Guilt – what is it? Why do we feel it? Guilt, by definition, is a feeling of unhappiness when you do something wrong, that may upset or hurt another person. It is a feeling we have all had right from being young but as we grow our guilt changes, we feel less guilty about pinching a biscuit from the plate and more guilty about our actions around others.
As a mother it spirals into a guilt only a mother can comprehend – you second guess every decision you make and every action you take, and the feelings of guilt are never far away. It is perfectly normal to feel guilty. You are the same as every mother who has ever lived and every mother who will exist. Sometimes you might not even know why you feel that burning guilt, but it is there, nestled deep inside – that is normal too but let’s look at why it happens.
What Causes Mum Guilt?
There are all kinds of things that can trigger mum guilt but let’s look at three common ones that most of us will recognise.
1. Leaving your child
When you drop your child off at a nursery or leave them with a childminder, nanny or babysitter, you watch your child walk away and maybe feel a sense of relief. Quickly followed by a sudden sweeping feeling of guilt at that relief. But feeling relieved drop off has gone smoothly or about having a break from constantly watching a child is nothing to feel guilty about.
Even if your child cries every time you leave them, you know that when you go back, they’ll be smiling and will have had a great day. But those morning tears can still make you feel guilty for working and trying to provide a better life for them.
We forget about the benefits of our children spending time with others. They learn social skills and build friendships. It also helps boost their independence and can help with separation anxiety when a child is older.
Another common cause of guilt is often food based. This often first shows up with the breast- or-bottle-fed debate. In an ideal world we would feed our children 100% organic, all natural, no preservatives, completely fresh food and healthy. In reality, that’s just not possible all of the time.
As mums we sometimes have to make choices for our own sanity. A fed child is better than one who is not fed because you’re struggling to get it all prepared while trying to juggle everything else.
3. Not understanding your child
For some reason, we place ourselves under so much pressure that we expect ourselves to be psychic. Um…. I get it, you wish you could read your child’s every thought and know exactly what they want without them telling you. But there will be times when you don’t have the answer particularly before your child is verbal and able to explain – even then, they don’t always want to tell you!
The guilt of not knowing why your child is upset can be hard to deal with but the only thing you can do is try and be the best version of you. No one can ask for more.
The Real Reason For Mum Guilt
And that’s where we get to the real reason for mum guilt. In truth, it’s nothing to do with whether you leave your child with someone else, what you feed them or even if you understand what they’re feeling.
If we dig a little deeper, we realise that the guilt is really about your self-confidence and self-belief. The guilt arises because you worry that you should be doing more, that maybe you’re not good enough, that you should strive for perfection. And all of this comes from those stories that your subconscious keeps hitting play on.
In the next blog post we’ll look at some of the ways you can start to change this. However, if you want to change now, then take a look at my C.A.L.M. MUMS Members’ Club or get in touch to find out how I can support you more closely.
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