Motherhood is the most important job in the world. We all share the same goal – to raise happy, healthy kids. So why are we caught in the ‘mommy wars?’ Let’s end this battle and focus on empowering one another.
The Exclusive Motherhood Club
I don’t know if you realize it, but there’s a special group called the ‘Motherhood Club.’ It’s a very exclusive club, and membership is for life. When we joined, or how, is irrelevant. But once you become a mom, there’s no more powerful role in life.
Regardless of our age, income, educational background or zip code, members of this club share one mutual goal – to raise happy, healthy, competent human beings.
Each of us goes about our role a little differently, and you’ll most likely never find two moms who have the same thoughts on disciplining, daily rituals, values or even nighttime routines.
After all, there’s no cookie-cutter approach to raising a child and the “one-size-fits-all” approach doesn’t work in the ‘Motherhood Club.’ Each of us has to decide what’s best for our family and our kids, and it’s up to the rest of us to honor and support Mom’s choices. This is why I chose to partner with Similac’s® StrongMomsEmpower program. This campaign urges members of the ‘Motherhood Club’ to create a more supportive and less judgmental environment to empower moms.I’m speaking at the StrongMomEmpower Summit in New York City to my favorite audience: a room packed with strong moms (and even a couple of dads!)
Mothers are, by nature, an empathic and nurturing group; but when it comes to differences of opinion in raising children, women can be brutal.
The 2013 National Motherhood Decisions survey shows that 95 percent of moms have felt judged or criticized for their parenting decisions, from whether to go back to work after having their children, to how best to discipline, what sleep methods to use, if they should breastfeed past a certain age, or if they aren’t breastfeeding long enough. It seems everything is “fair game.”
Make no mistake: all the criticism and judgments are disastrous to our mothering.
The survey found that intense judgment causes moms to feel stressed (52 percent), angry (49 percent), insecure (44 percent) and inadequate (38 percent).
Judging lowers mom confidence, boosts stress and reduces our mom effectiveness. It also sends a bad example to our kids. We may tell our kids to “Be nice!” and “Don’t bully,” but the example we set for kids is the example they copy. If moms judge, kids learn that judging is acceptable.
And let’s be clear: Mom-on-mom judging also affects our children.
A full 93 percent of moms notice a positive impact on their kids when they feel supported.
Want to know what makes a good mom? Of course! The answer will vary from mother to mother and family to family, but child development studies find two critical factors make an effective mom. Surprisingly, they both have nothing to do with what we actually say and do with our kids! The critical factors are:
- Managing our own stress and taking care of ourselves. It feeds down to our kids.
- The level of our own self-esteem. Our kids pick up on how we see ourselves.
How can you manage your stress and maintain self-esteem?
First, take time for your passion. Find something you’re good at, and do it! This is a huge confidence builder. You can also do that passion “with” your kids. Teach your daughter how to do yoga with you. Exercise with your son (if that’s what you love to do). Or plop your little one in a stroller and practice for that marathon that you want so much to do with your girlfriend.
Second, surround yourself with good company. Listen only to women whose advice you trust and respect and are part of your inner support circle. Be picky!
Let’s support each other and stop the judging so we can all be strong moms. We need to empower moms to feel good about the decisions they make.
Start Today: Take the Pledge
Enough of the mommy wars, judging, criticizing and bullying. It’s time for a joint ‘Motherhood Cease-Fire’ so we can get to the serious, important business of raising happy, healthy kids with the confidence, inner strength and support all moms need.
The StrongMoms® Empower pledge is a call-to-action to stop the judging and support and empower our fellow moms. Take the pledge here.
Next, stick with the promise you made to yourself and other women in the ‘Motherhood Club.’ Follow these three tips to remain true to your pledge:
1. Tell a woman!
University of California at Santa Cruz found that admitting your goal to a close girlfriend increases a woman’s success of attainment. Why? It’s because we women hate to be seen as hypocrites. Tell your girlfriend about your pledge, and she’ll help you stick to your word.
2. Make it visual.
Seeing your goal helps remind you to stick to it. Put your pledge on your iPad, cell phone or c
omputer screensaver so it pops up as a reminder, or write your pledge on a Post-it and stick it on your bathroom mirror. Visual reminders help you stay true to your intentions.
3. Appoint your child as your reminder.
Trust me; they’ll be honored to be your little helpers.My favorite moment at the StrongMomEmpower Summit in New York City last week: I asked every mom in that room to put down the gauntlet, and show support to other Moms. It was a room full of high fives and Mom-to-Mom hugs. Now to keep the momentum!
If you’re a member of the ‘Motherhood Club,’ give yourself a pat on the back. Then give your fellow moms a high-five. Stay true to your commitment to support and empower moms in the decisions they make.
After all, moms are fueled by the support they get from everybody else, particularly other moms.
And remember that nothing – absolutely nothing – is more important in life than raising good human beings. We’re in the business of it.