Am I doing enough? Am I spending enough time? Am I providing the best opportunities? Should I have stayed home to play boardgames instead of going on date night?
Does this sound familiar?
Parent guilt is a real thing. Often referred to as “Mommy Guilt,” all parents experience it – moms and dads alike; some just more than others.
I know, as it is something I’ve battled. I love my children, but I cannot be the father they need if I don’t take care of other priorities in life – my marriage, my health (emotional and physical), or making a living.
So what’s the solution?
Own your guilt. Don’t let it own you.
But wait, does that lead to becoming a callous and self-absorbed parent?
Not at all.
If you succumb to parent guilt, you will just trap yourself into unhealthy patterns. You will do your children a disservice by compromising other aspects of our life that are important. Don’t be a martyr. Sacrificing for your kids doesn’t mean that you need to sacrifice who you are. In the long run it will only do more damage to you and them.
Don’t be mistaken. Like you, I would step in front of an oncoming train for my kids. Our love runs that deep as parents. However, our daily sacrifices should be more of a balance of taking care of them as well as ourselves.
Think about this example: whenever we fly, the airlines instruct us that in the event oxygen masks are deployed in an emergency, adults should put their masks on first before assisting child passengers. Why? Well, if you can’t breathe, the likelihood of you helping anyone else greatly diminishes. It’s the same principle in our daily lives: if you can’t take care of yourself, how can you truly care of your family?
Guilt is just part of the parent gig; you will always feel guilty so just own it. At least that is what some older and wiser parents once told me.
At first this sort of sounded like a convenient (yet nice) way to quiet my frustrations and complaints about feeling guilty. But the more I grow as a parent, the more it makes sense.
Be careful, though, as owning your guilt doesn’t give you permission to throw your hands up in despair and give up. Owning your guilt means acknowledging your guilty feelings, forgiving yourself despite them, and forging ahead. You can do this by taking five minutes to ruminate, but then look in the mirror and tell yourself this…
“I AM A GREAT PARENT.”
It’s true. You most definitely are a great parent.
Know how I know?
You are still reading. That means you are someone who strives to be the best version of themselves and the best parent as possible. What a wonderful gift to yourself and your family.
Here’s to your greatness! Keep being amazing!
Kevin Snyder is a husband, father, and an attorney at Snyder Law, PC in Irvine, California. He is all about family and has a passion for educating his community about estate planning and veteran legal issues. He also enjoys helping people protect what matters most and being the best versions of themselves they can be.