How to deal with parental guilt

Most parents experience guilt.

Maybe you feel you need to do things differently or you can do better. You may believe you are not coping or doing the right thing for your child. Let’s explore the parental guilt in more detail and suggest some ways to help you deal with it and not delay you in any way.

What is parental guilt?

Guilt can be a useful emotion in certain circumstances. For example, if we have done something morally wrong, it is true that we will feel guilty for choosing to behave badly. However, parental guilt is the guilt we accept when we feel we are not good enough parents. This is not usually due to doing something wrong, but from an inability to be a Ordered superheroes All the time.

Our conception of a heroic parent over an idealist was created over the years from previous generations and from our childhood experience of being parents, our community, television and movies, social media, etc. and formulated our views on what and who is ideal. The parent and how they behave. We compare our everyday experiences to a very ideal version that is probably unattainable.

Parental guilt can be crucial if left unchecked. This can have negative consequences for both your self-esteem and your relationship with your children.

What causes parental guilt?

There are several reasons why we may feel parental guilt. Mostly it is based on the feeling of not being enough and not meeting our (and others’) expectations of parenting.

Here are some common triggers we hear regularly:

  • Being a working parent Parents can feel guilty about working, enjoying their work and having fun outside of their children.
  • Children working in public – Parents can feel embarrassed that their child is behaving incorrectly in public. They may be worried that other people will judge them and interfere with other people.
  • Child nutrition – Parents may feel guilty because they feel they are not giving their child the nutrition he or she needs, perhaps as a result of strict eating or budget.
  • Too much screen time – While screen time may not be the ‘best’ way for your child to spend their free time, screen time has become an essential resource for busy parents.
  • Too many raised voices / heated debates – Parents can worry that they are harming their relationship with their children / adversely affecting their children by yelling at them.
  • Inability to provide additional material objects to children – In a world that is very consumer focused, parents can feel inappropriate if they are unable to provide their children with the latest trends, extracurricular opportunities or holidays.
  • Feel that all parenting tasks are crucial Parents feel they need to be able to do everything and be superheroes in all areas of their lives, personal, professional and family.

Parental guilt arises within us when we judge ourselves against the background of an unreasonable system of standards or expectations.

Here are some ways to deal with parental guilt:


Would you judge another parent if he was unable to spend time with his children because they needed to provide for them, or if they did not eat a perfectly balanced diet, or if they had a tantrum at an inappropriate time and a parent lost their temper a bit?

You will likely feel empathy and compassion for them and see that they are doing their best for their children.

When you notice parental guilt feelings starting to pop up, a useful way to re-frame your thoughts would be to consider the advice you would give a friend in that situation. Would you make harsh judgments – or – would you think they were doing their best and offering support and empathy?

Test your beliefs about parenting

As parents / caregivers we are on a journey of discovery and understanding that may challenge our rooted beliefs. Here are some healthy beliefs about parenting:

  • Parenting is hard and there is no such thing as a perfect parent
  • Children are their people and can not always be controlled
  • It is not always our job to make our children happy
  • A balance between providing financially for children and an emotional presence
  • Self-care is important – parents also have their own needs.

How do these align with your current beliefs? Try to focus on one of the above for a while and you will see what the difference is in your guilt feelings.

Be nice to yourself

In general, the happier you are, the happier your children will be.

Let go of the guilt by investing in kindness for yourself. Take a bath, listen to your favorite music, read a book, catch up with friends, meditate – take time each day to do something that makes you feel good and free from guilt. It’s your time – know that you deserve it and it will have a positive ripple in the rest of your day and in the people around you.

Introduce healthy behaviors

Healthy behaviors to curb feelings of guilt include journaling, expressing gratitude regularly, and sharing your experiences with a supportive spouse and / or friends. If you do not have time for these activities on a regular basis, think about how you can adjust them, such as reducing social media scrolling time, listing 3 things you are grateful for at the end of each day, having regular parenting conversations with your spouse or close friend.

It is important for your own well-being to curb your parental guilt and the behavior that accompanies it, not only for your mental health but also for the impact it has on your children.

If you feel guilty about your parenting style, you can mistakenly pass that blame on to your children. Be a role model for your children and see that you are not perfect but do the best job you can with the resources and circumstances you have.

If parental guilt takes over, seek professional help. Our career-motherhood A program for mentoring working parents Can help you achieve a balance between your home life and work life, feel less overwhelmed and help you develop a positive attitude to daily life as a working parent.

For support and additional resources to help you thrive as a working parent or parent on a career vacation


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