Whether it’s the food you prepare, the screen time you allow or the lack of time you spend at home, guilt tends to slither its way back into your conscience no matter what choice you make. This is because, despite the endless parenting advice we receive from our ancestors, books and parent blogs, the perfect parent does not exist.
So, before the voice of guilt condemns you any further, remember the following tips next time your conscience tries to convince you you’re a terrible parent. (Spoiler alert: you’re not!)
Focus on the positives
When you focus primarily on guilt, the emotion tends to grow and grow until you feel all-consumed and haunted by every supposedly bad choice you’ve made so far. Alternatively, by paying more attention to the positives, like that grade-A report you just submitted at work or that top-tier lasagna your kids just demolished, the joy will only grow. If guilt does rear its ugly head, try to balance it out with a positive; you may have run a little late for school pick-up, but you’re ready to close the laptop and silence the phone for some undivided attention and connection at home.
Stand by your choices
Clarify your values: ask yourself what’s important to you and make your choices based on this. When side-eyeing strangers, parenting books and online opinions have you questioning your decisions, having well-considered, value-based choices in place will make it a lot easier to show the guilt gremlin the exit.
Embrace your imperfections
One of the most important lessons you can teach your children is to love themselves despite being imperfect – a message that begins purely with you. Too often, the standard of parenting we set for ourselves is unrealistically high and unachievable. By appreciating your successes alongside your imperfections, you impart the more balanced and realistic idea that nobody is perfect and that is entirely okay. For instance, while you can’t commit to seeing every school performance, your nightly bedtime stories are out of this world!
Revisit your interests
Say it with us: taking care of yourself does not make you selfish – it makes you a better parent. (Repeat frequently as needed.) As your new motto, remind yourself of this statement every time you stop yourself from getting your hair done or going for a run because you feel like you’re neglecting your family. Letting go of this guilt and making time for yourself is vital. It doesn’t make you selfish, inconsiderate or neglectful; it reminds you of your own value and gives you the energy required to be a present parent and connect fully and more deeply with your family.
When you’re balancing various roles all at once – parent, business person, partner and so on – it’s easy to get lost in the petty, day-to-day quibbles and concerns of life. When guilt creeps its way back into your thoughts, zoom out and review the big picture: Are you a loving parent? Are you trying your best? Modern parenthood boasts as many challenges as it does rewards. So, if you answered yes to these fundamental questions, you’re doing a pretty marvellous job already.