This is something that I am sure happens to both men and women who are parents however I can only speak for the moms out there. I welcome any men who may stumble upon this to write in the comments if they too feel this “Parenting Guilt”. I assume there must be this to some extent however I have no idea what that extent may be though! After all, as parents one of the most challenging things we can do is feel guilty for something or another even if the moment doesn’t warrant feeling guilty at all!
Mom or Parenting guilt is just that. It is something that you do as a parent that you may be guilty about doing. Maybe it is disciplining your child, or maybe even you miss an early diaper rash sign and you now have a full blown rash on your baby and feel guilty it got that far too. Honestly you can have guilt for just about anything and everything when it comes to kids. There can even be times when maybe you wouldn’t have guilt for something and suddenly that changes and now you feel super guilty over some thing!
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Breast feeding is one if the biggest things I think Mom’s in particular can have this guilt for. In fact, I even wrote about how we need to normalize formula feeding in a blog post here. As a society we put such a heavy weight on women to be able to breast feed our babies that it can be a huge guilt trap when you decide to stop or if you decide to jump right into formula. So much so that women who do end up stopping before they maybe planned to stop will see out donations of breast milk from random strangers on the internet. That is a whole other story that I cant even describe how alarming or dangerous it is. As a society we make it sound like breast feeding is the only way to feed a baby and if you don’t do it you are somehow taking away things from your little one. Which is completely wrong as there are many different reasons why a parent may choose not to breastfeed including for their own mental health which is also important too. It stressed me out. Especially with having my first son have jaundice and I was not sure if he was drinking an adequate amount to get rid of the jaundice too. And with my second I just went to formula and felt great!
Being sick can be tough sometimes. As parents sometimes we forget that we are not super human and that we also can get sick. Which in turn can result in our little humans missing out on something perhaps. Maybe we have a TV day because we have the flu so bad we are unable to do a whole lot. Maybe we have a cheat day with meals and make things that are incredibly fast or easy to give ourselves a break. We do not need go be feeling guilty for prioritizing our health. Which I know is a lot easier said than done. Funny enough, I am also guilty of feeling guilty!
Society constraints or how they think people should parent, I am sure is a huge source of parental guilt for parents. These are the expectations that as a society we put on parents for literally no good reason but to drive them crazy. This would be the breastfeeding part. It may also be the proper meals every single meal time of the day. Let’s not forget either the maybe having to go many many places or even the no television or ANY screen time before a child is 2 years old. As a mother to a 2 year old at the time of writing and a 4 month old I can say with confidence we limit our sons screen time but we do not eliminate it completely either. And I certainly am not going to never give my older son TV time for fear my younger one will see something.
At the end of the day you could feel guilty about anything in your life. However when it comes to parenting there is something about it that your guilt is almost amplified and you feel even more guilty for something super small than you may not feel when it comes to something outside of parenting too. I know for me I think about things that make me guilty for far too long even though I know there is absolutely nothing wrong with it. It can be as silly as something like making eggs for supper one night instead of doing a long and thought out supper. Maybe my oldest is having a meltdown and to break that I put on a TV show earlier than I typically would put on a TV show. It really just depends on the situations but for some reason us parents are our own hardest judges.
And lastly, we have a fear that what we are doing may never be enough. Something like maybe your house is never clean enough, maybe your meals not exotic enough, maybe you put extra hour of TV on, or you never spent the money on that new expensive place for kids in the city that everyone and their dog is paying for. Maybe you don’t have your kids in the hardest or most expensive sport either.
It is so important to remember that as a parent each and every one of us learns and teaches differently. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that either. Just do what you are comfortable with and I am sure you will be raising a little genies!