Hello my lovelies and welcome to season 2 of the Moving Toward Better podcast. I am your host, Karen Bemmes, and I’m excited to share with you that things are evolving at MTB with new offerings like group and long term, individual coaching and even a live event in September that I’m so excited to tell you about a little later on the show. The focus of this season is truly creating a life that works for you without guilt, which is why we’re starting with talking about mom shaming today. It’s a big subject, and I think it’s time for us to just put the whole thing to rest. So let’s get started with that right now.
Mom shaming has probably been around since the beginning of time. There are stories in every religious and cultural tradition about how children are supposed to be raised (children should be seen and not heard, anyone?) and how mothers are supposed to act (cough, cough Donna Reed). And anyone who diverges from the prescribed path is brutalized, ostracized or even killed, depending upon the religion and the level of fundamentalism in the culture, but we’re going to stay mostly away from religion and look at things from a more cultural lens. In this episode, we are going to talk about what mom shaming looks like and what mom shaming feels like from each personality perspective because I think it will be interesting for people to know and understand how others may feel about this incredibly destructive force. For perspective, and I think this is important to note, I was born and raised as a white, middle class American cis-gender woman, and that’s the lens I know, so while I know the lens is different for others, that’s just where this particular discussion starts.
For those who are new to the podcast, when I talk to people about their particular situation, I use the DISC behavior system, which includes the Driven, Inspired, Supportive and Cautious personalities, also known as D I S and C personality types, and I use those terms interchangeably, so here we go..
As always we are going to start with a D or driven personality. Driven women know what they want and they almost always have a plan to get there, and that plan is straightforward and fast. They, mostly, could care less what other people think of them, but contrary to popular belief, Driven women love their children fiercely and mom shaming is one of the few ways to damage the heart of the Driven woman. They may joke about leaving their children along the side of the road or running away from home, but when it comes to their loved ones, they will fight a live tiger to protect them. They aren’t afraid to confront people they think have wronged those they care about, and that’s where the trouble often starts.
The D personality doesn’t deal well with being shamed, and you can bet money that their reaction will be anger. If they disagree with your shame filled judgment, they will come after you in an attack that will leave you reeling. If they disagree with you, they will become defensive and angry in a different way because guess what? Driven women do not like to be wrong.
None of us likes being wrong, but the D personality is the one that will fight back the hardest and will turn that shame right back at you. If you are a D woman or someone who has been on the receiving end of that kind of anger, you know what I’m talking about. So what have you accomplished by shaming them?
One of the best things about a Driven woman is that when she “blows”, she moves past it quickly. One of the worst things is that she can do a lot of damage in the process of “blowing up”. Before you shame a Driven woman, you better be sure that you can handle the backlash, because it will be severe and without remorse. They will metaphorically chew you up and spit you out and walk away without another thought. In addition, when you cross that line, there’s no coming back from it, so be warned, friends.
When it comes to the “I” personality, it’s a very different story. This Inspired woman loves people and wants them to like her back. If she is in balance, she can laugh off your mom shaming because she loves being the mom who makes life fun. If she’s out of balance, mom shaming can send her into a deep spiral of guilt and sadness because she knows she doesn’t fit the “ideal” of what a mother is “supposed” to be, and it haunts her in her dark moments.
As I said, if the Inspired woman is in balance, she’ll laugh off your shaming, mostly because she completely understands that none of us is perfect. In fact, she’ll probably shake her head and bless your heart as she realizes you’re probably having a bad day and maybe feeling like a bad mom yourself so you need to project that feeling onto someone else. She’ll forgive you and go about her merry way. Yes, she’s that forgiving.
Out of balance, things get trickier because the “I” personality can be jealous and cutting. They will lash out and find the most unkind thing they can about you and exploit it. They are the epitome of someone who will protect themselves by shining the light on your insecurities so they feel less broken and put down, and it can get downright ugly. It is truly better to leave this personality alone because they would much prefer to be happy and have fun, and if you take that from them, you will suffer as much as they do, if they have anything to say about it, and that is no fun at all.
Moving on to the S personality, they appear to be an easy target for the mom shamers. They are sweet and kind and reserved. They are most likely to have children who act out without consequence because the S personality detests confrontation, which makes it so easy to shame them. Unfortunately, because they are tender hearted, shamers usually hit their mark with the S personality, but there is a limit and when you hit it, look out.
The Supportive personality is called that for a reason. When you shame them, they will react similarly to the I personality if they’re in balance. They will bless your heart and maybe even ask others if there is something difficult going on in your life. They forgive over and over because their patience level is incredibly high. They may even try to do something kind for you to make you feel better. I know that seems counterintuitive to some people, but that’s the way the S personality is wired.
When they hit their limit, though, who-buddy it can get fierce! The S personality is hands down the best at passive aggressiveness, and if you don’t “get” what they’re trying to tell you, it escalates until they “blow” similarly to a Driven personality, which really stuns people because it’s so out of character for the normally quiet and kind Supportive personality. Trust me, it’s a rare thing to see an S personality so out of balance, but it does happen, and when it does, everyone in the path of that wrath suffers. Unfortunately for the Supportive woman, that can deplete her for days or longer and cause her to spiral in guilt and even more shame than the mom shamer intended. Do you really want to be a participant in that? If you do, you don’t belong in this community unless you’re looking to change.
Finally, we have the Cautious or C personality. Let’s start with understanding that the C mom wants to do things “right” more than any other personality. They are already their own worst critic, and while other personality types may be their own worst critic, too, they don’t struggle with forgiving themselves for making mistakes like the C personality does.
The C personality thinks everything through. They think of all the possible outcomes before they act and do their best to make sure everything works out perfectly. Criticism is harder for them than any other personality, and mom shaming, for them, is criticism to the 10th power. No one thinks more about being a good parent than the Cautious woman. She wants to be perfect and wants her children to be perfect too. She knows that can’t happen, but it doesn’t stop her from trying and trying and trying.
Mom shaming for this personality is doubly damaging. As a task oriented and reserved person, they often struggle with their people skills, so mom shaming them shines a light on that challenge and makes the C mom feel even worse about her lacking social skills. One of the things that the Cautious mom excels at is her tasks. She is the one with the immaculate house and kids in clean clothes, and if your mom shaming touches on those mothering tasks, she is doubly wounded, and without the support of great friends or family it can destroy the Cautious mom. Why would you want to do that to anyone, much less a mom who is just trying her best.
So here’s my plea for this podcast…Stop. Just stop shaming other moms. Every single one of us is out here doing our best, and I guarantee that no matter how much of your time and energy you put into your mothering, someone thinks you’re doing it wrong. Hopefully they don’t shame you for it.
I learned how stupid mom shaming is over 25 years ago while visiting with my best friend. I talk about that afternoon in my book Everyday Heroes of Motherhood. In fact, I think that afternoon was the initial inspiration for that book and confirmed several things I already knew about personalities. I’ll drop the link to that book in the show notes. I learned the futility of mom shaming that day, and it made me a more understanding and compassionate mom, especially for moms who did things differently than I did.
The choice to stop shaming other moms made even more sense when our children grew up and left for college. You see, my best friend always worked. She traveled the world for work, and there were times I was jealous and other times I judged my friend. I never shamed her for working, and she never shamed me for staying home, although I’m sure she had moments when she wondered why I didn’t work to help support my family financially.
We had lunch not long after her oldest went to college, and what she said broke my heart because she wondered if she had spent enough time with her child. Then she looked at me and said, “I guess that’s something you’ll never question.” It broke my heart for her, but then I shared my own issue, which was wondering if my kids would have been better off if I had worked and given them more opportunities in life. In the years since, I’ve learned that every mom has some version of this, and I never want to be the one to make that wound bigger because the truth is that we are all doing our best. We all wish we could do some things better, but the most important lesson I’ve learned is that our children thrive most when mom is happy and in balance, and our world needs that more than ever.
When we lift each other up rather than tear each other down, everyone benefits. Marriages thrive. Children are happier and well adjusted. Businesses become a place to grow better humans and not just a place where profit is king, and that’s the world I want to live in. I know there are people out there that would say that we live in a dog eat dog world, but that’s because we choose that, and we can choose differently, and I’m seeing that happen in so many ways.
I am seeing my 20 something children navigate this world in a much more compassionate way than I did at their age. I watch my 30 and 40 something business friends creating companies that will leave a legacy, not just for their own children, but also for the people who work for and with them. They are proving that compassionate capitalism is possible, and that’s the kind of world I’m working toward in everything I do, a life where you live your best life without guilt and without taking anyone down in the process.
The truth is that there is no one way to create a life that works for you, without guilt. Instead, there are infinite ways, which can be a challenge in itself because it seems easier when someone shows us the way. Unfortunately, when we try to follow someone else’s path, it never feels quite right. For some of us, that makes us feel like we picked the wrong program. For some it makes them feel like they’re defective. Still others think they will never find what works for them out there, and I agree with all of them on some level, but hear me out.
We’ve all tried to do things someone else’s way when it isn’t right for us. If that program is wrong for you, and you try to shove yourself in a round hole when you’re a triangle, you’re setting yourself up for failure. That’s why when you work with me, you develop what works for YOU, based on your personality, love language and individual needs and circumstances. It’s like wearing a wedding or bridesmaid’s dress off the discount rack versus one that was altered specifically for you. It just doesn’t fit right, and when it comes to your life, it should be beautiful and comfortable and filled with joy.
That’s why we’ve developed so many ways to work with us, so you can pick the one that works best for you. Want a group experience online so you can listen more and get a lot of different perspectives? Then you want our monthly coaching program. In the month of June, we’ll be talking about how to Build YOUR Balance, which is something a lot of women struggle with, especially at the beginning of summer break, especially if you work from home. I’ll put a link in the show notes to find out more or you can go to https://www.movingtowardbetter.com/building-your-balance .
If you prefer a group experience in person, then we have that too. In September, I’ll be hosting my first in person event that we’re calling the DISCover Better Weekend Retreat. Hey! It’s my first in person event. I’ll get better at fun titles as we go. This is the first of what I hope will be many in person events that will help you learn more about your unique personality and communication skills and learn to appreciate the amazing person you truly are. It’s a great time to recharge, reinvigorate and return to your life feeling amazing and better equipped to deal with everything in your world. To learn more about that check out the show notes or go to https://www.movingtowardbetter.com/2022-september-retreat .
If you’re someone who prefers to go it alone, we have a one-on-one option you can take advantage of by going to movingtowardbetter.com and click “Request a Session” at the top of the page to get more information on that. Again, check out the show notes or go to https://www.movingtowardbetter.com and get started on the best life for you and those you love most.. Until next time, keep moving toward better using your unique and amazing personality. Love you all, and I’ll see you soon.
Links mentioned in this show:
Everyday Heroes of Motherhood
Moving Toward Better Website
Group Coaching Information Next session begins June 7