Motherhood

How to Understand Mom Guilt

Team Peanut4 months ago4 min read

Mom guilt is a complex beast, and the exact feelings are as unique as you are. But chances are, if you ask your mom friends if they’ve ever felt mom guilt, their answer will be a resounding “yes.”

Mom Guilt

For many people, feelings of mom guilt boil down to a big difference — the difference between the expectation of motherhood and the reality. Whether that expectation is your own, or other’s, it can be hard to live up to an imagined life. So how can we understand mother guilt and allow you the freedom to enjoy your role as a mama? This is for you…

So, what is mom guilt? Well, there’s no single definition of mom guilt, and everyone’s experience of guilty feelings will vary. Generally speaking, mom guilt can be identified as feeling like you’re not doing enough as a mother, you’re failing your children, you’re falling short of expectations, and you’re making the wrong decisions. It can be a really heavy feeling, which, in most cases, is completely unjustified. You are doing just fine.

In this article: 📝

  • The perfect mom myth
  • Why do I feel like a bad mom?
  • What is the root cause of guilt?
  • How do I deal with my mom guilt?

The perfect mom myth

You could say that mom guilt has been born from the myth of “the perfect mom.” You know the one – never a hair out of place and the perfect postpartum wardrobe, with a baby wearing an organic and ethically sourced drool-free outfit. She consistently puts the needs of her baby and her family above her own. She attends all the baby classes, breastfeeds effortlessly, cooks homemade food every day, never misses an appointment, has a tidy house, enjoys loads of sex with her partner, gets plenty of sleep, and NEVER lets her baby cry.

It doesn’t sound too realistic when you put it like that, but perhaps it’s no wonder so many mamas feel like they’re falling short when this is the image of motherhood many societies have accepted as reality. But a myth is just what it is. So why do so many mamas feel guilt?

Why do I feel like a bad mom?

Unfortunately, mom guilt and mom-shaming have a long history. However, what really amplifies mom guilt in the 21st century is the prevalence of social media and So. Many. Experts just waiting to give you unsolicited, unhelpful, or inaccurate advice.

Whether it’s your own mom, your neighbor, or that account you follow on Instagram, being told you should be doing things differently can lead you to feel like you’re a bad mom.

What is the root cause of guilt?

Cognitively speaking, guilt is the feeling we experience when we believe we have caused harm through our actions. Moms are often their own worst critics, which means it’s easy to believe that the wellbeing and future of your family are balanced on every decision you make.

How do I deal with my mom guilt?

First, know that feeling mom guilt is common, but if you are struggling to lift the burden of guilty feelings, and your mental health and wellbeing are suffering, talking to a professional might help.

To help manage your mom guilt, you can try to identify your trigger(s). It might help to make a note of when you feel a pang of guilt and look for patterns within those times. You may be able to address an underlying cause or avoid certain people or situations which make you feel guilty for no good reason.

Overcoming subconscious comparisons between your reality and expectations, or the “perfect” lives of others, can be hard. It can help to regain your self-confidence by surrounding yourself with cheerleaders who share your values and make you feel good about yourself.