Most parents will feel parenting guilt at some point. Here are some tips on how to get rid of this feeling so you can get on with enjoying being the parent you are.
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This is the parent I like to be:
Lots of outside play, puzzles, reading together, homemade healthy fun food, play dates with friends, exploring new places and kid-friendly events.
What my parenting has looked like this week:
“Do you want to watch Daniel Tiger or Dora the Explorer?” while I pass my daughter her lunch of Mac and cheese from a box.
Though the mac and cheese was Annie’s organic and in any case this isn’t what most people would call atrocious parenting, it still doesn’t align with the parent I usually like to be.
Enter parenting guilt.
I usually have a lot of energy and try to be present with my 3 year old. But this week I was dealing with some bigger health issues and this was the best I could do. Even this felt like a lot.
I had to cut myself some slack and let go of the parent I like to be when I’m feeling healthy. No good was going to come out of feeling a lot of parenting guilt for a ton more screen time or food from a box than usually happens around here.
It got me thinking about parenting guilt and how probably most of us feel it from time to time. Mom guilt is definitely a thing, but dad guilt is real too, especially as more and more dads are taking on bigger childcare roles. It happens when we’re not living up to our expectations on ourselves. Sometimes the expectations can come from other people. A spouse, family members, friends, or society in general can all put subtle or not-at-all subtle pressure on us as parents.
According to this New York times article, the pressure on parents is so much higher than in our parents or grandparents time. It’s no wonder parenting guilt feels rampant. How can we keep up?
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Some reasons we might feel parenting guilt
There are so many reasons why we might feel parenting guilt.
* We’re letting our kids have too much screen time (whatever our definition of “too much” is)
* Working outside of the home more than we’d like
* Not having enough energy for our kids
* Guilt about less attention/time/energy for the first child when having a second child
* We lost our temper or weren’t as patient with our kids as we’d like to be
* Our toddler still uses a soother and we know we should get rid of it but it helps them sleep
* So many other reasons!
Forgiving yourself for parenting mistakes
What is your parenting guilt is coming up from a mistake you made? This is a different situation. If you lost your temper and raised your voice at your kids, or let them down by promising something and not following through, apologize to your kids.
This is so important for parents to model to their kids and I don’t think that many parents do this regularly. We’re human and we’re going to make mistakes and we will make them with our kids. But being able to say ‘I’m sorry, and this is why, and I will try to do better ‘ goes a huge long way.
We can’t just expect our kids to apologize when they do something wrong, we need to model that for them. We’re supposed to be the grown-ups after all. Even if on some days we want there to be a more grown up grown-up in the room to be the mature one so we don’t have to be. ?
What to do when we feel parenting guilt
First, notice it. When we’re having a feeling that is less than pleasant it might feel easier to bury it or dismiss it. This is something I am really good at (the burying part, not the noticing part) so noticing and acknowledging icky feelings is something I need to constantly practice.
Next we need to take a deep breath and be kind to ourselves. Tell yourself that you are doing the best you can. Each day is a different day and each parent has a unique life so putting comparisons or expectations on yourself isn’t helpful and is just a ton of pressure.
Forgive yourself. You’re human and you’re doing the best you can.
Something that I tell myself on the guilty-feeling days that has helped me a lot is this:
Your 100% is going to look different on different days
I always try to give 100%. Sometimes that looks like I’m getting a lot done and checking lots of my daily momming boxes. Other days it feels like I’m failing at absolutely everything and not able to do very much. But on those days, that is my 100%. I can’t always give the same amount and letting myself really know that and feel that helps SO much with parenting guilt.
Extra info to help when you’re feeling like you’re failing as a parent
If you are feeling burnt out by parenting or are just looking for a great book on parenting, this one is a must-have. I have turned to Dr. Laura again and again since having our daughter. Her advice is practical, helpful, and spot-on. This parenting book is on my list to read and speaks about the constant pressure to be a perfect parent, and what we can do about that to feel happier in parenting and raise happier kids. That’s all any parent really wants! ♥
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Have you ever felt parenting guilt over anything? Do you find it easy or hard to forgive yourself for parenting mistakes?