We’ve all felt guilty about one thing or another sometime in our lives. But perhaps the most haunting type of guilt is mother’s guilt. There aren’t many mothers who’ve never felt guilty about their parenting, even if it’s for just a second. But when does it become an issue?
Let’s start by defining the term “mother’s guilt”. It’s the guilt that arises in mothers who feel they aren’t “good enough” parents. There are various reasons they might be thinking this: punishing a child often, not letting them do what the other kids are doing (this can often happen with teenagers), and perhaps the most common one today (that we will be focusing on) – not spending enough time with them. Have you ever ordered a pizza instead of making them the dinner you promised, because you got held up at work? Or have you left them to deal with their homework themselves so you can answer a couple of emails, and lost track of time? If yes, it might have made you feel guilty.
And while not being sure about what you’re doing from time to time is perfectly normal, being caught up in guilt constantly, up to the point it messes with your everyday tasks – that’s a sign of an issue that you should talk about with someone.
But while talking to others about it may be beneficial for you, what will help you make a change and start feeling better long-term are the following:
1. Focus on the Good
There’s a fault in most human brains: we tend to focus on the bad and completely ignore the good. I challenge you to take a pen and paper right now and write down at least three things you think you’re doing well as a mom! It can be something as small as giving everyone a goodbye kiss when you leave for work in the morning, or the fact that you treated your kids to ice cream that one time last week. Don’t be too hard on yourself, and don’t flag everything that’s good as unimportant. You might worry that your kids will hold your flaws against you, but they’re just as likely to cherish the memories you make with them.
2. Don’t Compare Yourself to Social Media Moms
How often have you seen someone’s bad photo on Instagram? Or a bad photo of their kids with the caption “I’m a terrible mom”? Everyone wants to look good on social media, so everyone chooses the best parts of their lives to display to others. Comparing your reality to their highlights makes no sense! Every mom has problems, even if they aren’t up to showing it online.
So the next time you see a mom who looks like they have it all figured out, take a closer look at your friends and cousins. Take a look at your own parents, too! Do any of them have it all under control 100% of the time, feeling perfectly proud of themselves?
And if you need to unfollow those moms or delete your Instagram account to make yourself feel better, go for it. Your mental health and self-esteem should be much more important than being able to look at pretty photos 24/7.
3. Ask for and Accept Help
Venting to friends may be a great way to feel better, but while it helps temporarily, it doesn’t necessarily change what you’re feeling guilty about. But asking for help does. If you’re worried that you’re not helping your child enough with their studies, and you’re afraid they might be falling behind, there’s no shame in letting an online tutor help you out.
Tutoring sessions all happen online, so it won’t be extra hard on you, nor on your child. Nobel tutors will help your child master the subject that’s troubling them, and they won’t even have to leave their room! That means no driving around for you, and no extra tasks on your to-do list. You don’t have to do everything alone. In today’s busy world, you have the choice to either let others help, or to take everything upon yourself until you go crazy from all the stress.
You can also opt for Academic Coaching where Nobel’s coaches focus on the child’s motivation, anxiety, and any other psychological barriers that might be impeding academic success.
4. Talk to Your Kids about It
The most common source of all misunderstandings are assumptions. (link to our article about communication). You might think that your kids are holding your lack of time for them against you, when they might really be proud of you for working so hard. But you’ll never know for sure until you ask them! Ask about their feelings and whether they have some ideas about how you can spend more time together. Make a plan and, just as important, share your feelings, too! They need to have you as an example that sharing feelings is a wonderful thing that can only lead to more good things.
Now, if they tell you they’re mad at you, sad, or disappointed, don’t despair. All feelings are normal, negative ones included. Try to talk to them more about it and see how you can change something. And if you think their negative feelings are something they might have trouble dealing with, our coaches can help – not only them, but you, too.
Try to bear in mind that this conversation will bring many emotional benefits to them as well. If they see their parents asking for help, your kids will be more likely to take care of themselves and ask for help for themselves, which will ultimately make them happier and healthier.
Word to the Wise
Overcoming mother’s guilt is not an easy thing to do, but the first step is always the hardest. The important thing is to let yourself know you have the right to live your own life, and that it doesn’t mean you love your kids any less than you should. You taking good care of yourself while finding alternative ways to help your kids is the best possible solution for the struggles of this modern age.