How do we overcome parent guilt?
With the current pandemic, parent guilt is becoming more and more pervasive. The immense pressure to spin the many plates of work life balance and having to meet the academic, social, and emotional needs of our children with them being at home more often leads to less breaks for parents to recharge. Habits of more screen time and lack of routine can creep in. The results of this is leaving some parents feeling guilty and critical of themselves.
There are three basic kinds of guilt:
1. Natural guilt - a normal reaction and feeling of remorse over something we did or failed to do.
2. Free floating or toxic guilt - this form of guilt can come from not being a good person, feeling like a failure or that you have let people down.
3. Existential guilt - this is a negative feeling that may be associated with trauma and arise out of a perceived injustice in the world.
Here are some ways to counteract the guilt that sparks from unrealistic expectations that parents can impress on themselves.
- Be aware of how you are feeling: many reactions are normal under current circumstances.
- Accept how you are feeling. It may be difficult to accept, but we have little control over what is happening right now.
- Positive mindset “I am not giving my children enough attention” to “I am a positive role model for my children showing them a healthy work life balance” “I am not doing a good job” to “ I am doing the best I can in each moment”.
- Take time for self-care. For example, exercising, meditating/mindfulness, healthy eating, and time to yourself. Time away from your children will help you be more emotionally available for them.
- Talk to other parents. Making connection and sharing experiences gives you the opportunity to relate with others who are in similar situations.
- Practise being kind and emphatic towards yourself. Remember this is a moment and moments pass. We can do little about the past, but everything about the moment. Try to let go of perfectionism and acquire acceptance of yourself. Through this you will teach your children how to have compassion and self-love.
If you are feeling guilt, know that many of us are wrestling with this feeling due to loss of control and wondering what more we could or should be doing. You are not alone, all of us at some time or another need help.