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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!
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