Thursday, June 3, 2010

Dump the Guilt

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The Parenting Breakthrough: Real-Life Plan to Teach Kids to Work, Save Money, and Be Truly Independent

In The Parenting Breakthrough, Merilee Boyack starts off by asking all readers to take the "Dump the Guilt" pledge.
"We feel guilty, sure hat we're scarring our kids for life, if we don't have dinner on the table by 6:00 every night. We feel guilty if your kids aren't perfect little angels. You're going to read stuff here that makes you think, 'Oh, brother, why didn't I do this sooner?' Let it go. Let it all go. You see, you can't do a thing about the past, and all you'll do by worrying about it is get wrinkles" (page 3)
I love this quote. I think we have all read a parenting book (or blog maybe?) that made us panic. We realize that we are behind and feel guilty and wonder if we can ever recover from that late start. We feel like bad parents when our children behave poorly. We look at other families and wonder why ours isn't running as smoothly as theirs. It seems we have one thing after another to feel guilty about.

Everyone messes up. And everyone has things they wish they could have done differently. Everyone has problems. No one is perfect.

And so I join with Boyack. Let's dump the guilt! Sure, take note of the things you need to improve on. That is a necessary part of improving yourself and helping your family progress. Perhaps it might even do you good to figure out how you could have handled a situation better so you are better prepared next time. But what if games aren't going to get you anywhere.

I get it. I am what I would call a retrospective perfectionist. When I don't do something perfectly, I will stew over it and just wish I could do that over again. I would stress more about what happened in the past than what was coming in the future, which really makes no sense. I have worked on this and think I have improved some.

And you know, I feel guilty about things all the time. Right now I am feeling guilty about school work. Here we are, one week into summer, and I am feeling guilty like I haven't done enough with Brayden so far to keep his skills sharpened. One week! So the guilty feeling is normal.

Also, I think guilt can be a good thing. Maybe you lost your temper with your child and feel guilty about it. That is telling you to do something now and avoid it in the future. But Boyack isn't saying never feel guilt; she is saying dump the guilt. Understood along with that is you will likely need to make amends if necessary and attempt to fix anything that needs to be fixed.

So, yes, you have messed up. Learn what you can from it and move forward. Spend your energy planning what you will do better next time at rather than wishing you would have done better last time.

Dump the guilt. You want what is best for your children and you are trying hard. You don't need to feel guilty about your lack of ability to be perfect; you never can be perfect at everything.

And let's be honest. We will read this and think, "Yes! I will dump the guilt!" Then tomorrow (or maybe later today) we will have that guilty feeling creep up again and feel the need to stress over what we did and what we should have done. Dump it again. Learn from it, improve from it, then dump it.

Here is to happy parenting!



mandgmom said...

Thanks for this post. I needed that today!

Colin Wee said...

Guilt. What an awful word! I've been living my whole life trying to build up resistance to the guilt used by *certain* close relatives in our relationship. It is insidious, dysfunctional, emotional terrorism.

Your article is spot on. While there is a certain guilt involved in guiding our children, I think it's far healthier to put more emphasis on nurturing parenting and your responsibilities to your child.

I thought your post was so important, I made sure to link to it from Parents Need to be Reasonable.



Michael and Natalie said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you. I feel guilty constantly. I think one of the biggest reasons is because I'm a first time mom, and by reading parenting books that promise my child will be a certain way if I just do what it says, I feel awful when my kid isn't acting that way. Increasingly, I'm starting to realize that I am doing my best and that has to be good enough. I've also started to see a lot of families today that I grew up with with children that are leading very successful adult lives, despite what they acted like as children. One family in particular lived the kind of lifestyle I would find to be my personal nightmare. And you know what? 5 out of 6 of those kids have been married, 3 of those 5 have kids, and as far as I know, they're all pretty happy and stable! It makes me realize that while I know doing BW and teaching self control, etc, is important for the kid, I'm doing it for myself too, to have the type of peace and calm I need to have with my family in order to stay sane. So, I'm dumping the guilt!

Amy said...

Good timing. My LO and I had difficulties with breastfeeding. We tried everything at home but my nipples kept blistering and getting flat from her "chewing". The doctor said she had Torticollis and a slight tongue tie and that we should try PT first for the torticollis since the tongue tie was slight. The PT didn't help the BF problem but by then I was SO sore that I was just ready to give up. I didn't want to clip her tongue tie because I was scared it would hurt her. Yesterday I read an article that said clipping the tongue tie hurts less than an ear peircing. Now I feel like I didn't try everything possible and had I known that I would done both at the same time. I'm sure I'll always feel some sort of guilt, did she not get all the nutrition she could have, will she not be so cuddly, did we lose some great bonding time... At least I can learn from this that next time I shouldn't give up, even if it hurts, keep trying until we have exhausted everthing.

Plowmanators said...

You are welcome everyone! Natalie, I agree that often times, when parents do what they can and try their best, the kids turn out just fine. Children always have their free will, so they can do what they want despite and in spite of their parents.

Thanks for sharing your story Amy!

Plowmanators said...

Interesting article, Colin. Thanks for sharing.


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