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Overcoming Motherly Guilt

“Time passes unhindered. When we make mistakes, we cannot turn the clock back and try again. All we can do is use the present well.”  – the Dalai Lama


Look up in the sky—it’s a bird, it’s a plane… oh, no… it’s just mom.

We tend to feel like a superhero balancing career, family, and any semblance of a social life. We give our very best to our children by finding new ways to assist in their growth and development; we give our all to our spouses by serving as their personal assistants when need be, and we even put ourselves last on the chart – meaning we’re strong enough to handle the personal neglect.

It all seemingly makes sense, especially when we analyze the situation by suggesting that we are merely “investing” in the future of our families…namely our children.  If this is so, and we are confident that we are doing the right thing by our family, then why do we suffer from guilt the moment our kids disappoint us?

Give them your soul so they can rip it out

When attempting to understand what makes a mother a good one, we have to first consider what the professionals have to say about the subject. According to Peg Streep of Psychology Today, the vigilance, organizational skills, and the ability to exert control on chaos may earn an A grade for a mother when her child is a toddler; however, those same skills may not cut the grade at all when her child becomes a teenager. “All mothers have a compass that is determined by her standards of what she will and won’t do as a mother based on her own upbringing,” Streep suggested. “By steering clear of the bad mother behaviors, we tend to feel sure that we are closer to being a good mother, instead.” Falling in line with the labels that torment us is the first step to knocking on guilt’s door the moment something disappointing occurs that involves our children, or the decisions that they may tend to make.

It ain’t my fault

Although the professionals typically state that our inability to raise our children “objectively” is the direct result of our own personal issues—sounds nice, but does it matter when my child acts like he/she hates me—and they suggest we disassociate ourselves from the emotional attachment of any issue we address; but is this truly realistic?

Reading about the power of detachment feels great but the moment your child stands in front of you and does or says something that breaks your heart, are you going to remember that great advice? I won’t. It would be wonderful to say that children will grow up appreciating every aspect of the sacrifice made on their behalf. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always happen that way. When you find yourself facing your precious little ingrate who now feels you are to blame for all of their unhappiness, do yourself a favor and remember the following;

  • If you did your best, with the best of intentions, be good with that and let go of the guilt
  • Don’t blame yourself for anything that falls outside of your own control
  • Remember that although you act superhuman, it doesn’t mean that you are, and
  • Don’t regret your decision to put yourself first when achieving goals that ultimately benefit you and your family

At the end of the day, you will only harm yourself and your relationship with your family if you hold on to guilt that never belonged to you in the first place. Learning to let go of guilt—no matter the reason for it; and instead, let love take over and heal isn’t easy…but it has to be done. Do it for you, if no one else. You’re worth it, Supermom.

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About Audra L.

Audra L. is an author, columnist and community activist who's dedicated to finding truth through research and effective communication. She received her degree in Public Policy and teaches Community Development, Public Speaking and Communications Law to youth throughout the nation. She is the recipient of over 23 awards and honors for her commitment to community outreach initiatives.

One comment

  1. James Wollschlager

    The same might just be true and valuable for dads as well.

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