If you look up mommy guilt on the internet there is a lot of information. Feeling guilty as a mom is common. We all want to feel like we are doing a good job and that we are accomplishing this all important job of parenting. For this post though I want to go beyond some of the surface areas to look at the deeper issues below. When we parent from a wounded place we set a pattern of parenting from guilt that hurts our authority as a parent and adversely affects our child in the long run. So let’s ditch the mom guilt and discover 5 ways to break free of parenting from guilt.
6 Ways to Break Free of Parenting from Guilt
With my part-time job teaching groups, I have had the unique opportunity to see what happens in the tween and teens years when parents have parented from a point of guilt. Typically, by time I see families the teen is the one “in control” running the household. The parents are overwhelmed and frustrated wondering how to get their teens to do anything. Some parents are even bitter feeling like they just ended up with a “bad” or “lazy” teen.
When a parent, parents from guilt they are hesitant to put rules and boundaries down.
If their child protests and whines that something isn’t fair they give in believing that their child must be right. Parents have the attitude that they need to “make it up” to their child for the perceived “event” that happened to the child. So how can we avoid this kind of guilt as a parent that can devastate our home?
Become Your own Advocate
Sometimes I can be my own worst enemy. My first several years as a parent I felt like I failed constantly. One day, I realized that I my constant negative messages to myself though were not helping. Yes, I wanted to be aware of my failures so I could try something better the next time. However, I needed to get a grip on the bigger picture. I was involved in my child’s life. I cared for him. I tried my best to love him through my action. Yes, I had so much to learn to be the kind of parent I truly wanted to be, but I wasn’t giving up.
I’m sure you wish you could be more ***fill in the blank*** for your child. But if you are trying your best day in and day out then step back a minute. See how far you have come. Give yourself credit for how many times you were loving or patient or played with your child.
We all have areas that come easier to us as parents. I feel like parenting though the middle school and high school years was slightly easier for me then the minute to minute patience needed for a toddler. Now, don’t get me wrong. Parenting is hard work every year. But don’t give up hope if some stages are more of a struggle for you.
2. Release Your Perfect Family Image
Your family isn’t perfect? Shocking! OK, seriously, yes, most of us understand that our family is not going to be perfect, but we still can get tripped up by that picture in our head of what we hoped our family would be like.
We may believe our family is doomed because we are a single parent, or our child lost a parent. Perhaps we have a child who is just so different from the rest of the family, and we are constantly butting heads.
It is more important that we are connecting with our kids daily and doing the hard things like teaching and disciplining than that everything looks good from the outside.
Each child is so unique so drop the expectations that they are going to develop like our other children or like so and so’s kids. Allow your family to be the delightful combination of everyone’s personality. And concentrate on making the best decisions you can for your children and for your family.
Kids are smart. We want them to know that their character matters more to us than an outward performance.
3. Find Healthy Friendships as a Parent
In order to parent from a point of strength and not guilt, you need to have a good support team in your life. Make time to enjoy and develop healthy relationships in your life. Find friends (or family) who are encouraging of you, think you are wonderful and who can be honest with you.
Parenting is one hard job. So you and your spouse need to be supportive of one another and enjoy outside support. Yes, you need to decide in your own mind what is truly important to you as a parent. But you need friends that you can laugh with and cry with through the ups and downs of parenting. You are giving constantly to your kids so having a few good friends that fill you back up is vital!
Need some ideas on creating your own support team? Read more here.
4. Avoid the Pendulum Swing
Often times, we focus so much on what we don’t want to be like as parents. Two common phrases I hear is, “I don’t want my kids to have to struggle like I did,” or “I don’t want my kids to grow up in an abusive home like mine.” Of course, most of us can agree that we want our children to enjoy a childhood, and we want them to grow up in a safe environment.
However, sometimes we can swing so far to the other side of the pendulum trying to avoid a parenting pattern that we just end up at the other extreme.
We end up doing everything for our kids or being way too permissive with no boundaries.
If you grew up in a household that you truly believe was unhealthy or toxic, it is wonderful that you want to make a different home for your children. But check the all or nothing thinking. Allowing kids to struggle a little and figure things out on their own can be healthy. Giving kids guidelines and consequences is positive when its done in a predictable loving way.
5. Develop a Spirit of Gratitude
Life can be hard. It doesn’t always turn out how we hoped or expected. If we just focus on the negative though we pollute the air in our house.
As I mentioned earlier if we hold onto the negative we may end up parenting from the point of view that we (or life) “owes” something to our child. Teens that have been raised with this idea that they are “owed” something often struggle with ingratitude and following authority. They tend to wait on someone else to fix their problems for them and lack concern over mistakes they have made.
6. Forgive Yourself
Have you made any decisions in life that you wish you could go back and do differently? Most of us would answer “yes”. If you have made mistakes, acknowledge them but then move on a stronger person and parent for having learned from your past failures.
Part of breaking free from parent guilt is not dragging around all our past mistakes. We are not perfect but we love our kids, know more than them from our life experience and have lots of wisdom to impart to them.
6 Ways to Break Free of Parenting from Guilt
Let’s ditch the mom guilt and parent from a point of strength!
- Become Your Own Advocate
- Release Your Perfect Family Image
- Find Healthy Friendships as a Parent
- Avoid the Pendulum Swing
- Develop a Spirit of Gratitude
- Forgive Yourself
So I know you are a great parent, but do you ever slip into one of these “parenting from guilt” traps? If so leave a comment below. I know many of us are going to be able to relate and support you in your situation!
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