Saying Goodbye to Guilt
Dr. Rimm advises mothers to acknowledge their mistakes and move on, and not allow guilt to become an undue burden. And Dr. Glasser counsels the guilt-ridden to take a deep breath, examine their feelings, and make small, realistic changes (like reducing after-school activities to make time for more quiet family moments). "Don't get caught up in the trap of trying to keep up with the Joneses," she says. "Our children sometimes see the back of our heads more than anything, as we drive them around." She also reminds moms that they need to make time for themselves. "When you take care of yourself, you are being a wonderful role model for your kids," she says.
Moms often have the erroneous belief that their children's behavior is always a reflection of their parenting skills, according to Newman, and assume undeserved guilt. "Each child is an individual, separate entity. Everything your child does that is wrong or embarrassing isn't necessarily a result of your parenting. There's a big, genetic mix in there. You can't feel guilt about everything your child does or feels."
Dr. Glasser adds that it takes courage these days to be an "imperfect" mother. "Kids don't want perfect parents," she says. "They want parents who are available, loving and human. Then, as they grow, they can learn that they don't have to be perfect either."