So many parents find themselves consumed by guilt. They often tell me they've felt guilty from pregnancy onwards 'Should I have had the odd glass of wine and soft cheese? Is that why my toddler is so aggressive?'
Do you find the minute you add ‘Should’ you back yourself into a corner?
It’s everywhere – ‘I should be more patient’, ‘I shouldn’t shout’, ‘I should spend more time playing with my kids’
Then there are the shoulds about our child:
‘He shouldn’t watch so much TV’
'She should be potty trained by now'
‘She should just eat what’s there and not complain’
and we think ‘Nobody else has this problem. It must be because I’m a bad parent’ – and at that point we open the door and let guilt step right in.
Guilt is a terrible, useless emotion suffered by so many of us. I have spent many years working on myself to alleviate those awful feelings of guilt.
So here’s what I have found helped me and other parents I work with:
🔹 Acknowledge that the guilt is there and let it go! – This sounds so much simpler than it is in practice but try to just say to yourself ‘OK, this is me feeling guilty. That’s not helping me at all. I think I need to accept where I am and figure out what I could improve on’
🔹 This is a simple one. Take the word 'Should' out of your vocabulary. It's actually so restricting and you will feel so much more liberated without it.
🔹 Validate yourself for all the things you DO do for your children. All the things that are done without anyone noticing, especially your child; making sure they are all nice and clean for bedtime, putting food on the table and thinking about what might be the healthiest food, kissing that banged head, reading stories, helping them learn things – the list is endless.
🔹 Remind yourself that you are a better parent when you do something for yourself and when we feel good the negative emotions are less likely to slip in. Think of a car or bike getting a service – they run better after that and are less likely to break down. We are the same. We MUST look after ourselves.
🔹 Remember that change takes place over time so if you do want to improve on something, don’t expect it to happen overnight. Take small steps and give yourself a pat on the back for each step of improvement. I’m working on being more cheerful in the morning and greeting the family with a big smile even when I feel like grunting.
What about you?
Join our mailing list to tips and updates from Camilla at My Parenting Solutions.
Be assured that your information will not be shared.