Are you someone that experiences parent guilt? You aren’t alone! A study even backs this up with one particular study indicating that out of 900 mums 78% felt guilty, with 68% feeling this way at least once a day! Dad’s experience this too! With 1 in 5 experiencing guilt about missing out on family time or spending too much time and missing out on potential work that could assist the family.
So, what is parent guilt?
Parent guilt is known as the feeling of guilt a mother or father (or both) for that matter may have e.g. any thought, feeling, activity or circumstance surrounding (or not surrounding) her child/ren.
It can affect your mental and physical health leading to issues like burnout!
What can we do about it?
1. Take a deep breath
If you feel yourself getting weighed down with thoughts of parent guilt stop and take a few deep, mindful breaths. Useful apps like Headspace or Calm can help too!
2. Identify Why you feel parent guilt!
Ask yourself what it is that’s making you feel this parent guilt.
Becoming aware of the source where you feel the most guilt can help you take steps towards addressing it and working toward practical problem-solving.
Often there can be feeling like thinking you are neglecting your child or children, or you aren’t loving them enough. For starters, the fact that you are having that thought is a great sign!
Once you have figured out a reason or a list of reasons around your parent guilt you can start to put a plan in place to address this!
3. Cut yourself some slack!
Often, we find it easier to be compassionate towards others but struggle with self-compassion.
Do yourself a favour and take a moment to focus on the positive. I’ll wait…
One way you can practice self-compassion is by treating yourself like your friend or family member. What advice would you give them? What comfort or support would you tell this dear friend? You already have the answers, so apply them to your life!
Those around you will benefit from a more fulfilled, happier, healthier version of yourself + you will reduce the pesky parent guilt in the process.
4. Challenge yourself and create change!
Once you’ve identified negative beliefs that trigger this guilt, change it!
Do these negative beliefs have evidence to support them?
If not, reframe your mindset and move towards a healthier, happier you. Try flipping the circumstance and seeing the lesson not the problem within the situation.
The aim of challenging the beliefs of parent guilt is to give you a more realistic perspective and perhaps ways in which self-care can actually be a very positive thing for everyone.
5. Be realistic about parent guilt
As parents (in most cases) we have fine-tuned intuition and good judgement when it comes to the needs of our children. Taking some time to look after your needs is not going to cause the planets to misalign!
6. Surround yourself with people who respect your choices.
Unsolicited advice and well-meaning opinions can lead to a whole lot of anxiety, guilt and shame. It’s vital to surround yourself with supportive like-minded people. Don’t go scrapping your friends and family yet. Just minimise contact with the negative influences until you feel confident enough to filter their advice.
Feeling guilt from time to time is completely normal and it’s ok to sit with and experience that feeling as long as you have strategies in place to deal with it.