Parenting Guilt ain’t Real Guilt

Jim pointed to this article on Mommy Guilt and wondered if mothers in his own church would concur. Well, I’m not a mother (but I’m married to one) and I’m not in Jim’s church, so what I say will be absolutely meaningless.  Still, I can’t shut up.  So here goes. There is so much in the Ms. McCleneghan’s piece that I want to take issue with.  Where to start? First, I should point out that fathers have guilt, too.  We don’t have a cute name for it, at least I’ve never really heard other fathers complain about “Daddy Guilt”, but, all the same, I imagine most dads from the last 20 years feel a little guilty.  For me, I wonder “Am I spending enough time with the kids?” (I work at home, for pete’s sake!) or “Am I providing enough stimulation for the kids?” And lets not get started on the unfortunate fact that I accidentally broke my 11-year-old daughter’s nose this spring.  So, yeah, dads get guilt. But you know what?  Most of it is bogus. If I feel guilty about repeated physical abuse of my children, that’s one thing.  That is valid guilt.  I should feel guilty. And the guilt should be my sign that I need to turn around and do something differently. But disposable diapers? Formula vs. breastfeeding? The world isn’t perfect and we can’t live perfect lives.  And we shouldn’t feel guilty because of that.  But I’m sure I don’t need to tell an ordained minister that. Which brings me to my second point.  I’m gonna go out on a limb a little here, but I feel it is a sturdy one. Prayers of confession should not be done corporately. If the only time for you to practice confession is in a corporate setting, then you’re doing it wrong.  In the Orthodox church, everyone is encouraged to go to a spiritual director and (perhaps separately) individual confession. The spiritual director will tell you “Why are you beating yourself up about this?”  And then your confessor, if you really feel the need to confess your guilt about disposable diapers, will patiently stand with you and listen to you confess your guilt over disposable diapers to God. And then he’ll tell you Now, having no further care for the sins you have confessed, you may go in peace. See, corporate prayers of confession are wrong because they’re generic.  They don’t address my guilt or the things I need to change.  No wonder Ms. McCleneghan is tuning out.  It should be her sign that something needs to change. (Of course, I had to go look up the Methodist Prayers of Confession and I suppose that in some ways they are similar to the prayers prayed during Forgiveness Vespers so you can see I’m even more full of nonsense than usual, but I still maintain that the missing piece — private confession — would be a great way to get rid of silly parenting guilt.  Guilt needs a release valve.  Confession is meant to be that valve.)

One thought on “Parenting Guilt ain’t Real Guilt”

  1. Awesome Man

    That’s great, lots of miles ticking away there. I imagine making those milestones is very rewarding.

    Keep up the good work!

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