Handling Mom Guilt

December 15, 2009

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A reader sent me this email and I got her permission to publish it here.

“Hi, I enjoy your site and respect the views I have read in your articles. Thank you. I would consider myself an attachment-style parent. Extended breastfeeder, co-sleeper, natural birth, etc. all come natural to me.

I have two kids and recently have resorted to spanking and out-of-control behavior to discipline my 2 1/2 year old.

Now that I have stopped, I can hardly stand the guilt. It is almost unbearable.

I am the most optimistic and up-beat person I know and this makes me depressed, for the first time in my life. I know you are also busy with parenting issues, but I was hoping you had some words of wisdom to help me deal with this guilt.

My son’s aggressive behavior makes me feel so bad, knowing I have caused it. Thank you for listening.”

Honestly, I doubt there are any of us who haven’t made what we consider to be mistakes in our parenting journey. I know I have several regrets as a Mom. We all fail to live up to our own ideals at times. That’s because we’re human beings, and therefore imperfect.

I do know that prolonged guilt is destructive and counterproductive. But it’s not easy to get rid of it and forgive ourselves for our mistakes.

Do you have any advice or words of comfort for this mom?

Creative Commons License photo credit: stofiska

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4 Responses to “Handling Mom Guilt”

  1. Renee on December 15th, 2009 11:03 am

    We all feel like we should have done things better regarding our parenting skill. Lets face it we are not perfect and our children aren’t Saints either.

    I’m all about all natural thing too but regarding spanking, as our family are Christian we are to obey God in following His rule about disciplining.

    Meaning God does chastise us out of Love and not anger. So we ought to do the same. We spank our children for sins that they are committing and not for them being child. (their is a big difference)

    Our 2 1/2 years old have a healthy look on spanking, she knows if she willingly is not obeying us she will have to face the consequences of her action. Is she aggressive because of it, not at all.

    I was reading the other day Mother Goose to her and at the story of the old lady that lived in a shoes, she reply, Rabbit spanking not obeying Papa and Mama. Mama and Papa love Rabbit. how cute was that! She know that her spanking was not because we do not love her but because we hate sin.

    Our Faith as given us tools to deal with our children, but we sometimes feel like failures. And that is totally normal. God does forgive us and we need to forgive our self!

  2. Melitsa on December 15th, 2009 11:28 am

    You can’t control anymore what happened in the past. But you can plan on your future. We all make mistakes. I hope you can find the strength to push on and find ways that work for you. It is hard. There are no rule books.

  3. claire on December 15th, 2009 3:12 pm

    I was so against spanking (still am), I even wrote to some poor mom once on a website that she was wrong for doing it (even though she was already admitting she was wrong). And then, my daughter turned three with advengence! And I was at a loss, she was stubborn and out of control and I spanked her a few times. Me! I couldn’t believe it and it made me cry. Although it did shock her into submission, it was not the right thing to do. To this day (this was about 6 months ago), she tells me I am going to get a spanking and even tries to hit me. The bad news, I caused this agression. The good news, we have a lifetime together to fix it.

    I have told her I am sorry and have explained to her that hitting is wrong. She does the aggressive behavior less and less and I think soon it will be long forgotton.

    It is HARD to deal with an unruly child, but the best way to do it is grab perspective, a cup of tea and a babysitter sometimes.

    But leave the guilt behind….it is not helping anyone….

    Hugs and love to you mama. We are not perfect and we don’t have to be.

  4. Emily on December 15th, 2009 6:38 pm

    I, too, must admit that I have spanked my “live wire” son a few –okay, more than that–times in the past six months (he just turned 3).

    Sometimes, I just don’t know what else to do. Sometimes, PMS is rearing its ugly head. In all cases, I remind myself that I don’t remember anything under the age of four, and even if my son does happen to vaguely remember some unhappy moments when his hind end hurt, he won’t hold it against me or have to get therapy as an adult because of it.

    Thank God he’s finally at the age where he understands Love and Logic statements, in which he gets to make a choice of whether or not to exercise self-control. (Example: “Benjamin, you can play with your animals or play with your train. You may not throw your books.” Or, when he’s really out of control: “Benjamin, you can not throw your blocks down here, or you can go to your room [which has no toys in it] and not throw blocks.”

    At 2-1/2 your baby may or may not be mature enough to deal with choices like that, but either way, the mother-son bond is too strong to be damaged by a few smacks in moments of frustration.

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