Why John Legend isn’t backing down against mommy-shaming

Research and experience shows us millennials are striving to be equal co-parents—each with valuable opinions, skills and responsibilities. Yet, women and men are often held to very different standards when it comes to parenting.

While dads are applauded for providing for their families, many moms still feel guilt for going back to work.

While dads are given credit for “babysitting” their children, many moms put pressure on themselves to be completely perfect parents lest they be subject to side-eye.

And while dads aren’t often scrutinized for parenting decisions, many moms struggle with anxiety as an effect of the daily choices we make.

These double standards aren’t only insulting to women. Just ask John Legend.

“I think the expectation from the general public is that the mom is more responsible for raising the child, and I think there’s more of a culture around mommy-shaming than there is around dad-shaming,” Legend told Today Parents.

This isn’t the first time Legend’s spoken out about the intensity of mommy-shaming his wife, Chrissy Teigen, experiences: Shortly after the couple’s daughter, Luna, was born in 2016, Teigen was raked on Twitter over photos of a dinner date with her hubby. Legend didn’t just come to his wife’s defense, but also pointed out how ridiculous the controversy really was.

“If you're saying she's a terrible parent for leaving the child at home—and she's not, obviously—but if you're going to say it to her, then say it to me, too,” he told Today in May 2016. “You know, every once in a while, you have to take care of yourselves as a couple.”

Even with her husband on her side, Teigen recently admitted the ongoing negativity takes a toll.

“It gets to me every time,” Teigen told Today Parents in August. “You realize you’re going to get it no matter what, and it started when I was pregnant... If I seem like I don’t care, I definitely care.”

Although most of us don’t have quite as high of a profile as Teigen, mom-shaming remains prevalent: According to a recent study from University of Michigan’s C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital, 61% of moms reported feeling shamed—typically by family members.

The most common points of contention included discipline, nutrition and sleep habits, which led to nearly half of the moms saying they occasionally felt insecure in their parenting choices.

“Mothers can get overwhelmed by so many conflicting views on the ‘best’ way to raise a child,” says Sarah Clark, the survey’s co-director. “Unsolicited advice—especially from the people closest to her child—can be perceived as meaning she’s not doing a good job as a mother. That can be hurtful.”

Of course, the solution here isn’t to start with the dad-shaming. (That’s not the kind of parenting equality anyone wants.) Instead, we need to halt this growing problem with mom-shaming.

We can all do our parts here by respecting others’ decisions. Acknowleding that we each make choices for a variety of reasons. Engaging in thoughtful discussions. And remembering that we—not our mother-in-laws and definitely not people on the internet—are the ones responsible for determining what’s best for our families.

After all, we’re in this together (dads included) even when the ways we parent look totally different. 💜

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