Parents everywhere agonise in secret, where did I go wrong...., should I have been softer / harder on my child?

To make things worse, we now have so much more information about what babies and children need - and it seems we can’t help but add to the guilt because of it.

I've been doing some research to cure my own guilt and it seems the key to letting go of guilt might be as simple as a change in perspective.

What we internalise (often from our own problematic childhoods ✋) is a huge sense of responsibility to do a better job, and as a result we notice so much more of what is going on - the resulting feelings of guilt are usually shared privately, making matters worse. 

On top of it all (sorry this gets heavy before it gets better), we have the wonderful world of social media portraying perfect lives with perfect children as a result of perfect parenting. Luckily there's a shift happening out there showing the imperfect life too, but there's no doubt the perfect life is still the more widely demonstrated.

In one way or another we are all wounded as our role models were imperfect. And we will let our babies and children down too, and they have the right to protest, however damaging that is to our ego. So what can we do when we realised we have hurt our children? How do we deal with the guilt that weighs so heavily?

Step 1 - Identify the feeling - is it guilt?

Guilt is self-focussed, internalised, and often changes into denial to make it go away.

Remorse on the other hand builds love, it allows us to move on and let go. Could your guilt be remorse in disguise?

Step 2 - Understand we are not experts.

How can we be expert parents when we haven’t done it before? Would we beat ourselves up when we’re trying to learn other new things the same way we do for our parenting? The responsibility of the job is high, but it is all new to us, we are learning as we go.

It might be time to show yourself some empathy. Psychologists and counsellors spend years understanding how to relate to people, why is it that we plaster guilt on ourselves when we have an empathy lapse with our children?

It’s ok to feel remorse about what we have done, but there is no need for guilt.

Step 3 - Find the gaps in the village and work to fill them

This is a topic so close to my heart and one that I'd love to overcome one day! The village that we need and used to have, is missing from our culture. Parenting is done in private. Sociologists agree that we were designed to raise our children in groups. Parenting is meant to exist where help is at hand.

The fact that our new nuclear family is normal its normal doesn’t stop it from being unhealthy. Natures design was to have a village involved in raising children so tiredness didn’t become exhaustion. So, The next time you find yourself reacting impatiently, ask yourself if this is a sign you are not getting enough support. Its not a luxury, this is essential.

Step 4. Try compassion instead of guilt.

The next time you find yourself making a mistake, try to feel the guilt as remorse, apologise and reconnect with your child. Parenting does not improve because we seek better information and advise, what will transform our relationship with our children is our willingness to learn, heal and grow.

The benefit of letting guilt go.

When guilt is replaced by 'emotional honesty', relationships become stronger. Your little ones don't want you to beg for forgiveness but they do appreciate recognition that your behaviour hurt them. This teaches the wonderful lesson of forgiveness, and that no matter our size, we apologise when we do something wrong.

A loving relationship is not one in which hurt never happens. The most fulfilling relationship is one you are able to reach when you replace the guilt with remorse, apologise and grow from it. 

It's all about letting go, stopping beating ourselves up and choosing emotions that serve us - not hurt us. 

I hope this helps you as much as it has helped me ♥️

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