Mum guilt is a complex beast, and the exact feelings are as unique as you are.
But chances are, if you ask your mum friends if they’ve ever felt mum guilt, their answer will be a resounding “yes.”
For many people, feelings of mum 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?
So, what is mum guilt?
Well, there’s no single definition of mum guilt, and everyone’s experience of guilty feelings will vary.
Generally speaking, mum 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 mum myth
- Why do I feel like a bad mum?
- What is the root cause of guilt?
- How do I deal with my mum guilt?
The perfect mum myth
You could say that mum guilt has been born from the myth of “the perfect mum.”
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 guilty?
Why do I feel like a bad mum?
Unfortunately, mum guilt and mum-shaming have a long history.
However, what really amplifies mum 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 mum, your neighbour, 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 mum.
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.
Mums are often their own worst critics, which means it’s easy to believe that the wellbeing and future of your family are balanced in every decision you make.
How do I deal with my mum guilt?
First, know that feeling mum 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 mum 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 that 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.