Link copied to clipboard

The Two Biggest Ways Parents Feel Guilty

Lori Freson

Health, Wellness, & Safety

Someone recently asked me what the two things moms feel most guilty about are. I believe they are doing things for ourselves and disciplining our children.

We all know the importance of taking care of ourselves, yet most of us seldom do.  We are so caught up in the daily tasks of cooking, cleaning, driving, tutoring, errands, and tending to everyone else’s needs that we often forget moms matter too.  But when we take that rare time for ourselves (or even our relationships), the guilt sets in.  Guilt that you’ve left your children, for spending money, or just for indulging in something that’s just for you.

Why?  Because our lives have become too kid centric.  When everything you do, day in and day out, revolves around your children, it actually feels WRONG to do something for yourself.  When you buy everything for your children, and nothing for yourself, indulging may feel sinful.  But really, ladies, who are we kidding?  We work hard, and certainly deserve some time and money for ourselves.  After all, you really can’t take care of others if you are not okay.  If you keep going like a robot, without ever doing something for yourself, I can pretty much guarantee you will snap.

You’re also worried about leaving the children with a babysitter or your mother-in-law.  You’re feeling like you’re a bad parent for leaving, that you should be there to tuck them in to bed every night.  Well guess what?  They’ll be fine, and they might even have fun.  Sometimes kids need a break from us as much as we need it from them.  And your kids will learn some important things, such as how to be flexible when Grandma or the babysitter doesn’t do everything exactly the way you do.  They will learn that they can separate from you and still be ok, and that you always come back.

Similarly, everyone knows the importance of discipline in raising respectful children, yet we all struggle with it.  To be clear, discipline means “training to act in accordance with rules”, and actually comes from the same Latin root word as disciple. Discipline is about teaching, not about punishing or hurting. We want our kids to be polite and caring, and to know right from wrong.  So why is it so hard to follow through?  One word…GUILT.  Guilt that you just took away the new toy your child bought with his own hard-earned money.  Guilt that you cancelled that play date or made your child stay home from a party.  Guilt that you’ve upset your child.

Why?  Discipline is not black and white. There are so many styles of parenting and discipline, and so much controversy surrounding them, that it’s no wonder we don’t feel confident in our choices.  Your lack of confidence and discomfort in upsetting your child make you doubt if you’re doing the right thing.  I’m here to tell you that you are.  Children need rules and limits in order to feel secure.  It’s your job to enforce them; even it means your child might be upset with you.  Your child must understand that he is not in charge, does not run the universe, and will not always get his way.

So what’s a mom to do?  How can you overcome these feelings of guilt?  The good news is you can learn to change your beliefs about guilt.  Push yourself to do these things, even when you feel guilty about it, and you will see that the guilt lessens over time.  Why?  Because you will see the benefits of doing so, and you will slowly realize that the rest of the family benefits just as much as you do.  Remind yourself that you work incredibly hard, and that you’re important too.  Remind yourself that you must teach your children the way you expect them behave, or they will never learn how.  And when you get discouraged, simply take a look around.  By taking care of yourself and disciplining the children, your household will be a happier place for everyone. It’s time to stop saying, “I feel guilty” and start saying, “I’m doing the right thing”! Moms CAN overcome their guilt.

share this
Follow Us

Lori Freson

Lori Freson is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in Southern California. She has been working in the mental health field since 1997, and has been a licensed therapist since 2002. Lori currently works in her own thriving private practice in Encino and Sherman Oaks, where she serves the San Fernando Valley and Los Angeles areas.