Parenting is ultimately riddled with guilt. Guilt over what to feed them. Guilt over how much attention to give them. Guilt when you do something that is just for you. I find myself struggling with guilt all of the time. It makes me wonder if my parents and grandparents generations felt this much guilt. My parents forcefully encouraged us to spend our time outside with other kids or exploring nature. They didn’t show guilt if they caught me covered in bed at the end of the day, only coming inside for unhealthy snacks on the run.
Media seems to think that this current generation of young parents needs to do the impossible. We have to create perfect human beings by giving them foods that are so restricted in ingredients that you aren’t even sure what is left to create food with and not let them out of ourselves, do things for themselves, or make mistakes. Someone people tell me how is this possible for children to become independent, self-sufficient, and model members of society if we do everything for them and restrict everything they are exposed to. Once they have to experience the real world, they will either die from sheer shock, come back home not intending to leave again, or become a problem for society. If we don’t teach kids to share, how can we blame them when they grow up to be selfish adults who make bad decisions?
Even with knowing all of these things, I still find myself letting media and social media affect my parenting. I have a 9 year old son who can barely tie his shoes because I give him for the sake of convenience and tie it for him. That only teaches him that if he makes life hard for other people, he will, in the end, get those people to do things for him. Now how will that benefit him as an adult? It won’t. I feel guilty over this. In the moments when I am not stressing over something, usually something not worth stressing about, to be honest, I stand my ground and make my son do things for himself. The strange thing is that usually when he does these things after me being firm, he points out that he is proud of himself or it wasn’t that hard after all. Now if I could only remember this the next time he tries to test me to see if he can get me to do it, then I would be able to eliminate that guilt.
As parents, we should stop and remind ourselves that we create the guilt. We may read millions of articles about how to be the perfect parent, but the people who write them are not parenting your kids. Every child is different and has different needs. You have to parent differently for each child as well. There is nothing about that to feel guilty about. It is okay to give in sometimes for the sake of convenience. Like when my two years old threatens to run away as she defiantly stomps down the sidewalk away from the house. I should not feel guilty when the only thing that stops her from walking into the street is to offer her candy. Sometimes other things will work, but on the hard days, it is okay to give in to your little terrorists’ demands. If 2 Dum Dum Pops will keep my daughter safe then I am willing to provide that without any guilt.
Also, it is okay to do things for yourself too. In order to be a good parent, you first have to be getting what you need. If you give too much there won’t be anything left. You don’t need to feel guilty about making sure you get what you need over giving what your kids just want. Sometimes what you need is a break with a good book or tv show. There is no reason to feel guilty about that. I have to remind myself about that from time to time because if I don’t I find myself getting overwhelmed by giving my family too much and not giving me enough.
So, when you read another blog or article about how sugar is evil, and you start to feel guilty about giving your son a piece of candy in the grocery store so that you can shop with the smallest amount of peace, know that you don’t have to feel guilty. You are still a good parent even when you give in for convenience. You do not have to follow all of the advice that you read or hear in order to be a good parent. You just have to do what works best for you and your kids. Don’t ever let other people make you feel guilty.