guilt: the state of having committed an offense; remorse from feeling responsible for an offense.
An offense? Does that mean that when parents do the right thing for their children they shouldn’t feel guilty? It sure sounds like it to me. Unfortunately, it doesn’t “match up” with what I hear from parents — especially young parents — around the country.
I hear you saying you feel guilty for not being able to do enough… and for so much that you worry whether or not your kids will be able to take care of themselves. There are those whose guilt comes from not making enough money to buy everything their kids want. Others find that nasty emotion creeping in when they realize they have bought so many ‘goodies’ their children have no respect for their own belongings. Parents feel guilty when they hover and “helicopter” and overprotect. They also seem to feel guilty when their kids must take out the trash, put away their own laundry and wash the dishes.
So what do you make of this epidemic of guilt? Is it fair to say every parent is a guilty parent? What do you think is going on?
We’re certainly a long way from our history when families had a much more rigid structure. Whether growing up on a farm, in the city or somewhere in between, everyone had assigned chores. They were real responsibilities. In many cases, the survival of the family depended upon this teamwork. Perhaps it does again.
Maybe it’s time to re-examine and reinterpret some of that guilt. We are living in a time of tremendous growth and change. Sometimes it’s hard to find the models and markers that keep us balanced. Is it possible that this excessive guilt is one of those markers? Perhaps it’s a manifestation of uncertainty coupled with a desire to do the best we can for the people we love the most.
Can you shift your point of view about asking your children to participate in household management? Not only are they learning skills that will serve them when they are older, they’re contributing to the wellbeing of the entire family. When they walk the dog or wash the dishes, they’re taking action to benefit those they love.
How is that something to feel guilty about?