26 Sep Can we stop mommy shaming car seats?
I am always astounded by the amount of mom-shaming that takes place on the internet. When did it become okay to type mean comments, calling a mom incompetent over something as trivial as going out on a date soon after having a baby, or saying that moms should be jailed for bottle-feeding their children? I often wonder if those mommy-shamers would say the same things when in the presence of those that they choose to shame – is it possible to be so callous?
Car seats is a heated topic and everyone seems to be an expert on them or at least has an opinion about them. Just look at that time when celebrity and business mogul, Kim Kardashian shared a snap of her son, Saint, in his car seat. The comments were so harsh that a few weeks later, when Chrissy Teigen posted a picture of her own daughter, Luna, she was praised for being brave which prompted Chrissy responding that she had checked the picture for at least 10 minutes before posting, knowing that she’d be setting herself up for mom-shaming. When I read it, I immediately thought, hang on guys, we’re doing something wrong here.
For a moment, I thought that it was just celebrities who were exposed to such harshness, until last year, when working on the #CarseatFullstop campaign, I was reminded that my timeline will be scrutinized by readers who feel cornered, so I should look through my photos carefully. True as day, I felt the judgement – I felt that I had to be the best-behaved citizen, the face of car seat awareness because after all, I slapped the campaign on my blog, right?
But guys, I get it wrong – we all get it wrong. We are moms; a force of nature driven by our need to protect what is ours. Like a lioness, we are ready to pounce on anyone who dares to even look at our children. The fear of doing something wrong that might jeopardise their safety – or worse, their lives – eats at us, and having that pointed out can make us feel defensive out of shame. It’s natural. But it’s also natural not to always be perfect and despite our best efforts, we do get it wrong.
Car seats are a very important discussion that we should be having. There is just so much information floating around and not enough of us are “brave” enough to start the conversation, in fear of becoming the next viral picture of a mom, who should have her children taken away for not using a rearward facing seat. Okay, that’s dramatic – but have you read the comments of car seat pictures?
Sometimes, we pull into the driveway, I unstrap Eli and then him and I get carried away with gurgles and smiles and I briefly consider snapping a picture and promptly uploading it to Instagram, for the world to admire the cuteness of my kid. But wait… The straps, they’re undone. Someone is going to notice that, and make it into a thing – shit, why did I unclip him so soon? Surely, I am not the only one who does these things? Even the founder of #CarseatFullstop, Mandy, admitted to having made car seat mistakes in the past before knowing any better and spoke of the shame that accompanied those mistakes and how being the face of the campaign almost adds to the pressure.
Shaming moms needs to stop, but more so, car seat shaming needs to come to a halt immediately. I get it – you are just trying to save little lives, we all are! But there is a much better and proactive approach to doing so. Shaming moms only causes a division, and right now, car seat awareness needs us to come together so that our voices can be heard and we can actually make an impact on car seat awareness.
So, the next time you’re scrolling through your timeline and you spot a twisted strap, or a buckle unclipped, instead of publicly shaming the mom – send her a direct message, saying something like:
“Hey! Just seen your snap of Connor – he is growing up so fast – I really commend your effort to put your child’s safety first by using a car seat, we need more of that! But I thought I’d just let you know that his strap is twisted which can be dangerous. No biggie – just something to keep an eye on for the future. Car seats are so finicky!”
Chances are, the mom will appreciate that you took the time to write a personal message, instead of hanging her out to dry in the comments section of her photo, it also opens the conversation, forges connections and promotes a mommy-network while teaching and bringing awareness to the importance of car seats.
By giving moms the confidence, we will have more moms posting pictures of their children in their car seats, which is bound to open the discussion to ask questions like; Why did you buy that car seat? Why is he rearward facing? What safety features should I be considering? These are healthy conversations that help raise car seat awareness, but in order to get to that point, we need to stop the shame.
You can also help raise awareness by sharing this post with your friends, family and mommy-networks. For more information on which car seat I use, head on over to read my review of the Maxi-Cosi Pebble Plus.
Be sure to check out #CarseatFullstop for more information, tips, and advice on choosing the right car seat, how to install them and see why the campaign has the support of award-winning local parenting bloggers, media, and brands. You can also follow #CarseatFullstop on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
I am Megan Kelly, the creator behind By Megan Kelly, mom of two boys, named Axl and Eli, and local business owner providing digital marketing solutions. I live on copious amounts of coffee, can be bribed with chocolate and will never admit to having too much makeup – although, I probably do.