Sweet, smug or insensitive? Why the 'Motherhood Challenge' is causing a huge divide

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Motherhood challenge, mum, daughter, family
The Motherhood Challenge: You've probably noticed it doing the rounds on Facebook, but far from sharing their own sweet snaps some mums are debating what they think it represents. And it's not good.

In case you've missed it, the Motherhood Challenge encourages women to post a number of pictures that represent their journey as a mother, with them tagging other mothers to do the same - to pass on the challenge.

It might sound like a sentimental and sweet idea but in forums all over the internet women are discussing the potential harm the pictures could be doing to women who can't conceive, are grieving over the loss of a child, have fertility problems or have miscarried a baby. Elsewhere mums are standing up for the collection of snaps, saying that they are a happy expression of love and shouldn't be criticised.

And it's not just the politics behind the pictures that people are struggling with, other mums are pointing out the privacy issues surrounding sharing pictures of your children on social media.

Donna T on Netmums brought up the privacy issue with tagging friends in the posts, saying, 'I have issues with it as I don't think people realise how many people can see some of their more 'intimate' photos like when someone posts a photo of the moments just after baby was born and having skin on skin for first time etc I'm seeing these photos of women who I don't know and so are many others. It just concerns me that anyone can see them.'

This is in reference to the fact that if you tag a friend in a Facebook post you're essentially 'allowing' all their friends and friends of friends to see that post. One to be careful of.

Elsewhere, one Mumsnet a user, TeamAgamemnon expressed her concerns over the effect these posts could be having on other women, saying:

'FB can be hard enough when you are dealing with heartache, never mind when this sort of thing is plastered all over it.

'It's the self-congratulating tone of 'proud to be a mother' and 'motherhood challenge' aspect that grates for me. A bit like these posts that say shit like 'you'll never understand true love until you love your child' or some such nonsense.'

Others have reacted in a slightly less serious way with women who just happen not to be mothers turning the challenge on its head and celebrating their status as non-mothers.

Comedian Ellie Taylor uploaded a lovely selection of five pictures, including one of her sleeping on a bottle of wine. She commented alongside the post, 'Non-Motherhood Challenge: I was nominated by myself to post five pictures that make me happy to be a non-mother. Such special memories.'

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Natalie Vernalls pointed out that she wonders why it's only applicable to mothers, saying: '"mother"hood challenge refers to women posting pics. What about the "father"hood challenge. The fathers never have any credit.'

On the other hand, Bindi's Journal and Alandt Mccoy think the viral challenge is a sweet chance to share pictures you love, saying 'I think its a sweet idea, the intent wasn't meant to create unhappiness ♡' and 'I am sorry for those that can't conceive but it is a celebration for mothers. I am single should that mean couples can't post their happy moments'.

One GoodtoKnow-er wasn't so keen, and it looks like lots of you agree with her, judging by the likes. Sarah Southam said, 'Sorry I don't understand this "motherhood challenge" me personally have been nominated a fair few times but I refuse to do it. Why should I prove to everyone? My kids know I'm proud of them, know I love them and vice versa. And whys it for mothers only? Do fathers not love/care/or proud to be a father? I think it's all a big bloody scam.'

Continued below...

So, what do you think? Sweet, silly, smug or insensitive? Let us know in the comments below or on our Facebook page!

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Indio John

Being a mother is definitely so difficult.


"I am no less a human being because I have not given birth." In the U.S., 80% of women under 40 have children. So why are we fetishizing motherhood as if having children is somehow an accomplishment? Yes, some mothers are doing a great job, and they will be paid back with the affection and support of their children into old age. Why do they also need our "likes" on FB. Isn't a loving relationship with their children enough? As with Nicci, we women who don't have children know that we are looked down upon because of it. My best friend who doesn't want children constantly encounters negativity for this. I might, except that I am infertile and haven't managed to have them, and so I am instead greeted with pity. Maybe women who have children don't realize this, but the moral imperative to have children (& to want them) is very present in our society. We are constantly judged for not being mothers. FB's "Motherhood Challenge" plays into a sentiment that elevates motherhood, regardless of what any individual mother actually does as a parent. It rings ridiculous to the rest of us.

Nicci Fletcher

As someone who desperately wanted children and have not been able to conceive (Stage 4 Endometriosis, frozen pelvis, impaired egg quality, damaged ovaries and tubes) I've found this challenge particularly insensitive. Fortunately most of my FB friends know my situation so I haven't been tagged (yet!) It's hard enough dealing with the constant photos celebrating "we're pregnant", "baby's arrived" and "baby's first smile". This takes that "struggle" to a different level. For me the challenge emphasises the smugness of parenthood: "as a parent I ...." I am no less a human being because I have not given birth. I am kind and generous. I am considerate of other people. I care about the planet. I worry about the type of world we live in where terrorism and racism seems to be on the rise. In some ways I already feel less of a woman because I have not been able to fulfil my biological imperative to procreate. I don't need constant visual remembers of all the people who have been luckier than I have. Life is hard enough as it it!

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