We have had a visitor sneaking in with our family lately. He’s been lurking in shadows waiting to pounce on us at moments when we let our guard down; moments when we feel defeated and vulnerable. This visitor is highly unwelcome; of course this visitor doesn’t have a physical presence so it’s incredibly difficult to get rid of. I suspect many of you have been in the presence of this sneaky visitor as well. Who is this visitor? Parent guilt.
The little voice that makes you second guess every decision you’re making with your children. The little voice that tells you, you have yet again failed as a parent. The little voice that says you are being too harsh and the punishment doesn’t fit the crime. Parent guilt creeps in at moments when we feel vulnerable and defeated. Well, I for one, am tired of listening to it. I am on a mission to conquer parent guilt and reclaim my position of authority with my kids.
I was smacked in the face with how much my husband and I have been letting parent guilt win the battle with our kids. While we were visiting his family, we were eating lunch one day when Moose decided he wanted nothing to do with eating. We are firm believers and practitioners of not forcing our kids to clean their plates. in this particular case, Moose had hardly eaten anything and we realized this was not about the food on the plate. Moose was testing his position of authority and seeing how long he could dictate what was going to happen.
The contest ensued for a several minutes before Daddy made the final play. He pulled the trump card and declared nap time. Game over. Moose was sentenced to rest. He was not going to go down easy though. Through loud screams and cries, he voiced his displeasure and protested his punishment. And this is when our unwelcome visitor reared his ugly head.
Though nobody questioned my husband’s tactics, he stated how he felt like we all disagreed with his actions; that he was taking the wrong disciplinary course. After pointing out that nobody voiced their opposition, I asked a very important question, “Do you think you took a wrong course of action?”
When we are tasked with disciplining children, it’s easy to second guess ourselves and start to believe we are too harsh on our little ones. We love to see them laughing, smiling, and happy; but as we all know, life is not made of only good moments. I want to share 5 things of which remind ourselves when parent guilt starts to creep in.
Five things to Remember when Feeling the Pangs of Parent Guilt
- We are commissioned to be their parent, not their friend. This may be overplayed, but it’s very true. While friendship may become a side effect, we,first, have a responsibility to raise our kids. In 1 Timothy 3:4 we read, ““He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive,”. Being submissive calls a person to be obedient. If we continually give in to the wants and desires of our children, they will not grow up with respect for authority. Throughout life, we will have someone instructing us how to do things and it is important for us to teach our kids how to follow rules.
- Discipline is not always bad I think many people generalize discipline to mean punishment and therefore it carries a very negative connotation. As we see in Proverbs 29:17, discipline can bring us- the parent- rest. I don’t know about you, but I feel much more at ease when my son or daughter shows the fruits of previous discipline. When the think twice about a certain action and choose the appropriate response, I feel like I have done my job as their parent; that discipline has taught them a lesson to use later in life.
- Rest is necessary. Of course parent guilt shows its ugly head in forms other than just discipline. I fall victim to guilt of rest more often than any other case. Being a stay at home mom is a non stop job which inevitably means we are tired. So why do we guilt ourselves into thinking rest is a bad thing? I often convince myself because I don’t have a job outside of the house I should be able to meet the call of parenting 24/7. This is an unrealistic expectation. Rest started in the very beginning or creation. Genesis 2:2 ““And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done.” The Creator of the universe saw the need for rest, and since we were created in His image, we should welcome rest into our lives. Let’s learn to embrace rest as a gift; a gift packed with restoration and, in a sense, therapy.
- Guilt is not healthy. I have talked about kids imitating behaviors and this is true of all behaviors, whether good or bad. Continually displaying guilt teaches our littles to believe it’s okay to blame themselves for everything that doesn’t go their way. Despite what we often try to convince ourself, we are not in control of all that surrounds us. The more we negative energy we commit to circumstances, the more we give in to the lies we aren’t good enough. Rather than beating ourself up for certain actions, let’s train our thoughts to see the positive in these situations. We must take our thoughts captive (2 Corinthians 10:5). I don’t know about you, but I more likely to give into feelings of depression when I focus on the bad rather than good; at the same time, when I focus on the positive or the bigger picture my attitude is happier, which spreads to the kids’ behavior as well.
- Parenting is hard. I’d venture to say that anyone reading this post does not have a fail proof parenting manual. (If you do, I’d like a copy please.) When we have our children, we receive libraries’ worth of literature about how to properly feed children, safe sleep practices, bathing, appropriate play methods etc… but we are not given anything that tells you how to raise your child. Each child is different; Moose and Fox are about as night and day as they come. What works for one child doesn’t always work for the next, and thus there is not a one size fits all parenting manual. We are learning this process as we go. We are bound to have successes just as we are bound to have failures. The important thing is to learn from those failures and make adjustments to our parenting styles as necessary. Whether you are the mom laughing and playing with her kids, the mom struggling to get teeth brushed in the mornings, the mom crafting the next masterpiece, the mom showing up ten minutes late yet again (why does this feel unavoidable?), the mom packing school lunches, or the mom hiding in the bathroom for just a minute of solitude-breath in and remember YOU ARE GOOD ENOUGH. ONE MISTAKE DOESN’T DEFINE YOU, JUST AS ONE SUCCESS DOESN’T TELL YOUR WHOLE STORY. YOU ARE A GOOD MOM.
Share your coping methods for parent guilt. -Do you journal? Do you have a friend or group of friends you to whom you turn? Do you turn to a hobby? Let’s help one another and share creative methods to get over this unnecessary parent guilt.