Feeling low as a parent lately? Here’s how you should deal with parental guilt.
What can you read in this article?
- 9 things you shouldn’t feel guilty about as a parent
- Overcoming parental guilt
I just lost it in front of my kids.
I just ordered a DIY Gingerbread house to for a fun crafty afternoon with the kids. And as I was struggling to make the house stand, my girls decided to huddle with me and ask me tons of questions about the gingerbread man and Christmas. And I guess I was just feeling so touched up and overwhelmed, that I just suddenly blurted out in a loud voice, “Just shut up!! I need some space!”
Right after I said it, I felt extremely guilty. Great, I thought. This is exactly not the kind of Christmas memory I want my children to get stuck with. Have I ruined Christmas for them? I don’t really curse or say mean things in front of my kids. Will they be scarred for life because of that parenting mistake I made?
Image from Pexels
Parenting does not come with a manual, and so, for many of us, we learn as we go along. And what makes parenting so difficult is the fact that each journey is so different and unique. We relate to our kids in different ways, and it’s different with each child. But while we do the best that we can, there are times when we feel we may have missed the mark and we could have done better.
If you feel guilty for mistakes you did as a parent, you’re not alone. Whether it’s guilt about not being home too often or wanting to have a break from time to time, we’ve all struggled with the feeling that you’re not doing something right. We find ourselves agonizing over our mistakes. We ask, “Where did I go wrong? Will my child be damaged because of what I did, or because of what I failed to do?”
And because our generation swore that we won’t repeat the same mistakes our parents did, we’re extra hard on ourselves. What’s funny is that if we made a mistake in different areas of our lives like our work or one of our tasks at home, we would be quick to dismiss it and forgive ourselves, knowing that we learned from it. But if we make a mistake in parenting, it’s so hard to get over it because we think we’re screwing up our kids.
Then there’s the issue of comparing ourselves with other parents. We see them on social media doing so many things for their kids, going on expensive vacations, having grand birthday parties, or seeing their kids get awards in school, and we can’t help but think that we’re probably not doing enough or giving our kids enough.
But we’re forgetting that what we see on social media isn’t everything, and every parent, every family have their own struggles. And probably, these parents are also feeling guilty for their own parenting mistakes.
So what are the things that usually give us parental guilt, but we really shouldn’t feel guilty about? Here are the usual culprits.
10 Things parents should not feel guilty about
1. Feeling guilty for saying “No.”
We love our children, and we want only the best for them. In fact, we want to give them everything their heart desires because we want to see the joy in their eyes when they receive something they’ve always wanted.
But, as you know, not all things they want are good for them. Would any sane parent allow toddlers to handle sharp kitchen knives if they insist on it? Would Daddy give his little boy the car keys just because he wants to drive? Sometimes, even if it breaks our hearts, we have to say “No.” Because in learning to say no, we spare them, and ourselves, a thousand troubles and heartaches in the future.
2. Feeling guilty for saying “Yes”
Sometimes, a treat or celebration is called for. On special occasions, we show children how we love and appreciate them when we give them their long-awaited toy or game; or when there is no occasion, a simple thoughtful gift to show our affection.
It feels good to indulge our children, perhaps because we’ve always wanted to give them the all stuff we never had as a child. It’s okay to shower your kids with gifts, just make sure that they never grow up entitled.
Then there’s also the issue of screen time. Some parents feel guilty for letting their children use gadgets. Sometimes we really can’t help but give in and let the children use our mobile phones especially when we need to get some work done or we just really need a break.
No screen time is really best especially for children 2 years old and below, but we shouldn’t feel guilty as a parent if we let our child use gadgets, granted that we establish limits on their screen time use.
Image from Pexels
3. Feeling guilty for acting like a “parent”
Today, our approach to parenting is very different from our parents. While the previous generation was a little more strict, today’s parents encourage a more open relationship with their kids, where we want to be the kids’ confidantes and best friends.
Every parent wants a healthy relationship with their child and having that open line of communication with them. However, in certain instances, we have to put our foot down as “Mom” and “Dad.”
Parents are foremost parents. We are here to guide our kids. And when the situation arises where you have to choose between being a friend or being a parent, it’s okay to choose the latter.
4. Feeling guilty for disciplining your kids
There are several schools of thought regarding disciplining children. Some parents believe in the rod, while others believe in open communication and dialogue. Regardless, putting in place set rules and structure is needed. In whatever way, shape, or form, children need parental discipline to guide them, to show them what is right and what is wrong.
5. Feeling guilty for taking breaks
This is something most parents, whether stay-at-home moms or working parents, struggle with. We feel guilty for wanting to take some time out for ourselves. Being a parent is, after all, a full-time job and we want to spend most, if not all of our time with our precious kids.
But parents are human beings, too. You are not supermom or superdad; you are not a robot either. You need time for yourself to rest and rejuvenate. Don’t feel bad when you want to schedule some me-time. You need to recharge to become a better mom or dad.
Fun Christmas gifts for kids that are not toys
10 parenting mistakes kung bakit lumalaking hindi close ang bata sa magulang
Cellphone-distracted parenting can hinder your child’s brain development, says study
6. Feeling guilty for loving yourself and your spouse
Parents have a tendency to forget themselves once the kids come into their lives. Parenting is a selfless commitment. We make so many sacrifices, giving our all to our children. But Mommy and Daddy are important, too. So love yourself and your spouse also. It’s okay to make time for romance, and your other things (that are not related to your duties as a parent) that makes you happy.
Besides, if you don’t prioritize yourself, you’re actually doing your kids a disservice because you’re not setting a good example to them on how to love yourself.
7. Feeling guilty for not knowing what you’re doing all the time
We all lose it to our kids sometimes. And like I mentioned earlier, there’s no manual for parenting, nor is there one way to raise children. We’re all learning as we go along. Just as long as you’re doing the best that you can, you can be proud.
And they may not look like it, but our kids are more resilient than we think. They won’t be scarred for life just because of a single mistake, especially if you make amends and talk to your child calmly about it. In fact, it’s actually better for our kids if they know that just like them, we make mistakes too, but we’re trying to become better.
8. Feeling guilty for making your children do household chores
Parents, you are not your children’s maids or ATM machines. Even if you have a maid who can do all the work, it’s okay to teach your children how to be responsible by having them help out with the household chores. Doing chores teaches us so many life skills and important values like hard work and independence, that we want to impart to our kids.
In the future, when your child is living on her own or managing her own household, she’ll thank you.
9. Feeling guilty for wanting to have a career
Before you had your kids, you had dreams and aspirations of your own, and these may have had to be postponed or put on the back burner when the children came. While being a mom is a great privilege and you wouldn’t exchange it for anything in the world, wanting to nurture a career or having something that is solely for yourself is more than acceptable.
In fact, showing your kids that it’s never too late to go after your dreams will help them become more hardworking and motivated as people.
10. Feeling guilty for not being able to buy your kids what they want
Because of social media, we get the impression that our kids need the latest gadgets, to go on expensive trips abroad or the newest toys for them to be happy or to thrive. But news flash: they don’t. What good is having the latest toy or gadget when you’re always busy at work and they have no one to play with?
Sure, it’s nice to give our kids a treat from time to time, but all they really need to have a good time is our undivided attention.
Overcoming parental guilt
Image from Pexels
As much as we want to be the perfect parents our kids deserve, it’s impossible. We’ll make mistakes as a parent that leave us with a lot of guilt. But as we said over and over in this article, it’s okay. We all learn as we go along. If we make mistakes or you think you fall short, it simply means that there’s room for growth.
Moreover, the best way to get past feeling guilty is to keep things in perspective. If you’re second-guessing yourself as a mom or dad, always remind yourself of your reason for doing things, or for parenting the way you are.
Regardless if you’re not doing it the way others are, remember that there’s no one way to parent. What works for others may not work for you. What worked for their kids may not work for yours. While it’s okay to have “parent goals” or people you look up to or admire when raising their kids, but stop comparing yourself to others and always look at your own standards in parenting.
Besides, no one else knows your child and loves him the way you do. You are the best parent for your child. So let go of any parental guilt and focus on loving your child.
Lastly, be kind to yourself. Model self-love and compassion to your kids. If you love yourself and accept your flaws as a parent and as a person, and not look to others for approval, you will be happier and you will be able to do your job as a parent better. Because as they say, “The best parent a child can ever have is a happy one.”
Additional information by Camille Eusebio
Cope.org, Healthline, Psychology Today