For all of the parents feeling guilty about being away from their child, I want to offer these four simple steps to dealing with that guilt.
- Detect what is going on in your own head. What is the narrative running through your brain? What do you hear? Often our inner narrative drives our guilt. Many times our inner narrative is driven by negative thoughts and beliefs that have been fostered through society, media and our own upbringing.
- Debate what is going on in your own head. This begins with the process of looking at other parents, and realizing that we know good parents who work. Debating our inner narrative is about pushing through the emotion to look honestly at the logic and options of our choices. Many of our choices as parents are driven by necessity.
- Diffuse what is going on in your head. This is where things start to get tricky. Ask them how they have dealt with their guilt in the past. How have you dealt with guilt about other things in the past? Make a list of the reasons that you are working. What are the benefits to your child from you working? Diffusing our guilt is a fancy way to say that we need to shine the light of truth onto the darkness of our guilt.
- Discover a new narrative. What do you control about this situation? What choices are you making that are not driven by necessity? What happens when you’re not working? How are you utilizing that time? What can you let go in order to be able to spend the time you want with your children? These questions focus on things that you actually control. The key to changing the narrative that runs our lives is to focus on the parts of the narrative that we control.
For many of us work is not an option. Your working may provide you the opportunity to teach your children a fantastic lesson; in life there are things we do because they are best for those we love, not because we want to do them.