Debunking Modern-day Motherhood Myths: KSL Mom Show
I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Lindsay Aerts of KSL’s “The Mom Show” and share my thoughts about certain motherhood expectations that seem to permeate our society. I loved this topic, as it touches on so many themes that are important to me: Mormon culture, mental health, families, and social media. Here are some common modern-day motherhood myths debunked!
What We See on Social Media is Real
When we hop on Instagram or Facebook, we’re bombarded with images of beautiful moms with their happy, smiling babies. We see perfection as we scroll on our feed, and even though we may know logically that life isn’t always as beautiful as it looks, it’s easy to internalize what we see as reality. Remember that what we see online is usually the highlight reel of someone’s life, or the prettiest part that people want to show the world. If you find yourself feeling jealous or inadequate because of what your cyber friends are posting, remember that there is often much more than meets the eye, and that no one’s life is always picture perfect.
Women Should Always Enjoy Motherhood
Motherhood is HARD, and it’s not always fun. There are screaming kids, stretch marks, dirty diapers, temper tantrums, and so many things that can get to us emotionally. What’s more is that when women start having negative thoughts about being a mom, they may then experience shame for not loving it. The truth is that not loving motherhood every second is normal, and it doesn’t mean that you don’t love or want your kids. Allow yourself to feel the full spectrum of emotions, and work to counter any shame, as you don’t have to love everything about being a mom.
Movies & Television Portray Reality About Motherhood
This is another myth that we be know in our heads isn’t true and yet still find ourselves feeling inadequate that we don’t live up to what we see on the screens. When it comes to advertisements that portray a mom lovingly bathing or cuddling her child, remember that they have a product that they want you to buy; they’re using an image to sell you! We don’t have to buy into this idealization of motherhood and can be honest about the goods and the bads about it.
There’s One Right Way to Parent
Breastfeeding or formula? Public school, private school, or homeschool? Stay at home with the kids or head back to work? There’s so many different options today, and the great thing is that you and your spouse can work together to choose! Don’t feel like a failure if you don’t live up to someone else’s expectation of what your family should look like.
I love this video that hilariously portrays a variety of different ways that women can be good moms:
Mom “Guilt” Comes With the Job
When we feel guilt about something we’re doing (or not doing) as a mom, we don’t need to let this make us miserable! If you feel guilty that you’re not spending as much time with your child, for example, instead of thinking you’re a horrible person, let this emotion guide you to take action, and carve out some quality time with her! Use any guilt you feel not as punishment, but as a way to inform you of changes you’d like to make.
The Desire to Work Means You Are a Bad Mom
I’ve written extensively about aspirational shame, which is a feeling that we as women are not good enough or worthy of love if we have desire creative or professional pursuits outside of motherhood. But we are multi-dimensional individuals with a variety of talents and gifts, and using them to better ourselves, our family, and society is nothing to be ashamed of. Some women love staying home, some women want or need to work full-time, and some families practice some combination of the two. The best we can do is to support each woman in doing what works best for her, her children, and her family.
Asking For Help Is a Sign of Weakness
Becoming a mother can take a toll on us not only physically, but mentally as well. Lack of sleep, significant hormonal changes, and greater responsibilities can bring up some anxiety. You don’t have to do it alone, though. Don’t be afraid to reach out to family, friends, or a church community to help out. Maybe you need someone to watch your baby while you take a nap, go to the gym, or just spend an hour doing something you’d like. There’s no shame in this! Also, if things really get out of hand and feelings of sadness or out of control thoughts become more than you can handle, be sure to seek out a mental health professional to help you work through some of these challenges.
Dynamic self & relationship expert Dr. Julie de Azevedo Hanks, LCSW loves to make a difference for women. She owns Wasatch Family Therapy and regularly contributes to KSL TV's Studio 5, and her advice has been featured nationally including Wall Street Journal, Parenting, Fox News, and others. Connect on Facebook & Twitter. Her book The Burnout Cure is available now and The Assertiveness Guide is available now.