Overcoming Mothers’ Guilt
Dealing with the emotional side of the work-home balancing act
Gail Kauranen Jones, a life coach for women and author of To Hell and Back … Healing Your Way through Transition, says that guilt is a normal feeling for any mother. “I don’t know one mother who doesn’t feel guilty about the times she thinks she has failed her child. The key is to be able to acknowledge the feeling for what it is and to learn from it. When you let go of the guilt, you can actually be a better, more relaxed mother.”
Society puts a lot of pressure on a woman to do what’s right for the family. This pressure often comes from well-intentioned individuals who don’t fully understand that for a mother to be at her best, she cannot ignore her own needs and desires.
Stephany, a mother of two, remembers, “During the last trimester of my first pregnancy, my mother and my mother-in law kept reminding me about the benefits of staying home with my daughter; but it was my doctor who convinced me that a happy mother makes the best mother. When I asked myself what would make me happy, the answer was keeping my career. It made me whole. I knew I could be a better mother being a whole person versus half of a person.”
Steps to Feeling Secure
To ease the guilt of working mothers, Jones recommends:
- Finding a nurturing daycare arrangement that will allow for last-minute emergency care when necessary.
- Developing a support system that includes people who understand your working situation and your desire to do the best job you can with your children.
- Focusing on the positive things that you bring to your family.
- Recognizing that you are an individual with interests and passions beyond your role as a mother.
Laura, a mother of two, decided to keep her job because her family needed the money, but her desire was to be an at-home mother. “I really wanted to spend more time with my children. My job was very stressful, and I was desperate for a break from it. Everyone kept telling me that I’d get bored staying at home, so I decided to pursue a hobby which gave me an identity aside from being a mother. It turned out to be something that I really enjoy doing.”
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