What is mom (dad guilt)? Mom (dad) guilt is that feeling of deserving blame for imagined offenses as a parent or from a sense of inadequacy as a parent. Some of the parental guilt we feel is a result of our own decisions, mindset, some are beyond our control, and some are just not a big deal when we truly look at the bigger picture.
The truth is there is no prefect way to parent. All of us are going to do it differently, so with that everyone has an opinion on how parenting should be done. The downside is that since child-rearing comes with a lot of opinions it also comes with judgement from ourselves and from others. Whenever judgment is present it’s typically followed by guilt and in some cases shaming. Mom (dad) shaming is real and it’s hurtful! I think we can all agree that we’ve felt parental guilt at some point in our life since becoming a parent. Let’s talk about how to combat mom (dad) guilt.
As I mentioned above, there is no perfect what to parent. Did you hear me? There is NO Perfect Way To Parent!!! The truth is we are going to mess it up along the way. Parenting does not come with an instruction manual. Yes we can read the books, yes we can go to parenting classes, however even all of those have a different way of child-rearing. Now that we all know that we are going to mess this parenting thing up along the way this is the time to start saving for therapy. Yes, therapy! Lol. When you open your child’s college savings account also start saving for future therapy sessions.
Another way to combat mom (dad) guilt is to reality check yourself. Ask yourself if what you’ve done is really something you should feel guilty about. Have you made a parenting call that you will regret? Did we forget to pack our child’s favorite snack or did we break a promise that we had good intentions on keeping? Our children are little versions of us. I have come to learn that we can talk to them in an age appropriate manner and they will understand. It’s okay to look them in the eyes and say, “Son (daughter), mommy (daddy) forgot. I’m sorry. I know I made a promise to you. I have put in on my calendar with a reminder for next time. I will make it up to you. Do you forgive me?” A new day means a new chance to get it right! Another way to reality test our guilt is to ask another mom/dad. Speak to your own mom/dad, grandmother, friend, or your local mommy/daddy support group. Ask if they have had similar experiences and how they dealt with it. It’s quite often our feelings will resolve them self when we know that we are not alone in this parenting journey. It is important to understand that other parents are going through the same thing and/or empathetic to what we are experiencing.
One last thing to remember when mom (dad) guilt starts to arise is that, your child chose you. Your children are a gift and they picked you to be that special person in their life that they have the honor of calling mom (dad). Relish in that small truth and keep loving, supporting, and teaching them in your words and in your actions. They love you!
We all feel parental guilt because we want to do things perfectly and we want our children to be better than us; we want them to be perfect. Forgive yourself now for the things that you messed up on as a parent. Rest in the fact that your child is perfect and that you are doing the best you can. If you genuinely feel there is room for improvement in how you rear your children please reach out to a trusted source for help. You are mom (dad) strong!!!
Melissa Dumaz is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with over 15 years of experience in psychotherapy. She specializes in guiding clients through the complexities of overcoming emotional and physical trauma. She also helps clients of all ages deal with grief, anxiety, postpartum depression, relationship issues, parenting, transitions in life, family conflict, self-esteem and stress management. Click here to learn more.