How Do I Deal with Mother's (Dad's) Guilt?

Medically Reviewed on 8/24/2021

Where does parenting guilt come from?

Being a parent gets you in touch with your protective side. Deal with mother's or dad's guilt by having realistic expectations, ditching perfectionism, envisioning success, being mindful of parenting content you take in and being compassionate with yourself.
Being a parent gets you in touch with your protective side. Deal with mother's or dad's guilt by having realistic expectations, ditching perfectionism, envisioning success, being mindful of parenting content you take in and being compassionate with yourself.

Being a parent can bring out the most loving, most protective versions of ourselves. Experiencing the immense type of love that is triggered by having kids can be truly magical. However, it can also be challenging. Because you love your child so much, you may feel a sense of wanting to protect them and give them the world. As a result, you may experience feelings of guilt, the sense where you feel like you may not be the “perfect parent” or that perhaps you could be doing more for your child.

Simply being a parent makes you understand just how much children and babies depend on their parents to help them through the world. It can be challenging to merely rest with that knowledge.

There may even be extenuating circumstances in which you feel you are not your best self when parenting your child. Or, perhaps your child has experienced some sort of accident or random event that negatively affects them. This is difficult to experience. However, you don’t have to simply accept these feelings or ideas as facts.

In particular, mothers who work can experience intense feelings of guilt. The modern world expects mothers to be fully-fledged members of the workforce yet at the same time be devoted mothers. Juggling your career and being the best mother you feel you can be presents a stressful and challenging balancing act.

Even though mothers have a statistically higher rate of feeling guilty, parents of all genders can experience these pressures.

This is especially true with the COVID-19 pandemic in which the whole family had to stay indoors. Childcare and domestic duties had a whole new meaning to a lot of people.

How do I get rid of my mother's guilt?

All this guilt can weigh you down. It can become a never-ending cycle in which you can even feel guilty about feeling guilty. Unfortunately, none of these feelings help with your parenting or bring you closer to your child. However, there are many strategies you can try in order to release this guilt.

Some of these strategies are:

Put the guilt into a bigger context. If you notice yourself going down the rabbit hole of feeling guilty,bring your mind back to the present. Try to understand what you are feeling guilty about. Bring yourself back to a place where you are basing your expectations on reality.

Get rid of words like “right” or “correct.” Parents may create a perfect parenting style in their minds. It’s important to remember that there is no one way to parent.

Envision what success feels like to you. It can be easier not to fall into the trap of feeling guilty about what you aren’t doing when you have a vision of what you want to be doing. Instead, construct an idea that works for you, your child, and your lifestyle. When you are struggling, thinking about this idea can be of great help.

Be mindful of the parenting content you take in. It can be so easy as a parent to compare yourself to other parents in this day and age. Especially with the advent of social media, there are so many carefully curated portraits of idealized versions of parenting. Although your understanding of parenting will be unique to you and your children, constantly seeing representations that take you away from that can be very harmful. It can skew your self-view and cause you to compare yourself to others in ways that are not always helpful. Being aware of this and unfollowing certain people or accounts can be a good idea.

Let go of perfection. Sometimes, life is not perfect. Things do not always go the way that we want them to. Hold onto this truth as you and your child navigate life together. Being realistic about this both with yourself and your child can actually help them develop healthily.

Give yourself compassion. Parenting can be difficult. The reason you feel guilty is that you care about your child. Isn’t it amazing that your child has a parent that cares enough to think about the ways they could be a better parent? Remember all the things you do to make their life or lives better. It can be challenging to develop a balanced perspective on your own parenting, so give yourself some compassion and time to figure it out.

Parenting is a human concept

A guilty or overly stressed out parent is not a present or engaged parent. Therefore, it is essential that you take the time to develop strategies to help you through your difficult emotions surrounding parenting. Otherwise, you risk losing out on enjoying your child’s development and may experience suffering in your own life.

However, sometimes these feelings of guilt can come from very real places. Perhaps you need to call in the support of others for help. Whether that be a therapist, a babysitter, or your partner, taking care of yourself ensures that you can take care of your child.


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Medically Reviewed on 8/24/2021

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