In my last post, we dealt with mommy (parent) guilt that stems from envy. While, I believe this type of guilt is not the majority, I do think it has too much space in our world.
Today, I’d like to discuss parent guilt that comes from not being able to do the things that we’d like to do for our children and from the mistakes we make throughout the normal course of our parenting duties.
Not being able to do what we want to do for our children
Mary believed highly in the value of a private education. She hoped it would give her children a leg up in what she knew was a competitive college field. She couldn’t afford to do what she wanted to do on her single salary.
Frank worried as he pulled out of his driveway to head to work that his kids were going to resent how much he was working, but with the recent increase in his insurance premiums and the loss of his old job in this struggling economy he had to take whatever job he could find. The job he found was second shift, which paid the bills but kept him from his kids.
This was the perfect formula for some parent guilt.
There are three things we have to realize when we are dealing with parent guilt because we feel caught in the middle of what we want to do and what we have to be doing.
1. The difficult realities of life are that we often have to do things that have to be done and that sometimes we can’t do the things that we want to be doing. We teach our children this with our words, and often try to teach them the exact opposite with our actions. Life is hard. It’s OK to teach our children this as they grow up so that they are properly and realistically prepared for adult life.
2. We have to realize that our children are not as fragile as we are constantly being told that they are. Children need love. Not things. Children can overcome difficult circumstances in more ways than we can imagine. We are so afraid that we are going to “ruin” our children by making them live life. But, in truth, we’re going to give them the opportunity to be stronger because they experienced life.
3. We need to realize that our kids are watching us as for our response to adversity.
Life is hard. There is no two ways about it. So often, I see parent guilt radiating from a place of trying to keep that truth from our children. This is a bad choice, because it doesn’t allow our children to grow up into the adults we will want them to be because resilience is a skill that’s developed. It grows over time. It grows from being faced with the harsh truth that life can be hard. Exposing our children to this truth isn’t something to feel guilt about, it’s something that we need to expect. Children look at our life, not the things in our life. They learn from our character, not the places we can take them or the opportunities that are privileges that we can or cannot provide them.
My next post will deal with actions that we can take in order to eliminate parent guilt from our life.