Guilt is something that everyone feels here and there, and it is normal and natural. Parental guilt is a real thing too and it is normal to have these kinds of emotions. The problem is though that parental guilt can cause stress and anxiety and it can make you say things to your children that you will later regret saying.
You need to make sure that if you are feeling guilty about something that you know that you are carrying this feeling. When you do something that makes you feel bad or you feel regretful, it is normal to feel guilty. When this happens as a parent, it shows that you have love and care for your children and that you want your relationship with your kids to be strong.
Knowing Parental Guilt
Do you feel guilt towards your child or is this just parental guilt? Here are some signs that you might be having parental guilt:
- After Discipline
When children do something and it causes a parent to get upset or frustrated, this can make you think that the child should have known better. Even though this can be true, some children aren’t able to pick up the same skills as adult due to how their brain has developed thus far. This is why they need parents to help guide them.
If you are someone that yells when your kids do something because this is your reaction, you might feel guilty. Learn to let natural consequences happen. These are things that happen as a result of a choice or behavior without the adult getting involved.
- Not Disciplining
Maybe you feel like you didn’t give enough time to your child, or you didn’t meet up to their expectations. Then you see that your child is doing something that isn’t desirable behavior, and you decide not to discipline because you don’t want to feel guilty.
You will feel guilty because this is a natural emotion, and it can be hard to know when you need to notice and discipline something your child has done or when you should look away. Sit down with your child at bedtime and talk about why the behavior wasn’t appropriate. Then decide what will happen when you see the behavior again.
- Disciplining without Follow Through
Another thing that could happen is that you discipline your child, but you don’t follow through because you feel sorry for them and end up feeling guilty and like the bad parent. You might even feel that you were too harsh.
You have to learn to stand up for your decisions and to stand your ground even if you feel guilty about it.
- Not Requiring Chores
Some parents will feel guilty by not making their children do chores around the house. Some people feel that this is a fair way for your child to learn how to earn money and to be more responsible. Other people feel that your child shouldn’t be rewarded when they do chores and that it should just be done.
No matter how you choose to do this, you need to not feel guilty for making them accountable for getting or not getting things done. It could be easier for you to just do the chore yourself but when you want to give your child confidence and responsibility, this can be very valuable to them.
Even young kids are able to put things away, fold clothes and put away silverware. Picking up their own toys is a great way to teach a child to have respect for what they have. It is up to you if you choose to give allowances or not when they do chores.
- Making Excuses
Some people will make excuses for their child when they are misbehaving such as saying that they are tired or that they didn’t know how to react to something. Even though this might be true of your child, you might feel guilty that your child acted a certain way.
You need to make sure that you aren’t making excuses but that you are changing and addressing the behavior. Talk about this with your child at bedtime or sit them down to discuss it. This helps your child to grow and be responsible.
- Doing More Than You Can
It is nice to be able to give your child gifts but spending time with your child will help to change their life. Even if you can’t give your child everything that they want, when you give them things, you need to make sure that they understand the value of money. You can’t give your child everything that they want, and it is nice to get special things during holidays.
- Being a Working Parent
Most parents will feel guilty when they have to work. They might not be able to spend as much time with their child as they wanted to. It can be hard to support a family, and this means that sometimes mothers and fathers both have to work outside of the home.
Spend time with your children and dedicate time for them so that they feel valuable and that they feel safe and secure, even if you are a working parent.
Getting Past Parenting Guilt
Here are some ways that you can get past parenting guilt if you are experiencing it:
- Get Rid of Stress
You need to make sure that you are combating stress in your life. This means take time for just yourself so that you can be centered and happy. Sometimes parents are overworked and overwhelmed, and this is unhealthy for everyone.
Parents need to take care of themselves so that they can take care of their children. This helps parents to feel involved and to control overreacting. You can try things like exercising, yoga, meditating, going out to lunch with friends or just relaxing and reading a book or watching a favorite show.
- Setting Rules
When you have to work, you have to have time to set aside for this. Set rules when you are working because you can’t concentrate on your work and your children at the same time, and this can cause guilt.
If you work from home, you need to set rules on the times that you are working and when you won’t be available to answer all of the questions that your children have at that time. Teach your children to solve their own problems so that they can become independent problem solvers.
Everyone has different parenting styles, and this is okay. Figure out how to respond to your children and how to be in control of your actions.
- Support Your Children
Parents that have been divorced often feel guilty. Kids need parents that are stable and that are interested in their life. No matter if you have gone through a divorce or if you live with or without your children, support them in everything that they do. Find out what hobbies they have and what interests and make sure that you are showing them support and unconditional love.
You don’t have to spend a lot on your children to show them that you love them or to have a relationship with them. This requires giving them time and showing love.
- One on One Time
Take time with each of your children to have one on one time. Set a certain amount of time for each child and spend the day with them. This can show them how much you enjoy being with them.
- Be Honest
If you do something that was wrong or you overreact or yell, say you’re sorry. You can be wrong because you are human. It is important that your children see that you mess up because that allows them to know that you won’t hate them if they mess up.
You need to be a good role model for your children and showing them that no one is perfect is a way that you can show them that people make mistakes. Tell your children that you love them, and you care for them but also let them know when you mess up.
- Love Yourself
You have to learn to love yourself and to be compassionate to yourself as much as you are to your children. Forgive yourself when you mess up and love yourself so that your children can learn to love themselves as well.
- Be the Parent
You can be your child’s friend, but your biggest role is as the parent. You need to make sure that you aren’t trying to just be their friend but that you are playing the right role and doing what is best for your child.
Being a parent is never easy and it can be one of the hardest jobs in the world. When you feel guilty as a parent, you have to realize that everyone has these feelings sometimes. You need to learn to love yourself, love your children and allow yourself to grow as a parent.
Your children will teach you just as much as you teach them as you learn to parent and as you learn to combat guilt that you might feel. If you have moments that you have felt guilty as a parent, listen to yourself, and respond and then let it go as you learn to do better next time.