this is a guest post from Megan Lacefield who is married to her high school sweetheart and mom to a teenage girl and boy. She loves every opportunity to learn from her mistakes and share what she’s learned to help others in their journey. She is by no means the perfect parent, just a mom on the journey to raise her kids in this crazy thing we call life. She serves kids cradle to college, and their families at New River in Weatherford, Texas.
Being a mom in the busyness of life has demands and expectations that can overwhelm and defeat us. Nothing immobilizes us moms like mother guilt.
It’s that sick feeling you get in your stomach when you think that you’ve done something wrong or something that will affect your child in a negative way or worse, you’ve ruined their lives FOREVER.
I’m here to tell you that no mistake or misspoken word is final, and we can’t ruin their lives. After asking a few moms about their struggles we’ve put together this list of 4 guilt traps we fall into and a few simple things you can try to avoid Mother Guilt:
1. “Bad mood” guilt- There aren’t many things that can set us off as a mom like teenagers in a bad mood. In those moment we say and do things out of frustration and emotion, and then we feel guilty. On the flip side, as mothers we can have a bad day too. Create an environment of understanding that shows grace when you or your teenager are having a rough day. The more you listen and the less you say decreases the probability of saying or doing something you regret. And when you do mess up, sit them down and confess your mess up and ask for forgiveness. Realizing that we must respond and not react allows us to handle situations in a way that we avoid the “I can’t believe I said/did THAT” guilt.
2. “Empty bucket” guilt- ”I’ve given all my best at work and my family gets my leftovers.” ”I was at my best at 8:30am when they were at school.” We love our teenagers and want to give them our best. In order to give our kids what they need and deserve our buckets need to be full. We must take time to fill our buckets with things that encourage and charge us like a lunch date with a friend, a date with our spouse, times of solitude, rest, hobbies, a phone call with your mom or someone who has been an influence in your life. We have to stand strong and know it’s not the end of the world if your teenager can’t go to a friend’s house or to a party because you’re having a date night. Empty bucket guilt happens when we aren’t taking care of ourselves and have nothing left to give and we are the only ones who can help that guilt “kick the bucket.”
3. “Uncool parent” guilt- Your kid is the ONLY kid who doesn’t get to… fill in the blank. When you, the mom, are trying to raise a teenager that makes smart decisions, you put rules in place to do your best to keep them safe. Other teenagers get to do things that you have told your teenager they can’t do, and you begin to ask questions like “Are my rules too much?” or “Are they missing out because of me?” Rules are important because we aren’t raising good kids, we are raising wise adults. Everything they do is a small moment in time that can and will impact their BIG life story. Surround yourself with other parents who have like-minded goals for their kids. Its easy to be guilt-free when you have a team of parents all enforcing the same rules. The sad truth is so many parents of teenagers are trying to be their teens best friend instead of the parent. To dodge the uncool parent bullet dialogue openly with your kids about rules and expectations, and allow for open and honest feedback. Sometimes the rules can change, not because you felt guilty, but because you talked through it and came to an agreement together.
4. “Never good enough” guilt- We feel guilty because we think we aren’t good enough or that the life we are giving our kids isn’t good enough. We fall into the trap of more is better and think we can’t give them enough; time, energy, or stuff. The most important thing is that you give your kids not what they want, but what they need. They will survive without the latest technology or five pairs of designer jeans. They will be ok if their dad AND mom work outside the home as long as you make the most of the time you do have with them. When we know we are doing that, the “never good enough” guilt becomes a distant reality to the truth that you are doing your best to provide for and love your teenager.
Everyday we have a choice in our day to second guess ourselves and doubt every decision we make. Instead we can trust in the truth of knowing we are doing our best to raise and love these teenagers. We can choose to walk in guilt for our mishaps and mistakes or walk in freedom knowing even when we miss the mark we can do it different tomorrow.
Which of these 4 types of Mother Guilt have you struggled with? Would you add any to the list?