Do you feel guilty about the way you're raising your child? Or that you are not doing enough? Remember, there are no perfect parents. Instead, focus on loving and being there for your child.
By Shashwathi Sandeep
"Guilt to motherhood is like grapes to wine." — Fay Weldon, British Author
This is true for parents all over the world. As a parent, are you also in the grip of some deep-seated guilt, always wondering whether you are doing things the right way, for your child?
Alen Hilary, consultant clinical psychologist, observes: “There can be different levels of guilt. First-time parents feel anxious or worry about the way they are bringing up their child and question themselves constantly. Also, as the child grows, there is the very natural process where he learns from the environment. Meaning a parent cannot keep the child secure or safe all the time. So, when a child falls down or gets hurt, parents end up blaming themselves."
A 2017 survey conducted by an American frozen foods company revealed that American parents felt guilty every week over decisions they thought weren't right. This is what the study brought out:
However, there are other reasons why parents feel guilty and question their parenting skills:
1. Yelling at the child: As parent, it is natural to feel most guilty after losing your temper or yelling at your child. "More so with working parents. They would have had a terrible day at work and when they come home, they vent that anger on their child,” observes Alen.
2. Not spending quality time: When you are unable to unable to spend quality time with your child, of course you feel terrible about it. You worry that you are unable to give your best to your child and that he might feel neglected, as a result. It is possible that you fear that such a situation can create an emotional distance between you and your child.
3. Not being able to go on vacations or outings: Well, you might not believe it, but there are parents who feel guilty when they are not able to take their child out — be it on holidays or even, just a short hop to a store. Some parents feel that since they go out often, they should take the child out too.
4. Work, work, and more work: This applies to both at-home and working parents equally. Do you find that you are so engrossed or caught up in everyday chores and managing work, that you are unable to spend time with your child? This can make you go on a guilt trip too.
5. Too much screen time: This reason tops the chart for most parents! As a parent, you may have given your child a gadget or device to keep him occupied, while you go about completing tasks that need to be done. Increased screen time has been associated with various ill effects on children. This has been examined at length in a study entitled 'Children’s Environmental Health in the Digital Era: Understanding Early Screen Exposure as a Preventable Risk Factor for Obesity and Sleep Disorders', in the journal Children (2018). The authors note: "Increased levels of early screen exposure have been associated with decreased cognitive abilities, decreased growth, addictive behavior, poor school performance, poor sleep patterns, and increased levels of obesity."
6. Sickness: Ill-health or illness is something every parent dreads. When your child falls ill, do you also blame yourself? Do you worry that she fell sick because you have not done a good enough job as a parent, or not taken good care of her?
There are many things parents feel guilty about, every day. The list is endless. But keep in mind that guilt is not really a bad thing. Sometimes, feeling this way can be a sign of love. It can even underscore your commitment to doing the best for your child. However, what does matter is the degree of guilt you experience. There is no need to strive to be a perfect parent. Rather, focus on enjoying the special moments you spend with your child and live life to the fullest.
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