When I decided to become a mom, I definitely wasn’t expecting the huge amount of guilt that often accompanies it. But once the baby arrived, suddenly I started feeling bad about EVERYTHING I was doing or not doing! “Am I doing the right thing for my child?”, “My child isn’t progressing as fast as this other child – what do I need to do better?”, and “Oh I wish I hadn’t just done that!” were just of few of my Mom Guilt thoughts. All day long thoughts like this tormented me. No wonder I wasn’t enjoying mom life.
Let me share with you some ways that I am getting out of the mom guilt.
- Realize (and actually believe) that you are enough.
- Your child will benefit most from having a parent that isn’t perfect.
- Mom guilt thoughts don’t help you be a better parent.
- Your child wants a happy mom!
You are enough
Some of the thoughts that you are probably thinking about yourself as a parent are “I have a lot to learn. I have a lot that I need to get better at as a parent. I need to improve.” How do those thoughts make you feel? For me, most of those thoughts make me feel depressed. Like I will never become good enough. Like I am always trying to get better but never getting there.
What if you just decided that you are enough? That you actually don’t need to get any better as a parent? That you are doing it all perfectly well right now?
For me, those new thoughts felt so relieving. I thought: “Really? What if everything I am currently doing for my child is enough? What if I really am good enough?” That feels wonderful. It makes me happy. It makes me feel like maybe I can keep doing this mom thing because I am rocking it!
Your child will benefit most from having a parent like you
Do you think your child would be happier or healthier with a better parent? a different parent than you? Dr. Jordan B. Peterson said that young parents who don’t know what they are doing are super great because they are “usefully neglectful.” They do things wrong. Their children suffer from their mistakes. And guess what? Children suffering a little bit is a great thing. It makes kids resilient and strong. So making mistakes as a parent is a great thing. Again, you don’t need to become any better as a parent. You are doing things just awesome the way you are!
Mom Guilt thoughts don’t help you be a better parent
Let’s take a look at what mom guilt thoughts actually produce in your life.
Let’s say your main thought is “I have a lot to improve on as a parent.” Let’s put that thought in the self-coaching model and see what sort of feelings, actions, and results it produces.
The self coaching model by Brooke Castillo looks like this:
which create FEELINGS…
which drive our ACTIONS…
which produce our RESULTS.the self-coaching model by Brooke castillo
So if we put “I have a lot to improve on as a parent” in the Thought line, here is what our model looks like:
Circumstance: what happened to trigger this thought for you?
Thought: “I have a lot to improve on as a parent.”
Action: how do you act when you are sad? I usually ignore my kids, get mad at them, tell them to leave me alone.
Result: Probably a worse relationship with your kids. You are showing yourself that you really do have a lot to improve on. So you are finding evidence for your thought.
So do you see how the thought “I have a lot to improve on as a parent” doesn’t really help you be a better parent?
What could you think instead?
Let’s think of some thoughts that might be better.
“I don’t need to change a thing about my parenting.”
“I am the best parent for my kids exactly how I am.”
“I am learning how to be a better parent little by little.”
If these thoughts work for you, great. If not, find some thoughts that make you feel good! Everyone is different, so the same thought can produce different results for different people.
A new model
Let’s look at what results some of these new thoughts could produce in the self-coaching model.
Thought: “I don’t need to change a thing about my parenting.”
Action: how do you act when you are calm? I usually discipline my children in a calm way, without emotion. I am able to show them more love even though I need to redirect them towards a more appropriate activity.
Result: You really are a good parent and you have good relationships with your kids!
So do you see that thinking the thought “I don’t need to change a thing about my parenting” actually makes you become a better parent! It’s so delightfully ironical! The thought “I have a lot to improve on as a parent” actually makes you a worse parent! Understanding this has been critical for me.
Your child wants a happy mom
Overall, if you are happy, your children will be better off all around. So do whatever it takes to help yourself be happy! Take breaks, do things that YOU like to do, don’t sacrifice your happiness for the happiness of your children! They will love having a happy mom. Be nice to yourself – especially when you mess up. You are doing the best you can and that is definitely enough!