Being a mom is probably the hardest job you'll ever have to do. We all know that moms carry the heaviest load in a household, not only being the go-to parent for kids but also carrying a ridiculously heavy mental load as well. After all, moms are typically the ones who book the doctors appointments and plan the birthday parties and sign the kids up for extracurricular activities on top of their daily duties outside of parenting, which is why it's so important for moms to have their own support network to lean on for help and guidance. Being judged for how you parent sucks no matter who is passing judgment, but a new study is showing that it's moms who are actually super judgy towards other moms.
Research published in the Journal of Family Communication surveyed more than 500 moms and asked about their attitudes, emotions and even harmful behaviors toward mothers who fit one of seven stereotypes of stay-at-home and working mothers. Those stereotypes were:
Overworked: Wants to do it all, but is overextended and it shows
Home, family-oriented: Prioritizes children, partner’s needs and responsibilities at home
Ideal: Juggling several responsibilities, but gets it done and doesn’t appear stressed
Hardworking, balanced: Not an ideal mom, but ambitious, dedicated
Non-traditional: Modern, liberal progressive – makes choices that are good for herself and family, whether at home or work
Traditional: Embodies the roles expected of a woman, believes her main purpose is to raise children and maintain the household
Lazy: Not nurturing, attentive or hardworking – applies only to stay-at-home moms
Kelly Odenweller, lead author and assistant teaching professor of communication studies at Iowa State University and her co-authors found that ideal and lazy mothers drew were the most judged by other mothers, while the overworked stay-at-home mom was up there as well. Odenwellwer was concerned with the findings since mothers often look to their peers for support when needed.
“It’s not unusual for moms to have low self-esteem or feel they’re not living up to the standards of what it means to be a mom,” Odenweller said. “If other moms treat them poorly, even when they’re trying to do a good job, they may feel they can’t turn to other people in their community for support. It can be very isolating and all that self-doubt can lead to anxiety and depression, which can negatively affect the entire family.”
The results weren't all negative. All of the mothers were sympathetic to overworked mothers while working mothers seemed to admire those who fit the ideal stereotype. “Working moms juggle a lot and want more support for all mothers with careers. For them, it may be more of a social statement that women can be great at their careers and being moms,” Odenweller said.
She said that the study has shed light on how women not only perceive themselves but others and that they really should endeavor to be better when trying not to judge other mothers. “Mothers should think of other mothers as an ally, not someone to compare themselves to,” she said. “Try to avoid coming across like the best mom. Talk about things you have in common, things you both enjoy as mothers and do not feel like it’s necessary to be better than her.”