So many mothers I meet carry the burden of parenting guilt.
Guilt for something they blurted out to a child in anger.
Guilt for not spending enough time with a child.
Guilt for spending too much time at work.
Guilt for saying NO to a child even though they are acting in their child’s best interests.
Guilt for disciplining a child for doing the wrong thing.
Guilt can be triggered be events such as leaving a crying child at child-care or missing a child’s special event.
It can also be induced by your kids, when they reach out and squeeze your guilt gland until it hurts.
Have you ever heard your child say something like?
“Mum, you always let him (a brother) do what he wants.”
“You never do anything fun with me!”
Comments like these come with the mothering territory. I say mothering because most men don’t have an under-developed guilt gland compared to mothers.
Kids know that comments such as these will hit a nerve so in an attempt to manipulate (in the nicest possible way, of course) or get their own way kids will often say and do things that make your guilt gland twitch.
Guilt is healthy if it causes you to make better decisions, and act in the best interests of your kids.
It’s not healthy if it’s debilitating, or leads to over-indulgence or a lowering your expectations of kids to compensate for whatever it is your feel guilty about.
It helps to remember that Resilient kids are flexible enough to deal with the curve balls that life and you throw their way. Well-behaved kids know that they can’t always get what they want, and that they need to bend to the demands and needs of others in their families.
So next time your kids something like “You don’t love me. You just want to spoil my fun” recognise that they are reaching out to give your guilt gland a good old squeeze. The more you feel guilty the harder they’ll squeeze!
Smile and say something like, “You know you may be right. I never thought of that!” This will take the wind from their sails and they’ll let go of your guilt gland in a flash.
Of course, this is easy for a male to write, as I like most blokes have an under-sized guilt gland, meaning that comments such as these just don’t wash!
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