“It’s not unusual for moms to have low self-esteem or feel they’re not living up to the standards of what it means to be a mom,” Odenweller said. “If other moms treat them poorly, even when they’re trying to do a good job, they may feel they can’t turn to other people in their community for support”.
“It can be very isolating and all that self-doubt can lead to anxiety and depression, which can negatively affect the entire family,” added Odenweller.
According to the study results, ideal and lazy mothers drew the most contempt from both working and stay-at-home mothers. The overworked stay-at-home mom also was near the top of the list.
“Working moms juggle a lot and want more support for all mothers with careers. For them, it may be more of a social statement that women can be great at their careers and being moms,” Odenweller said.
The positive and negative responses varied depending on how mothers categorised themselves and the stereotypes they applied to other mothers.Odenweller said this was one of the more interesting findings because the way a mother treated another was based on her own perception of the other mother.
“In some cases,” she said, “these are mothers who embody what our culture believes is a good mom and yet among mothers, they are treating each other very negatively.”
Odenweller said many of the stereotypes have developed from societal ideals applied to mothers. TV, movies and other types of media perpetuate these standards of what makes a good mom. This all adds to the pressures on mothers.
While mothers cannot control how they are judged, they can control the impression they make on other mothers. Odenweller said one way to do that is to establish common ground and shared interests.
When you first meet another mother, it may be tempting to boast about the things you do for your kids or share pictures, but Odenweller recommended avoiding that temptation until you’ve built a relationship.
“Mothers should think of other mothers as an ally, not someone to compare themselves to,” she said. “Try to avoid coming across like the best mom. Talk about things you have in common, things you both enjoy as mothers and do not feel like it’s necessary to be better than her.”