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Parent Guilt: It’s a REAL Thing

There’s no such thing as a perfect parent

by Stacy Kilwein

Guilt. It’s a trap that many parents fall into….

A person can feel parent guilt if you work outside your home or if you are a stay at home parent.

This guilt comes in many forms. You may feel like you are slacking because you yelled at your child because they played in the toilet after you told them 1000 times not too. Or feel guilty because you cannot buy those expensive shoes for your child because money is tight right now. Or maybe you’re going through a fast food drive through for the second time this week. None of these things should make us feel guilty, but sometimes they do.

It’s a trap that I often found myself in in my early years of parenting. I worried I was not doing a good enough job. As a working mom I felt guilt, and in my twenty-year career as a Parent Involvement/Parent Education Coordinator I have seen many other parents struggle with guilt to.

They feel guilt from internal and external sources. Internal things, such as the parental expectations we experienced growing up or external sources such as expectations we perceive are set forth by society. Moms and dads can feel guilty for not spending enough time with their children due to career demands, and/or falling behind at home.
Or we may worry about things like being too strict or not strict enough, letting our kids go to sleep to late, unhealthy eating or maybe yelling too much. The list can be endless.

Kent Hoffman, Glenn Cooper, and Bert Powell, founders of the “Circle of Security Parenting Program,” and authors of “Raising a Secure Child” verify it. “We all struggle as parents,” they write. “All of us. No one is perfect.

Blame and Guilt have never helped a parent become a better parent. Being kind to ourselves flows from understanding that parenting is a remarkably difficult task and that we all make mistakes and that our deep intention to do what’s best for our children is what matters.”

What I have personally realized is this:

  1. it is OK to be OK. There is no such thing as a perfect parent.
  2. Remember the old saying, Quality over Quantity. Research has shown that the quality of time spent with children is far more important to their sense of security and development than the quantity of time you can spend.
  3. Acknowledge that we can’t do it all.
  4. Enjoy your kids. Stop trying to be the Super Parent and just enjoy your kids and live in the moment. Laugh at their jokes, have a pillow fight or just be silly together.
  5. Make time for self-care. If you aren’t taking care of yourself, you aren’t able to be present and provide the best care for your kids.
  6. Take in a Parenting Class. 20 + years ago when I finally took the time to take a class, I learned that I was not alone. I met other parents that felt just like me, that had the same struggles and worries just like me. I learned parenting tools that changed how I parented and how I felt about parenting. These tools put the fun into parenting again.

Do you want more ideas? West Dakota Parent & Family Resource Center provides reliable, tried and true information and support for parenting. The Center is located in the Dickinson Public School Hagen building at 402 4th Street W. Call 701-456-0007 for tips or to register for an upcoming session near you.

Stacy Kilwein has been a Dickinson Public School Parent Educator/ Parent Involvement Coordinator for over 20 years. She is married, has 3 grown children and a grandson.   “I have been fortunate to be in a career doing absolutely what I love to do. A career that offers parenting support to families and caregivers. It’s family, friends and community resources coming together providing practical information, educational opportunities for strong families today and tomorrow.”