Relieving Parental Guilt


One child has a talent for burping, loudly (ahem, correction ... LOUDLY) on demand, and shows off this skill regularly. The other day one kid was caught giving another child a dollar so they could have their pick of which game to play.

One of my off-springs tells me my husband is available "a LOT more" than I because I "travel and have to spend nights away."

I'm just getting started. I could rattle off twenty moreincriminating statements that would call my parental guidance into question. If I'm not careful, all of my shortfalls could be picked apart, thrown together, and stirred into a giant vat of guilt stew.

But guilt is useless.

Aren't we all broken people living in a broken world? None of us made it out of our childhoods with every emotional need met, every opportunity secured, or every minute of family time maximized. Perfection doesn't exist in any family. Why should we feel bad when we don't give perfect parenting to our kids?

Why do we give guilt any of our emotional bandwidth?

I'm so far from being a perfect parent, I've moved beyond humility and onto embarrassment. Every day, with story after story, I see how my kids aren't going to escape my failings. Instead, they are going to be more closely acquainted with my inadequacies than I would even acknowledge.

This is a fact.

Fortunately, children don't require perfection. They need to know how to be emotionally healthy in an imperfect world. This means teaching our kids forgiveness, grace, and the art of living without the burden of guilt.

One healthy way of demonstrating these ideals is to be kind to ourselves in our inadequacies;  to own our mistakes and work on them without giving up. That's why I apologize to my kids so regularly.

As the renowned philosopher, Calvin from Calvin & Hobbs  says, “There's no problem so awful that you can't add some guilt to it and make it even worse.”

Don't make things worse. Even for a moment, try giving up your guilt and moving on to a more productive use of your emotions.

Be nice to yourself. Your kids might copy you.