Parents care more about their children and their families than they do anything else. Because we care so much, we often beat ourselves up and are guilt-ridden about what we could be doing differently and better.
But giving ourselves the world’s biggest guilt trip doesn’t help anyone. Here are some ways we can stop feeling so bad about every choice we make.
Realize Parenting Is More All-Encompassing These Days
Comparing yourself to how you were raised or how your grandparents used to do things isn’t fair to you. Parenting is much more time intensive than it used to be, especially when you consider both parents often work in today’s world.
When many of us were children, we were told to go outside to play when we were taking up too much of our parents’ time or energy. Many of us were encouraged to spend the whole day playing outside while our parents did chores.
Times have changed. Depending upon where you live, it isn’t always safe for children to spend so much time outside unsupervised.
If it seems like you don’t have time to cover everything you need to do in one day, there’s a reason for that. Most parents today spend more time with their children than past generations did. The trade-off is that we don’t always have time to make every meal from scratch or have a spotless home, and that’s nothing to feel bad about.
No One Is Perfect
Comparing yourself to another parent you think is perfect is a sure-fire way to feel guilty. When you start to feel like you should be more like someone else, remember that no one is perfect, even if it seems like they are.
Other people may seem to have the perfect life, but they probably face challenges you don’t know anything about.
A Few Shortcuts Won’t Hurt in the Long Run
Stopping at a fast food restaurant once a week to grab something for lunch or dinner won’t destroy your child’s long-term health. Instead of worrying about it, spend that energy making sure they eat extra fruit or vegetables with their other meals during the week.
Letting your child watch too much television occasionally while you are struggling to get everything done is also something you shouldn’t lose sleep over. If it happens all the time, you might want to reevaluate things. But if it just happens once in a while, make it a priority to find an activity the whole family can do together.
If you find you can’t shrug off the guilt over your parenting choices, talk to someone about it. Other parents are likely having the same struggles you are. You won’t feel so alone once you realize everyone experiences this problem. At the end of the day, just do your best. The main thing your children need from you is your love.
Shannon Serpette is a mother of two and an award-winning journalist and freelancer who lives in Illinois. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.