Ranty post : Parental guilt – yes it’s ok to feel it!


They are talking about parental guilt on BBC Breakfast this morning and whilst they were having a discussion they were balancing a mother who is well a ‘normal’ mother and a business woman who is also a mother.

I am all for mother’s supporting one another – I have said this before but…yes the but arrived…I was completely floored when the business woman/mother put an argument forward that she feels no guilt whatsoever for having someone else look after her children and that she can work like a man or just as effectively as she doesn’t have to think about all those things that come with having children (ok the last part of the sentence I added as interpretation).

So – it got my ranty side working as my thought process was :

  • That is a bit of an insult to men (and not just dad’s) that they don’t feel empathy or are completely heartless.
  • Most Men / dad’s also like to spend time with their kids /family and carry an enormous sense of empathy,longing to be with their loved ones, whilst at work.
  • If feeling guilt ‘creates a glass ceiling’ for working parents – well then this world is turning into some cold place
  • She also gave an example of when she went to her own children and said that she had a sore throat, that they turned and said ‘get a grip’ and showed no sympathy – whatsoever. Apparently she is proud of them as that is what she does to them. Erm – aren’t we supposed to show our children how to care?
  • I also thought ‘well done!’ to the mom on the breakfast sofa who stood up for herself and said that she wouldn’t want to be heartless or selfish as when her children said ‘Mom – I would have loved you to have been there for my exam’ – she said she wished she could have.

I know that I loved working and having our boys and it was a tricky balancing act to keep going all the time. I think each family and parenting unit do what is best for them as a unit but I completely disagree with the fact that feeling any sense of guilt, when it comes to bringing up children, is something you don’t feel. This to me is a HUGE fib.

Sorry – rant over – I may even write another follow up on this it has made me so mad.

10 thoughts on “Ranty post : Parental guilt – yes it’s ok to feel it!”

  1. Good point and great read! Totally agree on the empathy and also feel sorry about dads being depicted as heartless robots, incapable of missing their kids when they are away/working. To be honest, I don’t feel guilty when I am work and I think it is ok – howvere I work part-time and the current set-up works for us as a family. I would never judge anyone on what they feel do. x

  2. I worked part time up until recently and felt absolutely no guilt whatsoever at handing my son over to a local nursery but maybe because it was for only 20 hours per week so everything felt very balanced. Working long hours full-time? Yes, I’d feel pretty awful about that. I’d see little point in having children in the first place. Interesting discussion though – I guess everyone is entitled to do what they see fit. Some people are just a little more selfish in their wants and needs than others.

    P.S. I’m an absolutely dreadful carer for anyone that’s ill. I’m trying to work on my empathy but it’s not happening for me yet. I’m of the ‘if you can breathe, you’re not sick’ ilk.

    1. I was the same when I was working full time and generally I was ok but when they were sick or missed out on an activity or changing emotionally I would feel that I wasn’t doing them justice. I do still think that working made me a happier me which then in turn meant a happy family. And I did quite a good job at work whilst having those feelings.

      My point is being told not to feel guilty as then you can’t be effective or as good as men at work. Well – I am not going to tell her how to feel but I have clearly taken offence that women can’t do ‘as good a job as men if they feel guilty about leaving their children’. Offence for both men and women. I have worked with some great dads (was in IT so male dominated) and we would have discussions about who it was easier for – and they would put their side forward and it made for a good discussion.

      P.S I am also not a very good carer – especially with sicky bugs as my stomach goes into sympathy mode overdrive lol!

      1. You must have worked with more caring men than me. I’ve spent my whole career in automotive manufacturing where it wasn’t uncommon not to speak to another female all day. They mostly seemed to be guilt-free about working, and about working shifts. Both with men and women, it really is personal preference – I’m not sure we can be grouped by sex on this. My husband likes to spend time with our boys but he likes to escape to the office every day too.

  3. I gave up my career when I was pregnant with our eldest girl. Together we made the decision that we wanted one of us to be with them all the time. My husband earns much more than I did, so it wasn’t too big a wrench to lose my wage. I know that I would be riddled with guilt. I’m a bit extreme though, I feel guilty leaving them with my mum for a couple of hours to go to the supermarket!

    She was definitely a bit harsh about men. I know my hubby feels enormously guilty, especially now that our eldest girl says every morning “Are you not going to work today daddy?” I see that look of sadness cross his face when he has to tell her he is working.

    1. Great comment and really personal too!

      It’s never easy and I think that is the part she was missing – or portrayed that she found it easy.

  4. I’m absolutely wracked with guilt that I have to hand over my 2 girls to childcare. At the same time, I appreciate that it’s important that parents also need to look after themselves so that they can best look after their children – physically, mentally and spiritually.

    I suppose it’s like the emergency instructions we hear on aeroplanes (that parents should put on their own oxygen masks before helping their children with their masks). It sounds cold, hard and cruel, but the logic, I guess, is that we can’t help our children if we’re suffocating ourselves. Similarly, if parents feel that they’re mentally suffocating by not working, then how can they help their children develop in good mental health?

    Anyway. Playing a bit of devil’s advocate their – I’m firmly on the side of wanting to spend as much time as possible with my family – I love them! My heart aches when I drop my girls off, and they can’t wait to see me when I pick them up. The feeling is mutual – we all love and care for each other. And I’d like to think that we “have a grip”!

    1. Thanks for stopping by – I agree with you on all the points you make. They say a happy mom( and Dad) makes a happy family. I guess I was more irritated that this woman seemed to think that men don’t have the same feelings about leaving their families when they go to work.

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