Whether you’re a brand new mom or have multiple children, you probably have experienced mom guilt. Maybe you want to go on a date with your husband or out with your friends. But, feel mom guilt because you’re leaving your kids with someone other than you. Or, you want to (or have to) work outside of the home. But, feel mom guilt because you miss those precious moments in your kids’ lives. Perhaps, you are home with your children, taking care them and the home all day long. You feel mom guilt because you want some time AWAY(even just to use the bathroom alone!). You may even find yourself enjoying a bath, or a tea or coffee alone in a quiet home. But then the mom guilt creeps in because you feel like you should be DOING something right now.
There is an actual difference between real (mom) guilt and false (mom) guilt. Although they can both feel very much the same.
According to Websters, GUILT is “the state of one who has committed an offense especially consciously.” It is also, “feelings of deserving blame especially for imagined offenses or from a sense of inadequacy.” Therefore, whether you are having REAL or FALSE guilt, it’s going to FEEL the same!
Real Guilt: There are only two things that can cause REAL guilt:
1. Violation of God’s Law (i.e. “Love God and Love Others” Mark 12:30-31)
2. Violation of the “Law of the Land” (i.e. the governing authorities where you live)
When you violate these laws, you are SUPPOSED to feel guilty. That is so that you can make amends, restore relationships, and/or face the consequences of your actions. But then you can receive forgiveness and restoration and move on! Real guilt is reasonable. Not meant to beat you down, but to help you change your behavior and turn back to God!
When you feel guilty because of some self-imposed reason, you end up “shoulding” all over yourself! I should do more; I shouldn’t need a break; I should’ve gone to that family dinner. This is a learned response, usually triggered by our own or others’ expectations that we did not meet. This kind of guilt is unreasonable, inappropriate and unhealthy. It only serves to “make you” feel badly by blaming yourself for not being or doing good enough. When it’s false guilt, there’s really no “amends” to make. Therefore our guilty feelings do not get resolved and we cannot move on.
This information, like so much else, is NOT a “quick” fix. Therefore, PLEASE don’t start feeling guilty because now you know the difference but are still feeling mom guilt. This is going to take time and practice to understand and recognize the differences! Connect with someone to help you. Perhaps a professional if the mom guilt has become debilitating. But at least with a friend who hears you and holds your story and loves you even when you make mistakes!
Kate Fraiser is a Parent Coach with Connect Point Moms helping you create stronger relational connections with the children in your life. This starts with being aware of your own stuff so you can BE PRESENT with your children in the moment you’re in, and then knowing and using the best ways to communicate with them. For quick and helpful parenting videos, find her on Instagram, YouTube, TikTok, or Facebook.