Sharad and Sheela were attending to office calls and the lunchtime was no different. During that time, they had allowed their child to binge on some snacks as neither could deal with the little fussy eater. But by evening, both were haunted by a little imp, the parenting guilt little imp. It made them feel terrible for indulging their child with snacks that they couldn’t claim as nutritious food. That evening, they spent fussing and trying to coerce their child into eating some veggies and fruits. However, it didn’t help to assuage their guilt. The little imp wouldn’t leave them alone for a long time.
Like Sharad and Sheela, you too may have been haunted by this little imp. Especially on days where attending to your child may be little more taxing than usual. It is natural to get occupied with work or your matters that need your time, but setting yourself up for a parenting guilt trip in the process isn’t.
Here, we discuss four ways that help in overcoming parental guilt.
It is usual for you to slip as a parent and learn from everyday experiences. To err as a parent and make one or more parenting mistakes is a part of your parenting journey. Parenting guilt too comes as a part of this journey. Sometimes it helps you be more conscientious of your choices, and on other days it could lead you to severe backlash.
Acceptance of your mistakes and learning through experience will help you tackle the parenting guilt with a pinch of salt. The mental benchmark you’ve set for yourself as a parent will be challenged time and again, accepting that and moving on will help you in your parenting journey. Forgiving yourself for parenting mistakes is vital to avoiding parenting guilt and if it does occur, know that it is normal.
Setting yourself up on a guilt trip and being deeply critical will only add to the parenting dilemmas and trials. Sometimes you may be harsh on yourself and get preoccupied with how you could have done something differently. That may further result in you not being there for your child.
Allowing yourself to feel and reminding how you felt in a similar situation as a child helps you understand your child better. Connecting inwardly with your thoughts and feelings enables you to get a better understanding of the problem. You, then, respond to a situation and not react. Compassion helps you from straying on the path of parenting guilt and allows you to connect with your child better.
Raising your child is a handful. Raising a child between you and your spouse is an even bigger one. Losing sight and tiredness, turning into exhaustion is something that spurs on parenting guilt. Your attentiveness towards your child wavers, and as a consequence, you are likely to make more mistakes and yell a little more. Before you know it, guilt and shame in parenting take over your life.
Creating a network or a support system that you can turn to any time to help you with everyday parenting is essential. Extended family, friends or a local support group can be a great relief when you need time off to run your errands or attend to work or individual needs. It also helps you appreciate the time you have with your child better.
As a parent who is trying hard, parenting guilt is sure to consume you. It could lead you to make decisions on an emotional impulse rather than logic and rationale. If you couldn’t be there for your child’s school function, you may overcompensate by buying them expensive things or give-in to every tantrum.
When you are on a parental guilt trip, having a listening partner who may be your spouse, a friend, a family member, a colleague, or a therapist helps. An immediate rant session after you start feeling parenting guilt is key to working through your emotions. You can reflect, analyse the thoughts logically and discern a pattern. Ranting to a listening partner allows you to rethink your actions and make an informed choice to make amends.
Parenting guilt is normal, and a not so negotiable aspect of parenting. It can trigger a lot of emotions within you. Analysing it calmly and rationally will help you keep the guilt from getting the better of you. Every time you feel this parenting guilt little imp slipping into your life, breathe and redirect your thoughts or try one of the above suggestions.
Do let us know your thoughts in the comments below and how you deal with parenting guilt.
Mariam Taqui Ali (pro tip: the middle name is pronounced tuh-key) A Word slayer, pluviophile, baker, traveller; among other things, knows the correct usage of punctuation and the difference between your and you're. She spent some time (read a lot of time) writing, editing and keeping track of word counts. Her trysts with writing and editing has led her to interact with experts from diverse industries like healthcare, wellness, HR, business and technology. Having experienced all that, she continues her professional explorations, to learn, to grow and to be a value add. Drop in a line at [email protected] if you liked her stories, have something nice to say, or if you have compelling ideas to share!
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