work through them when you feel guilty or like you've messed up or you're struggling with guilt and shame in yourself about your parenting.
First, evaluate your feelings. Are they authentic? Is this an authentic thing? I feel really guilty because I yelled at my son when he dropped cereal on the floor. That's authentic. You don't want to do that. That's not the kind of parent you want to be. What can we do about that? Evaluate how you're feeling. Where is it coming from?
Also ask yourself is this fear based? Are you feeling really guilty about formula feeding your baby or breastfeeding your baby because you feel like they're not getting enough nutrients and the doctor told you that they're not. But he seems totally healthy and happy. He’s sleeping great. He's happy and he seems to be doing well. That's fear based.
Are you worried about formula feeding because somebody made you feel really guilty about that and the formula is going to cause cancer? That's fear-based.
Are these things authentic? Are they coming from a place of fear?
What do you feel is right for your family in your gut? That's the next question. What do you feel is right for your family in your gut?
Also, never be afraid of research. Research and see for yourself what you think is right.
And also, guys, it is okay to not know everything. It's okay. You're a mom; you're not God. And you're not meant to know every single thing about every single thing. It's okay that you fed your kids something without realizing fully what was in it. It's okay.
It is okay to not know everything. Give yourself some dang grace. Mothers need the most grace out of everybody and receive the least.
What I hope this episode does for you is that I hope it sets you free. I hope you feel set free. And for all you mamas who responded to what you feel shamed and judged for with C-sections, formula feeding and all those things, please know that I get it. I still get it. I so understand, especially with the C-section thing, and that might be another episode.
I totally get it. And I get judged daily for the way I live my life. So, remember your BFF Allie is getting it way worse than you are and I understand, if nothing else, I understand and we can have camaraderie in that.
Remember that you're amazing. You're doing a fantastic job. You're doing what you feel is right and that's your job. It doesn't matter what anyone else thinks and just remember that you're doing great!
This was an episode of The Purpose Show. Did you know there is an exclusive community created solely for the purpose of continuing discussions surrounding The Purpose Show episodes? And to get you to actually take action and make positive changes on the things that you learn here? Go be a part of it. To join go to facebook.com/groups/purposefulmamas.
Thank you so much for tuning in. If you are ready to uplevel and really take action on the things I talk about on my show, and get step-by-step help from me, head to alliecasazza.com. There are free downloads, courses, classes, and ways to learn more about what the next step might look like for you and to focus on whatever you might need help with in whatever season you are in right now.
I am always rooting for you, friend!
See ya next time!