Everyone agrees…there’s no such thing as a “perfect” parent. So why do we feel so guilty sometimes about our parenting skills? We’ve all made decisions that we knew were best for our child but yet felt guilty about them.
Guilt and parenting go hand-in-hand. It’s normal and goes with the territory of being a parent. Here are some common “guilt trips” and “guilt busters” from the Child Guidance Service with the Oklahoma State Department of Health to help you cope.
Guilt trip: I don’t spend enough time with my child.
*Change what you can. Some things, like work schedules, may be difficult to change. Make the most of the time you do have with your child. Schedule meal times, reading together and other important family times first. Other activities (sports, piano lessons, karate, etc.) can be fit into the time that’s left.
*Limit use of TV, computers and video games at home.
*Taking time for yourself (exercising, going out with friends, etc.) is important and helps you be a better parent.
Guilt trip: I yell too much at my child.
*Make sure your expectations for your child are reasonable and age appropriate.
*Talk simply, calmly and firmly. Tell her what you want her to do instead of what she shouldn’t be doing.
*Make sure the time you spend with your child is more positive than negative. If you feel that you yell most of the time, find activities that you can do together that you both enjoy.
*If you feel yourself getting angry or upset, tell her that you need to take a break and walk away, take deep breaths and count until you’re calm. By doing this, you’re showing her how to act when she feels angry or upset.
Guilt trip: I can’t give my child as much as other children have.
*What she needs most is your time. A child’s well-being depends a great deal on relationships with important people (family, close friends, teachers).
*Save time for family activities and time with friends to help support relationships. Time together will be more important than anything you could buy.
Guilt trip: I worry about doing the wrong thing.
*Children need parents who try their best but that doesn’t mean you’ll always be successful and that’s OK. Good parents come in many forms and there is no “right” way to parent.
*Try not to worry about being a “super parent” or having a “super family.”
*Much of parenting is trying different approaches to determine what works best for you and your child. What works well for one child may not work for another child since children are unique. It also teaches children that when you try something that doesn’t work, you look for another solution.
You’ll probably never totally eliminate feeling guilty about your parenting skills but you can be pro-active. Try to determine why you feel guilty and what positive steps you can take to decrease your guilt. As a parent, we just need to do the best we can, given the circumstances we have, and work to be better. We may not be perfect but we can be our best.
Carrie T. Brazeal is the County Extension Agent for Family and Consume Sciences for Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 972.424.1460, Ext. 4233.