I just participated in the StrongMoms Empower™ program sponsored by Similac® in New York. I had the privilege of speaking to a group of mothers (along with my new best friend Dr. Michele Borba) about the judgement that mothers feel they face every day. This campaign urges moms to create a more supportive and less judgemental environment with the goal to empower moms to feel confident in their parenting decisions.
I know first hand that mothers are feeling stressed and anxious and this was affirmed by a study, “The National Motherhood Decision Survey”. Whether this feeling of being judged and graded on their mothering is real or perceived, it is causing a lot of emotions. Mothers admitted to both physical and emotional effects. Stress, anxiety, insecurity and inadequacy are common complaints of today’s mothers.
But this stress on mothers is also causing a “trickle down effect” on their children. A study done by the American Psychological Association on Stress in America revealed that 4 in 10 children reported feeling sad when their parent is stressed or worried. Young children pick up on their parents stress, I see this is my practice every day. Even that cute 4-5 month old child who smiles when you smile, can be brought to tears by a sad, frowning face.
Increased family stress, and specifically maternal stress may have a negative impact on the health and well being of our children as well. This may present as behavior problems, self esteem and confidence issues and physical complaints. Children have headaches, tummy aches and sleep problems, just like adults.
But there seems to be a “stress disconnect” as well. Parents don’t realize the impact that their own emotions play in their children’s sense of well being. Almost 70% of parents said that their stress had only a slight or no impact on their children, yet 91% of children reported that their parent is stressed. STRESS is not a word that young children should even understand!
So...what can mothers do? Moms do a better job raising their children when they feel supported. They feel more confident, more relaxed, happier and fulfilled. in other words, “when mom is happy, everyone is happier”.
Mothers need layers of support and this should come from their most trusted inner circle of friends and family and not anonymous mothers who weigh in from social media, friends of friends etc. Trust your instincts and try not to “second” guess every decision. Don’t judge others either without knowing their circumstances. Remember, “people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones”.
Use your pediatrician as your partner in parenting and look for advice from experts and professionals when you are facing tough questions and decisions.
Lastly, be confidant and trust your “momtuition”. Share your ideas and values in a positive manner and support one another.
The StrongMoms Empower™ Mission is to keep doing what works best for your and your family. All moms want to raise confident, capable and caring children. We are all in this together! For more information go to www.strongmomsempower.com