Parenting isn't easy, especially when it comes to making decisions for your children. Just the other day I was at a store with my 2-year-old daughter and someone commented on the fact that she was still in a stroller. Really? Why does she care what I do with my child — it's the easiest way for me to shop with her!
Moms today face tremendous pressure to make “perfect” parenting decisions, only to find themselves judged or criticized by others — including other moms. From choosing to go back to work or what to feed your baby, to the best ways to educate and discipline, everyone has an opinion.
I recently reached out to Denise Albert, originally from Port Washington, and Melissa Gerstein of The Moms, a multiplatform lifestyle brand that is featured on television, online and in print, who teamed up with Similac to launch the StrongMoms Empower program to stop judging.
"Do you ever feel like you're living in a grown up version of 'Mean Girls?' " they asked. "Shouldn't mean girls grow up to be mindful moms? As entrepreneurs and businesswomen every day we try to make our dreams happen. Getting moms and other parents to stop judging each other is a mission we are eager to tackle."
"You have to do what works for you," is one of Albert's mottos. "I have admitted that I hated being pregnant. I call myself a full-time working / stay-at-home mom. I'm also a guilt-free work-a-holic. I openly use my mobile device in front of my kids (because I'm proud to have a mobile office and be able to be with my kids!). I didn't even try to breast-feed. My younger son's source of protein is Chicken McNuggets from McDonalds."
Gerstein adds: "I have written about minding your own business when it comes to breast-feeding. I believe you have to do what's best for your own family and I feel that the parents still have to be the boss over the children. I have been very vocal about parents needing to be the parent. I have written about 'mommy cliques' and I'm tired of the working mom vs. non-working mom conversation. Moms need to do what they need to do to raise their own families best."
I, too, often feel judged. I'm almost five months pregnant with my second child, and people are already asking me if I'm going to breast-feed this baby. Moms every day feel judged, attacked and bullied, but there needs to be a dialogue to help give moms the tools they need to feel good about their choices.
"It's hard enough to get through every day — whether you work outside your home or not, whether you're running an empire or running a household," Albert and Gerstein said. "We need to stop judging and start supporting other moms."
The StrongMoms Empower event takes place in Manhattan on Tuesday. The program is a call-to-action to create a more supportive and less judgmental environment, on and offline.
"Having a strong support group is an important step to gaining more confidence as a mom and feeling good about your decisions," Albert and Gerstein said. "We don’t always see eye to eye. In fact, as women and moms we couldn’t be more different. Melissa is a traditional, strong-willed mom from Missouri. Denise is a liberal, more lenient New Yorker. We often do things very differently. We support each other. We learn from each other. We need each other. We all do."
So moms, let's stop judging and start supporting each other. Simply visit StrongMomsEmpower.com and take the pledge, share the badge and commit to acceptance instead of judgment. You can also follow the supportive conversations on Twitter via #StrongMomsEmpower.