Let Go of the Guilt

Baby's first stepsWritten by Donna McClintock, COO with Children’s Choice Learning Centers, Inc.

I was texting with my sweet baby girl this weekend, and she was truly disappointed about something. Okay … she is about to turn 21, but she will always be my sweet baby girl. She was handling the situation admirably, but she was genuinely disappointed nonetheless.

Frankly, I panicked for a few minutes. I thought, “Oh, no! She is going to fall to pieces over this small setback.” I thought about all the mistakes I made as a parent and wished I had better equipped her for these moments in life. My mind raced through the times I moved in too quickly to fix something just so she could live in a pain-free world. Isn’t it funny how we blame ourselves for EVERYTHING our children do, even when they become adults? Perhaps you don’t have selective guilt, but I do. I am the last to take credit for the good, but the first to step up and heap on the blame when any of my children stumbles in the smallest way.

It was funny later, but I was so worried about her in the moment. I was the one having a panic attack, and my little 21-year-old baby girl was JUST FINE. Surprisingly, she bounced right back and handled her mini-crisis like a pro. Now, did I step back and say to myself, “Atta girl, Mom! You did a good job.” Of course I didn’t! I kept going down that path of assuming that she succeeded in spite of my shortcomings.

My point is this: Sometimes the voices in our head are just cruel. They tell us that we’re not doing a good job when the reality is that we’re doing a wonderful job and are just too hard on ourselves. We love, we give, and we push ourselves beyond what we think we can endure just so our family knows we care. We sometimes need to have a firm talk with ourselves and accept a little pat on the back from our own hands. When you love your children, invest your time, connect with them often, and do your very best, I urge you to do what I have to remind myself to do: Sit back and take NOTICE of the great children you have around you.

Each week, I meet many wonderful educators who work with children and countless amazing parents. All of us are bombarded with so much information that we often feel overwhelmed trying to keep up with the latest research and trends. In reality, the people I meet are very loving and investing in their families in remarkable ways that produce incredible children who continue to do the same. I want you to stop and celebrate the things that are going well in your life. Pause to FEEL your success — you deserve it!

As you know, the highlight of my week is spending every Sunday with my family. This week, I listened carefully as we sat around the table. Above all the noise, I watched love in action through kind words, genuine hugs, and meaningful exchanges of concern for one another … and I smiled with deep satisfaction. Yes, it is okay to celebrate and be joyful. As William Shakespeare said, “Joy delights in Joy.” Being joyful brings you more joy.

Duty calls, and this mom is on a flight to the Big Apple on Monday morning. But I didn’t pack any guilt in my luggage this time. Take the time to re-evaluate if your suitcase, purse, suit coat, or heart carries guilt over how you are parenting your children. If your guilt is rational because you know you need to change, then take action so that you can live without regrets. If that guilt is unmerited guilt, then start today to celebrate all the great things about every child in your world.



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