Any parent knows the feeling of guilt creeping up on them. It can be over the silliest thing but the guilt is real. Moms and dads both experience guilt but in different ways.
Moms take on the most guilt. They have high standards from themselves and society has high standards for them too.
Dads are taking on more and more guilt though. More dads are taking a stand and being as present as possible for their kids. They’re turning down long hours in the office for more time at home.
New studies have revealed that parents are spending more time than ever parenting. Parents are doing something about the old parenting guilt and changing the way things are done.
Parents today are spending twice as much time parenting than 50 years ago. All the extra time parenting might just be adding to the parenting guilt. Now parents have more time to reflect on all that they are doing and aren’t doing for their kids. Parents are also more connected and see all the parenting possibilities online.
Keep reading to find out how moms and dads deal with this guilt differently. Parents will be surprised by what causes guilt for moms and dads. They might finally feel understood too.
15 Dad's Applauded For Showing Up
Dad guilt doesn’t come close to touching mom guilt. One sad reason for this is that so many dads are absent from their kids’ lives. If a dad happens to stick around to help raise his child, he’s applauded for showing up.
The world praises the dad who is involved in his child’s life. The world will criticize almost any mom for almost anything.
That’s one major reason why moms deal with more parenting guilt than dads. Moms are criticized for working away from the home and for staying home. They’re called helicopter moms when they’re too focused on their kids. Then criticized for making their kids weird when they want the kids to eat healthy diets. Dad, on the other hand….well how great that he could be around.
14 Whoever Does Most Will Get Blamed Most
A sad fact of parenting is that whichever parent is there to do the most will also get blamed the most. It doesn’t seem fair or logical but that’s how it works out. For one thing, it’s a numbers game.
If mom has 100 interactions with her child a day it’s more likely that the child will remember some bad things along with the good things. If dad, on the other hand, only has 25 interactions with his child a day, he’s bound to screw up less.
The adult child sitting in therapy will come up with many more instances of ways his mom ruined him. Dad would have dropped in with an ice cream cone and watched a movie mom didn’t approve of and would have won the day. Meanwhile, mom was cooking healthy meals and planning letter activities but who remembers that?
13 Mom Overthinks Everything
Women tend to have a reputation for overthinking things. This doesn’t end with motherhood. Mom lumps on the guilt with her own over analyzation of such little situations. Mom will overthink a look from another mom, a seemingly simple comment, or some unrealistic portrayal of future events. With this tendency how can mom avoid feeling guilt over this or that.
Dads, on the other hand, tend to just let things go. This helps them to avoid all sorts of dad guilt.
They barely think twice about comments others make. They don’t even notice disapproving looks. Unless it's spelled out for them, they won’t get the message anyways so how would they know to feel guilty about something? Dads keep it simple and don’t bother worrying themselves about the little things.
12 Social Media: The Ultimate Guilt Trip
Mom guilt and dad guilt has been on the rise since everyone is more socially connected. Now you can scroll through FB to see who spent the weekend at Disney on Ice or checking out Daniel Tiger Live. Before FB, parents didn’t realize how involved their third cousins were with their kids.
Dads and moms alike can feel the burn of parenting guilt knowing that their kids sat home and watched TV all weekend while Sal took his to dig for dinosaur bones.
Mom and dad might also post something about their kids that they think is totally harmless only to get nasty comments about it. Some of the parenting groups on Facebook can be the nastiest and most unsupportive places to hang out. Beware of the lurking parenting guilt you can find online.
11 Basics Are Okay For Dad
Dads don’t usually go over the top for things, especially something as simple as a school party. I learned this the hard way. I was in charge of bringing cups and napkins to my son’s fall party for preschool. I was sick for a few days before so I thought I could simply ask my husband to pick them up. I said it was for the fall party but didn’t think I needed to include instructions like “get something with leaves or pumpkins on it”. My husband took my list headed out. The day of the party I checked the bag only to find cups and napkins with red and white stars -very 4th of July themed. I then had mom guilt for sending in these clearly un-thematic cups. My husband had no idea why it would matter or why I was upset with his choice.
10 Milestone Watcher
For so many generations, women have been responsible for tending to the children night and day. Only more recently have women been grappling with careers and child rearing while dad pitches in more.
Since mom was at home with the kids for so long, it became ingrained that mom would closely document and celebrate each child’s milestones.
That tends to make mothers acutely aware of when her child has hit a milestone early, on time or late. Without much thought, she’ll compare her child to the others in playgroup and know how they rank. Sally began walking a 9 months but Sue didn’t until 13 months. This can lead to some major mom guilt - even though they also understand that there is a range for each milestone. Dad, though, isn’t as aware of the milestones. He’ll celebrate when the kiddo reaches it and be oblivious otherwise.
9 Sports Mean Different Things
Usually, moms take a bit of a guilt break during sports. To moms, sports are great activities for their kids to learn new skills, have a little fun and make friends.
To dads, sports are like a giant billboard pointing out just how much or how little time they spend with their child refining their skills.
Is your kid the only one on the baseball team that can’t catch a pop fly if his life depended on it? Well that makes one big statement about how dad’s been spending his evenings for the first few months of spring. Does your child fall over the hockey rink like he’s never seen ice before? No one’s wondering why they haven’t ran into you at the rink on weekends. It’s clear you haven’t been there.
8 Dad Isn't On Pinterest (Sometimes)
Dads also keep themselves from many places where they might want to judge themselves. While a few dads are on Pinterest, a vast majority are nowhere near it. They don’t spend hours looking at birthday party ideas and halloween costumes telling themselves that their store bought cake was embarrassing.
While Pinterest can give us lots of great ideas, it can also give moms a great big case of mom guilt.
We get to see the incredible creations moms spend hours on for their children. We can fill our boards with hundreds of ideas we’ll never have time to do. Dad, on the other hand, is never on there or only looking for projects to do for himself. He doesn’t torture himself with ideas about what other dads might be doing.
7 Size Does Matter - Check Size
Size does matter for dad, income size that is. Dads experience a lot more guilt based on the size of the check they bring home each week. Society uses income levels as a way to judge the amount of good your bringing into the world. If you’re making more money you must be working harder or helping more people.
A dad whose family is barely scraping by will surely experience some dad guilt.
Moms on the other hand escape from guilt on this one - somewhat. Women have historically had to rely on a husband to bring home the bacon and today women make less than men. Women find creative ways to save the family money like clipping coupons and shopping garage sales. For the most part, guilt over income size is left to the dads.
6 Downfall Of Women's Rights
Women’s rights is a wonderful thing, don’t get me wrong. Before women’s rights, women had few if any options other than staying home to raise their kids. Now the choices are endless. Women can choose to study anything they wish and have any career they wish. The downfall of all of this progress is that options were added to women’s plates but none were taken away.
Women are somehow expected to balance everything.
They can have the career of their dreams and be totally present and available for their kids. That is, if they don’t sleep. Women take on a tremendous amount of guilt as they try to strike a work-family balance. Men, on the other hand, feel much less guilt about heading off to work. More options have come with more guilt for mom.
5 Add Kids To Chores
Parents struggling to find enough time in the day to do everything find themselves adding kids to their daily to-do list. Parents have the responsibility of keeping up the house, working and taking care of the kids. This means that to get it all done and avoid some parenting guilt kids come along for the chores. Dads are mowing the lawn with the kids. Mom is working on the computer with kids jumping all over her. Parents are trying to multitask too many tasks. In some ways it's good for kids to help with the household chores. Of course they should be doing their part to take care of things. But sometimes it can be dangerous or they just slow the process down. No we can’t be everywhere at once and totally present. That’s why we have to pick and choose and segment our time.
4 Kid Resumes
Once upon a time kids did whatever their parents had time for.
One child might be in one activity a year if the family had time for it. Now kids’ activities run the family schedule. Kids are in an increasing number of sports and activities. Everyone’s working on their college applications beginning in birth. Even babies have their own classes to attend. Baby and me swimming, music class and yoga. As the kids get older it gets more competitive. Summer baseball isn’t enough, now you need a year round traveling team at the age of 5. Plus you’ll have to work that baseball schedule around karate, gymnastics, painting and Spanish - you want your child to be well rounded after all. Moms and dads both have guilt about how many activities their kids are or aren’t in and guilt over how busy their kids are - it’s a vicious cycle.
3 Hours Spent Parenting On The Rise
We’ve had a haunch that we’re spending more time with our kids than our parents and grandparents did but now we have proof. The Economist reported that parents now spend twice as much time with their kids than 50 years ago.
Parenting time is on the rise for both moms and dads (except for moms in France for some reason).
An increase in parenting time is happening in the richest countries in the world. It's true for working class and college educated parents. In fact, the higher the education the more parenting time is spent. This points to the fact that parents have felt pangs of guilt and are doing something about it. Maybe they remember feeling left out or ignored as kids and they want to do something about it. Either way, parents are getting serious about their roles as mom and dad.
2 Parenting Whole Child Instead Of Just Keeping Them Alive
The study reported by the Economist shows that parents are spending more time parenting. As parents, we also know that more is expected of us now.
Generations before us had less involved ideas of parenting. The main goal for those generations was to keep the kids alive.
Now we’re worried about parenting the whole child. We want to address their mental, physical, spiritual and emotional needs. We put pressure on ourselves to do a better job than the generation before. We also have more social pressure to do more for our children. We have ideas like present parenting and positive parenting swirling about. We can see so many parenting ideas on Pinterest and Facebook that we can’t stop thinking about the possibilities. We’ll just have to wait and see what all of this intensive parenting does to the next generation.
1 Lasting Effects Of Absent Parents
Parents have a lot of guilt, that’s no surprise. The good news is that a parent with any guilt is at least wondering about the job their doing. Hopefully they’re actually around to do the job too. Absent parents can have a great and lasting effect on their children. It can affect the kids emotionally, socially and educationally. Kids without dads in the picture are more likely to dropout of high school and have problems in reading and math according to the National Fatherhood Initiative. If you’re here reading this article, you probably have a lot less to feel guilty about than you think. A little guilt can be a good thing to keep us doing the best job possible. A lot of guilt, though, can be crippling and counterproductive.