Every mom (and dad!) that I know suffers from this to some extent: ‘Mommy Guilt’. But striving to be a “perfect parent” is certainly not the best use of our time or energy. I asked MomPrep expert Dr. Kathryn Smerling to weigh in with her thoughts on this TERRIBLE affliction.
A Guest Blog: Doing Away with ‘Mommy Guilt’
I am not perfect!
No matter who you are… if you’re a mom you have inevitably fallen into the pit of ‘Mommy Guilt’. Does this sound familiar?
“I use the television as a baby sitter”
“I had to go to work”
“I’m not there enough”
“I didn’t plan a stimulating day for my child”
“I am so tired, I had no patience”
“I yelled at my kids in the super market”
If you have thought or said anything like this, you are afflicted with ‘Mommy Guilt’.
When my son was born my naïve assumption was that super parenting was not beyond me! The only problem was that I continually came up short. No matter how many projects I did, no matter how many cookies I baked, no matter how hard I tried, I was a frustrated “super parent wannabe”. At that time, I was also in school studying child psychology, while leaving my young son at home in the care of others (more guilt!). That said, I was lucky enough to stumble upon the works of D. W. Winnicott, a pediatrician and psychoanalyst who wrote extensively about the child-parent relationship. Thankfully, he introduced me to the concept of the ‘Good Enough Mother’, and I breathed a tremendous sigh of relief.
Winnicott’s basic premise is that no parent can possibly be perfect. The process of parenting is complex, difficult and ever changing; we all will make mistakes. But, those mistakes we tend to dwell on do not provide enough substantial upset to create life long trauma. Raising a resilient and healthy child becomes more about the ability to create a connection with your child- needs; feelings and emotions in the context of consistent limit setting. Everything else becomes the icing on the cake.
I think sometimes we forget that every child craves, more than any material thing, the attention and validation of a loving parent. And bless you, if you are able to make the perfect cupcakes or create the perfect project. But, it is the mom who can creatively help their child to resolve conflict on a day-to-day basis who will have a lasting impact on their child’s well-being.
So you can forgive yourself. Remember that the act of forgiveness is an act of grace and your child will learn more from your imperfections than your guilt.