Whether we are speaking with one parent or a room full of them, parenting guilt is on almost everyone’s lips. Regardless of the issue, parents seem to feel guilty for doing too much or too little, for buying way too much or not enough, or for saying the right thing at the wrong time, the wrong thing at the wrong time, or just not saying a thing!
This has to stop! (Are you now feeling guilty about feeling guilty?)
October is all about #NoGuilt. We’ve all got enough going on in our lives without the additional burden of long-term guilt. Our intention this month is to get clear about parenting guilt and figure out how to have less of it.
In her book, The Gifts of Imperfection, author and shame researcher, Brene Brown defines guilt,
“Guilt is about our behaviours. We feel guilty when we hold up something we’ve done or failed to do against the kind of person we want to be. It’s an uncomfortable feeling, but one that’s helpful. When we apologize for something we’ve done, make amends to others or change a behaviour, that we don ‘t feel good about, guilt is most often the motivator.”
This is a great perspective on guilt – if we can truly use it to recognize something we don’t like and make a change, that’s great. We see many parents who feel guilty and don’t do anything about it. At that point, guilt (a self-imposed emotion) becomes much closer to shame. As Brown says,
“Guilt = I did something bad.
Shame = I am bad.”
Where does guilt come from?
Guilt is the difference between expectations and reality. When one has high expectations of and one’s reality does not meet those expectations, there is guilt. Therefore, in order to decrease the guilt we have to
a) Bring the expectations closer to the reality
b) Bring the reality closer to the expectations
c) A little bit of both
We’ll talk more about parent guilt in the weeks to come.
This week, ask yourself these questions:
When I feel guilty, do I do something about it?
Are the expectations I have for myself as a parent really achievable?
What areas of my parenting can I actually change to bring them closer to my expectations?
Got a question? Email us for your personalized solution!