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Mom Guilt

The role of being a mom is constantly evolving. The worries start from the very beginning through each trimester- what to do and what to stop doing. Friends, family, coworkers, and strangers weigh in with both solicited and unsolicited advice. The doctors and nurses weigh in. Books, blogs, groups, podcasts, TikTok’s weigh in.

From the beginning “mom guilt” can sneak up on us. Guilt can come up in labor and delivery decisions. For a lot of mothers the decision to breastfeed or feed by formula can be the beginning of the guilt. Many mothers aren’t afforded with the opportunity for breastfeeding to even be a decision. Feelings of guilt, inadequacy, and grief can come up as moms grapple with how to adjust to not being able to do something they thought they would be able to do.

Mom guilt carries into child development. Mom’s are faced with making choices about, food, safety, sleeping, potty training, socializing, playing, discipline, and so much more. Moms often wonder- am I making the best decision for my child? Am I doing enough to meet their needs? Am I setting them up for success? Am I enough?

Our own challenges might create barriers to us being the parent we’ve longed to be. Social anxiety, body image issues, depression are some of the mental health diagnoses that can impact a mom’s ability to sign her child up for a class, join a play group, host a party, or interact at the park. Mental health can also impact conversations and interactions at medical appointments, school conferences and functions, sports events and more. Guilt can surface when we’re too afraid to ask questions, or realize we didn’t know the questions to ask. Guilt can come up when we see how other moms do things and we start to doubt ourselves and dismiss our efforts.

Guilt can be a fleeting thought. It can also be detrimental to a mom’s self-esteem and confidence. Moms can bury themselves in self-talk such as “I’m a bad mom”, “I’ll never be enough”, “I’m not as good as those other moms”, or even “they would be better off without me”. The thing about mom guilt is, it’s often an internal struggle that is concealed behind smiles, nods, and avoidance. Therapy can be that safe space to explore behind the mask. Moms work constantly and often struggle to balance parenting, being a partner, being a coworker, a friend, a daughter and more. It’s hard to adjust to the needs of parenthood and often confusing when trying to integrate your “pre-mom” identity. Therapy can carve out that space to help you understand how you’ve adjusted to becoming a mom and address any areas where guilt and fear stem from. Lots of therapists are moms too, and while the therapeutic space isn’t for their needs, it can be helpful to work with someone who shares that unique experience of motherhood. If “mom guilt” is getting the best of you, talk to your therapist or psychologist about starting that conversation to get the support that you deserve.

Written by:

Lauren Pena MFT, ATR, LMFT # 130687

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