Mother. The very word evokes feelings of love, care, comfort, and warmth. We often refer to a mother’s love being so incredible that it’s truly indescribable. Mothers carry their babies within them for 40 weeks, creating an unspeakable bond that only she and her baby can understand.The moment her baby is laid on her chest, mommy and baby just know each other. They know they love each other without having ever properly met before. Moms show the magic and power of love at first site. In fact, I didn’t believe in love at first site until I had my daughter.

On the other hand, there’s the term momma bear. This term evokes feelings of ferocity, aggression, and strength. Momma bears, because of their fierce love and devotion to their babies, can shed their nurturing sweet mommy masks and transform into a wild animal at a moment’s notice – anything to protect her family.

Somewhere in the middle of these two sides of mommies comes a not so common term – well, the term is common, but not when describing mothers: mean girls. If you’ve never thought of moms as mean girls, I’ll explain, from my experience, ways that they are and why this needs to change.

Ways Moms are Mean Girls (and Why This Needs to Change)

The fight to be right

Something I’m all about in my writing and in life is understanding multiple perspectives on things, sharing my own, and accepting others. This principle does not seem to transfer to the mommy world though. What I have noticed through personal experiences and through connecting with moms on Facebook groups is that there are two clear sides to be on for a variety of mom issues. When you find other like-minded moms, you’re golden. You will not find more comfort, support, or comradery among women who you share a parenting choice with.

Consequently, you will not find more judgmental ‘haters’ than the moms who choose something different than you. Clearly, I’m speaking in generalities here from my experience in various groups. There is so much judgment and the fight to be right in these groups. I understand wanting support for your choices, but why does that have to mean having a superiority complex over women who choose something different? Why do we have this inherent need to be right? Why can’t we open our minds and hearts to other moms the way we’re accepting and tender to our babies? Why can’t we lead our kids by our example, by acting kindly?

Areas moms are mean girls

Let me reiterate that I’m speaking in generalities, but these are some of the ways I’ve seen moms be mean girls:

Breastfeeding vs. formula: Breastfeeding moms often have a superiority complex and judgmental problem when it comes to moms who formula feed. And I’m not even talking full on formula from day one, I’m talking people who ridicule you for giving an ounce to supplement. While it is clearly documented that breastmilk provides so many benefits to mom and baby and cannot be reproduced, some moms act like giving formula is the equivalent of giving rat poison. It’s not. Formula is a great healthy way to feed your baby. While I’m not denying that breastmilk is great, my breastfed baby was just as healthy as her formula-fed friends, and in fact, she’s the one who weirdly got chicken pox.

There are many reasons why moms may have to or choose to supplement or give formula instead of nursing, but is it really your job to grill them about this? Should you have to defend your choice to family, friends, or strangers?

On the other hand, many people have a problem with women who breastfeed because they’re so “in your face” about it. This could mean anything from nursing your baby in your home while guests are there to breastfeeding out at a restaurant. Nursing babies have a right to eat just like formula babies do. Nursing moms have a right to leave their homes just like non-nursing moms do. No matter how you have to or choose to feed your baby, it’s hard! It can be isolating. It can be a lot to handle. Let’s all support each other and bond over the wonderfulness that is being a mom, boobs and bottles aside.

Unmedicated birth vs. epidural: I thought that people were pretty on board with epidurals since they’re not exactly recent developments. Just like any medication, epidurals have their benefits and risks, which you should educate yourself on and determine if it’s right for you. An epidural was absolutely right for me; it allowed me to sleep for the first time in days (well, months really), and it allowed me to laugh, smile, and actively push my daughter into this world blissfully.

However, I was told numerous things, including that I poisoned my baby, that I was selfish, that I was driven by fear, that I didn’t allow my body to do its job, and that I was in a position to empower young ladies, and by choosing an epidural, I forfeited that opportunity.

Moms who give birth without medication – you are rock stars. I truly don’t know how you do it, and I am in awe of you. Moms who give birth with medication – you are rock stars. I am also in awe of you. Let’s not call moms who choose no medication granola hippies, and let’s not feel superior over moms who choose medication. No matter how you bring your baby into this world (including through C-section), women, you have accomplished something fantastic and beautiful.

Cry-it-out sleeping vs. not: This has been my most recent venture into mean girl mommy territory. Moms opposed to crying it out (which, by the way, does not always mean literally closing the door and just letting your baby cry) call the cry-it-out moms negative things; luckily, the admins are wonderful in groups and remove threads that aren’t productive or get off topic, but until then, moms feed off of each other, pushing the opposition down so fiercely. Does it make you feel better to condemn someone who chooses differently than you? Always think, what do I gain from putting someone down? If there is no gain, is it really necessary?

On the other hand, moms who do sleep training methods think that moms who hold their babies for naps or tend to their needs if they wake are basically lunatics. They turn up their noses and question you publicly about your choices, in the hopes of…hmmm…not sure about this. What is the purpose? I never understood. Interestingly enough, I have been on both sides of this issue, so feel free to message me if you want to know about what we have done for sleep.

Moms, we are all loving. If you use a sleep training method, you are not heartless or callous. If you do not agree with sleep training, you are not a naïve pushover. We are all loving, please accept it.

Co-sleeping vs. crib: I must admit, I was a total mean girl mom about this before I had my daughter. While I would only admit my mean girl-ness to my husband or sister, it was still wrong of me. I thought co-sleeping was horrible; I thought it was equivalent to baby Russian roulette. I was uneducated though! There are safe ways of co-sleeping that work for families and actually provide a lot of relief, rest, and comfort.

My daughter slept in her bassinet as a newborn and in her crib at 6 weeks because she was sleeping through the night, but after an 8 month regression, I started taking her to bed with me when she woke up early in the morning. So I can consider myself a temporary, part-time co-sleeper. I saw how we amended our routine to fit our needs and took the time to finally learn about something I just blindly criticized.

Moms, we’re all exhausted at some point. We’re all proud of our baby’s sleep habits at some point. We’re all crying about our baby’s sleep habits at some point. Let’s join together to celebrate and blubber over our delights and defeats, shall we?

Working vs. stay at home: I seem to be on both sides of many of these issues. I’m a part-time working mom: I teach part-time, am a freelance writer, and full-time mommy. One time during my maternity leave, I was talking to someone who assumed I wasn’t going back to work. This person said to me, “I just don’t know how moms choose to go back to work and let someone else raise their kid.” Yikes, what an uncomfortably loaded statement.

On the other side, I have heard working moms question what moms do all day at home or talk about how it must be so nice to be at home all day. There is nothing easy about staying at home; stay at home moms are the hardest working, smartest people I know. There is nothing easy about being a working mom, trying to balance a career (because you love working or out of financial necessity) while doing all the mommy duties as well.

Lasting thoughts

This post isn’t meant to call anyone out or presume that because you are a mom, you are a mean girl. Not at all. My goal was to shed light on things I see going on from my experience and share with you how moms can be sneaky mean girls. I don’t think any moms want to be mean girls! I was a mean girl, and I didn’t even realize it.

I hope we can join together – boobs, bottles, crying, lulling, meds, no meds, crib, bed, working, staying at home – and just learn to support each other. Let’s find the encouragement and answers we need with like-minded people while accepting others’ choices. I love that I’ve been able to learn from my gram, mom, and sister, the best mommas I know. I love that we have so many similarities in our mommy choices yet support each other in our differences. Because who is to say your choice is right?

I always remember a quote from my high school Speech teacher’s classroom: Different doesn’t mean better or worse, it just means different.

Are you willing to admit mean girl mom behavior like me? Have you ever been hurt by this? Share with your mommy friends or groups so we can spread LOVE and KINDNESS, because let’s face it, you’re all wonderful people.

  • [[hug]] Thank you for this! Other than working (which I didn’t do before babies), I do all of the “non-loving” mom things. Csection, formula, crib, sleep training, etc. I have some “crunchy” friends who have been kind of hateful to me… because, if I had really TRIED, my diabetic body could’ve breastfed two babies. But I tried, and it sucked, and I was driving myself crazy and spending too much of my babies’ lives in tears. Before I had kids, yeah, I could get pretty judgy! Thankfully, like you, just between my husband and me… but still not proud of it :-/

    • Lindsay Katherine

      Katie, virtual hug right back at you momma. I’m sorry you’ve been the target of this mean girl behavior, but hopefully you’re savvy enough to rise about it and know that the ones judging you are the problem, not you. I’m also glad you can admit that you may have been judgy before kids, too! It can be hard to admit, but I think it’s important because we allllll do it, and I think the more people that admit it, the more change can happen.

  • This is such an awesome article! I’m not a mom, however I think this same thing applies to women in many different situations. I’ve been ridiculed by other female peers for putting my graduate education ahead of my relationship. I would much rather bond together than pit myself against other women.

    • Lindsay Katherine

      Alanna,thanks for reading because even though these topics didn’t necessarily resonate with you, you totally nailed it – the same thing happens with women in any stage of life. Good for you for taking your education seriously – what are you studying?

  • While I’m not a mommy yet, I think this post was awesome and was able to relate in terms of people generally being rude over a differing opinion. I personally approach all these types of situations with a “different strokes for different folks” mentality. What works for one me may not work for a friend and I’m totally fine with that!

    • Lindsay Katherine

      That’s a great approach, Roxy! We need more people like you around. Certainly we see this kind of behavior with non mom issues, too. Thanks for reading!

  • Lilly’s Home Design

    Personally I don’t judge, but I do not like when people are judgmental. I support both sides, because every one has their reasons and as long as one reason doesn’t bash on the other we’re all good here!

    • Lindsay Katherine

      We need more people like you!! Thanks so much for reading – keep spreading your kind, non- judgmental ways 🙂

  • Love this. I’m no mom but I see the competitive nature and scrutinizing in moms everyday. Love that you were so honest and shared this.

    • Lindsay Katherine

      Thank you for reading! We see this kind of judgment in any stage in life, really. I was nervous posting this because of the honest nature of it, but ultimately I think it’s good for people to reflect on. Thanks for your comment and have a lovely day.

  • This is so true! I am not a mom myself but I have several friends who are and they have experienced the “mean girl mom” situation several times being on both sides. I think that as a mother you want what is best for your child, so being a little judgmental happens. Life is all about judgments unfortunately. It would be amazing if all moms could come together and support each other as well as humans in different situations. Everyday is another battle that you have to get through with lots of lessons to learn.

  • Thanks for writing this, Lindsay! I totally see this even as a non-mom, and ultimately I wish moms would just realize that they love their kids like crazy, and support each other in that.

    • Lindsay Katherine

      I wish that, too. And I saw this kind of stuff as a non-mom, too. I think people just like to stick to their ways and stay pretty closed off about it.

  • Lauren Jane

    YES! The only thing I ever speak out against are actual dangers, like closing a door and letting your child scream for hours. Sleep training can be wonderful, and even in our bedsharing, hippy life, we’ve used it with older children:p. If you’re not using a method that is documented as dangerous to a child, there’s no reason for anyone to say anything!

    • Lindsay Katherine

      That’s such a great point, Lauren – I always think you need to say something respectfully when someone is misinformed or doing something harmful, totally with you on that.

  • Heather Gullett Denniston

    I think women are so scared about doing something wrong as a mother, they more passionately defend any choice they have made to make it “more right”. If they allow space for others to do things their way then somehow that might mean they are a little bit wrong and a little bit inferior as a mother. Tough situation for sure. I notice the VACCINE issue didn’t make the list. 😉 Hot button if there ever was one! Nicely done.

    • Lindsay Katherine

      Oooooh, that is such a great one that I didn’t even think of! What is your position on that? That one would have been difficult for me to objectively defend both sides, but it’s definitely a great one.

  • Wait until you encounter the sports mom…good grief…they are the worst…their child is the best athlete ever put on Earth and they don’t want to hear anything about your child. I agree that moms can DEFINITELY be mean girls…I think I’ve encountered more mean girl moms than not. I agree that we should be lifting each other up not putting others down.

  • This post totally reminds me of The Mother Hood Official Video.
    It is so silly how people can be so judgmental. Whenever I see a parent with young kids, I try my best to be helpful or neutral, because I remember how stressful it can be. On a side note, I’m discovering that pet owner/parents can be just as judgmental and honestly, I don’t get it. This post totally reminds me of The Mother Hood Official Video.

  • Neely

    I hear this a lot from my mom friends. Its horrible!

  • This is SO true! Mommy wars are just ugly. Motherhood is hard enough as it is, and this makes it even more difficult. So many of these arguments can be avoided if we just assume other moms have the best intentions for their kids — because they do! Also, ALL the high fives to women who give birth! We are superheroes!

    • Lindsay Katherine

      Yessss, virtual high five to you!

  • Brooke Guerra

    What a great honest post! I haven’t even entered into motherhood yet & I’m already getting judgemental backlash from things I should & should not do coming up. Where’s the love & support?! I often wish women weren’t so good at tearing each other down & much more encouraging for the great things we do in life as women. Brooke Guerra

    • Lindsay Katherine

      It is sad that women do this in all stages of life, not just motherhood. I think we all need to join together and support one another – men and women alike!

  • I formula fed both my kids because I chose not to breastfeed. I didn’t feel comfortable with it. But I’m that type of person that doesn’t care what others think. They’re my kids. lol

    • Lindsay Katherine

      Did you ever have any opinionated people say rude things to you about your choice?

      • Oh yes! Just like how I chose NOT to give birth the natural way with my second child and I chose c-section even though I had the option to do either.

        • Lindsay Katherine

          I just don’t understand how that affects anyone else!!!!! Whyyyyyyy would anyone care, seriously, it makes no sense.

          • To be honest I feel that a lot of women are trying to enforce so many things on moms. Its ridiculous. There are so many reasons why women can’t give birth the natural way. That’s why we have the option of c-section.

          • Lindsay Katherine

            I know, it’s sad. I also don’t even like the term ‘natural’ birth because it makes it seem like someone who had a c-section or epidural somehow are not natural. Are we aliens then? ha. Women “naturally” died in childbirth for so many years anyway! I’m not discrediting anyone who wants an unmedicated vaginal birth at all, but I just hope they can realize that their way is not the only right way. Every case is different, from personal preferences to health issues.

  • I have seen so much bitterness and judgment in every one of these mommy battles! It’s hard because I do have my opinions on each one, but I also know that every mom comes to her opinions from a place of loving her child and wanting to give them the absolute best. We definitely need to remember that as long as the child is growing and happy and healthy, those little choices other moms make are not ours to criticize or try to “convert.” A little love and grace would go a long way!

    • Lindsay Katherine

      So true, Lauren. Of course everyone believes what she is doing is right, but right for my child doesn’t mean right for your child – or even your own subsequent children as well! Every child and her needs will be different. I hope moms will learn to spill over their love and acceptance outside of the family and to others.

  • I am 100% with you, Lindsay! I hate to see people get so bitter over such silly debates. In the end, we shouldn’t judge others for how they decide to raise their children. It’s ultimately the mother’s decision, and how she chooses to raise her baby is determined by her best judgment and deicsion! Thank you for another post that advocates for KINDNESS!! You go, girlfriend.

    • Lindsay Katherine

      Thanks for reading and for your take on this, Chelsea. We see this in all areas of life, not just moms. It’s definitely a principle that will carry over into school counseling because I see it in school every week in some way or another (which students AND faculty!).

  • I love this post so much! Yes to all of this! In general, I wish the negative judgements would just stop. It is not our place to sit and pass judgement as to why others make the decisions they do. Awesome post!

  • This post, though!

    I don’t have children myself, but many of my friends do and they’re constantly flooded with people’s unwarranted negative opinions.
    Don’t agree with formula? Don’t feed it to your kids. Don’t believe in cesareans? Have a natural birth. Live your own life and raise your own children how you want. Jeesh.

    Thank you for this post. Honestly! 🙂

    Christie’s Take on Life. x

    • Lindsay Katherine

      Christie, I’m so glad you understood where I was coming from in this post!! You really don’t have to be a mom to get it; this behavior happens all the time in any stage of life. You are awesome, thanks for reading and for your comment : )

  • Sue Purdy

    This is SO true. I always hated how judgmental other moms can be when mine were little. Great post 🙂

    • Lindsay Katherine

      It’s sad when people are judgmental anyway, but I find it extra sad or ironic when it comes from moms!

  • Shann Eva

    This is so true. I try to respect everyone’s parenting choices because it’s just so hard. It’s hard enough to make a decision, then to have other moms criticize it, just sucks. I’m all about support, support, and more support.

    • Lindsay Katherine

      Exactly, Shann. There are enough questions and self-doubt in parenting, the last thing you need is other people outside of your situation making comments about your choices. None of their business! (Unless it’s something harmful, of course.)

  • This is so true! I love my momma groups for the most part, but I’m so sad when I see things getting mean. I say, to each her own. We all know our babies and our families and we have to do what works for us. And kindly accept what is working for others!

    • Lindsay Katherine

      You and I would be great friends : ) I love your approach to these situation – through kindness and acceptance.

  • Justine Y

    So true Lindsey, the momma wars need to stop. You are the best parent for your child and you are their advocate. Everyone should just do whatever is best for their own family. I also love what you said about the unmedicated birth vs. epidural, we are ALL truly rock stars.

    • Lindsay Katherine

      Thanks so much for reading and for your insight, Justine. We are all awesome!!

  • Oh goodness, YES! It’s crazy all the bickering that happens between moms. It absolutely does NOT need to happen!

    • Lindsay Katherine

      I totally agree! It’s very sad and unnecessary.

  • Some friends I have that are moms even get judged if their kid talks later than other kids. This judgment is so ridiculous. Thank you for this post!

    • Lindsay Katherine

      That’s such a good one, Lana! Talking about milestones can be fun or helpful, but when it become a measure of judgment, it’s just ridiculous, especially because kids develop differently. Thanks for reading – have a lovely weekend.

  • Noemi D

    Guilty of this! I always try to remind myself that there isn’t a perfect way of doing things … Well the perfect way is the way it works for u best

    • Lindsay Katherine

      Thanks for your honest and for joining me in the mean girl mom club : ) Well, I used to be a mean girl mom, not anymore. I think pretty much everyone is or was at some point, but it’s important to realize it and change for the better.

  • Being a mom isn’t exactly easy and I think it would be easier if we let everyone do what they feel is best for their child.

    • Lindsay Katherine

      I agree, Brittany!

  • Kate Walton

    Agreed- I think most moms don’t mean to be mean girls- they just feel like what they are doing is best and don’t understand why you don’t see it their way. As always come link up with us at 100 happy days: http://www.akreativewhim.com/100-happy-days-18

    • Lindsay Katherine

      Thanks for being so welcoming, Kate, and thank you for reading! I agree that most moms probably don’t TRY or WANT to be mean girls, just like I was.

  • I don’t even have kids and I have heard so much about both sides of these issues. My personal opinion? I think people are going to project a lot of anxiety onto their kids over decisions that (let’s be honest) all are for their well being!! Motherhood should be about sisterhood just as much as it is about children. Love this post!!

    • Lindsay Katherine

      I love that line, motherhood should be about sisterhood – right on!! Even without kids, I’m sure you realize that this behavior happens at all stages of women’s lives. Thanks so much for reading and for weighing in : )

  • I’m a silent mean girl mom. I am a HUGE believer in sleep training, and I have a friend who didn’t and she always complained about how her daughter wouldn’t sleep and I thought to myself, “You can change that. You can be in charge of her sleep.” I’ve thought it about other things too, I would never say it to her face, because I don’t think that is nice, but thinking it or talking behind her back to my husband isn’t nice either! I’ve also been very defensive about my choices to formula feed, have a c-sectrion etc. and it may have ended up being a little too mean girl.

    This was an amazing post! I’m definitely sharing it!!

    • Lindsay Katherine

      hahaha I love that you admit to being a silent mean girl! I think we all kind of are, and even if it’s wrong, I still think it’s better than being mean and nasty to someone’s face. I fell into the same feelings, but once I started seeing how my friends and sister do things differently and started opening my mind to other ways and research, it helped me subdue those mean girl judgments. Maybe you feel defensive because mean girls made you feel that way which made you antagonistic as a result. You are awesome, Rebekah – thanks for reading and sharing!!