Parent Guilt. A modern phenomena?
There have been a few articles out recently in the number of hours that parents now spend with their children. We now spend more time with our children than we ever did in the past. Many families also now have two working parents. Is it any wonder that with such competing demands for our time and attention that parent guilt is so common.
The impact of social media
Social media fills our living rooms with perfect families. Our friends all look like they are having an idyllic time with their kids. They are all smiling! Reality is never like this. Be rest assured that at some point on that trip somebody cried or had a tantrum! Maybe we should add a code to our status that adds some reality.
Some parents worry about posting ‘real’ images of a family days out as they think they will be perceived as bad parents. There’s that parent guilt again! In fact, when I get groups of parents together, the feeling of relief when we can share some real stories is immense. Negative feelings such as shame and guilt are stopping us from accessing help. Not specialist help but the help we get from talking to each other. Realising that you are not alone. And trusting that each and every one of you feels better for knowing that! Freeing us of parent guilt.
Is learning new skills admitting you were wrong?
The perception that we have to be a perfect parent runs deep. I was talking to a parent of grown up children. She became upset when we were talking about the amazing parenting strategies that I use and that have worked in our home. She was upset because she hadn’t used these strategies with her children but could see the value in them. Parent guilt!
The strategies I use are really forgiving. There is no ‘you have done that wrong!’ I live in the real world where the stresses and strains of a full on life are real. I reassured her that we do the best with what we know at the time. She was reassured that she had done her best. But her grandchildren were going to experience different ways of being with her and she would be able to enjoy it. Banish the parent guilt!
So what can we do about parent guilt?
- Talking to other parents is a really good start. Sharing those stories and realising that we are essentially all the same is hugely liberating.
- Have a go at some new parenting techniques. Honestly there are some new ones out there! It doesn’t have to be all reward charts and naughty steps. These approaches sometimes add to parent guilt as we forgot the reward, or we send them away to their rooms. Connecting with children when they are struggling can help them but also banish parent guilt. You are there with your child helping them to manage their emotions.
- Set time aside to play or have ‘no nag’ time with your kids regularly. Learn to love those games that you hate but can delight in how much your kids love them. If doing this in an open-ended way is challenging put the timer on! 10 minutes of Lego or monopoly is better to them than none at all.
- Feel ok about them doing more for themselves. This is a big area for parent guilt. Children demanding things and making you feel bad if it doesn’t happen right away. Just know that children developing independence skills, heading to the shops, making their own drinks and snacks, helps them to develop confidence and feelings of control and capability.
- Be kind to yourself! Don’t beat yourself up or feel bad if parenting is not going as you would like it. Recharge your batteries. Take a deep breath. Focus on one thing that you would like to change. Plan to do something different – add some play, respond in a different way. And see what happens.
- Join #b4Ishout on twitter to share and get ideas on things to do before you shout!
If you would like to hear more about how to let go of parent guilt get in touch. Sessions can be offered for groups of parents in the home or at local coffee shops. So let’s help each other and let go of parent guilt!