Most of you are familiar with the expression ‘Mansplaining’. Wikipedia defines it as “to explain something to someone, typically a man to woman, in a manner regarded as condescending or patronizing.“
I think most women have been mansplained something in our lives – be it how our reproductive systems work and how to best care for it. Or what its like to be a woman in a world where sexual harassment and assault is still acceptable in many countries. I digress.
Anyway, I was thinking about this concept in light of several unhelpful and at times, infuriating, comments other mothers have made to me about how to be a better parent, good intentions aside. Obviously not mansplaining, but the tone and reception is the same.
Mumsplaining. It already has many definitions in popular culture but to me, it’s “a mother explaining something or giving unsolicited advise to another mother in a manner regarded as condescending or patronizing.”
Ladies (and dudes), we need to be so careful. I’m at fault of this, absolutely, and I’m learning to watch what I share with other mothers. In a world where there are literally millions of articles, blog posts, books, vloggers, and other mothers in our lives sharing information and experience about parenting we will inevitably have different take-aways. We are eager to share best practices, statistics, pro-tips with our mum/mom friends.
Be it the best way to feed a baby, the best way to wean, recommended sleeping arrangements, how to introduce routines and schedules, when to start baby classes, the benefits of working versus staying home, the balance you have with your partner on parental responsibilities, how you want to educate your child. The list goes on.
Chances are, the other mothers you are talking to have done their research. They’ve spoken to the mothers in their lives – their own mothers, aunts, cousins, friends. They’ve read blogs, books, watched YouTube videos. They think really damn hard about how to be a good mother and how they want to parent.
There is a time and place for mumsplaining. If a mother (or parent) tells you they are doing something that is quite frankly just dangerous and bad – leaving their baby in the bathtub alone while they drink a glass of wine or only feed their three month old baby salty crisps – by all means mumsplain away and maybe even call social services.
But in general, I think we need to give other mothers the benefit of the doubt that they’ve read up and are doing the best they can and aren’t in need of unsolicited advise or the cliffnotes version of that article you read from five years ago about when it’s appropriate to give your baby Calpol (I kid you not, some mothers believe you can only give a baby tylenol when they have a high fever.)
But you know what’s worse than mumsplaining? Dadsplaining. Heaven help me.