ask dr deborah
What is it with mommies and guilt? It doesn’t matter how awesome a mom is doing being a mom; no matter how hard she works, how long she rocks the baby to calm him, how many books she reads, guilt still finds a way into her life. Guilt says, “Are you sure you want to do it that way?”. “He’s going to develop PTSD if you let him cry too long.” “Why can’t you get everything done?” And that’s guilt being easy on you. He can get nasty when he wants to!
Guilt is a feeling that we’ve done something wrong. Guilt comes into our lives when we experience something different from another ideal that we’ve heard of. We decide to practice attachment parenting and we hear about it possibly creating spoiled children. We decide to try the cry it out method and we hear that it’s traumatic for the child. And sometimes guilt comes out of nowhere and surprises us! Our child hurts himself while we weren’t paying attention and guilt says, “What’s wrong with you? Why weren’t you paying attention to your child!?”
It’s time we face guilt and start feeling good about our parenting! I think we can do this with a mixture of confidence and acceptance. Confidence that you are awesome! Mommy instinct is real if you listen to it. You already know so much that you can’t learn in any book. And with that confidence, some acceptance goes a long way. Accept that you will make not so great decisions. You’re going to mess up every once in awhile! It’s what you decide to do with that mess up that counts. So next time guilt takes you on that trip, tell him, “I can’t possibly pay attention to my child every second of every hour of every day. He is going to get hurt sometimes whether I’m there or not. That’s a fact!” Get angry with guilt! “I can’t practice all the methods available for parenting. I’m choosing the ones that are best for me and my child and doing my best with those.” Guilt will never be happy; he’s guilt! He’s mean, and he’s negative and he wants to bring you down with him. Don’t let him!
And one more thing about guilt. Mom’s get it from everywhere; books, TV, parenting “experts”, etc. Let’s make a pact to not add to other mommy guilt. Let’s build up other moms. Guilt can be one big, ugly monster and sometimes, it’s going to take a mommy pack to beat it! When we hear of a mommy feeling guilty, let’s be her confidence and her acceptance when she’s having a hard time finding them.