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Parenting Guilt

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Parenting guilt is something most working parents have to contend with. Up until I had my children, the most guilt I had ever felt was when I ate a whole pack of Hobnobs and blamed it on the dog. Strong feelings of shame and remorse were entirely new emotions for me, especially when I missed my daughter’s first steps. It took me three nights to stop crying – it was such a pivotal moment in her life, and I was busy looking at kitten videos on Facebook when the cheer went up from the other room. I dashed in to see my tiny daughter wobbling across the lounge floor, totally unaided, straight into the arms of…her grandmother!. This was supposed to be our moment, our time, and I thought I’d never forgive myself.

Guilt creeps in

As time went by, more guilt crept into my life like ivy, and pretty soon, I was living with an irrational guilt complex – I was stretched too thin, working too many hours, and worst of all, my daughter had inherited my knobbly knees and overbite. How could I possibly forgive myself my wrongdoings?

Here are a few tips on banishing that debilitating guilty feeling that robs you of energy, and disrupts your familial relationships, as you get stuck in a vicious circle of culpability.

While you’re sat moping on the sofa, wasting energy dwelling on the past, you’re missing your child grow up before your eyes. Concentrate on making the present perfect. Forget what you could have, should have, might have done – chances are, you made the right decision at the time.

Get things in perspectiveparenting guilt

At the time, a minor mistake can seem like an earth shattering event, like that time you forgot her PE kit and she had to sit on the sidelines. It’s amazing how time fades such events – and quickly – just remember that days later, your minor blooper will be long forgotten. As long as you learn from your mistakes, though – forgetting her PE kit for a whole term would be a different matter.

Learn to say NO

Do you ever find yourself doing things you don’t like? Things you’d rather not do? It’s important to establish what’s important to you, and to remember your priorities.

Take off that cape

Remember – you are not superhuman so realise that you can’t do everything. Being a superparent is impossible, and a ridiculous ideal to strive for. You can’t simultaneously send the kids to clarinet, piano, and karate lessons whilst trying to cram in their five-a-day and homework.

Learn to relax

This is a major source of guilt for many parents. It doesn’t have to be full steam ahead at all times – running your life like this means increased stress, arguments, and chance of burnout. Set aside an hour for yourself every single day, and make the most of it – read a book, take a long bath, do some exercise. If it just so happens that your son eats his first mouthful of broccoli while you’re reading Fifty Shades of Grey or the Next Home Directory, then so be it – you can’t be omnipresent.

Guilt stalls your life, and has the potential to ruin relationships. It’s time to shake off those negative feelings and start a new phase of guilt-free existence. This doesn’t mean that you should become a remorseless sociopath, allowing your kids to run wild and not pay the consequences: Quietly and graciously learn the lessons life throws at you and look forward to a more positive future.

 

 

 

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