Frank talk about feeling guilty

Oh sigh. I’ve been sitting on how I felt about this for about a week now and I wanted to let it go, scratch that… I was even advised to let it go. But I can’t. It feels like if I just ignore it then I’m ignoring one of the basic ideas my blog was founded on not to mention a topic that I feel is one of those that is at the very heart of being a parent.

Once again Google leads someone here and reading just one little post on feeling guilty, and how many of us feel this way (and how we can be totally good with feeling this way), turns on me and makes me feel like I’m getting thrown under a bus for owning my emotions, processing them, and sharing them with you all. And I’m sorry but I’m just not thick skinned enough to let opening myself up and sharing my feelings go like some would suggest I do.

I have 4 kids ranging in age from 15 to 5… that gives me a few years of experience (but not enough to be called an expert) with feeling guilty about various things, from running out to get cupcakes instead of baking for a school party, not finding a clean pair of matching socks, forgetting that it’s field trip day until field trip day morning is here to any number of things.

I mean emotions are POWERFUL. All of them. Don’t believe me? Watch the parade of emotions your toddler goes through when their beloved bear or blanket can’t go back to bed with them because they threw up on it and you’re the bad mom for keeping it from them. Now watch the parade of emotions you go through in that very same moment. (Thought of letting them sleep with the pukey item didn’t you? Yeah. Me too).

I understand the gist of what the blogger is getting at; Parents have guilt over a variety of things and trying to be perfect is impossible. Guilt is put upon us by society, media, parenting experts (don’t get me started on what makes someone an “expert” by the way), other parents, and of course… ourselves.

What I don’t agree with is this statement:“Most of the articles linked to above are about letting go of guilt, and owning our human-ness.  But in doing that, it seems that there is an expectation of perfection.”

My site title is tongue in cheek but my site is all about parenting issues and the things we face in our personal lives and our parenting lives so I tend to take that title kind of serious, even if it did start out cutesy and fun. My regular readers know this and I’m guessing the blogger of that post is not a regular reader. I’m guessing that somewhere the topic of guilt struck a chord with her (maybe after reading some of the Guilt Free Week posts on last week) so they google searched “guilt parent” or “parent guilt” and found me. (That’s good SEO by the way).

Actually I’m not guessing my analytics told me and also told me that they spent close to 3 hours here so something must have struck a chord.

Guilt by the way is a basic human emotion.

You're not the only parent to ever feel guilty.

Anyone that doesn’t feel guilt from time to time is likely dead inside or a psychopath. Maybe both. My point is that don’t assume that because I say it’s okay to let go of guilt, revel in or embrace it, does it ever come from a place of perfection. It comes from a place of having been there, done that… bought the t-shirt and the coffee cup. And if I’m doing anything by owning my humanness, it’s sharing that emotion with the rest of the world (or moms) the best way I know how.

What I know is talking about it. Getting the guilt out in the open so we can feel a little less alone in our emotions.

What I’m not doing is telling everyone to lighten up, which the author suggests we should do when it comes to parenting or mommy guilt, and something else I didn’t agree with. Because, in my opinion, suggesting we lighten up about our emotions comes from a place of perfection and judgement, which is ironic because the blogger talks about not judging other parents in another post and it made me just a little crazy because it felt like I was being judged in her previous post. Ironic how you can go from telling people to lighten up to saying… let’s not judge one another.

Telling people to lighten up is like saying that they’re making a mountain out of a molehill over something that clearly matters to them. It’s like telling my daughter who wants to be accepted by her tween peers and fit in with the rest of the crowd that she can’t, it’s impossible so lighten up. It belittles and takes away her right to feel the way she does. It’s like telling someone who has suffered postpartum depression that it was all in her head and it wasn’t real. It’s like telling someone who has lost a child or loved one that it’s impossible to bring that child or loved one back so they should lighten up.

See? Why would we belittle other emotions? We wouldn’t. So does that make guilt any less important? I don’t think so, do you?

I don’t disagree that we should let guilt go, I agree 110 percent that we need to let guilt go. I think wholeheartedly that mommy guilt or feeling like a guilty parent from time to time has its place in the world just like jealousy or grief but as my dear husband has taught me about jealousy (and this goes for other unhealthy or negative emotions) don’t dwell on it or it will eat you up.

In the moment, feeling guilty is a huge deal. It can be incredibly important and scary, and make you feel like rat crap. But then, once you process it and understand it you can let it go. Don’t dwell. I don’t let my moments as a guilty parent eat me up but I damn sure don’t lighten up about it or belittle the emotion. Sometimes the feeling stays with me as a what-not-to-do but when my friends tell me about a parenting decision or situation that makes them feel guilty I certainly wouldn’t tell them to lighten up about it because I think that if we don’t have these feelings of parenting remorse or acknowledge them, then that would be the core definition of being a bad parent.

Bad Parent – to never regret, feel badly about or guilty about an event, situation or problem you’ve had while raising your children.

Again. Just to be clear… No regret? No guilt? Dead inside and psychopath.

I’m not trying to alienate the other blogger because I do feel that we are trying to put a similar message out there to other parents and I’m certainly not judging but I’m trying to understand. I really am so maybe you can help me;

How do you feel about confessing and owning your parenting guilt? How do you deal with feeling guilty? Do you think it’s okay for anyone to ever tell you to lighten up about feeling guilty or do you agree that we all just need to lighten up a little?

Photo by Ben Lancaster on

About Nichole Smith

Nichole Smith has written 765 post in this blog.

Founder of Chaos in the Country and (original) The Guilty Parent blog, Nichole is a professional writer, blogger, social media strategist, and collector of yarn, books, and pretty paper.


  1. I am a guilty parent. I feel guilt if I’m unable to succeed at something when it comes to my children. I don’t dwell on it, but I certainly don’t just push it aside and move on as if it never existed. This is a feeling and one worth learning from. Thinking through why I feel the guilt can help me understand, process it, and maybe see what could have been done differently, if anything. Another learning tool for a parent.

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