Once you’ve had a baby, the phrase “Mum guilt” is everywhere (even though I’m pretty sure dad’s feel guilty too…).
But still, the subject of guilt comes up a lot as a parent. It’s so rife that I’ve even heard people say they feel guilty for not feeling more guilty!
The list of things to feel guilty about can be unending. Guilt for not enjoying every single second, guilt for not having a baby that sleeps through the night, guilt for not “getting your body back”, guilt for wanting or not wanting another baby…the list goes on.
From the moment your little person arrives on earth, there are multiple options and choices on how to look after them.
And as with any choice, there is often pressure to make the “right one”.
Society has a lot to say about how a baby “should” be raised and a lot to say about what the role of each parent should look like based on tradition and cultural norms.
As someone who struggles with deciding on what to have for dinner everyday and as someone who tries really hard to “do the right thing” the pressure involved with making the right choice for my daughter has felt completely overwhelming at times.
I don’t have the answers on how to not feel guilt (parent or not) as it’s likely that we will all experience it at some point. But here are some of the things I think about when I start to notice guilty thoughts creeping in.
1. Would you feel guilty about this if you lived in another country?
So much of the parenting advice we hear is based on cultural norms and the way things are done in your society.
For a long time I felt guilty about co-sleeping. My guilt disappeared when I had the thought “well, if you lived in Japan (or many other countries around the world) you’d be frowned upon for NOT co-sleeping!” 🤣
If it works for you as a family and you’re all happy…don’t worry about what anyone else says. There’s no one right way to parent!
2. What advice would you give your child in this situation?
For me, imagining my daughter coming to me in the future for advice about whatever it is that is making me feel guilty in the present can sometimes really help me to put things into perspective.
Plus, I’m so much kinder to my child than I am to myself!
For example, I recently went back to work full time. If my daughter chose to do this in the future there is absolutely no way I would tell her she was a bad mum for doing so. I’d support her and help her to make it work if it’s what she wanted to do.
Looking at things in this way has helped me to have more compassion for myself and has helped me to think about what kind of example I want to set.
3. Ask “would you feel any less guilty for doing the exact opposite of what you’re doing right now?”
Guilt can be a productive emotion that can help us to make positive changes in our lives.
This question can be help to show us that in some situations we’d probably feel guilty to some extent no matter what we action we take!
But this question can also help to show us which situations are the ones that really matter and where we need to make a change.
I’d love to hear how you deal with feeling guilty as a parent or in general. Please do get in touch by leaving a comment below.
As always, thanks for reading!
The Supermum Myth – I found this book to be incredibly helpful!