Be it mum guilt or dad guilt, us parents seem to face this debilitating emotion at every turn. Guilt is something I struggle with sometimes. as a father. I could think of no one better to discuss the issue with than Jo Wimble-Grove who writes the Guilty Mother blog.
Do I play with my kids enough? Do the kids and I do enough arts and crafts? Do they get too much screen time? Should I really have spoken to them that way? I could go on, but these are just a few of the concerns I have as a parent that can make me feel guilty.
In my latest video collaboration, Jo and I discuss what makes us guilty, our experiences of guilt and whether mum and dad guilt is any different. Please do click on play below to see what we had to say.
School run guilt
I found there were some interesting parallels in what we had experienced. It was the guilt at having a daughter at nursery full-time and having missed some of those never-to-repeated parenting moments like the first steps that persuaded me to leave the workforce so I could spend more time at home.
Jo, who works full-time running a telecommunications business with her brother, said she had been made to feel very guilt by her daughter for not doing the school run. Her daughter once remarked: “You’re the only mum who doesn’t pick up from school.”
“It made me feel terribly guilty,” said Jo. “A lot of the mums had no idea who I was and made a point of saying they had ‘never seen me before’”.
Although Jo discovered she wasn’t the only mum not to do the school run, the experience clearly had an impact. This experience partly inspired her to start the Guilty Mother blog!
Naturally I had to ask Jo about fatherhood guilt. Interesting, Jo admits in this blog post that it’s an issue she hadn’t really considered before.
Even so, Jo feels that fathers are affected by “something” but that it’s not quite the same as mum guilt. In the video she talks at length about how her husband treasures the times he spends with their children and that he likes to do it on his own, without interruption. He can’t “get back” the long hours he spends at work, but will do whatever he can with them when he is at home.
I must confess, I wasn’t entirely persuaded by this argument. In my experience, dad guilt is very real. It’s certainly something I hear guys talking about. Maybe it’s something that men just need to get better at discussing?
It’s an issue for working and stay at home parents
Moving on from mum and dad guilt, for me one of the most interesting comments Jo made was: “It’s not just working parents that feel guilty.”
She explained that parents who stay at home can feel guilt. I would certainly agree with this.
I know my wife feels guilty for not being around the kids as much as she would like. She felt this particularly acutely shortly after Izzy was born.
As the stay at home parent, I make no secret of my battle with parental guilt. On that basis, I feel Jo is quite right, mums and dads can feel guilt whether they are working or not.
More to follow. . .
It was a fascinating discussion. Jo and I have it in mind to meet up again and record more videos.
If there’s a subject you’d like us to discuss, please do leave a comment below. Please do also leave a comment detailing your experience of mum or dad guilt. I’d love to hear what your thoughts are.