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Stop being a guilty parent

stop being a guilty parent

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From the minute that second line appears on the pregnancy test we worry about not measuring up as a parent. Throughout pregnancy, childhood and the (often challenging) teenage years, it is inevitable that parents will at some points feel guilty. The irony is that these feelings of guilt indicate that you are in fact a damn good parent, stop being a guilty parent and enjoy challenges of being a parent!

Mum arguing with daughter

From the triviality of not providing a cooked-from-scratch meal two nights in a row to more serious issues like teenagers getting involved in drugs, there are times in everyone’s parenting life that they feel as if they have let their children down in some way.  But what are the things that make parents feel the most guilt and is it justified?

Staying at home/going out to work

Parents who stay at home worry that they aren’t showing their kids how to be ambitious and career driven.  Those who work outside the home feel guilty that they aren’t spending enough time enjoying life with their children.  The fact is you have to do whatever is right for you and your family.  Often financial reasons make the decision for you, in which case there is no point feeling guilty about something you can’t easily change.  Your kids would much rather you stayed home/went out to work (delete as appropriate) than come home from school to unhappy, unfulfilled and therefore grumpy parents.

Juggling modern life

Everyone knows that your kids are the most important things in your life.  Even if they don’t often show it, your children themselves know that you would do anything for them.  However, the combination of work, household chores, helping kids with homework, visiting grandparents and doing the shopping as well as trying to make time for hobbies, friends and your partner means there often isn’t enough hours in the day to spend much time doing fun activities with your children.  This is something that most parents feel guilty about but remember that quality is just as important as quantity so plan some cool things to do together and use the time you do have to create memories.

stop being a guilty parent

Changes in circumstances

Whether it’s moving house, getting divorced or bringing home a new baby, there always seems to be something to feel guilty about when major life changes take place. Will she make new friends easily? How will she cope with not seeing one of her parents every day?  Will I be able to spend enough time with her when the new baby arrives?  It is important to remember that children are adaptable, often more so than adults. Focus on the positives about the situation, whether it’s the excitement of starting a new school, having two bedrooms or always having someone to play with when the baby is a bit older.  You will probably find your child copes better than you do.


The first time your baby or toddler hurts herself be prepared for days of feeling guilty, maybe even weeks. Even if there was nothing you could conceivably have done to avoid it, you WILL blame yourself.  If blood or a hospital trip is involved, you’ll feel even worse.  But you know what?  Kids fall over. They trip, they jump off things, they run face first into walls and unless you have eyes in the back of your head, Matrix-fast reflexes and Inspector Gadget arms, there is not always anything you can do to stop them. It’s how they learn not to try that particular escapade again.

respite care for parents

Just be yourself

As long as you have your child’s best interests at heart, there is no right or wrong way to parent.  That’s not to say we don’t make mistakes now and again (after all, most of us are making it up as we go along!) but focusing on what you’re going to do to help put things right or to support your child in dealing with the consequences of their actions is far more important than feeling guilty over what has already happened.  Guilt can be a positive emotion if it triggers within us a desire to turn things around but don’t let it eat you up inside.  Take some time to focus on the things that make you a great parent and all the things your children have achieved.  They couldn’t have done any of it without you.  If you are the one your child turns to when she needs a cuddle or advice then you have very little to feel guilty about.



About Maria Brett

About Maria Brett

Maria is a freelance writer with over 10 years' experience producing content for a variety of publications and websites. When not working or looking after her two gorgeous sons, she can usually be found playing flugelhorn in a brass band, helping out at her local hospital radio station, shouting at the television while watching Formula 1, at the cinema or plonked on the couch with a cold glass of wine.

Website: Maria Brett

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