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6 ways mommy groups can go bad

It’s no secret that the right mommy group can help you get adjusted to life as a new mom and keep you sane by getting you out of the house. However, as our blogger Erica June Ford mentioned, it isn’t always all good fun at some mommy groups. What is a mom to do, then, when she thinks the mommy group she’s a part of is doing more harm than good? Here are some signs that you might need to find a new mommy group ASAP.

1. There are way too many rules. You must come to two meetings every month or you are kicked out. You must host a gathering every six weeks. You have to pay expensive dues to go into a slush fund. Non-organic snacks will be considered a health code violation. So many rules! If joining a certain mommy group feels like you have to read the same amount of paperwork that comes with signing a new mortgage, you might want to skip it all together. It’s hard enough finding clean clothes to wear as a new mother, so following all these rules might put you over the edge!

2. You have to fit a certain label perfectly or you are ostracized. Some mommy groups only want a certain type of mom to join, and while that can be helpful in finding other mothers like you with shared interests, some women take it too far. Take the breastfeeding-friendly mommy group who starts to ostracize a mother in the group who needed to start supplementing with formula at 6 weeks of age. Not cool. It’s fine to have a themed group (babywearing, working moms, etc) but if you feel like you have to do what everyone else is doing in order to be accepted, this might not be a good place to be. 

3. You feel judged for asking questions. All new moms have questions, and mommy groups should be a stress-free environment where sharing war stories, advice, and questions should be encouraged. No one should be made to feel stupid because they aren’t sure how to introduce a bottle. If your group has a mom who puts you down for asking for advice (or who says something has to be done this way to work), that can make you feel even more anxious and doubtful of your parenting skills. Who needs that?! 

4. Flashbacks of high school cliques are far too frequent. If it seems that you can only be accepted for dressing perfectly, having your hair and make-up just so, or using the most expensive stroller, this is another sign that a mommy group might be too high maintenance. You might want to move on to a less stressful group!

5. It’s one big competition. Just like #4, a mommy group should not make you feel you have to have the best everything—baby clothes from Paris, or the crib that is as expensive as some used cars. If you feel like it’s all about one-upping each other, you might be missing the benefits of a good mom group, which is realizing that there are many ways to raise a baby, and competing with other mothers is not one of them.

6. Going to mommy group brings on stress/dread/anxiety/all of the above. If you don’t get along with the other moms, or feel that your baby is judged for crying or for not yet walking at 11 months old, why are you going? Bottom line: a mommy group should be a place of support that gets you out of the house and helps you realize we are all in this together. Anything less than that and you should just stay home in your sweats! 

Have you had any negative experiences with mommy groups, and how did you handle them?

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About Dr. Jennifer Lincoln, Bundoo OB/GYN

Dr. Jennifer Lincoln is a board-certified generalist obstetrician/gynecologist and attending physician in Portland, Oregon. She primarily works on labor and delivery has recently been certified as an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant.

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