In talking to moms, like myself, I’ve realized that we all struggle with feelings of guilt from time to time.  Although it’s a positive sign that we’re trying to do our best, we need to learn to let it go so that we can be our best.

A guilty conscience can bring you down mentally, physically and spiritually, and can affect every person in your family.  It’s important to distinguish whether the guilt is founded in truth.

Here’s how to wrestle with the issues behind the guilt we face as moms.

When guilt is nestled in truth

These are the things you know you could do better; things that are important to your family values and to your childrens’ health and well-being.

When you feel guilty about something that needs to be changed, don’t dwell on it. Change it.

It’s important to remember that things don’t change overnight. Take a step back and think, “Am I moving forward?” If you see that you’ve started those changes, even in the smallest ways, you’re on the right track and there’s no need to dwell on what’s not perfect.

If you feel that you’re moving backwards, then think of ways to change your direction and take action. Standing still and wallowing in self-pity will only attribute to feelings of guilt and worthlessness, which is a dangerous cycle.

Photo by James Neufeld

When guilt is brought on by unrealistic expectations

Sometimes we feel guilty because we have unrealistic expectations of ourselves, or we’re comparing ourselves to other people. This is a treacherous road, because no matter how hard you try, it won’t make you happy.

Be who you are, and don’t allow someone else to dictate what kind of parent you should be or in what activities you should be involved.

We were all created completely unique, so when we try to be something we’re not, we’ll always be unhappy. There’s no reason to feel guilt, because that’s not who we are.

When guilt is founded on things that don’t matter

There’s so much in the world we could feel guilty about, but most of it is unnecessary. Think about why you’re feeling guilty. Do the results have serious negative and problematic outcomes? In the big scheme of everything that goes on in life, does it really matter?

We need to learn to let go of the little things so we can have the energy to take care of and change the things that really matter.

If you didn’t have time to do the laundry or your child had to miss a soccer game, let it go. Sometimes the day gets away from us or unexpected things happen that change the direction of our day. If you learn to let go of those things that don’t matter, you and your family will be happier for it.

Photo by James Neufeld

When guilt strikes…

  1. Think about whether it’s grounded in truth.
  2. If it is, take steps to change and keep moving forward.
  3. If it’s not, learn to let it go and move on.

So often we give credit to our guilt by thinking that it’s a sign that we’re not doing something right. But, more often than not it comes from our own expectations or what we believe others expect of us.

In order to live in freedom, we need to let go of the expectations we have of ourselves and our lives, take steps to change the things we can, and try to enjoy every moment.

In what ways do you most struggle with “mom guilt”?