Beware of the mean mum – here’s how to spot her

Mum holding baby and groceries

I write a lot about mums supporting each other. I do it because I really appreciate the amazing mum friends I have, and I also want to celebrate the beautiful way women have each other’s back, especially when it comes to raising our little loves. Good mum friends rock!

But I know for every ten fantastic mum friends out there, there lurks a rogue. A friend who you don’t realise at the time is actually a frenemy. She’s like the mean girl at school who makes out that she’s your friend, but over time you realise isn’t actually that kind to you or others. Mean mums are just that girl, only now she has kids of her own.

Here’s how to spot a mean mum. And if you think you may have one in your circle, it might be time to do a little friendship cleansing. After all, motherhood is hard enough and we only need those around us who lift us up.

1. She’s passive aggressive in her judgement of you

It’s hard to spot mean mum at first. This is because her offhanded mean comments are often said slyly, and she also seems nice!

A mean mum will judge instead of having an ‘each to their own’ or ‘we all do it differently’ mentality. She will say thinly-veiled remarks about other mums who do not live up to her standards and sometimes, she might even say these things to you.

They are often said with a smile or a disclaimer like, “I’m not judging working parents here, but I feel sorry for kids who are just shoved in daycare. Don’t have kids if you don’t want to raise them,” and because of this, you don’t always pick up on the underlying snark.

Mums with babies on outdoor swing

2. She always thinks she knows better

Whatever your parenting choices are, she seems to think she knows better. If you are chatting to her about how your baby just loves to breastfeed himself off to sleep, she will kindly tell you how you are “making a rod for own back because this is a ‘sleep association'”. Said in isolation, this wouldn’t bother you, but when she implies that pretty much everything you do is ‘wrong’  – then you start seeing a pattern.  

3. She erodes your confidence 

Over time, this sort of mum friend can bring you down. If you find yourself driving away from each interaction with her questioning yourself and your mumming abilities, you may realise she’s a toxic person to know. Motherhood, especially in the beginning, is a game of confidence and a mean mum will crush that. It’s time to say ta-ta to her.  


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4. You think about her too often

If you lie in bed at night stewing over her comments or the way she said them, then you know she’s gotten under your skin. A mean mum will do that but a kind one will make you smile whenever you think of her. 

5. She’s made you cry

Now, this is a big red flag. If you have ever gotten so upset by her that she’s made you cry (and you can’t put down your reaction to being overly sensitive as a hormonal new mum), then she’s not worthy of being your friend. Invest your time in the company of the ones who make you smile and laugh, not those who make you feel insecure and ‘less than’.

Sad young mum / woman

6. She’s exclusive, not inclusive

Mean mums are clicky. She will decide who the ‘cool’ mums are that she wants in her circle and exclude one or two of the others. She will arrange get-togethers where she only invites some of the mums in your mother’s group, or makes a private Facebook group with just these. It’s like the schoolyard all over again. 

7. She isn’t that nice to your child

Mean mums are sometimes competitive and view your child as a threat. If you mention your baby walked at ten months, just because he did and not because you meant anything by it, she will take this as gloating and inform you of the long-term benefits of crawling. As such, a mean mum doesn’t love your child. She can actually be a bit of a bully to him too and if your toddler asks you sweetly for a banana, she will snap at him, “Say please!” and it’s also a smack on the wrist to you for not instilling better manners.

Any of this sound familiar? Then RUN! 

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