Mom guilt is like a massive slap in the face from the stereotype society has place on moms, and its enormous expectations about what moms should be like or what our roles should look like.
As moms wanting to be the very best for our kids, we buy into this pretense. We buy into this bogus idea of The Perfect Mom who does absolutely everything on her own, cooks from scratch, keeps an immaculate home, has her children in all the best programs and volunteers at them herself, all while maintaining a great relationship with her husband and children.
Moms, this is where we need to call BS and say “ENOUGH”!
I think most of us would agree that we feel guilty about something in our parenting. We have an inescapable feeling that we’re not doing enough as a parent, or that we aren’t doing things right, or that we are making decisions that might screw up our kids.
But if we all feel guilty, why would we compare ourselves to other moms who also feel guilty about their parenting? Why do we make our guilt worse? Why do we keep piling more on ourselves that we can’t live up to? Why do we keep putting (and allowing others) to put unrealistic expectations on ourselves?
We shouldn’t! So let’s get that garbage out of our mind and figure out how to ditch mom guilt!
GUILT? WHAT GUILT?
Let’s talk about some of the ways that we feel guilt. Guilt comes in 3 main ways… self-induced, kid induced, and others induced.
And just to make sure that we’re not blame shifting on the guilt we feel, humor me and read through each category of guilt and tell me how many of these resonate with you?
It’s-my-fault-he-got-hurt-because-I-wasn’t-paying-as-much-attention-to-him-as-I should guilt.
KID INDUCED GUILT
OTHER PEOPLE’S OPINIONS INDUCED GUILT
I’ve gotta stop. I’m starting to feel guilty and I’m pretty sure you’ve been able to identify with several of these examples (and if not, please be my best friend and mentor me).
The fact is, mom guilt comes from all directions… personal insecurities, our children’s wants, the perfectionism shown across social media, and pressures from friends or family.
Before we can ditch the mom guilt though, we have to deal with it.
DITCH MOM GUILT FOR GOOD
FIGURE OUT WHERE IT CAME FROM & IF ITS VALID
If your MIL, who is the best cook in the universe and makes everything from scratch, makes you feel guilty for packin’ a full freezer full of chicken nuggets and ice cream sandwiches, you can decide to up your game and ask her to show you a couple recipes or you can just feast like it’s Thanksgiving and go home to your freezer full of food.
Maybe you’re feeling guilted by the PTA president who just can’t understand how she can run a committee for the school and be involved in all of the school’s activities while raising 4 kids, but you have two children and can’t help out on the fundraiser.
Your job is to decipher what it is in the situation that is making you feel guilty.
Your friends may not realize that you’re struggling financially and cannot afford to put your children in all of the extracurricular activities that they have chosen for theirs. But… if your friends know the situation and are flat out unempathetic or unsupportive and make you feel bad about yourself, it’s time to get new friends.
Your MIL may not realize no one has taken the time to show you around the kitchen before and that you’re doing the best you can to keep the humans in your home fed.
Our mood, our attitude, our level of self-esteem, and how we choose to perceive what others are saying is the difference between understanding their heart’s desire to share something with you that is important to them or that they think could help you… and feeling like you’re being attacked.
So before you put your dukes up in defense or jump on the guilt bandwagon, take a minute to consider if what you are feeling is valid. Maybe this conversation isn’t even directed at you. Or maybe it is, but you know it is better to settle into the joy that you are making the best decisions for your family even if they contradict what others are doing.
CHECK YOURSELF BEFORE YOU WRECK YOURSELF
A little bit a mom guilt can be a good thing. It can challenge your thinking or cause you to parent with a new perspective. But when your guilt starts making you question the decisions that you had previously made and thought best for your family, or when it goes against your family’s core standards, mom guilt gets dangerous.
Likewise, internalized guilt (and the ugly encumbering feelings of shame that result) can show up in some of the following ways:
- Developing a negative mindset
- Depression and anxiety
- Feeling as though she needs to prove to friends, family, and the social media world that she’s a good mom
- Addictive behaviors (like drinking, drugs, or overspending) for a quick feel good and to numb the guilt.
- Hitting the overs… Overdoing, over scheduling, or overworking to ignore the guilt which may make her feel better momentarily, it can lead to burnout, fatigue and sickness.
- Aiming for perfectionism. Trying to appear as though she has it all together, and to hide her pain and fear of judgment.
My friend, ain’t nobody got time for that! And you were made for more than harboring mom guilt, shame, or more. You were made perfectly for your family. Don’t give that up!
BE TRUE TO YOU
Comparing yourself to others, self-doubting and feeling like you don’t measure up can be absolutely maddening! And mama, it is no way to live. It eats away at your soul. It steals your joy. And it will cause you to miss out on the best parts of your life.
That being said, should we be intentional with our actions and strive to do our best? Absolutely.
Should we evaluate our actions, our reactions and how we are behavior modeling to our children? Absolutely.
But should we carry the weight of guilt on our shoulders, allowing it to weaken our resolve to show up as our best for our families? Absolutely not!
I ran across this saying from John MacArthur, “The conscience is a built-in warning system that signals us when something we have done is wrong. The conscience is to our souls what pain sensors are to our bodies: it inflicts distress, in the form of guilt, whenever we violate what our hearts tell us is right.”
I love the line that states “whenever we violate what our hearts tells us is right.” It doesn’t say when we try to do what our neighbors or friends think is right. It doesn’t say when we compromise our values to fit in with the “cool mom” crowd.
That, my friend, is what we need to discern…
Am I trying to be like Susie’s mom? Or am I doing what is right for my kids and my family with no one else’s input swaying decision-making?
Draw a line in the sand and stand firm on your convictions. It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks you should do. You weren’t made to be like everyone else. You were meant to be you and what matters is that you’re holding firm on what you know to be right.
GO WITH YOUR GUT… AND YOUR KIDS
It has been said that women have a deeper intuition, but motherhood brings the sixth sense to the forefront for their children. Known as mother’s intuition, the instinctive feeling and ability to understand something immediately without need for conscious reasoning, is a real thing. It’s that knot in your stomach that something is wrong. Or the heart racing something-is-not-right uncertainty you just can’t shake.
When you feel this way about a decision you’re about to make, go with your gut. A mother’s intuition is rarely wrong. If something doesn’t feel right for your family, it’s better to stick to your core values. Doing so can save you from much mom guilt, anger, stress and shame.
Another great indicator of your parenting… your kids. Sure they may try to guilt you into letting them eat ice cream for every meal, but their input can actually be a great resource to know what is or is not working for your family. If they tell you that you’re always on your phone when they try to show you something, it may make you feel guilty. But the healthy guilt of knowing this may help you realize you need to be more present with your kids.
Here’s some tough love… if you wouldn’t drive around with a paper bag of dog poop in the front seat of your car, why would you carry around the baggage of a bunch of crap that others are telling you you need to do to be a good mom? You wouldn’t. So let’s throw that crap out the window! Let’s ditch the guilt and move on!
You are an amazing mom! Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise and don’t let comparison steal your joy! Guilt does not deserve a place in your life!
You’ve got this, my friend. Now, go take the garbage out!