Study Explores How ‘Mom Shaming’ Affects Mothers’ Parenting

Mother with toddler son talks to her mother in lawSixty-one percent of mothers have been criticized for their parenting choices, according to new data from the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health. Rather than questioning their choices, most women (67%) reported that the criticism made them feel more strongly about their parenting choices.

Mom Shaming a Common Annoyance

“Mom shaming” is the practice of criticizing a woman’s parenting choices, often without considering the role of fathers, other caregivers, cultural factors, or financial constraints in these choices. Parenting decisions can carry significant emotional and cultural weight. Mom shaming can be a source of distress that labels women as bad mothers.

To explore the prevalence and effects of mom shaming, researchers asked a sample of mothers of children ages 0-5 about their experiences with mom shaming. The survey asked about specific sources of mom shaming, such as breastfeeding versus bottle-feeding, sleep habits, and car seat safety. It also included questions about who shamed mothers and how they reacted.

Most women (61%) faced criticism of their parenting choices. Their parents were the most common source (37%), followed by their spouse or co-parent (36%) and in-laws (31%). Friends (14%) were less likely to criticize, as were other mothers in public settings (12%). Social media accounted for just 7% of shaming. Health care providers (8%) and childcare providers (6%) were also less frequent critics.

Discipline was the most common source of criticism (70%), though feeding choices (52%) and sleep (46%) also figured prominently.

How Does Shaming Affect Mothers?

Mothers reported a range of responses to shaming. Most sought out more information (60%) or asked a health care provider (53%). About a third (37%) changed the way they parent, but for most mothers, criticism solidified their belief in their own parenting choices.

A significant number (42%) also reported increased insecurity in their parenting choices due to criticism. Half said they avoid critical people, and 56% said their experiences of mom shaming caused them to stop criticizing other mothers.


Mom shaming or constructive criticism? Perspectives of mothers. (2017, June 19). Retrieved from

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  • Bernice

    July 3rd, 2017 at 2:22 PM

    In so many ways I think that the internet has made it so easy for us to say and do things that we would have NEVER done to someone face to face, and yet online we are more than willing to act like an A**.
    It’s really a shame because I think that we have mostly forgotten how to talk to one another with kindness. Sometimes it becomes all about wither winning an argument or making someone else feel bad. What do I gain from that? Other than if I already feel terrible about myself and I have the goal to make someone else feel even worse?

  • Danna B.

    July 11th, 2017 at 2:50 PM

    Wow. And I say WOW. It’s always something. Out there that going think they now best for your children. Please. The best advise I’d give is love children. So best take care of them. Trust own heart ❤️ don’t worry about what other people think. Let them take care of own problems. Mined there own business. The only shame is the shame of judge anyone . Leave that up to god. Just my opinion.

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