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New research from Huggies released this week has revealed that over 70 percent of Aussie mums and dads admit parent-shaming is worse than ever and on the rise.
From the ever unsettling unsolicited advice from well-meaning family members, to strangers online and out in public calling out your parenting decisions, over 5.8 million Australian parents admit that they have felt directly shamed for their parenting approach.
We’re not talking one-off occasions here either. Nearly three million of those parents say that it happens at least once a month and over one million are experiencing it at least once a week, showing parent shaming’s prevalence in daily life.
Someone who knows all too well how jarring those shaming moments can be, is former Bachelor alum and mum-of-three Snezana Wood.
“I’m from a European family,” the 39-year-old laughs. “Everyone has an opinion!”
Being in the public eye opens Snezana and husband, Bachelor star Sam Wood, up to criticism when it comes to the decisions they make while raising their three beautiful girls, 14-year-old Eve, two-year-old Willow and seven-month-old baby Charlie.
Most recently Sam was raked over the coals by strangers online for daring to take the rugged-up babies outside for a walk on a cold day.
“At first you’re really taken aback by the comments,” Snez tells Bounty Parents. “But you have to step back and look at the situation and say, ‘this is OK, we know our kids, we know what we’re doing’.”
For Huggies Ambassador, Snez parent shaming has always been a part of her parenting journey, and it began way before her stint as fan fave (and Sam fave!) on The Bachelor thrust the single-mum into the public eye.
“Did I breastfeed too long, did I breastfeed not long enough,” she laughs. “And the thing is all three of my babies have been completely different experiences, I have not parented them all the same, so really the only ‘right way’ to parent is the way that works for you at the time.”
WATCH: Mums judge their parenting. Continues after video …
Just this week, young mum Kylie Jenner was severely attacked online for dressing her baby Stormi in hoop earrings. And in recent times both Chrissie Teigen and new mum, Jennifer Hawkins have spoken out about their experiences with mum-shaming online.
So, how does Snez manage the moments when people’s comments are, intentional or not, shaming the way she raises her girls?
“I just remind myself that it’s OK, people are allowed to disagree on things, they can have their opinions and their intentions are not always bad,” says Snez.
“Most of the time, even though it might not feel like it, they are coming from a good place, and I simply say ‘Thank you for that advice,’ then I take it or leave it and get on with my day.”
However the truth is, more often than not parent-shaming does hurt. The research from Huggies found that more than one in three who have been shamed admitted to questioning their own abilities as a parent and two in five women have experienced increased anxiety levels, with nearly one in 10 seeking professional support for mental health after being shamed.
Since undertaking this research Huggies have admitted that they may have played a role in depicting unrealistic expectations of parenthood and have launched their ‘Be Comfortable in Your Skin’ campaign to put an end to parent-shaming to spark joy not judgement so all parents can be comfortable their skin.
“It’s beyond amazing that Huggies have put their hand up and are taking this seriously,” Snez tells Bounty Parents. “It’s a conversation that needs to be had.”
With a focus on showcasing real Aussie families and their everyday struggles, it’s a campaign Snez is more than happy to support.
“People need to keep in mind that parents are stressed enough. Particularly us mums, we can be sensitive, we’ve got hormones raging, we’re tired, we’re navigating new territory, says Snez. “Choosing words kindly and re-thinking the things we say can make such a huge difference in ending these feelings of shame.
“All parents, and all parenting needs to be celebrated, none of us do it exactly the same, and that is more than OK.”