How to deal with parental guilt

Many parents feel guilt from time to time. You may feel you should be doing things differently. You might believe you’re not coping, or that you could be doing better. This is quite a common feeling, and it’s natural to want to do the best for your children.



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Remember it's a common feeling

The challenges you’re facing as a parent are new and difficult. Many parents feel the same way, even if they don’t talk about it.

Think about where your guilt is coming from. Is it something out of your control? If it’s something you can change, think about what you can reasonably do.

If you can’t control the situation, accept that you’re feeling guilty and that’s part of being a parent. Label the feeling as guilt and move on from it. Fighting it wastes energy and can affect your behaviour towards others.

Be kind to yourself

The happier you are, the happier you will be with your children. Ask yourself:

  • Are you critical of yourself? If so, try to think if you would talk to your family or friends in the same way.
  • What have you done for yourself this week? Taken a relaxing bath? Read a book? Caught up on your favourite TV show? If nothing springs to mind, take 15 minutes a day for yourself without feeling guilty.

You’re doing better than you might think

Reflect on the positives and highlight successes, big and small. At the end of the day, share one thing that’s gone well. Write it in a notebook. Or put up a board and have everyone write one thing they’ve learned that day.

This can help you take more notice of the good things, and appreciate what each day has given you.

Don’t let social media get to you

Seeing other families doing well on social media can make you feel guilty. But remember that people only post the good. You might see them in the park. But they probably won’t post about 30 minutes they spent trying to get their toddler to put shoes on.

If helpful, limit how much you use social media. It might be useful to have a ‘clear out’ of the people you are following or friends with. If deleting someone is not an option, you can mute or hide their posts without them knowing.

Get support if you need it

Talk to someone you trust about how you’re feeling. Sometimes even just doing this and sharing experiences can help. If certain aspects feel hard, are there any changes you could make to help things feel easier?

If you’re struggling with low mood or having thoughts of ending your life, make sure you get support.


Want more support? For advice on your specific issue, speak to one of our parenting coaches.  

Go back

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How to talk to your child about difficult topics


Self-care ideas for parents


How can I cope with feelings of parental loneliness?


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