Health Resources > Child Health > Parental guilt

Parental guilt


“if a child performs badly at school, the blame goes to the parents"

"a child gets common cold, the father accuses the mother... you shouldnt have let him play in the rain"

" a child is born with a genetic defect or a neuro-psychiatric condition like ADHD, dyslexia... the parents have to bear the brunt of the so-called society.. with statements like.. "you are responsible for his condition"...

Parental guilt is one of the major stress factors that parents face. Like all other stress factors, it’s unconsciously accepted by all parents as part of parent-hood. Like any other stress, when it’s positive it’s a guide to better parenthood. But more than often it’s a negative force that brings major road blocks into the joy of parenthood.
Parental guilt originates from the social psychology of finding someone to take the blame for a situation. In this case, a parent is put forward to accept and take blame for the behavior of his child. Most of the times it’s an instinctual reaction, which slowly affects the psyche of the parent.
It also represents procrastination to take decisions and stand by them rather than pointing fingers.
It’s very important to protect one's self from the same, with age it can have destructive effects on entire socio-cultural being of an individual:

a. With time, guilt is slowly mixed and accepted as part of caring and love... it also fuels expectations from a child... which may hamper the child’s development.

For example-

"father tells a son, you will do engineering because we went through so many difficulties to raise you"
"mother tells daughter, you will marry who we want you to marry. This is how you supposed to pay us for all the pain we have taken"

b. guilt gives rise to sadness and depression - many parents face the question, why me?
For example-
"what did I do wrong, why is my child behaving like this.”
" I have no life of my own, just keep battling between husband and kids"

c. guilt can also give rise to decreased self-image.
For example-
"I am a bad mother"
"I have never been able to raise my child properly, probably I wasn’t meant to be a father"

d. guilt can be sensed and used by the child to get unwanted favors.

For example-
"mom I want to buy that dress, I want you to be the best mother like my friends mom."
"dad you didn’t take care of me in childhood, now give me extra money in college”

Dealing with Guilt
1. No one is a perfect parent and we all can find areas to improve,
2. the behavior and performance of any child are determined by many factors—genetics, heritage, temperament, environment. A parent is a mediator who facilitates a child to learn.
3. Looking at the facts will help parents accept a situation logically.
4. When parents feel in some way that they have inadvertently made mistakes in parenting, they need to confront these feelings. This may involve talking about it with a competent counselor or a compassionate listener.
5. One of the best ways of dealing with guilt is to get involved with others. It helps to find other parents who are struggling with the same issues, either through formal organizations or casual friendships. Becoming involved in community organizations that help children at risk is also a good antidote to the poison of guilt.
6. Sacrificial tendencies, excessive attention to the child, or the neglect of all other aspects of living may take the mind off the problem temporarily, but may fuel a long term disaster. The child will be able to develop to his or her fullest potential when provided an atmosphere of confidence and calmness.
7. Parents cannot escape the fact that to be effective parents, they must be effective persons. They should be able to take decisions, responsibilities and accept failure.


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