It’s called parenting guilt, and all parents feel it at one time or another. In fact, the best of parents in the most secure relationships with excellent financial and emotional security can feel it. So, if you’re in the process of divorce or are newly divorced, it’s not unusual to feel like a parenting failure. In fact, you’re not alone.
What are you noticing?
You may have felt like you had a perfectly fine grasp on parenting when you were married, but maybe things have changed. What could your child be doing that is making you question yourself now? Are you suffering from parenting guilt?
Is your child:
- Not doing what you, teachers, or other caregivers ask;
- Showing signs of hostility or acting out towards others they usually get along with;
- Chronically late to class, not turning in homework, or generally being disobedient;
- No longer happy, satisfied or enjoying activities that once brought joy.
Kids have feelings, and their own ways of expressing themselves.
They have a lot to figure out, just as you do. Does that make your parenting guilt a realty? Not necessarily.
Why do you feel like a failure?
It is easy to let other people’s outspoken opinions tarnish how you see yourself. Everyone from your ex to your grandmother to your hair stylist is going to have an opinion about your parenting skills. Their opinions don’t necessarily reflect your reality. So, when they comment on your parenting – or just give you that look – you can choose to wallow in that judgement or let it go because parenting guilt is a state of mind, not necessarily rooted in reality.
Give yourself a break. This is hard.
Your divorce – and parenting, generally – is hard on you, and it’s hard on your child. So much is changing in both your worlds. Like you, kids don’t always know where to find their new normal or their comfort zones. Their changes in mood or behavior is often less about you being a failure than it is about them adjusting to their circumstances.
What can you do about parenting guilt?
According to an article by Janet Lehman, MSW, we all have had to go through challenges and tough times growing up, and so must your child. We learned to get through them and to grow through them to become responsible adults. And, so must your child have that opportunity to face challenges and work them out. Without this opportunity, she notes, he’ll always be looking for someone else to take on his problems or take the blame for his actions. Now, that’s not to say that every situation and every child need to be thrown in to deal with their challenges on their own. Of course, you know your kid: if things don’t feel right to you, they probably aren’t.
Take a Step Back
Lehman suggests parents take a step back from the problem. If your child is misbehaving in some fashion, don’t consider yourself a failure first. Step back and consider why your child has acted in a particular way that is not right. Recognize that he or she may need some guidance, reassurance, support, or tools to handle some situations or emotions. But, that’s your child. What about you and you feelings associated with parenting guilt?
ParentingMojo.com compiled this list of things to do when you feel yourself succumbing to the parenting guilt:
- You are the best parent this child can have!
- All parents go through this or something like it in one form or another (but they don’t always share it with the world).
- Sometimes you just have to hold back and walk away or hold your tongue instead of fueling a conflict when you know you’re right.
- Kids grow, change and develop. What they are doing and how they respond to situations isn’t necessarily about how you are parenting and could do with natural development.
There are countless issues that a child may have at this tricky time in their (and your) lives, so we won’t even begin to try to address them in this post. We can, however, reassure you that you’re not alone in your struggles. Many parents feel parenting guilt at one time or another, but no one is experiencing the joys and challenges of parenting in the same way that you are. You might need some help during these hard days: read up on the subject or join a Facebook group for parents in your situation. If you need further support, take a look at our article found here that will help you to understand the unique roles of social workers, counselors, and psychiatrists. If you’re not sure of what to do, take advantage of resources immediately available to you, like your pediatrician or school counselor. And, do feel free to contact us at Findling Law should you have other concerns about how your divorce may be affecting your family. We’re here to help.
About Findling Law
I have been exclusively practicing divorce and family law in Michigan for over two decades. The attorneys at Findling Law all share the core value of practicing law to help people navigate change in their lives, without compromising principles. We specialize in high socio-economic, high-profile and high-conflict cases, while also working with clients of all backgrounds. We recognize that the most important aspect of the practice of law is the application of the law to your specific circumstances.
That is why we provide more free information on divorce and family law than any other Michigan law firm. We want to help you manage your situation. Allow our exceptional legal team to help you navigate the change in your life, without compromising principles.
We want to help you manage your situation. Let our exceptional legal team help you . . .
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By: Daniel Findling