There is a phenomenon in the parenting world known as “Mom Guilt” and it thrives on negative self-talk, minimizing our own needs, and convincing ourselves that any time we engage in a self-care activity, it is selfish and detrimental to our children and families. Mom Guilt can become this constant and consuming feeling of never believing that you are doing enough as a mom or doing things the right way. Mom Guilt feeds on idealistic standards of what a “good mother” would or should do and on our fears that we will never be good enough.
What Triggers Mom Guilt?
What triggers mom guilt? I invite you and your thoughts to join in on this conversation. Consider moments as a mom when you would like to take a break, but question whether or not this will have an impact on your family time or your child’s attachment to you. Or times when you are on the phone and realize that your child is asking you to play with them- that thought creeps in of “I’m a neglectful mother”.
Often we might feel responsible for how our children behave and therefor guilty if they behave inappropriately as it is somehow a fault of our *inadequate parenting* (insert any negative automatic belief). Perhaps there are times when you would like to go grocery shopping or out to lunch alone or even with a friend but there may be guilt about asking for help regarding childcare- “Do I really deserve free time when I could be spending more time with my kid?.
There can be numerous times throughout the day when you might believe that you are not doing enough, that you are capable of more even though you can sense being at the cusp of your emotional limits, or that you *should* know something or be able to do something and if you don’t then it is a personal failure.
How do We Resolve This?
So how do we resolve this sense of guilt that surfaces whenever we compare ourselves to others or even to our own perfectionistic standards of the ‘perfect parent’?
- Stop Comparing Yourself to Other Parents
- Identify What is Causing Your Feelings of Guilt
- You Are Not Alone: Interact and Connect with Other Parents Who Feel Similarly or Individuals Who Can Validate Your Experiences, Thoughts and Feelings
- Find Ways to Accept That We All Have Limitations and Therefore Are Not Going to Be Perfect
- Increase Self-Compassion- Consider affirmations that resonate with you and your current circumstances:
“I am doing the best I can and am always learning and growing with each change and opportunity that arises.”
“I made mistakes and I am still the best mother for my child(ren).”
“You do not have to do it all, all of the time. You are not a robot, you are a human with limits.”
“I deserve this down time for no other reason other than I deserve relaxation right now and I will be a better parent when I show up later.”
The key is learning to believe that it is not how much time is spent _____________ (fill in the blank- breastfeeding, playing, talking, carrying, napping, crying, walking, etc.), but rather the quality of your presence, attention, and responsiveness when you are together.
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