We want to give our family the best of our time and energy, but sometimes striking a balance feels like an impossible task – enter guilt. You’re not alone when it comes to coping with that negative emotion. It’s called parental guilt, and psychology research reveals it’s more common than you might think. In this quick tip episode, learn some of the common causes of parental guilt and ways you can ease the guilt-induced pressure of parenting in your life.
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If You Feel Like a Bad Parent, You’re Not Alone
You may have heard of the term mom guilt, but it’s an emotion that can affect every parent. Guilt is a common challenge parents face while raising their children. We grapple with balancing everyday life and the responsibilities of raising a child. We want to give our family the best of our time and energy, but sometimes striking a balance feels like an impossible task – enter guilt.
You’re not alone when it comes to coping with that negative emotion. We all want to be great parents, but sometimes all we see are our limitations and worry about how they’ll impact our children. That feeling is called parental guilt, and psychology research reveals it’s more common than you might think.
What is Parental Guilt and Where it Comes From
Parental guilt is typically described as not feeling good enough or like you’re not doing enough as a parent. It’s an overwhelming feeling that you’re not doing what’s best for your children and fearing that it may affect their development down the line. You want what’s best for your child but can’t seem to do everything or respond to situations like you would’ve hoped. Essentially, it comes from a shred of belief that you’re not cut out for this parenting thing.
Parenting is many things, but it’s not easy. I think we all come into it with an idea of how we’ll behave as parents, but in reality, we all have limitations and won’t execute those preconceived expectations perfectly. Our kids may not eat healthier, organic meals all the time. They may have too much screen time every once in a while. That’s all totally normal, especially considering balancing work both inside and outside the home.
Common Causes of Guilt as a Parent
Those two examples are actually among seven of the most common causes of parental guilt. Along with trying to balance full-time employment as a working parent and family life and feeling guilty over what food your child eats, other common reasons include: snapping or yelling at your kid as a discipline when you’re in a bad mood, your child displaying bad behavior in public, thinking they get too much screen time, not making enough money to afford any extra activities like piano lessons, and feeling like you just can’t do it all.
The list could go on, which reveals how much pressure so many of us feel to be super parents and struggle with guilt, stress, and anxiety when we don’t live up to that impossible standard. Unfortunately, social pressures can influence how we perceive our abilities as parents and what we consider problems. Thankfully, learning how to shed comparison and guilt and trust your choices is a skill that’s possible to develop.
Learning to Cope with Parental Guilt
Dealing with guilt can do a damaging number on your mental health if left unchecked. It’s crucial to learn how to manage it in healthier ways so you can fully embrace the joys of parenthood.
First, it’s important to identify what’s causing you to feel guilty. Is there a particular situation you notice raises that feeling to the surface? Journaling is a great way to process or observe the patterns of when you feel guilt most. Comparison has already been mentioned, but if you notice particular friend groups or accounts on social media make you feel more like a failure than like a parent doing their best, it might be time to evaluate who or what you’re allowing in your circle of influence.
It’s important to know you don’t have to manage guilt alone. Having a community of friends who are understanding and likely walking through a similar experience can take away the feeling of isolation. Of course, seeking medical help like therapy is an excellent option if your guilt is deeply rooted and you don’t feel equipped or comfortable unpacking it on your own or through conversation with friends.
Final Thoughts on Managing Guilt
The bottom line is that you are an expert when it comes to your babies. There’s no one right way, winning strategy, or advice to master being a parent, and it’s impossible to be everything at once despite what others may project on social media. It’s vital that your brain and heart cope with guilt in healthier ways than self-criticism. Give yourself permission to not be a perfect superhuman, practice self-compassion, and seek support from friends or a therapist when parental guilt surfaces.
Remember, it’s ok to take a break when things feel overwhelming. Taking care of your health will actually contribute to the enrichment of your family relationships. Build confidence in your decision-making by not letting comparison-fueled doubt stand in your way. And know that you’re not a disappointment to your child. They just need you and your unconditional love and care.