Dr. Chestnut's Blog

Guilty Parenting

Are you battling guilt in your parenting because your schedule is so busy, and you feel like you haven't spent quality time with you family? Good! Be grateful that you can still feel guilt for a good reason. Make friends with your guilt and stop the fight of suppression. Give attention to the guilt and be on your way to freedom.

Use your guilt to build accountability. You have learned to commit to a schedule by the daily schedule you already keep. You are either recording it in your datebook, palm pilot, or in your head. Therefore, half the battle is won, now all you have to do is build a network of support with people that would amplify your guilt by asking you, "have you planned any time with your family?" Establish with your family things to do together, and start out by committing yourself to one experience per person and/or group. For example, plan time with each child (one on one) and partner, and/or plan group experiences with everyone on a weekly, bi-weekly or monthly basis.

This may sound like a big chunk of time, but ask yourself if you want your relationship with your family to continue to suffer without you, or do you want to benefit from the memories you now have a chance to establish. Having a busy schedule isn't a bad thing. Having a busy schedule without sharing yourself with the ones who mean the most to you, is. It will affect the legacy you leave with each of your loved ones.

Building a network of support to remind you and even reprimand you with reinforcing your guilt may help your motivation in doing something about it. Guilt, obligation, consequences and accountability can be useful tools - depending on how you chose to manage them. Your guilt can be the pathway that sets you free from a life not lived to the fullest. Now is the time to set yourself free. Guilt or freedom - it's your choice!

(Source: Council For Relationships, February 9, 2004)

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