Is It Me, or Is Mom Guilt Everywhere?

Maybe it’s because I write for a blog about working moms and guilt, but I’ve really been sensitive lately to the seeming onslaught of media messages trying to make me feel guilty as a mom.

Sometimes the messages are subtle, like news stories about a new study or report in which moms are somehow responsible for the downfall of their children. In those cases, the angle is “Hey, we’re not saying you’re a bad mom if you do this. We’re simply reporting in a neutral fashion that some moms are hurting their children in a newly discovered way. Do with the information what you will – totally up to you.”

Sometimes, they’re blatant, like the campaigns for a “food revolution” or “turning off the TV” – celebrities and pundits telling us we’re “killing our kids” by letting them eat Pop Tarts or watching too much Dora.

And then there’s women’s magazines, the majority of which are constantly blaring at us that we need to trim down, tone up, get our pre-baby bodies back (which apparently Jillian Michaels believes is impossible), make our sex lives hotter, organize our homes, do awesome crafts with our kids, save the environment … you know the drill.

I’m just so sick of it all. Why does everyone try to make me feel guilty? And why do I let them? I find myself having to tune out from all this crap. I’m afraid that if I engage with it and think too hard, maybe it will get to me and I’ll have a total guilt-induced meltdown.

I think we all want to be the best moms we can be. And for the most part, we’re all doing our best. Sure, there’s room for improvement. I could make more efforts to feed my kids less processed food and more fresh fruits and veggies. I should turn off the TV more often and get the kids out in nature. I need to do a few more things to “green” our home and lifestyle.

But if I do everything solely based on the guilt-inducing messages I get from the media, I’ll always feel inadequate and crappy about myself. I just can’t live that way. I’d rather just take advice I can work with and do what I can. The motivation has to be grounded in what’s best for me and my family – how can we be healthier, happier, etc? Not how can I suck less at being a mom and do whatever “they” will approve of?

I guess my point is, try not to let all those messages of guilt get to you. I know it’s hard. I know you’re bombarded. But hold your ground as a mom and a person, believe in yourself, and do what’s right for you.

7 thoughts on “Is It Me, or Is Mom Guilt Everywhere?

  1. Grateful Twin Mom says:

    Thanks for this post, Susan. I feel it too; definitely from the media, but also from deep within myself. Every little thing that goes wrong with my kids or my family, I'm so quick to say–That's my fault! 'Cause I'm working too much, or 'cause I'm taking too much time for myself. Arrrgggghh, you nailed it. I'm gonna go with your advice.

  2. ***Amy*** says:

    Great post! All those news articles about full-time working Mums 'damaging' their kids has been getting me down lately- I like you put it into perspective

  3. I'm going to "third" the other ladies. Awesome post, Sue! I don't know what else to say other than that!

    Isn't this week limit your media week or something? Maybe we should all ignore these biased articles!

  4. Jensational says:

    It is a good post. I think sometimes I don't even realize how all of that news IS building guilt. Being aware is the first step, now that I know it's there, I can ignore it.

  5. OK I realize that last post sounded a bit dark. Obviously, being a mom is also about other things besides screwing up – many wonderful things at that. But screwing up WILL happen. I screwed up enough when I didn't have kids. What makes me think I'm all of a sudden going to be perfect?

  6. jen@925frugal says:

    I totally agree. I canceled most of my magazine subscriptions because of this.
    We have to remember that they have to fill in the space between the ads. And most of those ads have "specific" articles they are required to be placed next to.
    I think I do my children a bigger favor by proving to them that it is OK and preferable to not be perfect.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Great post – reminded me of The Mommy Myth, which is a wonderful & empowering book I suspect you've already read 🙂

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