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Parents under attack: New research reveals over 70% of Aussie mums and dads admit parent-shaming is worse than ever and on the rise

For the first time, the true scale and impact of the growing trend of parent-shaming has been revealed amongst Aussie parents - with 71% of parents saying there is more parental judgement today than in the past and it’s causing anxiety, mental health issues and damaging relationships.

A new Huggies survey has revealed over 5.8 million Australian parents1 (45%) admit that they have felt directly shamed for their parenting approach, with nearly three million1 of those (50%) saying that it happens at least once a month and over one million1 (20%) experiencing it at least once a week, showing its prevalence in daily life.

Huggies is rallying for an end to parent-shaming through the launch of the ‘Be Comfortable in Your Skin’ campaign; with a focus on showcasing real Aussie families and their everyday struggles. A new film highlighting the real impact parent-shaming has on parents across Australia is aimed to alert us to the shocking impact small remarks, judgements and behaviours can have on parents.

Lauren Crawley, Head of Marketing at Huggies, commented: “In a bid to get people talking about and ultimately ending parent-shaming, Huggies wants to celebrate all parents and empower them to feel comfortable in their parenting abilities and choices. We want to encourage parents to support each other, and above all give parents the credit they deserve. Because ultimately, if your baby is happy and healthy, you’re doing a great job as a parent and you should feel as comfortable in your skin as your baby’s skin feels in Huggies nappies.”

 Alarmingly, it’s mostly mums that take the criticism of parent-shaming to heart. With over a third (36%) who have been shamed saying they have questioned their own abilities as a parent, this rises to almost one in two women (43%) compared to just one in four men (26%). Similarly, nearly twice as many women (41%) than men (22%) admit they’ve experienced increased anxiety levels due to being parent-shamed.

 As a result of being shamed, nearly one in 10 (8%) had to seek professional support for mental health. On top of this, parent-shaming takes its toll on social life and personal relationships, with nearly a fifth of parents (17%) admitting that criticism is also negatively impacting their relationship with their friends and family.

 Psychologist Sabina Read says: “Parent-shaming is a having a concerning impact on parents with many suffering from mental health issues as a result. We see that mums are typically quicker to criticise themselves and take comments to heart, often devastating their confidence as a parent. Sadly, this can even have a knock-on effect on children who feel their parents’ anxieties.

 “With many people being unaware of how their remarks are perceived, we need to be more conscious of how we treat parents when they’re most vulnerable. Taking a stand on the issue is the first step to champion all parents.”

 Parent-shaming in all its forms and shapes

 In an increasingly online world, we now have more places and freedoms to shame others’ parenting techniques and behaviours, with the tap of just a few keys. According to the research, a staggering 77% of parents believe that online forums provide a platform for easy parent-shaming. So, it’s no wonder that almost one in five mums (19%) admit they’ve experienced someone making comments on social media. It’s a problem we see all too often even on Huggies own social channels and want to call time on this unwelcome behaviour.

Snezana Wood, Huggies ambassador and celebrity mum, says: “As a mum in the public eye, I am exposed to the realities of parent-shaming, being judged online for the way I parent my girls. In an amazing, yet vulnerable stage of life, parent-shaming can so easily make you question your own parenting skills and create doubt within the choices you make for your kids. I’m so excited to be working with Huggies as they strive to bring attention to the issue of parent-shaming and instead celebrate all parents, creating a supportive community to allow parents to be comfortable in their own choices.”

 More than half of parents (52%) felt like they were shamed by someone questioning or criticising decisions they’ve made, half experienced someone making a negative remark about their parenting choices and over a third (38%) have been told directly that what they were doing was wrong. Surprisingly, sometimes all it takes is a strange look from a stranger, with a third (33%) admitting they felt like they’re being shamed by someone who was giving them strange looks in response to their parent choices.

 The research also reveals what Aussie parents feel that they’ve been shamed for with almost one in two believing it was their approach to discipline (44%) and their child’s behaviour (43%), and over a third (34%) felt like they are being criticised for allowing their children to spend too much time in front of a screen. It also appears that Aussies are criticising working parents, with almost a third (29%) admitting they’ve felt shame about it.

 New parents amongst the most shamed

The first few years of bringing up a child is a stressful and difficult time, filled with questions and many decisions. Unfortunately, according to the research, first time parents who experience shame suffer more frequently with half saying they feel it at least once a month (57%). Surprisingly, the criticisms faced by parents of babies aged 0-2 years are also experienced at least monthly (61%) and often come from those who are supposed to be helping and supporting, such as their relatives (37%), showing we need to look after new parents more.  

 Walking the fine line between healthy advice and shaming

 Despite the extent of shaming, Aussies who admit to doing so appear to have good intentions: almost half (42%) wanted to share their own experience to be helpful, one in five (19%) believed that others can benefit from their advice and 14% felt that they’re responsible to help new parents. So with good intent and thinking before we speak, let’s make a stand on parent-shaming by faming not shaming.

 Head to the Huggies “Be Comfortable In Your Skin” website to read more: https://www.huggies.com.au/comfortable-in-your-skin