Momsplain
August 6, 2017 4:13 PM   Subscribe

Momsplaining is condescending explanations by moms to non-parents. Or children. Or other moms.
posted by clawsoon (60 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
 
Forget the promise of progress and understanding, for in the grim dark future there is only 'splaining. There is no peace amongst the stars, only an eternity of men 'splaining to women, moms 'splaining to other moms, cats 'splaining to dogs and the laughter of thirsting gods."
posted by Telf at 4:22 PM on August 6 [33 favorites]


[screams]
posted by ryanshepard at 4:26 PM on August 6 [2 favorites]


I feel like I do the opposite of the original video (as a disabled person, not a mom). I've got chronic fatigue; I'm exhausted on a full night's sleep, so on four hours of sleep I'd be dead. When someone says "I'm so tired, I only got four hours of sleep" you'd expect me to roll my eyes and go off about how they don't REALLY know what it's like to be tired, right? No. Instead I immediately project my own experience onto them and completely freak out and demand they go to bed RIGHT NOW IMMEDIATELY, HOW HAVE YOU NOT FALLEN OVER.

Afterwards I always remember that lack of sleep does not affect most healthy people nearly as badly as it affects me and they're probably going to be totally fine... but I still get worried and fuss over people until they get enough sleep. I do the same when people don't eat enough or drink enough water. Kind of... like a mom. Oh god. I've looped around. It's the other kind of momsplaining.
posted by brook horse at 4:40 PM on August 6 [19 favorites]


So... reverse Metafilter basically?
posted by Artw at 4:40 PM on August 6 [3 favorites]


So, your point is?
posted by Mom at 4:47 PM on August 6 [95 favorites]


All joking aside, as a new parent I understand the tedium of both the momsplaining to non parents and the momsplaining to other moms.

Sometimes people invite you to things and are genuinely confused that you can't change your plans in less than 24 hours because you have a baby. Like all the time. People are surprised that you still have that baby 2 weeks later. It's not a flu, it's a mini person. When you use the baby excuse again, they can get annoyed.

The parent-parent momsplaining (Because dads don't raise kids.) is a real minefield. Friends are lost and won based on parenting style. My kid rolls around in mud and eats stray insects off the floor. It's very hard for me to get along with disinfectant wipe mom who's checking one of her 20 baby apps to make sure her little wonder hasn't missed an very important hourly developmental landmark or is 40 grams behind on feeding. (That was unfair, everyone has a different style of parenting.)

Most advice is obviously well-meaning, but it's hard not to take personally. All kids develop at different rates in slightly different sequences.

Also, really sick of gendered portmanteaus for pretty much everything. I'm going manvomit if someone mancoins another maneologism about something men mendo.
posted by Telf at 4:56 PM on August 6 [38 favorites]


I counter with John Oliver's investigation into maternity leave, in which he points out that only the USA and Papua New Guinea don't have it. If you don't have time for that, because you're a mom, check out this table on wikipedia.

This is as dismissive of a real problem as 'angry black man' 'splainin.
posted by adept256 at 5:04 PM on August 6 [13 favorites]


adept256: This is as dismissive of a real problem as 'angry black man' 'splainin.

I think that the last link has a thoughtful exploration of how the urge to help other parents with parenting advice often just increases the pressure and feelings of failure.

And I do think it's a gendered thing. As a single father, I get very little parent-to-parent "momsplaining" directed at me. If people comment at all it's almost always to tell me what a fantastic job I'm doing, despite the fact that objectively I am, at best, an average-to-middling parent.
posted by clawsoon at 5:17 PM on August 6 [13 favorites]


I hang out with moms and am a mom and have, honestly, never noticed that this is a big problem among moms. I mean, of course it happens, but not more than in other environments.

What I have noticed is that every interaction among women that isn't 'I luuuuurvvvee you!' and mega-empathetic on both sides, i.e. perfect is dissected and deemed aggressive, wrong, catty, 'competitive', etc. I'm not buying it. We're (mostly) doing a pretty good job of supporting one another, under less than perfect circumstances.
posted by The Toad at 5:24 PM on August 6 [26 favorites]


New mothers would do that to my Mom, who raised six children. My mother would wordlessly shut them up by taking their crying baby, making it laugh, then handing it back to start crying again.
posted by StickyCarpet at 5:24 PM on August 6 [34 favorites]


Also a mom here and honestly don't think I've run into this that much. I think competitive parenting is more of a thing, which may be related...
posted by Toddles at 5:44 PM on August 6 [1 favorite]


I am permanently childless and I'm really interested in the experience of parenting.

I know that some people get annoyed if you talk about your kid all the time, but in my circles people don't talk about them enough.

Anything that helps folks like me understand is helpful and often fascinating.

Anyone who gives you spontaneous advice on how to raise your kid is probably a bit of an overbearing jerk, though.
posted by poe at 5:49 PM on August 6 [2 favorites]


I'm indifferent to how other people raise their kids, but I admit that I'm like StickyCarpets mom, in that I'm a child whisperer. Especially on planes. I have some mystical power when airborne that lets me soothe any kid under three. Once, on an international flight, I had three not my kids, and once I had everyone asleep or laughing, the stewards moved me to first class, to say thank you, which was nice. (It was klm, they're an awesome airline.)

Re momsplaining, there's only two people with kids in my friend group, and our kids have been raised together, so we're pretty simpatico on process, and thus no conflict. Plus, all the friends who don't have kids spoil mine with toys they want to play with, but not store, like telescopes and crossbows and serious microscopes.

Re new parents, be aware that you will lose some friends. They won't mean to slip away, but y'all have different priorities now. Take my advice, and stay in touch when you can, and before you know it, kidlet will be autonomous, and planning becomes much easier.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 6:15 PM on August 6 [13 favorites]


Not to be confused with mommyjacking.
posted by Brittanie at 6:22 PM on August 6 [2 favorites]


IIRC the worst I ever met was a male relative who stayed at home with his children while his wife worked (until he left her). He got to be the man AND the mom with all the self-righteousness and explaining that could possibly entail. He still 'splains. He will never stop.
posted by goofyfoot at 6:37 PM on August 6 [8 favorites]


I'm gonna have to watch the video again. I spent the entire time trying to figure out how I knew "Purple Hoodie" momsplainer in the middle.

She's Jan from the Toyota commercials. You're welcome.
posted by ovenmitt at 6:47 PM on August 6 [1 favorite]


Not to be confused with mommyjacking.

Oh those definitions should really be called Momlighting.
posted by rhizome at 6:47 PM on August 6 [1 favorite]


I admit that I'm like StickyCarpets mom, in that I'm a child whisperer.

Whispering might apply in some broad sense of the word, but Mom's trick was hypnotizing them with quick changes of somewhat grotesque exagerated facial expressions of surprise, concentration, smiling, and so on, while also giving them nodding feedback if they reacted to anything.
posted by StickyCarpet at 6:56 PM on August 6 [11 favorites]


I can add that my mother also once confessed to me that she took a perverse pleasure in doing this when circumstance applied.
posted by StickyCarpet at 6:59 PM on August 6 [6 favorites]


I guess you could call it weaponized grandmothering.
posted by StickyCarpet at 7:05 PM on August 6 [29 favorites]


StickyCarpet: I guess you could call it weaponized grandmothering.

"Grandma didn't have to 'splain. She just ripped through your parenting pretensions with a few grotesque facial expressions and a smile..."
posted by clawsoon at 7:20 PM on August 6 [14 favorites]


Not to be confused with mommyjacking.

Gonna need an NSFW tag in here soon.
posted by rokusan at 7:29 PM on August 6 [2 favorites]


I awakened today at 6:00 am, worked half a day, drove 350 miles, unpacked, went grocery shopping, unloaded the groceries, sat down, and read this post title as "moonsplaining" and thought it was about the eclipse.

Bedtime for me.
posted by 4ster at 7:30 PM on August 6 [14 favorites]


One of my kids took what I now refer to as "Ms. [name's] wild ride" through adolescence. At the time, however, I had no sense of humor about the situation—I was seriously worried she wouldn't live to see 20. Unsolicited advice that I try something obvious was a constant test. After being asked for the umpteenth time if I had tried grounding her, I responded through gritted teeth that if grounding were the solution, I wouldn't have a problem. (Grounding requires your child's cooperation.) It's been 10+ years and I'm still kinda pissed about this.
posted by she's not there at 7:40 PM on August 6 [6 favorites]


Mom?
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 7:52 PM on August 6 [4 favorites]


No, said child is currently in the kitchen baking cookies. Maybe you could use this time to call your mom and tell you love her.

(And congrats on surviving whatever made your teen years difficult.)
posted by she's not there at 8:12 PM on August 6 [8 favorites]


Just for the record, a Gogurt left in the freezer is, actually, delicious.
posted by eye of newt at 8:16 PM on August 6


Ah, just tucked the little rascals into bed and poured myself a martini after a long weekend of solo parenting while mom's away.

It turns out parenting is fucking hard. If I decided to pull through McDonald's for a couple of ice cream sundaes before bed after a 2 hour ferry line to get them to stop crying and picking on each other, I do not need any feedback on this decision from anyone, particularly my well-rested coparent. No one had anything to say the rest of the weekend when I was being a truly excellent parent.

Unless what you are seeing is truly egregious like abuse, or endangerment, or unstable mental illness, your unsolicited advice is really best kept to yourself.

Cause chances are, I probably think you're a shitty mom and I'll still smile sympathetically and offer to have the kids play at my place this time. And I do want advice from people about particularly difficult parenting issues. I just didn't ask you for a reason.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 9:48 PM on August 6 [7 favorites]


Epilogue: at one point this weekend, when I enforced the "it's time to turn off the TV" rule, my 8 year old insisted "you're treating me like a child!!!"

I'm pretty sure this is just a phase and he'll be soon be back to assuming his subservient role where my decisions are unquestionably right.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 9:55 PM on August 6 [15 favorites]


Cause chances are, I probably think you're a shitty mom and I'll still smile sympathetically and offer to have the kids play at my place this time. And I do want advice from people about particularly difficult parenting issues. I just didn't ask you for a reason.

OMG, "a-effing-men" sir or madam. We are of the same mind on all of this. <3
posted by trackofalljades at 10:44 PM on August 6 [2 favorites]


Momsplaining is condescending explanations by moms to non-parents. Or children. Or other moms.

...or dads?
posted by gottabefunky at 11:41 PM on August 6 [1 favorite]


In these modern enlightened times where parenting, householding, cooking and cleaning is shared between dads, moms and the cat, there's also dadsplaining. So we're sorta back on square one. Let me tell you how I solved my son's selected eating habit...
posted by Namlit at 11:46 PM on August 6 [1 favorite]


Oh no. When I talk about my parenting woes I actually do want to hear the other person's tipps and tricks.
I have an Anerican friend with four kids and I always have to explicitly ask her for advice because all she'll do is nod understandingly. C'mon lady! You have excellent advice, helllpppp meeeee.

So I do as I wish other parents would do to me...and now I wonder if I'm constantly annoying them.

On the other side, I have a facebook friend who'll react to any funny cheeky kid anecdote with advice, and THAT ticks me off. And it's always about how well she listens to her kids and how understanding she is. Ugh. It was just a funny anecdote about my snarky kid!
posted by Omnomnom at 12:05 AM on August 7 [2 favorites]


I am an aunty. I would be the worst mom in all the land, but I am good at the following:

rocking child to sleep
buying loud, sugary expensive toys for various spawn.

I bow to parents of children, since the spawn do seem to keep living, despite their seeming endless demands to make said parents insane with rage .

as a non parent, I offer this advice, gleaned from my 35 first cousins and their offspring:
1. frozen bagels for teething.
2. rocking chairs.
3. drive them around when they won't sleep
4. have other children in close proximity to wear them out, making them eventually exhausted.
posted by LuckyMonkey21 at 2:30 AM on August 7 [3 favorites]


AS SOMEONE MALE AND CHILDLESS LET ME EXPLAIN SOMETHING TO YOU ENOFFSPRINGED. URINE GOES IN THE TOILET, AS DOES POOP. BUT DIAPERS GO IN THE CAN.

Ask me how I know.
posted by saysthis at 3:29 AM on August 7 [2 favorites]


If people comment at all it's almost always to tell me what a fantastic job I'm doing, despite the fact that objectively I am, at best, an average-to-middling parent.

You are lucky, then, because I get momsplained to all the time by virtual strangers who assume they know my own kids and their needs better than I do, but I try to just let it roll off my back. To be fair, there are also strangers in line at grocery checkouts who give me atta boys over the slightest demonstrations of patience and skillful parenting, but I've also had people tell me wanting to put my kids in public school was tantamount to chumming the water for sharks and to stop being neurotic about "little things" like the fact it wasn't clear for a couple of days around Christmas time if we would even have a home to celebrate Christmas in that year. Apparently, my worrying about it at all was just typical oversensitive liberal handwringing.
posted by saulgoodman at 5:09 AM on August 7 [1 favorite]


So far there's no cutesy portmanteau for when I talk to other people's children as though they're adults, right?
posted by aspersioncast at 6:20 AM on August 7 [1 favorite]


A non-gendered portmanteau for this behavior could be Condesplain = Condescend + Explain.
posted by domo at 6:43 AM on August 7 [7 favorites]


saulgoodman: You are lucky, then, because I get momsplained to all the time by virtual strangers...

Interesting. My first thought was that I wasn't getting 'splained to because I almost always limit my parenting talk to bland positivity or amusing anecdote. But the more I think about it, I wonder if I'm just forgetting or being oblivious to the 'splains. If a stranger makes an interesting and possibly useful point that I hadn't thought of before, I'll remember it. (That has happened three or four times in ten years.) If they say something clueless or obvious, it just doesn't stick. So maybe I have an automatic get-it-and-forget-it filter for 'splains?

...and to stop being neurotic about "little things" like the fact it wasn't clear for a couple of days around Christmas time if we would even have a home to celebrate Christmas in that year.

That I would not tell to anyone except people who were directly in a position to help me. If it came up otherwise, I would wrap it up with a blandly positive "but we'll figure it out [smile]." Hmm. Why do I do that? I'll have to think about that. Is it better or worse than being vulnerable with people?
posted by clawsoon at 7:07 AM on August 7


I have a friend who is a stay out home mom of a 11 year old who loves to give me and my spouse unsolicited advice (Because we both work demanding often stressful full time jobs while parenting our 2 and 4 year old kids we are by default bad parents in her mind).

It wouldn't necessarily bother me except I see her social media posts constantly complaining about how stressful her day was. For example (a real post), "Pool day, vet, now the boy is finishing mowing the yard. I am whooped." So, anytime she starts up with her "you need to" or "you ought to" I have to concentrate on not letting my eyes roll into the back of my head.
posted by remo at 7:23 AM on August 7 [2 favorites]


Now I'm thinking about the last two "helpful-stranger" interactions I had. The last one was a lady at the grocery store saying... many things? I can't remember a word of it. She seemed pleasant enough, though. The one before that was a woman who seemed a little - off? - somehow at first, and who then told me about a program with colouring, crafts and trips that she enjoyed and thought my daughter would, too. That was great, because it was useful, on-point advice from someone who knew what they were talking about, and I made sure to file the name of the program in my brain. I looked it up and my daughter won't be eligible for the program for seven or eight years, but a spontaneous positive review from someone on the inside is priceless.
posted by clawsoon at 7:29 AM on August 7 [1 favorite]


I have gotten all the way down here and I do not yet understand how StickyCarpet's mom made the babies laugh and I desperately want to know. I can't hold a baby. They don't seem to mind me, admittedly, assuming I get a stable cradle, but I nope out if they're upset.
posted by Merus at 7:29 AM on August 7


Merus, did you see StickyCarpet's comment "Mom's trick was hypnotizing them with quick changes of somewhat grotesque exagerated facial expressions"?

I've done that before with kids. It worked but not *that* well. Her mom was probably just better at it.
posted by aleph at 7:46 AM on August 7


Time to start making weird faces at strangers' babies for practise.
posted by clawsoon at 7:51 AM on August 7 [3 favorites]


I am so thankful for my small crowd of moms. We met at pre-natal yoga and then mama-baby yoga and just by luck (and a few extroverted moms in the group) happened to stick together. Our yoga teacher has just the best attitude about parenting and kids and I know it has rubbed off on me. First off, you're doing a great job. ALL OF YOU. Secondly, this shit will pass. Your kid is normal. You are normal. We all need more sleep. This is hard. Sometimes real hard. But it's fun, too. Lastly, you can pick and choose your friends. Friends that are bad for you, keep away. Family that is bad for you, ugh, that's a toughie. Do your best. Or don't! Sometimes people deserve a full face of ire. Honestly, I blame social media for the constant ambient awareness of parental handwringing, so-called "competitions" and doomsday scenarios about your parenting. (Atlantic magazine, you are seriously on my shit list – I won't even scan your parenting related articles anymore because clearly you have an axe to grind in that niche.)

Also, I'm always sort of tempted after these threads, the next time I see a man out and about in the primary caregiving role, to just give him all sorts of bullshit just so he can start to feel included. But I don't. What I do do, lately, is make sure I am giving parents "the smile" about their kids, especially parents to kids of color who I don't think get enough of "the smile" and also the older kids! Because as my kid gets older, I notice that I get fewer of "the smile." They aren't as cute and squishy and innocent as they were before but I imagine by her teen years, I'll be craving that knowing, sympathetic smile.
posted by amanda at 8:07 AM on August 7 [4 favorites]


I can tell you that momsplaining has always been a thing. I remember a time long ago when my wife and I were at the mall with our daughter who was maybe six months old at the time. Some random women comes over to look in the stroller:

"Oh my, how old is your daughter."

"About six months." my wife said.

"Oh, she's really small for six months." My wife just stared at the rando lady and didn't say a thing.

"Well, I'm sure she is quite loved," the lady said, sensing my wife's displeasure and trying to recover.

Nina continued to stare at her then said "No, not really." It's been 20+ years but I can still remember the look on that lady's face.
posted by codex99 at 8:35 AM on August 7 [30 favorites]


When my kids (twins) were a few months old and had begun eating stage 1 solid food, I took them to the mall one morning and sat in the food court to give them an early lunch. We were making their food, so everything was in tupperware containers.

I had a routine. I'd sit with two spoons and hold the open container, then spoon-feed one. Immediately spoon-feed their sibling. Then do this until the container was empty. Then I'd open a second container and repeat. All while keeping a running dialogue about the mall, what we were doing, how yummy the food was, etc.

This went well until during the second container when my daughter took a spoonful, grinned at me and threw up like Mt. Vesuvius. And Daddy said a bad word. She was covered in liquid peas and corn. I had gotten splashed. Her brother saw it all happen and thought it was REALLY FUNNY. Not to worry, not to worry. I have... where the hell are the napkins... aw crap I forgot to pack napkins. So I tried using wipes and that did not go well.

I got up to ask for napkins at the closest concession in the food court and when I turned around there was a woman holding a big roll of paper towels. She said, "I think you need these" asked if I needed help and knew where the family bathroom was and then went back to her seat to finish her meal. I cleaned the kids, myself, the stroller and the floor, finished feeding them and when I got up to leave to take the kids to the bathroom to be changed, I first pushed them over to her table to thank her. She told me I was doing a fine job, that my kids were cuties and it gets easier.

That was exactly the level of help that I needed at the time, and I'm still grateful for it. Most of my interactions with moms and grandmothers over the years has been of them assuming that because I'm a father of twins, I'm a complete idiot with no parenting skills. Parents should support each other.

Also, I'm always sort of tempted after these threads, the next time I see a man out and about in the primary caregiving role, to just give him all sorts of bullshit just so he can start to feel included. But I don't.

Being a father in this day and age means that when some people see you with your children, they will assume you are incompetent. It means that you'll likely hear "Where's their mom?" Because their mom is your kids' real parent. The worst offenders are moms, but this behavior is sure as hell not restricted to them.

We already feel "included."
posted by zarq at 8:49 AM on August 7 [8 favorites]


"No, not really."

Bwahahaha Codex99!
posted by Omnomnom at 10:50 AM on August 7


Nobody does this to me, which tells me I must be the momsplainer among my friends.

Brb, texting friends to apologize.
posted by annathea at 11:06 AM on August 7


Condescending explanations by moms to children? Shut your damn mouth, kids.

My coworker, who is superfantasticamazing, sometimes apologizes to me for phone calls to her teen-aged sons where she says things like, "Remember to let the dog outside after you feed her. And then let her back in again." She said to me, "I know that sounds stupid, but the first time I asked them to "let her out" they left her outside for 6 hours in the heat with no water."

And I told her to never apologize for being specific because I know from living with my husband with ADD and advising college students, that it's the one damn thing you assume they know that they will fail to do and blame you for not telling them.
posted by Squeak Attack at 12:38 PM on August 7 [1 favorite]


Being a father in this day and age means that when some people see you with your children, they will assume you are incompetent.
I hold this as an existential terror.
posted by Ogre Lawless at 1:17 PM on August 7 [1 favorite]


from Remo: "...So, anytime she starts up with her "you need to" or "you ought to" I have to concentrate on not letting my eyes roll into the back of my head."

Please don't suppress the urge. This is why god made eyes rollable*.


*I know I first read this line here and I believe it's from phunniemee. I've used it IRL and want to take the opportunity to give credit where it's due.
posted by she's not there at 1:58 PM on August 7


Are we making fun of or criticizing how women talk to each other, how women talk to others, or how someone in an extremely feminine role is talking? Does this focus on how the words are spoken help to minimize the importance of what the speaker is saying? Or perhaps, have women found that they must speak in this way to even be heard?

Must be summer.

Please note, last summer the topic was vocal fry.
posted by mutt.cyberspace at 2:01 PM on August 7 [3 favorites]


never assume someone's condescending when they might just be momming
posted by mikeh at 2:07 PM on August 7


from zarq re feeding twins: "I'd sit with two spoons and hold the open container, then spoon-feed one. Immediately spoon-feed their sibling. Then do this until the container was empty."

I was inclined to let my not-twin kids feed themselves (they probably started solids later than most) and I shrugged off disapproving glances and remarks from others. Here I am, ~25 years removed from that critique of my parenting, reading that this father uses 2 spoons to feed his twins and I'm thinking maybe I really was a terrible mother.

Having thought about it, it seems obvious that 2 mouths=2 spoons, but I'm virtually positive that my routine would have been 1 spoon for both kids, unless one was sick, of course. I'm finally feeling like the heathen that others thought me to be.
posted by she's not there at 2:31 PM on August 7 [2 favorites]


...I almost always limit my parenting talk to bland positivity or amusing anecdote.
posted by clawsoon


Funny thing, clawsoon, that is exactly my Metafilter strategy. Well, actually I strive for my positivity to be at least a little bit spicy.
posted by StickyCarpet at 2:48 PM on August 7


One terrible morning when Demon Child was 2, he was having a Very Cranky Morning when his mother needed to go to work. I'm in my bathrobe and Demon Child was in PJs when he bolts out the door after mommy, running down the street after her car pulled away, screaming and wailing all the way down the block and across the street. He passes my neighbor, Mr. Perfect, a pediatrician actually whose two daughters are at Ivy League colleges, out walking his dogs. Seconds later I run past Mr. Perfect towards my hysterical son, barefoot and in a bathrobe. In that proud chaotic moment, he is shaking his head and smiling and offers the most perfect and timely parenting advice I've yet to receive:

"Man, have we all ever been there before."
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 10:02 PM on August 7 [3 favorites]


I'm a children's librarian and sometimes parents will impart these little words of wisdom on me like they're really helping me out. I'm like dude, my kids are on their 20s, I practically invented time outs. I don't get it. I'm in my mid-40s with grey hair.
posted by Biblio at 10:45 PM on August 7 [1 favorite]


Someone suggested "Conde-Splaining". I think that sums it up. Whoever is telling you X is the One True Way is either genuinely trying to help (and hitting the wrong tone) or getting up on the high moral horse because it's their day for superiority .
posted by LuckyMonkey21 at 8:17 AM on August 8


Having thought about it, it seems obvious that 2 mouths=2 spoons, but I'm virtually positive that my routine would have been 1 spoon for both kids, unless one was sick, of course. I'm finally feeling like the heathen that others thought me to be.

I bet you are a fantastic mom.

One day I cut up a piece of pizza and watched one of them take a half chewed piece of mozzarella cheese out of their mouths, reach over and stuff it into their sibling's mouth. Who grinned and swallowed it. As I stared in horror and did nothing. They survived. :)
posted by zarq at 9:08 AM on August 8 [4 favorites]


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