The Parenting Coach Podcast with Crystal

S1 E10 - Mom shame, how it's harming our motherhood and 4 secrets to help right now

Apr 26, 2021


Shame and guilt wreak havoc on our parenting. We get hit with it a lot when we decide to become more positive and conscious parents because we become more aware. We often use what we’re learning as a weapon against us. I have 4 secrets that will help us ditch this perfectionist idea we have of what mothering should be and help us step into the messiness of what it actually is. Mom shame, how it’s harming our motherhood and 4 secrets to help right now.

What we cover:

  • How shame is harming our motherhood
  • Why changing this can be so powerful
  • How to change our relationship with ourselves
  • 4 secrets we can use now to ditch shame and embrace our imperfect parenting moments


I would be honored to be your coach and help you get the changes you want to see in your life. I have come so far, completely turned around my life and my relationships with my children, I know what it takes and how to make it happen. You can use the links below to get more of my content and learn about my monthly program By Design, where I provide monthly training and live coaching to help you build radical connection in your life.

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Brené on shame and vulnerability: The Power of Vulnerabilityand Listening to Shame



Episode Transcript


Crystal The Parenting Coach: Hey, I'm Crystal, a certified life coach and mom of four. In this podcast, we combine radical connection and positive parenting theories with the How-To Life Coaching Tools and Mindset Work to completely transform our relationship with our children.

Join me on my journey, unleash your inner parenting expert, and become the mother you've always wanted to be. Make sure you subscribe wherever you listen to your podcast and rate this podcast on Apple, and check out my transformative monthly membership for moms in the show notes.

Episode 10, Mom shame, how it's harming our motherhood, and 4 secrets to help right now.


Mom shame and judgmental thoughts

So, I want to give you a few examples that I have had, thoughts that I've had in the past, but also that my clients have come to me with. The reason I decided to do this episode is because this keeps coming up over and over and over again with my mom-clients so frequently. So, I think it's something that really, really needs to be addressed. 

Shame and judgment kind of go hand in hand; we're going to be talking about both because really, it's the judgment of ourselves. It's that self-judgment that leads to shame.

So, here's some thoughts that I've heard recently, "I'm a bad mom, I'm a failure, I'm doing it wrong, I'll never get it right, I'm not enough, there's always more to learn or there's always more I could be doing." 

And what's interesting is that those, kind of, sound helpful. They kind of sound like maybe they would help promote us to change and to growth; help motivate us to get there. But they really don't. So, we're going to talk about that in a minute. 

I'm going to give you a few other thoughts that may or may not be equally as true, "I'm a pink, spotted giraffe, I'm a grey elephant, I'm a black-and-white striped zebra, I'm a cute little Wiener dog." 

Now, you're probably thinking, those are not the same at all. Well, they're just words. They were both just fairly short sentences. They probably even had the same or close to the same amount of words in those sentences. 

They both started with, 'I'm', just like the first ones of, 'I'm a bad mom, I'm a failure, I'm doing it wrong, I'm not enough.' So, why is it that some of them seem so believable, and some of them don't? 

I kind of think of it as like, it's getting stuck. It's like a stuck belief. Some people call them 'limiting beliefs', but I think of them as stuck beliefs or thought errors. They're not really true, right? They're not-- I mean, you might think they're true. You might be thinking "No, for me, it really is true." All of you are probably thinking that because we all think that it's a very true story. 


How shame is harming our motherhood

So, you can go back and listen to the story episodes that I had done in the past. But even though they might seem true, they're actually not useful. And what I mean by this is if I feel like I'm a failure, I'm going to be feeling shame; that's where the mom shame comes from. All of those thoughts that I just suggested are going to lead to self-judgment and to shame. 

So, when we're parenting from that way, this is what our parenting's going to look like; 'We're going to be shorter with our kids, we're going to spend more time on social media, we're going to kind of numb out more – maybe avoid our kids a little bit more, maybe just hang out in our bedroom and watch Netflix – we're probably not going to eat so well, we're probably not going to sleep so well, we'll probably be up kind of late, we're probably going to be more irritated – maybe not as connected with our partner that we want to be.' 

All of that is going to come from a space of shame. 

And if you're into Thought Work, and if you're a person that does Thought Work regularly, if you're feeling shame and you're feeling self-judgment, you likely stop doing your Thought Work – you stop being mindful about your thoughts. Maybe you stop taking care of yourself in the same way, right? Maybe you don't--  

Maybe typically you wake up in the morning, and go for a run or a jog or exercise or eat healthy; you probably stop doing that as well because those things come from shame and self-judgment. So, the result that we're creating there is actually more shame and more judgment. We're making the thought even more true. 

If we feel like we're a bad mom, because maybe we yelled at our child, or maybe we fed them cereal for dinner – and we're thinking, 'I'm a bad mom,' the result of that model, once we put that all the way through the model, is going to be that we actually do things that make us more bad, in our mind. 

I'm not saying that they really are bad, but in our mind, we're thinking, we're even farther from the goal. We have this super-high expectation of ourselves, and we actually get farther and farther and farther away from that goal – the more shame and the more self-judgment that we feel. 

So, this is how it's affecting us, and it's not even necessarily true, right? It could also be true that I'm a giraffe, and you're probably looking at me and thinking, 'Okay, no, wait, that's not true because you're a human, not a giraffe. So, I know that's not true.' 

Okay. So, there's some evidence of why I'm not a giraffe, but I would also gather evidence of why it's not true that you're a bad mom. I could look at you and probably think of several things, several reasons why you are not a bad mom; for one, you're listening to this podcast. 

So, if you're here listening to the podcast, it's probably because you are trying and trying, regardless of how many mistakes we make, means you're a good mom. So, everyone who is listening to this podcast has to be a good mom. At least, there's one big piece of evidence for why your story about you being a bad mom might not be true.

So, it doesn't feel good. It's not super useful. It's not a great space to live from. We actually create more shame and more self-judgment when we're parenting from this space, that is how it's harming our motherhood.

It's harming our motherhood, and it's even harming our humanhood every day. When we do this all of the time, we're going to be farther and farther away from the goals that we're setting for ourselves and the kind of person that we want to become. So, this is probably--  

I would say overwhelm and self-judgment are the two biggest problems that come up when I am coaching my clients. Those are the two, like most common themes. So, that's why I wanted to do an episode on this. 


4 Secrets to help you overcome mom-shame

So, I'm going to give you four, kind of, secrets to success that can help you right now; each of them are so good. So, I would take notes. If you have a pen and a paper, I would write down and take notes because – just pick one of these four, and just try them and see how it works. And let me know; reach out to me on Instagram, and tell me how it's going for you. Okay. 


1. In a perfect world, I would…

So, number one, I want you to write down at the top of a piece of paper, "In a perfect world, I would…." what does your life look like for you in a perfect world? Maybe it's that your house would be always clean. Also, you're always hanging out with your kids. 

So, we're not sure how your house is actually getting cleaned. Also, you're always connected with your kids and focused on your kids. Also, you never yell; you're always kind and loving. 

What else could I add here? What else do people tell me? 'They manage their life really well. They are super organized. They take time to work on, you know, business or goals or other aspirations and passions that they have; also somehow, always spending all of their time with their kids.' 

So, there's some-- I want you to write down all of your 'In a perfect world'. Now, the reason that we do this is to kind of notice how those subconscious expectations of ourselves are actually harming our parenting. So, if we have those in the back of our mind, it's like we have this like constant, never-ending goal that we're not going to reach. It's this goal of like superhuman. 

Every time that I've asked moms this question, 'In a perfect world, what would you be, what would be different?' Every single thing is superhuman; 'I'd never make a mistake, I would never yell at my children, I'd always be kind and loving.' Well, that's going to be pretty harmful for ourselves because it's literally impossible. 

Everybody makes mistakes, everybody in the world. So, why do we want to have that as our goal? Why would we want to have a goal that we’ll never be able to reach unless we become some other person that's not human? Is it really a true or realistic goal? 

Does anybody else going to get there? Does it feel good to have this goal that's so far out of reach? Do you see how it's harming you and harming your motherhood when you show up in shame and self-judgment, and the kind of parenting that comes from that? 

Our brain is so black and white that if we feel like we hold so hard onto this control of shame and self-judgment – that somehow, that'll help us get to our goal and we'll be able to become the kind of person that we want to become.

And our brain tells us, 'Well, if we let go of that control, we'll go all the way to the other end, where we'll just do absolutely nothing – not take care of our kids, only spend time on us,' that we’ll just be totally discouraged and not ever grow at all. 

And our brain is going to tell us, like, "Let's just swing back and forth between these two options, because they're the only two options." But balance is in the center. 

A good example of this would be weight loss. Some people feel like, you know, 'I'm fat, I don't like the way that I look, I don't like the way that my body looks.' So, all of that leads them to maybe go on a diet, or to exercise crazy, or do something really kind of drastic. 

But all of those thoughts are still there, right? You can't shame yourself into losing weight. You can't hate yourself into losing weight; and at least, not in a sustainable and healthy way, then you're just going to go back and forth, right? 

That's why diets are such Fads. That's why diets don't work because we're just going to go back and forth from this like place of, you know, trying to really control and change things – all the way to this other side of like, 'Now, I'm not going to do anything about it at all.' And we do the same thing with our parenting. 

So, when we're parenting from this space of shame and self-judgment, we actually parent worse. There's no upside to shaming ourself, to telling us what a bad job we're doing; it actually won't help or make us any better. 

So, Secret #1 is – write out – in a perfect world, I would… [fill in the blanks] Just let yourself go to town on that. 


2. Good-Enough Parenting is the goal

Number #2 is to change your expectations. So, instead of being perfect or, not even perfect, like superhuman-perfect, I want your goal instead to be, what I call, Good-Enough Parenting. Good-Enough Parenting is like B-minus Parenting, like 80%. 

So, instead of having this goal to be like 100%, or maybe your goal is even like 110%, we're going to switch it down to 80. So, if 80% was the goal, what would change for you, if it was just Good-Enough Parenting? 

So, maybe that's, 'My children eat healthy sometimes, sometimes they don't eat so healthy. I'm trying, I'm making mistakes – sometimes I yell, sometimes I don't. Sometimes I'm connected with my kids, and sometimes I'm not. I keep trying, I keep apologizing.' You know, on and on and on, we go.

So, Good-Enough Parenting, I just want you to write out – what would change if Good-Enough Parenting was my goal instead, instead of perfectionism? 


3. Step into self-compassion

Okay number #3, I want you to notice how shame feels in your body first. Now, shame isn't something that we talk about a lot – unless you're Brené Brown, and you love Brené Brown, and you read about it all the time; in which case, you do talk about it a lot, AKA me, because I love her. 

So, she says that shame is like the gremlins that are like hiding in the corner and they like the dark. So, in order to get them in the light and to kind of dig out those gremlins, we have to love ourselves and be really compassionate for ourselves. 

So; (A) I want you to notice what shame feels like in your body. Is it heavy? Is it sticky? Is it dark? Does it feel kind of like a weight that's pressing down on your chest? Shame is going to feel a little bit different in different people's bodies. So, shame is kind of the same as that self-judgment or that guilt feeling. 

The difference between shame and guilt is – guilt is, I did something wrong – and shame is, I am wrong. Like me deep down in my core, there's something wrong with me. So, that's kind of the difference between shame and guilt. That's the way that Brené Brown describes it. 

So, I want you to kind of notice, first, how shame feels in your body. 

Now, this third secret is notice that shame, it's totally normal; everybody feels shame. Once you feel the shame and you recognize that that's shame, you can even say it out loud, like, 'Okay, there's shame, that's what shame feels like,' so that we can start really recognizing it more. 

Then we want to move from shame to self-compassion. Self-compassion is the antidote to shame. Self-compassion and self-love, that's the light that we shine in that dark room to scare away all those gremlins. That is what will help is bringing that all to light. 

So, how can we move into self-compassion when we're feeling the shame? Well, we know that shame's kind of a cycle, right? We sit and feel shame, and then we do more things that add to more shame. And it's just like, we're on this constant spin cycle in the laundry and we can't get out of it. 

Well, self-compassion helps us to get out of that spin cycle. So, noticing the feeling of shame, maybe noticing the thoughts that lead to the feeling of shame. So, I'm going to write down those thoughts; 'I'm doing a bad job, I'm doing it wrong, something's wrong with me, I'm a failure, I'm a bad mom.' 

So, I want you to write down all of those thoughts that are leading to shame for you. So, you notice the feeling, as soon as you notice that feeling, you're just going to write down a few of them; you don't have to write down a ton. 

And then, I want you to go to your 2.0-Self. If you haven't watched the episode on 2.0, go back and watch that, Episode 9. And I want you to get really clear on what your 2.0 is, what they're thinking and feeling. 

Another way to do this is to think of your best friend or somebody that really loves you – maybe it's your partner, maybe it's your parents. And I want you to think about having a conversation with them back and forth. So, all of those little shame-filled thoughts you wrote down like, 'I'm a failure, I'm a bad mom,' what would they say back to each of those ones? 

So, maybe they would say something like, 'You're actually doing a great job – keep it up, all humans make mistakes, it's totally normal and totally human to make mistakes, you're doing fine – this is totally normal, you're on the path-- you're on the path of being a mom, of being a human.' 

So, I just want you to have that little conversation, and that will help us move into self-compassion; so, any thoughts that would help you feel self-compassion. We're a lot quicker to be compassionate to other people, right? 

If this was our best friend, really struggling; it would be easy for us to comfort them, and to love them, and to show them that compassion. But we have a harder time doing it to ourselves. So, it's just becoming our own inner best friend. 

So, now, I have these conversations with myself and I actually think of myself, not my best friend anymore, I think, 'Okay, what would myself say to myself?' And I might even say it out loud when I'm driving, 'Okay, there's something wrong with me.' 

Is there actually something wrong with you? Is it pretty normal that you just made a mistake? Is it pretty normal that you just lost it on your kids? Yeah, I think it is pretty normal. I think that's okay. I think you're doing a good job. 

Okay. So, that's number #3. 


4. Judgment that you have of others - What you think others think of you

Number #4 is shame is a lot of self-judgment, right? All of these are kind of judging thoughts. And when we're in judgment, it's like we're in a fog; and we judge everybody – we judge the situation, we judge the people around us, we judge ourselves. 

It's like judgment just makes more judgment. And we can't see things clearly. We can't see through that fog to see what's actually happening when we're sitting there in judgment. 

So, the fourth little secret or the fourth step here is, I want you to think about what you think others think of you. So, for example, maybe I'm switching to this radical connection way of parenting, what do I think other people are going to think of me? 

Write them all down, Maybe my sister is going to think this. Maybe my mom is going to think you're not being harsh enough on your kids. Maybe my dad's going to be like, 'This isn't working. Like, why are you doing this? You weirdo.' 

So, I just want you to write down all those thoughts. You think they're going to think of you. Maybe it's not with parenting; maybe it's just with your life, what do you think they would think about your life? Do you think that they think you're doing it wrong, that you shouldn't be doing it this way? Right? I want you to write down all of the things you think they would either say to you or think about you. 

Judgment of others is often judgment of us. And what I mean by that is we have these basement thoughts, these kind of like hidden deep-down basement thoughts; and just a small percentage of us, actually think that might be true. 

So, maybe we're worried that we are making the wrong mistake, or that we're not parenting in the right way we think we want to. So, as we write down what we think others think of us, I would suggest that all or almost all of those are judgements you actually have about yourself. 

And when you can dig those out through this exercise, then you can work through them. So, you can do those Thought Dumps; question them, do they feel good? Are they helpful? Are they creating the result that I want? Do I want to keep them or not? Right? So, it's really our opinion of us that matters. It's always our opinion of us that matters. 

And so, right now, that's going to dig out your kind of deep-down opinion of you so that you can start: sifting through it, bring it to light, work through it. It's like a fridge. 

We open up our fridge, and we have two drawers. We have this one drawer of like this beautiful, fresh fruit and vegetables, and we love looking at it. So, it's colorful and beautiful and fresh. And then, we have this other drawer where things are like rotten and moldy. 

And we just want to look in the clean, fresh drawer. We just want to open that up and look at it, right? That's like the positive affirmations, and just feel positively about this and think happy thoughts; you know, be grateful for things. And that can be helpful. 

But meanwhile, we have this drawer that's closed, that's getting more and more moldy – that's getting more and more gross and yucky, right? So, we also need to open up that. 

I think it's even more powerful to open up that drawer, and just take it out really gently and carefully – just little bit by little bit – clean those things out, throw some in the garbage, decide what you're going to keep and what you're not going to keep. That's what we can do about this judgment with us. 

So, again, I'm going to recap; 

  • #1 is in a perfect world, I would... 
  • #2 is Good-Enough Parenting is the goal. 
  • #3 is step into self-compassion – have a conversation with your future-self, have a conversation with your best friend-self. 
  • #4 is the judgment that we have of others – what we think they're thinking about us – is usually judgment we actually have of ourself. So, let's open that drawer, dig all that judgment out, and figure out what our true opinion of us really is and work on that because that is where the true changes will happen. 


And remember, mom-shame, mom-self-judgment only harms our motherhood more. So, try these tools, try these secrets; let me know how they work for you. 

I hope you enjoyed today's episode. Make sure that you give it Five Stars on Apple, and check out my monthly membership for moms in the show notes.

Cover image for the parenting personality quiz, 4 sketches of a mom doing a different activity with her child
Cover image for the parenting personality quiz, 4 sketches of a mom doing a different activity with her child

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