The “Mother Guilt” Warning Light

A quick Google search of Mother Guilt and you’ll soon feel guilty about feeling it. 

Sure, you could read “31 Reasons You Shouldn’t Feel Mom Guilt” or “5 New-Mom Guilt Cures” and feel bad about feeling guilty and vow you’re going to squash those guilty feelings once and for all but I’ve never found it a good idea to deny feelings - especially not feelings that seem to be intuitive and come from somewhere deep within me.

I’ve never ignored my mother guilt. That doesn’t mean I always surrender to it either. The thing is, I think mother guilt is natures’ way of saying "Hang-on, you’ve got a responsibility here to another human being that’s very important. Your child is completely dependent on you. Are you meeting that responsibility?"

When I feel guilty, I take it as an opportunity to stop and really reflect on what’s going on - to look at the situation rationally through my eyes and through the eyes of my children. I look at it as a kind of warning light, like the kind you find on the dashboard in your car. Sometimes those lights mean you need to fix something fast because something’s wrong. Sometimes they’re faulty or hyper-sensitive and go off for the wrong reasons. But I’d never ignore them. I’ll always check my car out if a light goes on.

So, when my guilt light goes on, I’ll stop and look at what’s going on. I’ll try to analyse why I feel guilty and whether my feelings are warranted. I’ll look at my needs in the situation and my kids’ needs in the situation and try to work out if I really am making the right decision. I’ll often talk it over with people I trust and whose opinion I value.

I find working through situations like this will mean that next time I go through the same situation, I actually don’t feel guilty at all because I’ve processed what I felt guilty about and realized the feelings are unwarranted. Pushing the guilt away and telling yourself you don’t need to feel it doesn’t seem to do this. If the feeling comes back in the same situation, it’s time to reflect again.

This parenting game is hard and it’s often difficult to manage your own emotional needs while meeting those of your children. I think it’s actually a good thing that nature has given us a little warning light to keep our focus where it needs to be, especially when life gets hectic and busy.

1 comment:

  1. I could not resist commenting. Well written!

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