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You want to be the best parent ever. However, life’s competing demands sometimes make it challenging to keep up with your responsibilities. You could feel guilty about what you perceive as slacking.
Please don’t burden yourself with undue remorse. Chances are, you’re rocking it just fine. Here are eight tips for recognizing parent guilt and cutting yourself some slack.
1. Losing Your Temper
Your little one asked, “are we there yet,” one too many times, and you blew your stack. You’re convinced that you’re the world’s worst parent, and your child will one day appear on an episode of “Dr. Phil to tell the world how terrible you are.
Guess what, parent? You’re not horrible — you’re human. Use this opportunity to teach your children how to take ownership of their feelings and apologize when they do something wrong through your example.
Start by acknowledging that you got angry and let your temper get away from you. Apologize for your actions and explain why: “When I raise my voice, I understand it may make you feel afraid or confused.” Remind them that such behavior is inappropriate and work with your child to brainstorm solutions to avoid such episodes in the future.
2. Working Too Much
You might feel guilty for pulling long hours, even if you’re among the nation’s many telecommuters since the pandemic. News stories abound of the great resignation, but the bigger story might be the great disconnect between the average salary and the cost of living today.
The median necessary living wage across the United States is $67,690. Even the location with the lowest annual living wage, Mississippi, requires earners to bring in $58,321 per year. That translates to over $30 per hour, more than three times above the federal minimum and something less than half of Americans currently earn.
Four words, dear parent: being homeless is hard. Doing it with children is a nightmare few would wish on their worst enemies. Explain your need to work to your kids and do what you must to ensure your family’s security. Your struggle may inspire them to continue the fight for a more fair and just economy for all.
3. Not Having Money for Extras
It’s also okay to give guilt a pass if you can’t afford to buy your kid a PS5. While they might clamor for the latest toy, what matters the most to your children is your love and support.
Besides, you can make memories by creating more personalized, homemade gifts around the holidays. Such activities qualify as arts and crafts time if you’re homeschooling your little, making you quite the multitasking mama or papa.
4. Not Breastfeeding
The American Association of Pediatrics recommends that you exclusively breastfeed your infant for at least six months after birth, preferably their full first year. Apparently, they’re unaware that the United States remains the only wealthy nation that doesn’t guarantee parental leave, meaning many mamas have to return to the office only a few short days after giving birth.
Therefore, please don’t feel bad if you resort to formula. Today’s products do a better job of mimicking what your body produces than ever before, ensuring your child receives complete nutrition.
5. Letting Your Kids Eat Junk Food
Your kid clamors for a cookie after school, and you’re too tired to make them wait until dinner. Are you a terrible parent for letting them have chocolate chips before broccoli?
While you don’t want to feed your kids a steady diet of junk, the occasional indulgence won’t hurt them any more than it harms you. However, you should ensure you introduce them to as many whole, nutritious foods as possible. Eating a variety yourself while your child is in utero may help them develop a taste for asparagus or peas.
6. Public Temper Tantrums
Your child melts down in the canned food aisle. You wish you could hide behind the tinned beans.
Please don’t be mortified. There isn’t a parent alive who hasn’t had their child pitch a temper tantrum in public. Therefore, those who know won’t mind, and those who don’t understand are probably childless — and better off keeping their opinions to themselves.
7. Allowing Too Much Screen Time
Screen time skyrocketed during the pandemic. However, it’s understandable. Everyone has the same 24 hours in a day — but some parents have nannies and expensive camps and private schools where they send their children. They might even have a personal chef to assist with meals or one of those groovy delivery plans.
Therefore, please don’t beat yourself up if you occasionally use the TV or tablet as a babysitter. You can only be in so many places at once, and while it’s not great for your child to spend hours staring at a screen, at least you know they’re safely at home.
8. Not Doing It All
Instagram makes you believe that everyone has a perfect family, complete with a home, white picket fence, stylish minivan and soccer cleats neatly lining the front stoop. Real-life mamas and papas understand that doesn’t represent everyone’s reality.
Please don’t feel guilty if you can’t do it all. There are days when you’re so wiped out, you serve Fruity Pebbles for dinner. It might not be a complete meal, but it is at least enriched with vitamins and minerals. Instead, change your mindset and congratulate yourself on doing the best you can with the cards you received.
Recognizing Parent Guilt
Parent guilt can steal unnecessary joy from your childrearing years. However, you’re probably not horrible, only human.
Learn how to recognize parent guilt and forgive yourself for the eight transgressions above. Focus on building a loving bond with your children and concentrate on making memories with them instead of feeling remorse.
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