Inherent in the art of parenting is the feeling – at least the occasional one – of guilt. Putting Oreos and the remote in front of the t.v. in the morning for your 4-year-old’s “Special Breakfast with Sponge Bob” while you sleep in is one of those times that guilt is warranted.
Sometimes, however, parenting experts say our seemingly “bad” behavior isn’t really so bad… and sometimes it’s actually good for our kids. Consider the following…
“I regularly have a babysitter but I don’t work outside the home.”
Babysitter blameworthiness? Know this: A fulfilled and rested parent is a happy parent and a happy parent is a good one.
It’s o.k. and it’s beneficial for you and for your child to take time for yourself. Not only will you be happier, you will be modeling for your child the importance of self care. Consider the term “my time”, which Jim Fay, co-founder of the Love and Logic Institute and co-author of the bestselling book Parenting with Love and Logic, uses when he discusses setting limits for a child who must go to sleep.
Mr. Fay recommends explaining to your child, “We’ve had your time (ie. reading a story to her), and now I’m going to have my time.” While children can understand the concept of “my time”, parents can benefit from understanding the importance of it.
“I refuse to play (fill in the blank) with my kids.”
Refusal remorse? We all have our limits.
It’s important to know what they are, in order to avoid cracking. Some parents, for example, would rather be run over by a car than play mini golf: you go through all that effort and when your shot is accurate, the ball still doesn’t go in because the greens are not real – at least not as real as the clown face that is left smiling at you when you miss, mockingly…(or so I hear).
“I ignored my whining toddler.”
Disregard Despair? It’s o.k. to ignore a child’s behavior sometimes. Fay says, for example, “Let’s suppose you set a reasonable boundary for a child and he wants to cry or carry on about it, then it would be appropriate to ignore the behavior.”
He explains that in such a situation, a child is trying to get out of a limit, yet children need limits for their physical and emotional safety. Instead of giving in to your child or reacting with anger or frustration, Fay suggests it’s more beneficial to maintain your limit and wait to address your child when he has calmed down.
“I cleaned my house and had my kids help me. And I pretended it was a game.”
Cleaning Culpability? Rubbish. What a great way to teach your kids about responsibility while building up their self-esteem and making your house cleaner and you less stressed! Kudos! Let’s have a play-date – at my house.
BYOB (Bring your own broom). Jim Fay explains that giving a child chores provides him with a “euphoric feeling of ‘I’m a part of this family’” and satisfies one of a child’s inherent needs, “the need for a sense of inclusion or feeling you are an important, needed member of a family group.”
Guilt is inherent in parenting and when warranted, (secretly arranging a play-date for your daughter at her “friend” – who also happens to be the class biter – ‘s house so you can go get your nails done), can be a useful tool, directing us to change our behavior.
Or, it can be an indication that we’ve done something difficult, overcoming our own self-judgment or the judgment of others, to do something that’s right for our kids. Next time you’re feeling guilty, before you deem yourself a bad mom, try to find the good in your behavior (no, the fact that the shade of red you chose rocks, does not count.)
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Anna Katzman is a Clinical Nurse Specialist in psychiatry, certified in child and adolescent mental health and a freelance writer and an intern for GalTime. You can visit her blog for additional information.