Parental guilt v parental frustration. Which do you suffer from?

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When it comes to parental guilt, I am something of an expert. Guilt follows me everywhere, but I have been wondering whether it really is guilt, or frustration at not being able to do 100% for my kids 24/7, 365?

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Is it parenting guilt you experience? Or is it frustration that you can’t do something for your child?

First of all, let’s take a look at what does make me feel guilty. I feel guilty if my kids get too much screen time. I feel guilty if I get up in the morning to discover my kids don’t have a full complement of washed and ironed school uniform.

It doesn’t happen very often but occasionally you will hear me say: “What about the skirt you wore yesterday? It’s not that dirty”. I think we all know that clean becomes a relative concept when you are a parent.

With both children at school, I increasingly do paid work from home, mostly on this blog. Sometimes I have to shoo the kids out the room, so I can concentrate on work and this makes me feel guilty.

I feel guilty when we near the end of a school holiday and realise I haven’t done any baking with the kids or feel I haven’t done enough arts and crafts. I feel guilty when I collect the kids from school and forget to bring a snack.

A little while ago, however, one of my Instagram followers responded to a post I’d placed on my feed about parental guilt. She didn’t simply comment, she was kind enough to shoot a video in which she said mums and dads don’t feel guilt, but frustration (I’d love to name this individual, they had a superb Instagram feed themselves, but they left the platform for personal reasons).

It was very kind of her to make this video, but its meaning was lost on me. No, I didn’t feel frustration, I felt guilt. That’s all there was to it.

I’m now rethinking this. When the kids do get too much screen time, it’s often because I am fulfilling domestic chores to ensure they live in a nice environment. Maybe it’s frustration I feel, frustration either that I can’t spend time with them or frustration that they won’t entertain themselves.

It’s the same when I shoo them out the room because I am working. I want to spend time with them riding bikes or racing scooters, but I can’t because my family needs the income. I may call it guilt, but that’s arguable frustration.

If I forget to bring snacks after school, well, that’s often because of my own disorganisation. Yes, I feel guilt, but also frustration at myself for being forgetful.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. If you’re doing your best for your kids, if they are fed, clothed, educated, cared for and know they are loved, you have little, if anything, to feel guilty about.  The line between guilt and frustration, well, it’s definitely a grey area.

What do you think, do you feel frustrated as a parent, or do you feel guilt? Do you think there is a fine line between the two? Maybe you are one of those lucky people who lives a guilt and frustration free life. If so, what is your secret? Please do comment below.

4 thoughts on “Parental guilt v parental frustration. Which do you suffer from?”

  1. This is really difficult personally for me it’s guilt, with five children I am always feeling guiltly about something and with my older children I really struggle nowadays if they ask me to do something. I quite often say no intially, but then guilt kicks in and I phone them to say yes. It’s about being a parent for me just can’t say no I want the best for them all the time and if I can help that then I will. Parenting is full of guilt moments part of the deal I guess great read John

  2. Symatt™ (@symatt)

    My goodness yes.
    We know we can’t do things for them every moment of their waking lives but we still try. Let’s go out, let’s stay in and make something. Let’s plays, let’s jump about.
    It’s that circle of parent life where you do what you can to tire your child out. Then hope for a 30 minutes of rest to start all over again. Why do they sleep in the car after you took them to the park because you felt guilty for staying in.
    And social media is the worst because everyone else is doing more with their child than we are.

  3. I guess it the old adage “The devil is in the detail”. No one can do everything they want to do and lets face it what you want to do with your kids and what they want to do with their Mum/Dad is not always the same thing anyway. So these are unobtainable goals which we set our selves. So why get beat up, guilty/frustrated over them.
    I guess what I am trying to say is that “you should not look to closely at the everyday things” Look at the bigger picture, are the Kids happy (most of the time)? do they feel loved? Do they feel secure? Do they believe what you say? or do they expect you to disappoint them?
    I think we should also make life a little easy on ourselves, for example why give the kids snacks everyday, it is no longer a treat it quickly becomes normal and as such will be a disappointment if we forget. So now its a negative not a positive. If we occasionally give treats they are a positive and if we can maybe link these in with some sort of good thing that the kids have achieved that day all the better. The kids feel good you feel good and we are encouraging them to become achievers not just takers.
    Of course with the money we save from the treats we also might be able to afford another skirt 🙂

    1. I love the adage you give about not giving snacks every day. And yes, it is better to look at the bigger picture. Sometimes we can fret about the wrong things.

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