…the fact or state of having committed an offence, crime, violation, or wrong, especially against moral or penal law
…a feeling of responsibility or remorse for some offence, crime, wrong, etc., whether real or imagined
…conduct involving the commission of such crimes, wrongs, etc.
Is guilt inherent to being a parent, as the quote would suggest? Do we, by dint of attempting perfection, bring guilt on ourselves? Is this made worse by a society that rewards material/visible success, whether that success is worthwhile or not; and do we simply feed our own guilt through this need for approval?
Should we feel guilty when we’re not at fault?
I’ll start with something slightly controversial.
Hi, I’m Sara, and I do not feel guilty.
At least, I didn’t.
As a working mother I juggled, I stressed, I dropped balls, I forgot things, I worried – a lot.
But I didn’t feel guilty.
My boys were in a nursery they loved, they had friends and fun and activities. They were never bored. They had everything they needed, and more, they never wanted for anything. We had fun, we went on outings and holidays. We created memories.
I was doing a job I loved, I was busy and fulfilled and happy. I didn’t feel guilty when I took some time off work and instead of taking the boys out of nursery, took some time for myself; went to the hairdressers or the cinema or simply read a book. This time made me a happier, less stressed individual who was in a far better place to focus on the kids when we were together.
For me, happy parents = happy children.
But, I did feel guilty about not feeling guilty… (so perhaps I wasn’t quite as guilt free as I thought).
Now, having made the decision to stay at home, I can feel guilt seeping in, and I am on a mission to remain a (relatively) guilt free zone.
I worry that I don’t spend enough time playing; that I don’t bake/cook/craft enough; that my kids watch too much television; that they eat too many sweets/not enough fruit; that they aren’t doing enough after school activities; that the wee girl is missing out socially and developmentally by not going to nursery like her brothers. That I’m not a perfect mother.
But, where is the manual that tells me whether any of the above is true?
Surely the real test is happy, secure children; memories of special days and simple, ordinary moments; examples of joy in the everyday; appreciation of the simple pleasures of spending time together as a family.
I do feel remorse when I’m grumpy and I snap at the children, but that is not a result of being a parent, it’s a result of being human. I apologise and move on.
I do feel responsibility when the wee girl, in the two seconds I’ve looked away, bangs her head. But I’m not at fault, I didn’t make her bang her head, and even if I’d been looking directly at her I don’t have the reflexes of a super hero, so it’s unlikely I could have done anything about it anyway.
Our society seems to take great pleasure in telling us we are failing or underachieving or wrong. When, in reality, most of us are just muddling along, doing the best we can. We shouldn’t feel guilty about that. We should take responsibility and control where we can, make changes if needed; but beating ourselves up about not being perfect, that’s no good for anyone.
Ask yourself this; do you want to teach your children to be empathic and concerned and to take responsibility in a positive and proactive way OR do you want to teach them that anything less than perfection is wrong and worthy of guilt?
If you have been inspired to write by this quote, I would love it if you would link up. I can’t wait to read your posts!
There are a few rules…
1. Link up a new post inspired by The Prompt (although, if you have an old post that fits perfectly, I’d love to read it)
2. Please use the badge on your post or in your sidebar to guide others to the linky. I will of course share your post on Twitter in return.
3. Please visit as many others in the linky as you can – comments and encouragement are what make linkys work :)
The linky will remain open until Thursday evening, so there is plenty of time to link up.
And, please come back on Sunday for the next Prompt!
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