03:56am Wednesday 13 December 2017

Five tips for parental guilt

Read more on The Conversation and listen to his interview on ABC Sydney 702 at 10am AEST.

Given the many causes of parental guilt, how can you avoid becoming overwhelmed?

1. Remember – parental guilt is normal

The next time you’re feeling like the worst parent in the world, remember: every parent feels like that at times. Sometimes, simply reminding yourself of that can be enough to get you through the day.

2. Let go of perfection

Having realistic expectations of yourself and your children can make a big difference. At the end of a long day, dealing with a toddler who refuses to go to bed will never be easy. Be realistic about your capacity to solve every problem effortlessly and without stress. It’s not always possible.

Nobody’s perfect. Not you, and not your kids. And that’s OK.

3. Channel your thoughts and feelings into action

Guilt can weigh you down and hold you back – or it can be the start of a change for the better.

While guilt can be harmful, it’s also associated with positive traits, such as being more empathetic. Let the knowledge that guilt is linked to a desire to do something differently motivate you to change what’s making you feel guilty.

4. Seek out reliable, evidence-informed parenting advice

Look for programs that have evidence of their effectiveness, including evidence of scientific success in actually resolving the issue at hand. And consider what form of help suits you best: are you looking for resources online, in a group setting or one-on-one in person?

If you’re looking for places to start, some good options to check out include the Raising Children Network in Australia, Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development in the United States, or the UK government’s Department of Education.

5. Create a network of encouragement with other parents

You can also build your own network of encouragement with other parents. Share your stories – not just the highs, which are natural to want to talk up, but also the lows – and offer positive feedback.

The goal is to create a connected group of people who prompt one another to share ideas and access evidence-informed information.

And whenever you need to, go back to tip 1: remind yourself and your friends that feeling guilty is a normal part of being a parent.

The University of Queensland


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