RECAP!! Parenting Guilt: Can We Overcome It? (Plus, a Book Giveaway!)
RECAP: Mommy Guilt Topic Day.
A quick perusal of the blogosphere reveals that Mommy Guilt (or parenting guilt) is a favorite topic of conversation. Moms who work outside the home feel guilty about not spending as much time as they think they "should" with their children. Moms who work at home feel guilty about not making money or not making enough money.
If we're confident about our home/work life balance, we'll find something else to beat ourselves up about: breastfeeding versus bottle feeding; crying it out versus attachment parenting; too much TV; too much junk food; not enough reading; not enough energy; not enough spouse time; too much "me" time, however non-existent it may be.
Because parenting guilt is so prevalent, the bloggers on Silicon Valley Moms, Chicago Moms, New York Moms, D.C. Metro Moms, and 50-something Moms Blogs all wrote about parenting guilt and why they felt it. Our own DC Metro Mom Blogger, Devra Renner and her co-author Aviva Pflock, have written a book about this topic: Mommy Guilt: Learn to Worry Less, Focus on What Matters Most, & Raise Happier KIds. Devra and Aviva were nice enough to help us out and answer some questions for us about parenting guilt. Click Here to read more about our conversation with Devra and Aviva, as well as participate in the book giveaway....
DC Metro Moms Blog
- Sometimes Guilty, Sometimes Not
- Guilt Over Not Breastfeeding
- I Feel Guilty Because I Don't Feel Guilty
- Atonement: Using Guilt For Good
- Guilty Of Guilt
- The Yoke Of Guilt, Part Deux
- Take The Words Out Of My Mouth
- Guilty As Charged
- Evolutionary Guilt
- Guilt-Free & Diggin' It!
Silicon Valley Moms Blog
- Missing Moments
- Here We Go Again
- Juggling Working Mom Guilt
- My Top 5 Mommy Guilt Offenders
- Breaking The Guilt Cycle
- The Laws Of Guilt
- Guilty As Charged
- The Constant Guilt
- Mean Mommy = Guilty Mommy
- The Guilt Of The Working Mom
- Objectivism Of Parenting
- Mommy Guilt
Chicago Moms Blog
- There's No Guilt Like Mommy Guilt
- My Top Three
- I Hate You Because You Work
- Getting Over The Guilt
- Writing The Book On Guilt
New York City Moms Blog
- Been There, Done That: Guilt Tears
- Guilt, A Gentle Prodding
- Mommy Guilt?
- Bloody Boring
- Guilt And The Go-To-Gal
50-Something Moms Blog (our newest sister site, which will be "officially" launching very soon!)
Devra & Aviva: Guilt is a valid and normal emotion, debilitating guilt isn't. We have no expectation for anyone to be able to parent sans guilt. Guilt is our built in compass - a way to make us look at our decisions and think about the direction we are going or the consequences which may lay ahead. Our goal is to encourage and empower parents to be in control of the guilt rather than the guilt controlling the parents.
Q: What do you see as the number one cause of Mommy/Parenting guilt?
D&A: Early on, the major guilt is how we spend time - time spent with your co-parent, time for yourself, time to clean the house. Once parents hit the preschool years and beyond, the number one inducer across the board is YELLING AT OUR CHILDREN. We found this to be very interesting considering the tone of your voice is one of very few things we actually can control. While we may not have control over our work schedule, our children's health, public transportation, etc. we definitely do have the ability to control our own volume and what we say to others around us.
Q: Why are men and more particularly, women, so hard on themselves as parents?
D&A: We are all hard on ourselves because being a parent is a huge responsibility. Any time you are responsible for the well being of another person, second guessing your decisions come with the territory. We worry about our kids, so we worry about the decisions we make.
Q: Do you think that the so called "mommy wars" are really a reflection of the internal guilt we feel as parents over our own life choices?
D&A: We find far more parents looking for answers and support than parents looking for a fight. In that our research for the book, as well as our experience in speaking with thousands of parents since the book was published, we find the level of guilt is the same for parents regardless of employment status. The guilt inducers are the variable. Such as a parent working full time may feel guilty about daycare decisions while a parent who has interrupted a career may feel guilty about not having a salary to contribute to the household.
Q: Do you have any suggestions for working to bridge the "mommy war" divide?
D&A: The grass is no greener nor decidedly more brown on the other side - we're all about removing the fence and practicing lawn care for everyone. We are all in this together and can all benefit from the support of one another. Instead of dumping on one another, casting judgments and making assumptions about who is the "better" parent, let's focus on advocating social, political, and economic change in the private and public sector. We need paid leave in our country, we need paid sick days, paid family days, flexible work arrangements, etc. We have child labor laws to prevent children from being overworked, maybe the time has come for labor laws to prevent grown-ups from working 24/7?
Q: In your book, you talk about how to maintain your relationship with your spouse or significant other once you become a parent. If you could give an expectant couple just one piece of advice about this, what would it be?
D&A: Take care of yourself and your other adult relationships. Feeling guilty about leaving your new infant with a babysitter? Can't afford a new baby and the expense of a sitter? Bring your baby monitor out to the garage and make out in the back seat of your car - you probably did it before kids, why not after?
Seriously though, all of our adult relationships are important to maintain post-baby. Especially the one with your co-parent. Try not to make assumptions about one another regarding how you feel or what you do all day - share what is going on and what you need. If needs aren't being met, speak up! Often times a co-parent feels shut out, left out, or may even be oblivious there is a problem. Hey, it's hard to talk to each other when sleep walking! How many of us communicate at our best when dealing with new parent sleep deprivation?
Keep in mind that we don't become parents to be tormented and miserable. Parenting, while not always fun, is a gift to be opened and enjoyed on a regular basis. So why not ditch the guilt and keep the kids?!
If you have a question for Devra and Aviva, they are participating in a Q&A over at PBS, where they are the featured parenting experts this month.
If you'd like your very own copy of Devra and Aviva's book, Mommy Guilt, leave a comment below telling us what makes YOU feel guilty these days...... One lucky winner will receive the book for free. (Contest ends March 21, 2008.)