Parenting Guilt: The Parent Trap

Written by: Anchal Sharma


Time to Read: 2 min

Parenting is hard. Whether you're dealing with societal judgments, internalized expectations, or getting trapped in the fantasy of social media parenting perfection, 'Parent Guilt' is an emotion we can all relate to.

More often than not, it’s the mom who goes through bouts of guilt and self-doubt. Society often paints a picture of the devoted, self-sacrificing mother who puts everyone’s needs above her own. This portrayal ignores the complexity and diversity of real women's lives and can contribute to feelings of guilt when a new mother needs time to focus on herself, and her needs, or get back to work.

While the term "mom guilt" is primarily associated with mothers, it's important to note that fathers and other caregivers can also experience similar feelings of guilt and self-doubt in their roles as parents. It is not easy being strict towards your children even if to teach them valuable life lessons. The term "dad guilt" or "parent guilt" is sometimes used to acknowledge this.

So, how do you deal with this? (Because there is no way you are not going to get caught in the mom guilt trap.) Here's my 6-point plan to deal with it:

  1. Know That It's More Common Than You Think: Many parents experience it and it does not mean that you are a bad parent. It is in fact, a reflection of the love and care you have for your child.
  2. Seek support, Prioritize, and Delegate: Talk to your partner, friends, family, or a therapist about your feelings. Learn to prioritize tasks and delegate responsibilities when feeling overwhelmed. It's okay to ask for help from others.
  3. Set Realistic Expectations: Understand that no one is a perfect parent, and it's okay to make mistakes. Strive for balance and do your best, but be kind to yourself when you fall short. You can't do everything, so keep your goals real and doable.
  4. Set Boundaries: Children work well with structure and authority. You can't be a parent and best friend all the time. There will be times when you will have to reject their demands and hear them cry. As long as your actions are geared towards your child's betterment, it's okay.
  5. Self-Care: Remember that taking care of yourself is essential for being the best parent you can be. Taking breaks and practicing self-compassion are important.

  6. Limit Social-Media: Be mindful of the content you consume on social media, especially if it triggers feelings of inadequacy. Social media platforms can significantly distort our perceptions of what a "perfect" parent looks like, often leading us down a rabbit hole of unrealistic standards and self-comparison. Remember, you're only seeing what others want you to see.

Ultimately, parenting is a shared responsibility, and both mothers and fathers can experience feelings of guilt and self-doubt. It's important for all parents to recognize these feelings as normal, seek support when needed, and prioritize self-care to maintain their emotional well-being while raising their children.