Do you struggle with feelings of guilt every time you leave your child with the sitter for an indulgent night out with your partner? Or maybe you’re conflicted about your desire to focus on your career instead of staying home with your baby? It’s always a good idea to listen to your feelings, but when it comes to mommy (or daddy) guilt ask yourself if those feelings are based on real problems. Here are some common paths to unfounded mommy guilt.
My Child Really Needs Me
You might feel that nobody else can do the job of raising your child as well as you can, but it is important to find a balance between being there for your child and being there for yourself. It will do neither you or your child any good if you quit your job to stay home because you feel guilty about not being there for your child. It is important to show your child that you love them and want to spend time with them, but it is possible to incorporate these feelings into daily rituals such as breakfast or bedtime.
But I Haven’t Earned That Pedicure
Parents who do stay home with their child can encounter mommy guilt when it comes to treating themselves to a weekend away, a spa treatment or new clothes. If you’re not earning a salary it is easy to deny yourself any special luxuries because you haven’t “earned it”, but just because you’re not bringing home a paycheque every week doesn’t mean you haven’t earned the right to have something special now and again. Do away with your mommy guilt by scheduling in something you really enjoy once a month, such as a massage, a new piece of clothing or a night out with the girls.
I’m A Boring Parent
Maybe you find yourself feeling guilty because you and your child spend more time together sitting in front of the TV than going on nature walks. If your mommy guilt comes from feeling like an unstimulating parent, try spending one TV-free night a week together, visit your local science center or aquarium, or go to the library together and pick out some books on wild animals, pirates, or anything else that takes hold of your child’s imagination.
You don’t need to be a superhuman parent to engage your child’s excitement and sense of wonder in the world, just provide some opportunities for them to explore their own natural interests. If you’re already doing that, let the mommy guilt go!
Mommy guilt can be a useful emotion if it alerts parents to real shortcomings in parenting skills, but many times it stems from unrealistic expectations of being supermom or superdad. Double check that you are meeting your child’s needs for love, security and stimulation, then move on from the mommy guilt by nurturing yourself and really enjoying the time you spend with your child.
Originally published on Suite101.com on March 30, 2008