I Don't Let Hateful Mom Gossip and Cliques Bring Me Down
High school feels like it was SO long ago, right? Well, for many parents, this is true. However, when it comes to ‘Mom cliques’ it may also feel like high school never ended. As much as we teach our children about bullying and respect, we too, as parents can be victims of it.
Parenting is tough; and the last thing we need is to feel lonely, unsupported, and even depressed as adults trying to hold it all together, oftentimes on little sleep for months, or even years. That’s why when you find yourself the victim of mom-shaming, or overall just struggle to meet new friends as an adult it can feel like those awkward years of high school all over again.
Here are some ways moms can deal with ‘cliques’ and adult bullying so you can brush it all off with ease and empowerment next time it happens to you. Stay strong!
The Past is the Past
Tasha* (not her real name) is a working mom in Southern California who recently found herself in an uncomfortable situation (briefly) and handled it like a champ.
“At a kiddie party, I was standing in a group of Moms and we were sharing updates about our kids. Many of these moms socialize with each other because they all have girls. Our kids were friends from preschool, and it had been three years since I’d seen these moms,” she explains. “One mom (let’s call her ‘Aly’) walks up and I say to her, “Hello, how are you?”
“I was about to hug her and she snubs me, and she starts to talk to the other parents! I thought, ‘Huh, maybe she didn’t hear me.’ So, I tried to interject myself into the conversation and she refused to look at me!”
Give Yourself a Pep Talk
Adds Tasha: “At that moment I realized, ‘Wait, I don’t have to take this,’ and I walked away from the group. The host of the party appreciated that I didn’t confront Aly, who, to me, has always been rude and unnecessarily competitive. Our kids were in the same pre-school and for years, she would be rude to me and say nasty things behind my back about my very energetic son.’”
As she walked away, Tasha realized, “This is no longer my ‘Mom ecosystem,’ I’ve moved to another group. At that moment, I pulled out my phone and started deleting this awful woman from all of my social channels and blocked her. I’m not going to lie, it felt great!”
Unfortunately, some people don't grow up and continue to bully others in adulthood, points out Lucy Harris, a Manhattan mom and founder of Hello Baby Bump. “How you handle the situation can teach your children a lot as well as dealing with any issues that occur due to the bullying.”
Tasha actually ended up using this situation as a teachable moment for her son. “I told him what happened and I said, ‘It’s okay to walk away from people who mistreat you.’ I also told him people will come in and out of your life, some you will like and some you will not, but you show kindness and respect to people even when they don’t deserve it. Be the better person.”
Remember the Other Person May Feel Insecure
“Parents who get pleasure from gossiping about each other have a need to get on a high horse to feel better about themselves,” says Dr. Jenn Mann, a Beverly Hills, California-based family therapist, mother, and author of The A to Z Guide to Raising Happy Confident Kids. “They tend to be people who don’t feel confident in their own parenting and lack compassion for the struggles of others.”
When it comes to mom-shaming, you need to understand that it is more than likely not actually about you, stresses Harris. “Just like when you are a child, a bully is often a bully because they aren't happy with themselves, so they have to make someone else feel smaller to feel better. Once you understand this it can allow you to stay in control and not let it affect your self-esteem and confidence as much.”
If You Really Want to Speak Up, Be Firm, but Mature
As hurt and upset as you may be at that other mom, Harris says don't stoop to their level. “If they continuously try to make a scene and turn everyone against you, you need to stay calm and in control. This is an adverse reaction to what they are hoping for and it may just quell their need to bully you if you don't react poorly.”
But if you really want to confront them, says Harris, “you can always try to meet up with them privately and have a conversation. Try to set some boundaries and set the record straight, that you aren't going to be tolerating this childish behavior and that you know what they are doing. You need to be assertive in what you are saying, while still being respectful to the other individual.”
Stay Calm, Cool, and Collected (or Fake It!)
If you are devastated by Mean Moms, try to tap into yourself and these emotions. You might think Mean Mom is yakking about you all day long, but try to take comfort in the fact that they’re really NOT.
“I believe in following the 30-second rule,” says Dr. Mann. “Nobody thinks about anybody but themselves for more than 30 seconds. They may judge and be critical, but then they will go back to thinking about themselves. ‘What am I going to have for dinner?’ ‘Do these jeans make me look fat?’ Is my daughter going to break her curfew again?’”
Adds Dr. Mann: “Your job is to let go of caring about what they think. Typically, we get most upset when we fall short of our own mom expectations. Hearing others judge us can hold up the mirror to look at where we fell short.”
When conversing with parents, the best thing you can do when confronted is to be authentic and share your struggles, advises Dr. Mann. “When you own your shortcomings as a mom, there is nothing to talk about. To be relatable brings people closer.”
Overall, Try Not to Judge ‘Back’
For Harris, meeting new moms and being in a new environment can be extremely awkward, “and makes me rather anxious. Others have been reluctant to let me into their clique or just judge me by the way I look. Some have even made up assumptions about me that spread like wildfire with other mothers preventing me from even starting a conversation with them.”
Harris spoke to theses mothers and stood up for herself. “Eventually, we talked it all out and now some of them are my best friends! It can take time to break down rumors and become apart of a group and find friends that you are comfortable with but it is worth it.”
Adds Harris: “Find a new group of friends to support you and spend time with, own your parenting style and own who you are. Don't let anyone bring you down!”
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