Dealing with guilt

Parenthood   ›   Dealing with guilt

Parenting is not always easy. It is a complex role that can make us feel guilty at times. A parent’s duties and responsibilities are present 24 hours a day. As a result, all these demands unavoidably lead to some mistakes and, as parents, we don't give ourselves much room for error. How can we live better with this feeling?

Lowering Expectations

Not aiming for perfection in both ourselves and in our children, and giving ourselves permission to make mistakes, helps to significantly reduce the pressure to perform. There is no such thing as a perfect parent or a perfect child! Every parent is learning, and difficult situations can be opportunities to grow. Why not choose to be as open and caring with ourselves as we want to be to our children?


Refocusing my Role

Parenting is not about making your child happy in all circumstances, but about providing them with the tools to create their own happiness. As a parent, it’s often easy to set our sights too high and, as a result, put ourselves in difficult, unrealistic or disappointing situations. Why not choose to trust the education we give our children?


Trusting Myself 

Each parent is unique in their values and in the ways in which they parent their child (permissions, rules, consequences, living environment, etc.). There is no instruction manual to tell us how to act when our child refuses to go to bed or for what time they should come home, etc. We need to learn to trust and to listen to ourselves.


Letting Go

Putting all the responsibility on our shoulders is a heavy weight to carry. Although it’s difficult at times, we are allowed to admit that there are some things we have the power to control, and some things we don't. By leaving the weight of accountability on the right shoulders and trusting our children, we help them take responsibility.


Doing Something Good for Myself

Taking time for ourselves, to enjoy ourselves, means accepting investing in our well-being and consequently, in that of our children, who then see us taking care of ourselves. We can make ourselves feel good in different ways. For example, by doing an activity we enjoy, or if we have just a few minutes to ourselves by listening to our favorite music.



Every parent has the power to replace their negative, guilt-ridden inner voice with a more positive one that sees situations as learning opportunities. We don't know everything; we may have reacted badly to a situation. By taking a step back, we can do better next time.


Repairing and Recovering

We can offer our children an example of how to fix a situation by apologizing, or by explaining and expressing our emotions in a healthy way, for example.


Being Open to Questioning 

By being open, without judging ourselves, by self-evaluating and questioning our role as a parent, we are setting up the perfect conditions for developing an evolving relationship with our children.


New Challenges

We can provide our children with an example of how to deal with a difficult situation by brainstorming ways in which we could have done things differently if a similar situation were to occur again, or by seeking professional help, for example.


Criticism from Others: How can you Protect Yourself?

When there’s criticism from others, parents can quickly feel helpless, sad, guilty, or even have major doubts about their own role or abilities; so, what can you do to deal with this external criticism?


Be Assertive 

We can have assertive responses that allow us to position ourselves more firmly in our role, assert our values, and be steadfast in our relationship with our children. For example, if our sister says, "you let him do that?", we can respond with "based on my values as a parent, I feel it's important to let him try certain things". Or, if our brother-in-law says, "he's a real pigheaded person, I don't know how you do it!", we can reply "well, I think he has a great ability to assert himself!"


Distancing Ourselves from External Pressures

We don’t have the power to change the people around us. We do, however, have the option to focus on the people and the messages that are positive and encouraging for us. For example, by weighing the importance of the messages we receive, by remaining critical of what is communicated in books or in the media, and by keeping in mind that each parent is unique and has his or her own strengths and weaknesses.