Coping With Parental Guilt
Parenting is by far the toughest of all jobs. Questions like ‘Am I doing it right?’, ‘Is there a better way to go about it?’, are a normal part of parenting. With no clear-cut answers to such question, guilt often creeps in. ‘If I had spent more time with my child’, ‘If I had gone to the doctor earlier’, ‘if I had watched him more closely’ – there is no end to the doubts.
There’s hardly a mom or dad who hasn’t experienced guilt at some time or the other during the parental journey. Whether it is child’s bad grades, bad behavior or a hurt or fall while you are on watch, it is easy to blame yourself. Not only is guilt debilitating for you, it also lets you get manipulated by your child.
In such situations, it helps to have supportive and like-minded friends who assure you that you are on the right path. Going easy on yourself, understanding your child’s growth pattern and keeping things in perspective will further aid you in fighting off guilt.
Here’s How You can Help Yourself to Avoid Parental Guilt
1. Try to See The Situation in Perspective
Rather than focusing on day to day problems and failures, try to look at the larger picture. If you have a child who is more or less balanced in his habits and behavior and is following normal growth milestones, you are doing fine.
2. Seek out Like-Minded, Supportive Friends
Every parent’s parenting style is different. Just as each child is different, so is each parent. Different things work for different people. Have friends around you whose parenting style is similar to yours. They are more likely to understand where you are coming from. Their reassurance can help you fight off guilt and will reinforce your decisions for your children.
3. You Are Not The Only Influence on Your Child
You need to understand that even if you are the sole caretaker of your child, you are not the only one who influences him. Friends, school, teachers and even genetics play a role in the kind of person he is growing up to be. There is little point in beating yourself up for all his shortcomings.
4. Know Your Child’s Developmental Stage
Certain behavior, though unacceptable, is normal for certain ages. Read up on each stage of your child’s growth so that you know what to accept and how to handle it. That will prepare you before hand and save you from blaming yourself for your child’s difficult behavior.
5. Lay Down Clear Limits with Well-Meaning Acquaintances
Teachers, friends, neighbours, older relatives and even maids are ready with mothering advice. A lot of it might not agree with your way of parenting, yet will fill you with self-doubts followed by guilt. Lay down limits for each of them. Point out gently, but firmly when you feel they are overstepping that limit with unwanted advice.
6. Go with Your Instinct
As the chief caregiver for your child, you probably know him best. Driven by advices or popular practices, you may take decisions that are just not right for him. Do listen to advice that everyone offers, however, give the highest priority to your gut instinct. That is probably what will work best for your child.
It is easy to blame yourself for all that’s not right with your child. Guilt makes you a worse parent. Getting rid of it will help you take a balanced approach to bringing up your child.