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New research has revealed over 70% of Aussie parents admit parent-shaming is worse than ever – and it’s on the rise. 

With all of the chaos at the moment, it’s a feeling we know all too well here at haven. The pressure to keep our kids home, reschedule our plans and manage our family’s health (even more so than before) proves that parent shaming is certainly alive and well.

According to new research commissioned by Huggies, many Aussie parents – 5.8 million of them, to be precise – say they have felt shamed for their parenting. A whopping 20% reported experiencing judgement on a weekly basis.

More than half of parents (52%) felt like they were shamed by someone questioning or criticising decisions they’ve made, half experienced someone making a negative remark about their parenting choices and over a third (38%) have been told directly that what they were doing was wrong. 

And while remarks and criticisms hurt at the time, it’s the long-lasting impact they can have on our emotional and mental wellbeing that is the biggest concern.

The study found more than one-third of parents who have experienced shaming ended up questioning their own abilities as a parent, while two in five women reported an increase in anxiety levels.

And psychologist Sabina Read says it doesn’t stop there.

“Parent-shaming is a having a concerning impact on parents with many suffering from mental health issues as a result,” says Sabina. “We see that mums are typically quicker to criticise themselves and take comments to heart, often devastating their confidence as a parent. Sadly, this can even have a knock-on effect on children who feel their parents’ anxieties.”

Nearly one in 10 parents admitted to seeking professional support for their mental health, while 17% said that criticism of their parenting abilities negatively impacted their relationship with friends and family.

The study also found that new parents are hit the hardest, with parent-shaming most prevalent during the first two years. 61% of parents with children aged zero to two experienced criticism at least monthly, often from those who are supposed to be helping and supporting – like their relatives.

“As a mum in the public eye, I am exposed to the realities of parent-shaming, being judged online for the way I parent my girls,” says ‘The Bachelor’ winner and celebrity mum Snezana Wood. “In an amazing, yet vulnerable stage of life, parent-shaming can so easily make you question your own parenting skills and create doubt within the choices you make for your kids.”

In an increasingly-online world, it is harder to tune out negative comments than ever before – and far easier to make them. 

77% of the parents surveyed said they believe online forums are the perfect platform for easy parent-shaming, while one in five mums reported experiencing judgmental comments on social media.

But why are we so quick to shame fellow parents? The survey revealed that many of us don’t actually mean to do it – 42% said they often try to help by sharing their own experiences, while 14% admitted to feeling a responsibility to help new parents.

Whether it’s discipline, eating habits or how much time our kids spend in front of a screen, a parent’s choices are exactly that – their choices. 

To help combat parent-shaming, Sabrina has shared her top ten tips… 

  1. Be the change you want to see: choose to be supportive, compassionate and non-judgmental with all parents, including your partner and yourself, in person, online, and with strangers.
  2. Normalise the highs and lows of parenting: acknowledge that since the dawn of time every parent has struggled, however at their very core, every parent wants the best for their children.
  3. Focus on what’s working well: criticism hurts more than praise feels good so make an effort to celebrate parenting triumphs, no matter how small, rather than shine the light on what hasn’t gone to plan.
  4. Laugh: laughter feels good because we release endorphins which increases the wellbeing of parents and children; humour is contagious also helps us feel connected and safe.
  5. Speak up: you can be sure that if you’re feeling self-doubt, uncertainty or like you’re navigating parenting without a compass, others are too. Sharing the load can help alleviate stress, garner support and new ideas, or just validate that we aren’t alone.
  6. Seek help: if the challenges of parenting feel overwhelming or are impacting your mental health, reach out to your GP or a psychologist for assistance and support.
  7. Share gratitude: express your appreciation to others for the help, love, guidance and small acts of kindness that they have shared in your parenting journey.
  8. Debunk myths and unhelpful expectations: go in search of a perfect parent, not the airbrushed kind in social feeds, but the real kind! Now keep hunting… because there’s no such things as a perfect parent.
  9. Be realistic: healthy parenting equates with the small, daily and sometimes seemingly insignificant moments of love, connection, empathy and simply being present, not trips to Disneyland, flamboyant birthday parties, or smiles in social feeds.
  10. High five your parents: finally now you’re a parent you have some idea of the challenges, joy, sacrifices, confusion, guilt and love your parents have experienced in their parenting journey, so if possible, why not let them know you recognise that!
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haven is all about family, life and style in Brisbane's inner city suburbs, the Gold Coast, south to Byron Bay. We have been keeping parents in the know for over eight years, with fun, fresh and helpful stories that they can take tips from or treasure in their own library.