Time to Let Go of False Mother Guilt
Why is it that so many moms feel bad about their parenting?
I think one big reason for this is Mother’s Guilt.
Webster dictionary defines guilt as a bad feeling caused by knowing or thinking that you have done something bad or wrong.
Mother’s guilt is when this bad feeling has to do with our parenting.
Now I talk to moms from all over the country and frequently they mention feeling guilty.
The problem is that when I listen to why they feel guilty it’s really a false guilt.
Today were going to evaluate Mother Guilt and determine if this is true or false guilt.
True Mother’s Guilt
When Mother’s Guilt is true it can be very useful. Guilt can be the warning light that says you need a course correction.
True guilt can lead to a change of heart, words, behavior, and heal relationships.
Example: Your daughter comes home after curfew and you can tell she has been drinking. You’re furious because she promised you that if she took the car she would come home on time and wouldn’t drink. When your daughter walks in the door she tries to avoid you and you scream, “Where the hell have you been? You are so f—ing rude. I curse the day you were born.”
(Okay this may seem a bit dramatic…but when we get really upset we can say really harsh things.)
Later you have this bad feeling, this guilt, for what you said to your daughter. You try to justify what you said because she broke curfew—but you still feel bad.
(I believe this is true guilt. These are not helpful things to say to your daughter. It damages the relationship and she doesn’t learn any life lessons.)
The next day you send your daughter a text and apologize for what you said. You own that you were careless and irresponsible with your words and you ask your daughter to forgive you.
(This mom has made good use of her guilt. She used it to make her relationship right with her daughter and now she can move on to the real issue, which is her daughter’s drinking and driving.)
After you take action the guilt disappears. You no longer have the bad feeling. Just like the warning light on your car, when you take care of the problem the light goes off.
False Mother’s Guilt
I truly believe that the majority of Mother’s Guilt is false. We feel like we have done something bad or wrong to our kids but in reality we haven’t.
False Mother’s Guilt is crippling.
False Mother Guilt…
- Is a nagging feeling that won’t go away
- Has you second-guessing yourself
- Is frequently triggered by the reactions of others
- There’s nothing you can do or say to make things right
- Makes you feel bad about yourself
Examples of false Mother’s Guilt
- You feel bad when you don’t let your daughter go to the party.
- You feel bad when you tell her you aren’t going to buy her a new dress.
- You feel bad when you don’t immediately run to the bookstore to get a book for her book report that is due in the morning.
- You feel bad that your daughter is not making better grades.
- You feel bad about yourself when your daughter is angry and definitely not happy.
- You feel bad that you are a working mom or stay-at-home mom.
- You feel bad when you do something for yourself.
How to determine if your Mother’s Guilt is true or false?
1. Write down on a piece of paper why you feel guilty.
Example: I feel bad that I’m not buying my daughter a new dress for her birthday party and she’s so mad at me.
2. “Have I done something bad or wrong?”
Example: She has several new dresses that she hasn’t worn yet. I have already spent a lot of money on this party. I’m not doing anything bad or wrong by not buying her a new dress. Actually I am being a good parent because I’m not her ATM machine and I don’t want to spoil her. Just because she is mad at me doesn’t mean I have done anything wrong.
3. “How can I be compassionate towards myself.”
Example: I want my daughter to be happy, but I really have worked hard on this party and given a lot already. I really am a good mom. My daughter will get over it.
4. Is their anything I need to do differently?
Example: Next time I can be up front with my daughter about what I am willing to spend on this party and let her know that I won’t be buying her a new outfit. I’ll tell her right now that I’m clear she can wear one of the dresses she already has.
5. Let it go.
Example: Even though my daughter may be unhappy with my decision. I’m clear this is a good decision. I know that I have been a good mom and I can let go of this bad feeling.