Zap Your Guilt Gremlins in Five Steps

in Guilt

"Guilt - The Gift That Keeps on Giving." - Erma Bombeck

1. Define Your Code of Conduct

What is right for you and yourfamily?  Being clear on your core values as an individual and as a family means that you can make clear choices about how you live your life as a parent, without worrying about what others think.

What are your boundaries and "hard edges"?  In other words, what is OK for you, what are the definite "no's" and "yeses"?

For example, it's OK for me if Max plays on the X Box for an hour on the weekend, and it's OK that he plays "Medal of Honour" (a 2nd world war game where you shoot enemy aeroplanes).  This is OK for me because I know that my husband and I have set the game into context.  Max knows that whilst it's a game, there was a 2nd world war and the reality of being in a dogfight is very different from the game.  What's not OK for me is that Max plays on the X Box every day, nor is it OK that he plays "Zombies of the Living Dead certificate XXX"!

So, if another mum says to me that she would never let her child play a video game, especially involving shooting, I don't feel guilty that I'm letting my child do just that.  I've made the conscious decision, I've examined my reasons and I am clear in the context.

2. Talk it Away

When you get jabbed by guilt, talk it over with your partner or a good, like-minded friend.  Ask them to remind you why you are such a good mum or dad!

3. Avoid Psychic Vampires

These are the people who say things like - "I hope you don't mind, but I gave your son a drink and a biscuit at the end of football club as he didn't have a snack." and "Is everything OK with the new baby?  As I noticed that you were late for Max again?".

YUK!  There will always be the odd one like this around.  Recognise their comments as being simply about their need to assert themselves in a mis-guided way, and is not really about you.  Avoid them and don't befriend them.

4. Adjust Your Expectations

If you feel guilty about not being at every school sports day/PTA meeting, etc. yet you are a working parent, then you need to modify your unreasonable expectations of yourself.  It is not reasonable to expect that you attend allsuch events.  Examine the source of the guilty feelings - Do they come from You? Your Kids? or Outsiders (see no. 3)?  Once you've looked at and identified the source of your guilt - release it by looking at it logically.

5. Accept That You'll Never be Absolutely Guilt-Free!

I have a theory on guilt.  I believe that an extra strength version of guilt replaces the placenta as your first child is born and it just stays there, like some sort of invisible appendix.  Like the appendix, guilt is essentially useless.  Perhaps guilt had a purpose at one time long ago (possibly to stop us from abandoning our young?).  We don't need it to be good parents, but it's there all the same!

Let's face it, as parent, we're bound to feel guilty at times and there's no foolproof way to eliminate guilt all of the time.  Keep battling it and refer back to this article when guilt raises its ugly head.

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Amanda Alexander has 1 articles online

Amanda Alexander is the founder and Director of Amanda is an ICF accredited coach, and for over six years, Coaching Mums has helped hundreds of working moms to balance their lives, get rid of guilt, get more time and have a lot more fun.

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Zap Your Guilt Gremlins in Five Steps

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This article was published on 2010/03/31