One in three new mums feels parent-shamed by their own mother-in-law, according to new research.
More than 1000 parents were surveyed as part of research into the trend of parent-shaming in Australia. Almost half felt shamed for their parenting approach, with 20 per cent saying they experience parent shaming every single week.
The survey also found that parent-shaming is causing anxiety, mental health issues and damaging relationships. Huggies, which commissioned the survey, admits to ‘playing a role in depicting unrealistic expectations of parenthood’. So the company has launched the ‘Be Comfortable in Your Skin’ campaign to put an end to parent-shaming.
“In a bid to get people talking about and ultimately ending parent-shaming, Huggies wants to celebrate all parents and empower them to feel comfortable in their parenting abilities and choices. We want to encourage parents to support each other, and above all give parents the credit they deserve,” explained Huggies Head of Marketing Lauren Crawley.
More than three-quarters of the parents surveyed said they believe online forums provide a platform for easy parent-shaming.
“As a mum in the public eye, I am exposed to the realities of parent-shaming, being judged online for the way I parent my girls,” said Huggies ambassador and celebrity mum Snezana Wood. “In an amazing, yet vulnerable stage of life, parent-shaming can so easily make you question your own parenting skills and create doubt within the choices you make for your kids.”
The impact of parent-shaming
The research has also revealed that almost one in ten mums seek professional mental health support after being parent-shamed.
“Parent-shaming is a having a concerning impact on parents with many suffering from mental health issues as a result.” said psychologist Sabina Read. “We see that mums are typically quicker to criticise themselves and take comments to heart, often devastating their confidence as a parent. Sadly, this can even have a knock-on effect on children who feel their parents’ anxieties.”
How to overcome parent-shaming
As part of the campaign, Huggies asked psychologist Sabrina Read to come up with tips on overcoming the current parent-shaming trend.
- Be the change you want to see – choose to be supportive, compassionate and non-judgmental with all parents, including your partner, and yourself … in person, on-line, and with strangers.
- Normalise the highs and lows of parenting – acknowledge that since the dawn of time every parent has struggled, however at their very core, every parent wants the best for his or her children.
- Focus on what’s working well – criticism hurts more than praise feels good so make an effort to celebrate parenting triumphs, no matter how small, rather than shine the light on what hasn’t gone to plan.
- Laugh – laughter feels good because we release endorphins which increases the wellbeing of parents and children; humour is contagious also helps us feel connected and safe.
- Speak up – you can be sure that if you’re feeling self-doubt, unsure, or like you’re navigating parenting without a compass, others are too. Sharing the load can help alleviate stress, garner support and new ideas, or just validate that we aren’t alone.
- Seek help – if the challenges of parenting feel overwhelming or are impacting your mental health, reach out to your GP or a psychologist for assistance and support.
- Share gratitude – express your appreciation to others for the help, love, guidance and small acts of kindness that they have shared in your parenting journey.
- Debunk myths and unhelpful expectations – go in search of a perfect parent, not the airbrushed kind in social feeds, but the real kind! Now keep hunting … because there’s no such things as a perfect parent.
- Be realistic – healthy parenting equates with the small, daily and sometimes seemingly insignificant moments of love, connection, empathy and simply being present, not trips to Disneyland, flamboyant birthday ties, or smiles in social feeds.
- High five your parents – finally now you’re a parent you have some idea of the challenges, joy, sacrifices, confusion, guilt and love your parents have experienced in their parenting journey, so if possible, why not let them know you recognise that!
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