He wasn’t trying to give me a full-blown case of mommy guilt. It just happened naturally when I heard my son shout, “You shouldn’t have let me go outside! I have a cold and now I’m all wet!”
My poor son, frozen and nearly in tears, was kind of right here. We all had a bit of cabin fever and I thought he’d like to play while the grown ups attempted shoveling a foot of snow off the sidewalk.
I hadn’t really thought about what would happen when the wind hit his face, or how cold he’d become if his pants somehow got wet underneath all that snow gear (which they did!). I consoled myself with the fact that I provided a cup of cocoa and a change of clothes as soon as he came in.
Still, I felt pretty bad about potentially making his cold worse. What if it turned into something serious? I’d have to tell the doctor, “I’m sorry, I let him go outside in a foot of snow even though he had a cough and runny nose.”
My only solace would be that I hadn’t accidentally blinded him with Life Boy soap.
Feeling Guilty About Parenting Mistakes
Ah, mom guilt. It’s that special feeling of crushing disappointment in ourselves that happens when we lose it with our toddler, forget about an important event in our child’s life, experience a baking fail or generally screw up in a variety of areas.
Mommy guilt comes at other times, too. It visits when we compare our parenting or lifestyle with other moms. I’ve heard of moms experiencing formula feeding guilt (NO. NOT ALLOWED.) or working mom guilt (ALSO FORBIDDEN.)
I feel a little stab of mommy guilt every morning when I realize for the millionth time I’m never going to be the mom that knows how to beautifully style her daughter’s gorgeous hair. The best I can manage is a headband or sloppy ponytail. (Please, share your kids hair tips with me!)
Overcoming Parental Guilt
Moms know the meaning of this little phrase because we feel it so deeply for reasons that are often admittedly ridiculous. But mommy guilt feels oh so real and it can be very hard to shake. It’s a cousin of postpartum depression and anxiety. It can be part of a serious disorder or simply an annoying little devil on our shoulder that whispers lies when we’re feeling low.
Dealing with mom guilt is something we all do, and I’d like to make it just a bit easier for you to conquer it so you can keep on rocking mom life. Here are my favorite tips!
Swapping stories of how we’ve failed is very therapeutic. Chat with other moms about what’s bothering you and I bet you’ll find that the moms you thought were perfect have messed up just like you, or share the same nagging false guilt.
Think about how you’ve made it through things that were much more difficult than your latest mom-guilt trigger. Chances are your child has a better life than you did as a kid, right?
“You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.Matthew 7:9-11, NLT
Jesus understood that parents are just imperfect, sinful people who love their children. He encouraged us to see God as our perfect parent whose gifts are that much more incredible.
This is how I know your mom guilt can be conquered with a little bit of perspective. You know how to give good gifts to your children, to love them and bless them, and a few imperfections aren’t going to get in the way of that.
Make it Positive
Nothing makes me frown more than the phrase “turn that frown upside down,” so I hereby promise not to be that annoying. But I bet if you tell your mom guilt to back off for a hot minute, focusing on the positives will be pretty easy.
Formula feeding? It allows you to know how much milk your baby is getting, it helps your baby bond with daddy and other loved ones, and–oh yeah–it feeds and nourishes your baby.
Working mom? You’re providing for that precious little one, you’re a rockstar at coordinating schedules, and you make your family bonding time count.
Every single little flicker of mom guilt you feel comes from something that has an upside. My daughter, for example, just might compensate for my styling issues and become an expert at managing her strawberry blonde curls. Let’s hope.
Go Easy On Yourself and Stop Comparing
Comparison is the thief of joy as well as confidence. We’re all different and are made to compliment each other. None of us have the same strengths or talents.
That means that looking at another mom can leave us completely disappointed in ourselves because she has a strength we don’t.
Comparison can take you right to envy and self doubt. Hold on to your confidence by focusing on how much you mean to your Heavenly Father, and aim to please Him instead of others, including yourself.
So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it.2 Corinthians 5:9, NIV
Take it to God
For me, this is both the most important one and sometimes the most difficult one to do. In the moment, it can be hard to remember what the truth is and to rest in God’s grace.
Sometimes believers feel like going around in a fog of guilt is what we deserve or somehow makes up for our faults. Yes, it sounds crazy, and yes, any one of us would probably say that’s ridiculous, but we’ve all done this at one point.
Sometimes it’s easier to create our own formula for being ok, but that just ends up making us self righteous and miserable.
Let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water.Hebrews 10:22, NLT
I know I’ve definitely wished before that there was a formula for living life the right way, or a book that tells me how to handle every single situation I’ll face as a mom. With very specific instructions. And maybe a magic spell.
Instead, God gave us a free gift of salvation and grace, and all we do is accept His gift and move on. It isn’t more complicated and we don’t have to look perfect to an outsider. Or, in this case, an insider…we don’t have to feel good enough or be perfect in our own eyes. Thank goodness!
Dealing with Mommy Guilt
I know it’s not easy, but remember to take these steps when mom guilt comes your way.
- Get Perspective
- Make it Positive
- Go Easy on Yourself
- Stop Comparing
- Take it to God
I’m off to go take my own advice! I hope you can do the same. Remember that you’re an amazing mom loved by a perfect God, and in Him, you are enough.