How to Conquer Mom Guilt!
Mom guilt, let’s talk about it! As a counselor who often works with both children and adults, this subject comes up often. Every parent who enters my office after their child has been seen has a look of anxiety. I often observe their worry as they ask questions through words and body language such as, “is my child okay,” “am I doing enough,” “did I mess up,” and even a look of “am I being judged? “Just typing all those questions made me pause for a big breath. That’s too much for one person to carry. It’s too heavy. That is when a counselor can step in. In short, if you have made your way to my office or any other counseling office, you are enough. You care enough about your child to be here. I often use cognitive reframing or challenging unhealthy or irrational beliefs in therapy. I like to show my clients that their irrational thinking is leading them to feel guilt, anxiety, and/or depression. Below I will help show you how we can incorporate cognitive reframing and challenging to remove that mom guilt once and for all!
Working Parents: Oh boy! Just google “Mom guilt of working parents,” and you will have pages of blogs on this. It is because it is such a difficult subject. Let us try our cognitive reframing. Instead of “I must not be a good mom because I can’t be with them all day.” Change it to “I love my children so much that I provide for them. I am also modeling what a successful career looks like.” Doesn’t it feel better to choose the latter narrative? Challenge your thoughts by asking “is my child safe when I am not there?” “Do they feel loved?” “Am I providing for their needs?” If the answers are yes then the evidence supports that mom guilt isn’t necessary.
Self-Care: I often talk to moms about the importance of self-care. Okay, talk isn’t strong enough, I preach about it! There is a reason everyone always says to put on the oxygen mask first. We have to be healthy enough, emotionally and physically, in order to provide the best care for our children. Yet, there is unnecessary guilt whenever time is spent taking care of us. Let us show what a reframe looks like. Instead of “I am taking time away that should be spent with my child doing yoga,” let’s use, “I am going to feel relaxed, energized, and ready to connect with my child when I return.” A challenge would look like “by taking time to care for myself, I am modeling good self-care; is my child safe while I am away?” The evidence, again, supports that mom guilt isn’t necessary when taking time for yourself!
Spending Time with Your Spouse: I often see couples in my office. One of the first topics we discuss is how they spend time by themselves. Many couples look at me confused! They often tell me they are too busy to go on a date night anymore. I hear things like “we just like to spend time with the entire family,” or “I don’t want to get a babysitter when they were in daycare or school all week.” The comments continue but the fact is guilt is typically impacting their ability to connect as a couple. To reframe we could change “I have to leave my child with a babysitter” to “I am showing my children what a healthy marriage looks like and creating an even stronger family!” Challenging would be “is there evidence that couples spending time together hurts children?” “Will we benefit from putting effort into our marriage?” Using these tools, the evidence supports that guilt is not necessary when you spend time with your spouse!
The options are endless with how to use these tools to eliminate mom guilt! Mom guilt is tough. The guilt tells us that we are not enough for our children, when in fact, our children are lucky to have a parent that cares so much for them. Continue to search for the positives in every interaction, dispute those negative thoughts that keep entering, and take care of yourself! Life can be tough; we don’t need to make it tougher by being our worst critic!
Written by Amy Rollo, M.A., LPC-S
Amy Rollo is a Licensed Professional Counselor Supervisor and owner of Heights Family Counseling. Amy has been practicing for fifteen years. She has doctoral level training in the areas of child and adolescent counseling, marriage and family therapy, and adult counseling. Amy Rollo provides counseling and evaluation services in the Houston Heights and surrounding areas. Amy’s goal in counseling is to journey with her clients in order to foster positive changes and growth in their lives. Read more about Amy's counseling style by visiting www.heightsfamilycounseling.com