Parenting without guilt

Adele Cornish, BSW

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I recently asked those on my email list whether the following statement reflects their experience:

“My duty as a biological parent to train and discipline my children is done without guilt.”

Here’s what I went on to say:
“It is very common for those who have been through a divorce or separation to feel guilt about the pain their children have suffered as consequence. The thing about guilt is that it makes you focus on the past; you can get so busy trying to make up for your mistakes that you miss out on opportunities to create a better future. Now, if you want to raise your children into independent and responsible adults, you’ll have to be proactive. Feelings of ‘guilt’ make it easy to overlook behaviour you would not normally tolerate in a child, for fear of causing them more upset. If you have this tendency when your child misbehaves, ask yourself:

Is this particular behaviour something I want to encourage or discourage? By doing nothing, you inadvertently encourage it. If you want to discourage it, you’ll need to be proactive with a consequence.

Learn from the past but don’t let guilt motivate your future parenting decisions.

It is a day-by-day choice to let go of the past that will gradually lead to wholeness for yourself and your blended family.”
Shortly after I sent the email, I received a reply from a bio mother in a blended family. Here’s what she said:

“So true!! But not only guilt makes us overlook unacceptable behaviour, I think the fear of losing our child or driving them to the other bio parent makes us accept or overlook stuff that we normally would not tolerate, because we want to keep them with us. It is still not good practice to do this, as you are right in stating that all it is doing is encouraging that sort of behaviour. But… I suspect that we have all done it. I guess we just have to recognise when we have done it and try to change how we do things. Thanks so much your tips and emails. It helps to reinforce that we are trying to be good parents.”

Her response got me wondering what others have to say on this topic so here’s your chance.  Do you agree? Does guilt affect your parenting?  If you don’t discipline for fear of losing your children, what effect has this had (if any) on your relationship and on your children?  Have your say now…..

I look forward to your feedback!

Warm regards

Adele Cornish

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