12 Reasons Every Mom Feels Guilty
Going out to work, turning on kids’ TV for a bit of peace....for time-starved moms, there’s no end to those guilt triggers. But don’t panic – you’re doing a far better job than you think. Here’s why. (13 Photos)
I’m Doing it All... But Badly
You’re a mom, you feel guilty– it goes with the territory, right? Sadly, we parents are incredibly hard on ourselves. Parenting guru Gina Ford puts it this way: ‘Mothers are, without doubt, their own harshest critics.’
We’re incredibly busy, meaning few of us can devote as much time and attention to our children as we’d like – yet that’s not the real reason behind that perpetual guilt.
It’s down to today’s moms having far higher expectations of parenthood than previous generations did – in other words, berating ourselves for being less than perfect. Time to lay off the pressure, perhaps?
My Child Should be With Me – Not a Babysitter
Going out to work is the number one guilt trigger, and no wonder. We feel bad about using childcare, missing the odd school-related event and uneasy when we have to rush out of the workplace to pick up the kids.
If that’s not enough, we feel guilty for sometimes regarding work as respite from the chaos of home. If it feels as if life is a compromise, do bear in mind that, for every study that says ‘kids to better if Mom stays at home’ (er, what about Dad?), others show that consistent, quality childcare does no harm at all.
As iVillager Jodie, a 32 year-old project manager and mom of two puts it, ‘Work is part of life. I enjoy it, we need my salary and I’d be out of my mind with boredom if I gave it up.’
I Don’t Play With Him Enough
Feel guilty because you’re not playing rough and tumble on the living room rug every day? Let’s be reasonable here. Who really wants to ‘be a donkey’ with children clambering on their back after eight hours at work?
If you worry that your child spends a lot of time playing alone, try to regard it as playing independently – i.e., boosting his imagination and creativity as he invents his own games. Adults didn’t used to feel bad if they didn’t play or interact with their kids every second of the day.
Yet these days we’re not supposed to admit that playing with little plastic bricks is – whisper it – a bit boring actually.
My Child’s Diet is Terrible
Food-related issues are up there at the top of the parental guilt chart. Sure, we know they should be tucking into their five a day – but what if the only ‘fruit’ they’ll tolerate is a cherry-flavoured Chupa-Chups lollipop?
Whatever you do, try to avoid mealtimes becoming a battleground and remember that no one got seriously sick from nudging their broccoli to the side of their plate.
Just keep offering a wide variety of fresh, nutritious foods, and if you worry that your child zooms towards the cookie jar a little too often, simply not refilling it is far more effective than squabbling about their treat consumption.
I Hate Having to Ask for Help
Although previous generations thought nothing of asking help with the children – in fact it would have seemed odd not to – we believe it’s down to us to manage everything by ourselves. No wonder we’re stressed and pulled in all directions.
If you feel like a failure for asking, consider setting up a reciprocal arrangement where you help out a friend or neighbour. Or, if a grandparent is pitching in, figure out what you can do to show your appreciation.
But do remember that it’s good for children to hang out with other adults they know and trust, and feeling supported makes you a more relaxed and happier parent too.
My Child Watches Too Much TV
We’re constantly told that TV is bad for kids – that is contributes to obesity, hyperactivity and whole raft of ills. However, as leading child psychologist Dr Dorothy Einon points out, ‘Sometimes adults do need to get on with other things. TV is fine as long as it’s broken up with other activities.’
So why not let your child watch his favourite programme, then turn it off and encourage him to do something else? As with so many aspects of parenting, balance is key.
So, yes, six hours’ viewing isn’t so great... but what’s nicer than curling up in front of a movie when rain is pounding against the windows?
I Can’t Afford to Buy Him All the Things His Friends Have
Another sign of modern times – that our children should be given with whatever they ask for. ‘Rather than launching into a big debate, which seems to encourage him to nag and plead all the more, I’ve started to say, simply, “Sorry, I can’t afford that”,’ says iVillager Kirsty, 38, mom to four year-old Ivan.
This is where a regular (reasonable) allowance money comes in. When you say, ‘Well, perhaps you could buy that with your own money,’ somehow that must-have toy isn’t quite so desirable after all.
I Don’t Have the Time or Energy to Make Baby Food
Older generations are often bewildered by the way we consider ourselves bad mothers if we can’t get it together to whip up our own, delicous pureed food.
If you have the time and inclination, then great – but your child will be absolutely fine weaned on commercial baby food, as you probably were. Likewise, with breastfeeding, you might be racked with guilt if you opt for formula and view making the switch as ‘giving up.’
Yet the way you do things should take into account everyone’s needs – including yours.
Sometimes I Like One of My Kids More Than the Other
Most of secretly favour one child over the other from time to time. When one is being cooperative and helpful, while the other is testing your patience to the max, it’s perfectly understandable to feel that way.
Rest assured that no harm’s being done as long as your children don’t know and you don’t make unfavourable comparisons.
Just try not to let your offspring overhear you saying, ‘He’s driving me crazy at the moment,’ or the more challenging child might act up even more, as he feels he’s expected to.
I’m Too Exhausted to Read to My Child every night
Yes, it’s lovely to snuggle beside your child with a stack of picture books – but these days, not all of us can manage a cosy reading session every single night. If you’re too tired to read, story CDs can help to soothe your child, or you may prefer just to cuddle up and chat.
We’re often told that children ‘should’ have nightly bedtime story, just as families ‘should’ always sit down to eat an evening meal together. In reality, though, we all do our best with the resources we have.
A calm, loving environment is far more important than being parented via some too idealistic or preachy rulebook.
We Argued in Front of Our Child
In a perfect world, the atmosphere at home would be 100% happy all of the time. But if you and your partner have had a fight within earshot of your child, remind yourself that the world isn’t perfect.
We all flare and lose our tempers sometimes, usually with the people we love most. Children do worry if they overhear you squabbling, though, and might blow it up out of all proportion (‘Help - what’ll happen to me if Mom and Dad get divorced?’).
Counter their fears by explaining that everyone gets cross from time to time. Your child will see that, despite the row, people make up and everything’s soon okay again.
Other Moms Manage So Much Better Than Me
We all think this sometimes. There’s the mom who bakes beautiful cakes for the school fete, and the one whose children are always immaculate.
No wonder two thirds of mpms admitted to feeling guilty and inadequate on a daily basis, according to a Onepoll survey. Yet that ‘perfect mpm’ is no more real than the perfect child. We all snap at our kids and feel exasperated and bored sometimes.
Some of us even yearn for our pre-parenthood selves. It’s all part of who we are because we’re human – not perfect robot mommies.
Switch Off the Guilt for Good...
By fixating on what we should be doing better – a ‘must try harder’ attitude’ – we’re fuelling stress and anxiety. Instead, keep telling yourself that parenting is a challenge, you’re doing a great job, and that being good enough really is good enough for your child.
Sure, the tooth fairy might have forgotten to put a shiny pound coin under your child’s pillow last night. And perhaps you didn’t quite get around to making a paper mache solar system today.
It doesn’t matter because as long as your child feels loved, and you have fun together, she’s going to turn out fine.