There’s Daddy-Guilt as well, however since the majority of my subscribers are women, for the sake of simplicity I’ll stick to the feminine gender in this article:)
How often does Mommy-Guilt hit upon you? For some of us, it’s only a few times a month, when we realized that we parented our child in a less-than-model manner. For many of us mothers, Mommy-Guilt accompanies virtually every hour of the day.
Here are some common themes that echo the brain of one suffering from Mommy-Guilt:
“That’s so awful… he will grow up to be a violent person if he keeps hurting his sister like that!”
“I need quiet! I can’t take the noise anymore… why can’t my children play nicely?”
“Oh, no, she is in control, I let her get away with her heart’s desires… oh, why am I unable to control my own daughter?!”
While similar statements may flit through our minds, there is a key component to Mommy-Guilt that will open the door to resolving this delicate issue.
Picture this scene: You walk into the kitchen and your five-year-old is playing with Grandma’s porcelain salt and pepper shakers as though they are dominoes. “Oh, no!” you scream (aloud or in your mind). “Whoever heard of a five-year-old that plays with Grandma’s china decorations?! You are not going out of this room until you sweep up every chip and apologize to your grandmother!”
After the kitchen has been cleaned, and the air is somewhat clear, you recall the things you heard in a recent parenting seminar. You remember hearing about parenting in a calm tone of voice, and you wonder what kind of a mother you are after all. Mommy-Guilt sets into your heart strongly on this fine evening.
Later, in a moment of peacefulness, backtrack into the event above, and try to elaborate regarding your feelings- just before yelling at your son. If this is a new exercise for you, it may not be easy at first. Mentally put yourself back into the situation that caused your anger and try to identify the precise feelings that flitted through your mind just prior to your outburst. Very likely it was something like,
“This is terrible! Why can’t I leave my child alone for a two minutes without him destroying the house!”
or, “I feel trapped! I have to be on top of my child at all times to make sure he does not make any trouble, and I really need some quiet time for me!”
Alternatively, you may think, “What kind of a destructive child have I been raising; this is awful to feel so totally helpless in front of a kindergartener!”
What you need to realize right now is that it is not the actual even which caused your anger and frustration- rather it was the thoughts you had about the event that caused your emotions to escalate.
Factual and neutral observations would not result in heated anger. Thoughts such as, “I see it’s quite noisy here” or, “She has hit the baby,” or “He is teasing the dog” connote an acceptance of the situation- although doubtless the acceptance would not be accompanied by happiness.
Accepting a situation means that you are not fighting with the present; you are not railing against your fate. While you try to do whatever is within your power to improve the situation, you understand that life does not always meet our expectations.
It is helpful to write down your trigger thoughts for several weeks. You will begin to notice a pattern that sets you off.
Many people realize that they become enraged that life is not turning out how they imagined, “This is terrible! Things are not turning out how I want them to be!” Other people gravitate towards sadness, “It’s really sad that I cannot have the life I want.”
Once you have identified your trigger emotions, you can begin to accept and deal with them in a productive and healthy manner.
Many of our thoughts can be summed up like this, “This sort of stuff should not be happening to me! My life should not be this difficult! I can’t stand the frustration of reality being different from what I want!”
After identifying our innermost thoughts, the next step is to legitimately question that which we have asked for so long: “I need some quiet time!” or, “They must stop fighting, it’s driving me insane!”
Needs are those which are necessary for life, such as food, clothing, and shelter. You may feel that you NEED peace and quiet, however, when stripped to the bare bones, it is actually a preference. (And I’m the first mom to state that you definitely deserve some relaxation!)
Understanding that what you once considered needs are truly preferences for the way of life you desire will greatly enhance your ability to cope. You will be able to tell the little voice in your head that even though life is not the way you want it, it is okay. You will manage, make the best of what life has dealt you, and persevere to the best of your abilities.
When you are able to switch to a mode that DESIRES a life without troubles, rather than the unproductive mode which REQUIRES a life without difficulties, you will be able to handle situations without the old reflex of flying off the handle.
The next time you find your small souls engaged in rivalry, and the usual “They ought not fight so much!” thought surfaces- you will be able to quickly recognize the irrationality of your thought. After all, it is foolish to expect raising children to be two decades of trouble-free time. Because you have learned to be cognizant of your initial thoughts, you will be able to phrase your reaction to the tune of: “It’s too bad that the children are acting out like this, let me see what would be the best way to handle the situation at hand.”
Once you have mastered your internal thoughts and reactions, your behavior will follow suit, and the Mommy-Guilt will consistently shrink until it virtually disappears!