To the Mom Who Struggles with Guilt

How to stop the guilt from growing bigger than it needs to be.

Taking control of mom guilt.

To the mom who struggles with guilt,

I understand the confusing emotions that well up at the most inopportune times:
The late nights (and overnights) where you’re assaulted by memories of one mistake or another.
The feelings of failure over the most insignificant of things.

I understand your mom guilt because I, too, have spent time wallowing in it. With extremely high standards for myself and my parenting, it’s no wonder that I’ll berate myself (and my parenting skills) from time to time. Whenever something goes wrong, it begins to seem like a reflection on my parenting abilities.

Yet, I continue to be reminded of the truth: although we feel guilt from time to time we don't need to live in it.

Article Continues Below Advertisement

As I’ve tried to wrap my head around these confusing emotions, I’ve also realized there are some benefits to mom guilt. Here are a few tried and true ways I have found to stop the feelings of guilt from growing bigger than they really need to be.

The Benefits of Mom Guilt

While the idea of guilt has many negative connotations, there are some benefits to realizing that one is experiencing a sense of failure.

Here are the top benefits of feeling mom guilt:
Awareness - Recognizing that you’re feeling guilty over a parenting mishap means that you are in-tune and aware of all aspects of your parenting. Mom guilt puts you in the perfect position to become aware of where problems may lie and sets you up for success with future parenting.

Shifting Priorities - Finding that you are feeling guilty for how you spend time with your kids (or the amount of time you’re with them) can help to highlight areas of change and be a step towards reorganizing your priorities.

Article Continues Below Advertisement

Perspective - Once you have experienced mom guilt, it is likely to reappear during similar circumstances. Repeated exposure to the feeling of guilt can give you perspective. Acknowledge that you’re not perfect but are working hard to be the best possible mom for your kids.

Tips for Taking Control of Mom Guilt

Mom guilt can quickly become all-encompassing, including many aspects of parenting throughout the day. Before mom guilt takes control of you, you’ll want to reign in these feelings and learn to take control of the guilt.

Here are tips for taking control of mom guilt:
Look for Patterns - Mom guilt will likely emerge over the years regarding similar instances. Learn from your past self. Know when the guilt is helpful (it opens your eyes to a problem) and when it’s just repetitive and you can make a decision to let it go.

Guilt is a Feeling - Knowing guilt is just an emotion can help to you to make the switch from being ruled by it to taking charge. Just as you choose to look for the positive in tough seasons of parenting, you can choose to say goodbye to the guilt.

Redirect Your Thoughts - If you find yourself continually coming back to feelings of guilt over a situation that’s been addressed, it’s time to redirect your thoughts. Plan to switch mental gears as soon as the guilt creeps in, making yourself stop agonizing over past events that can’t be changed.

Article Continues Below Advertisement

Not So Perfect Parenting - A large amount of guilt rests in the ideal that perfect parenting is possible. Parenting perfection is rarely achieved, but effective parenting absolutely can be. In order to be an effective parent you don’t need to be perfect. Skip the guilt over your failures and strive to be effective.

Find Workable Solutions - When you begin to feel guilty about your parenting, stop and analyze the problem. If it’s something that definitely needs to be fixed, ask someone else to help you brainstorm a practical solution to change your parenting response to benefit your family. Sometimes talking through a problem with a friend can bring to light an easy, workable solution.

When It’s More than Just Guilt

If you’re feeling a constant sense of guilt that prevails over most other emotions, there may be an underlying problem. Schedule some time to chat with your doctor, check your hormone levels, and see if there’s a root cause to your guilt.

While mom guilt is normal and can even be beneficial, it shouldn’t be taking over your thought life. If you feel perpetually anxious, check out these tips for finding peace amidst the chaos.

Jess Wartinger

Jess Wartinger

Jess Wartinger resides in rural New York with her husband and five children. Formerly an early elementary teacher, Jess currently spends her time loving her kids and holding down the fort at home.

Facebook Comments