Jump directly to the content
Give Mommy Guilt a Time Out

Give Mommy Guilt a Time Out

I'm not a perfect mother, and neither are you—let's battle the guilt together.
Average Rating:

If you're a working mom like me, I can tell you a few things about yourself.

First, you're tired.

I know.

Me too! I always thought this would get better at each stage of my kids' lives—that somehow once they got "just a little older," I wouldn't worry about them as much, or I'd sleep a little bit more. But so far, no such luck. The kind of energy and effort required definitely changes with each new stage, but somehow my amount of energy seems to stay the same. All my kids are out of high school now, but I'm still a working mom, and I still lose sleep over them. Maybe it'll get better, though, when they get a little older . . . I'll keep you posted.

The second thing I know about you is that you're feeling guilty.

You feel guilty dropping your kids off at day care (especially once they reach the age where they beg you to stay). You feel guilty when you arrive at work a little later than your co-workers, and you feel guilty when you leave earlier than them. You feel guilty at church when you don't sign up for the Thursday morning Bible study group or to volunteer in the nursery.

I know many women who assume "mommy guilt" is a way of life. Even (and in some cases especially) my Christian friends accept this extreme burden of guilt, shame, and self­doubt as part of the universal motherhood experience. Something crazy starts to happen when you accept it as such. You stop fighting the guilt. It's no longer a problem. Instead, it becomes a sort of badge of honor that unites you with other moms. Now, in this upside­down reality, it becomes a sign of how much you love your kids and how much you're willing to suffer for them.

What a terrible, ugly lie.

You do not have to feel miserable to be a good mom.

What if I told you there's another way?

That, in fact, mommy guilt is not universal. It's not your burden to bear. You do not have to feel this way.

We can fight mommy guilt. And we not only can—but we must.

It starts by recognizing this kind of guilt is not healthy, and is certainly not inevitable. In France, for example, American expatriates report that working French moms don't seem to suffer the same kind of guilt about their decisions. Just like Americans, they leave their kids in day care. They work all day, and cook dinner afterwards. They feel overstretched and sometimes inadequate, but, according to author Pamela Druckerman, they "refuse to valorize guilt" the way Americans do. Instead, the French actively fight against it, and they help each other fight against it.

No First PageNo Previous PagePage 1 of 2Next PageLast Page

Diane Paddison

Diane Paddison is a business professional and founder of 4wordwomen.org, local groups of professional working women committed to faith, family, work, and each other.

also in this issue

January Week 2
The Complex Choices that Divide Us

The Complex Choices that Divide Us

Whether we work or stay home, a new Barna study shows women are more stressed and unsatisfied than ever. So why are we still so hard on each other?
Don't Judge Me, I'm Childless

Don't Judge Me, I'm Childless

Is there a place at church for those of us who don't have kids?
When Our Deepest Desires Collide

When Our Deepest Desires Collide

What should Christian women want?
Romans 12:2

Romans 12:2

TCW's verse of the week

ratings & comments

Average User Rating:

Displaying 1–2 of 2 comments

Peace Adeniyi

January 17, 2014  3:44pm

Thanks so much for this article. I feel the guilt everyday that I am not doing enough for my children. When I left my full time job to do part time so as not to take my children to day care, I still feel guilty when I don't give them the "100%" attention. I feel relief with this article- No perfect mom

Report Abuse

Kyla Cragg

January 10, 2014  2:56pm

Great article. Something to focus on at the start of a new year.

Report Abuse

Rate and comment on this article: *



1000 character limit

* Comments may be edited for tone and clarity.