No, You Are Not a Bad Mother

No, You Are Not a Bad Mother
Alicia Escaño Hidalgo

Written and verified by the psychologist Alicia Escaño Hidalgo.

Last update: 21 December, 2022

It seems like people are looking for any reason to go into “fight mode”. A war is raging  on motherhood and what being a bad mother means. But as usual, the only ones harmed are the women themselves.

Worst of all, it is mothers themselves who are hurting each other, judging each other very harshly on how they parent. It’s like there are certain ways that are the only correct way to do things and everything else is unthinkable.

Unfortunately it’s true that there have been, are, and will be, mothers who abandon or neglect their children. Even in these cases, we shouldn’t necessarily dismiss a woman as a bad mother, but rather as a woman with problems. Maybe she is mistaken or made a bad decision in her life and didn’t know what else to do.

But these women themselves are the ones who will have to carry the weight of their decision all their lives. However, these are extreme cases and we’re not comparing them with mothers who do love their children and do everything they can to give them their very best.

Although we each have our own way of understanding motherhood and our own ideas of what we want to teach our children that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s the best and only way for all mothers.

We must be tolerant with other mothers who choose a different way of raising their children. As long as neither the child nor the mother is harmed and they’re happy, what’s the problem?

Why you are not a bad mother

You are not a bad mother if your decisions take into account both the welfare of your child and your own welfare. Although specialists recommend following certain parenting guidelines, a mother is really the one spending hour after hour with her child. She’s the one who really knows them and has access to information no one else does.

You are not a bad mother.

We get criticized if we breastfeed for too long, but we also get criticized if we go with formula. People judge us if we sleep with our baby until a certain age, but also if we make them sleep alone when they’re “too young.” It’s not right to let a child get used to being held, but it’s also wrong to let them cry in their crib… Are we really doing everything that badly?

Not at all. We’re doing great. We’re doing things the best way we know as long as we’re acting out of love. After all, that’s what a baby really understands, and we’re thinking about what is best for them.

Because not all children are the same: some have a terrible time being alone in their room, and others have no problem and can sleep peacefully. There are babies that don’t get enough breast milk and need something to supplement it. Others will grow up wonderfully with breast milk.

What’s the use of definitively moving your child to their own room after six months if you’ll both be miserable? Why force yourself to breastfeed if it gives you a lot of anxiety and you pass that onto your little one? Enough with the negative emotions in motherhood! Let’s enjoy this time and be happy. Thanks to science and common sense, there are ways to make the process easier.

Don’t be an extremist, with yourself or with others

As Aristotle said, virtue is the middle ground. And it makes so much sense! As mothers, the best we can do is to be moderate in our decisions and even more moderate in judging other mothers. It’s not a question of reading every single parenting book out there and doing what they say because it’s supposed to be the best, period.

It’s about also taking into account what your instinct tells you. Feel good about your decisions and get out of the habit of judging yourself harshly. The most important thing is that both your baby and you are happy and healthy on all levels: physically and mentally. This is the best sign that you’re doing this motherhood thing well.

The right way to mess up

A mother and daughter enjoying a summer day.

Let’s never forget that we are human and we have the right to make mistakes and fix them. No, you’re not a bad mother just because you messed up. We can start over and fix our mistakes and it won’t be the end of the world.

Mothers have to support each other, and above all, respect each other. If you don’t like being judged, don’t judge other mothers even if you don’t agree with them.

In fact, there are plenty of professionals we can see to get guidance and advice, so it’s not a good idea to correct another mother who acts differently than you. Do not be an extremist; moderation is always the best way. Don’t lose sight of the most important thing: the best thing a child could ever have is consistent parents who love him.

Congratulate yourself for what a good mother you are and don’t beat yourself up if you sometimes fail. Raising and educating children are processes that may be wonderfully special, but they’re also part of life. It’s time to accept mistakes as a part of parenting. You are not a bad mother.


This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.