Mom Guilt: Its Impact and How to Challenge It
By: Erika Mancilla
Before a woman becomes a mom, she has an image of the mother she would like to be. She might create an image of the “perfect mom.” This ideal “perfect mom” has everything planned (i.e., feeding, sleeping, and bathing schedules) from morning to night. A “perfect mom” even has an idea of her child’s future college. When something doesn’t go as planned, she can experience uneasiness and/or a feeling of inadequacy as a mother. Henceforth, she may feel the sociological phenomenon known as “Mom Guilt.”
Mom guilt is a perceived feeling of not doing enough as a parent. It can also be the voice that persists in our heads and attempts to convince us we could’ve done a little better. A mother may question the choices she makes for her child and may beat herself up for the choices she has made. Mom guilt can occur with a new mom who has just left the hospital or even with a seasoned mother dropping off her child at college. Although mom guilt might not completely go away, one can implement a few strategies to challenge those mom guilt moments.
- Be Gentle with Yourself: Parenting will have its challenges, and unfortunately, there isn’t a rule book one can follow throughout the 18+ year process. The “perfect mom” does not exist. Donald Winnicott, a British pediatrician, and psychoanalyst, coined the term the “good enough mother.” He stated, “The good-enough mother is one who makes active adaptation to the infant’s needs, an active adaptation that gradually lessens, according to the infant’s growing ability to account for the failure of adaptation and to tolerate the results of frustration.” Do what works best for you and your family unit.
- Implement self-care- This is an opportunity for you to recharge and be available to meet your family’s needs. Self-care involves healthy coping strategies. Some of these self-care strategies can be minimal such as taking a 10-minute walk or reading a book, to name a few.
- Share your feelings with others- When we share our thoughts and feelings with whom we feel safe, we come to realize other moms might have similar experiences.
- It takes a village mindset- Seek out support from family and friends. Be open to accepting help from individuals who offer and seeking out support as needed.