Yesterday in my Facebook Live video I brought up a topic that has been heavy on my heart, as well as many parents I know. It’s the topic of parental guilt. It seems to lurk it’s ugly head out when you least expect it and can color the way we parent. It’s hard to discuss this topic in the 3 minutes Facebook Live gives you, but I thought it was worth opening up here for us to discuss.
Guilt can come from so many different places in our lives; a divorce, a big change in life's circumstances, your child's diagnosis, the list goes on and on. It seems like this type of guilt comes from a situation that directly affects our child in a negative way and we feel powerless against. Feeling like you cannot protect your child from the “bad” in the world is a horrible feeling and can leave us hopeless sometimes. And sometimes it's the catalyst for making parenting decisions that we normally wouldn't because we are trying to overcompensate for the “bad”. I am so guilty of this! The double downfall of this is that our children start to figure this out and follow our lead. They start to see ways they can work this guilt to their benefit because, well, kiddos are geniuses. This isn’t to say our children are bad kids, but they seek happiness and pleasure and if they find a way to get it then they will. They know that if you say no one hundred times then they have to ask one hundred and one times to get what they want. The government seriously needs to hire some of these kids based just on their sheer will and tenacity! Guilt comes from a place of fear, and we all deal with fear in our own ways. If we look at our lives where can we see fear lives? Is it hiding in the shadows of our insecurities, or standing in front of our goals mocking us? So what is considered a healthy fear vs a fear that negatively impacts the way we parent?
As I said before, I did my first Facebook Live video yesterday. This was something I had wanted to do but it pushed me so far out of my comfort zone that I felt scared. This was my fear standing in front of my goal making fun of me. My fear’s a jerk. So I pushed myself out of that comfort zone and did it. It didn’t come out the way I wanted, so what? I’ll keep doing it until it does and I’m more comfortable. That, to me, is dealing with a healthy fear. Then there’s my unhealthy fear, the one that I allow to dictate my actions and how I parent sometimes. Show of hands, who’s been in that place? You know, where you give in to something you know you shouldn’t because you feel guilty for something that is totally unrelated? For example, I feel guilty about my child having health issues so I’ll cave in other ways (ie buying her a new toy that she doesn’t need). I know that this will not make up for it, but in the moment I feel better and I end up kicking myself for it minutes later. This is my fear shoving my guilt in front of it and me following its lead. And seeing and acknowledging this before I take action is getting me one step closer to having more control over my fear. Fear can be a wonderful tool for us, as long as we don’t let it take up residence in the neighborhood of our soul.
So my plea to you is to give yourself permission and courage to share with our community how you deal with your guilt and fear? I want to hear from you, where does your fear live? What do you do to keep it under control? How does it affect your parenting style? Chances are you are one of many parents doing your best to navigate this challenge, so why not work together to help each other out. I hope you have a wonderful week and as always Shine On!