Feeling guilty being away from my kid

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Episode #110 – Feeling Guilty Being Away from my Kid

 

Question of the Day:

I’m sick of feeling guilty all the time. When I’m at work, I feel guilty for not being at home. When I’m at home, I feel guilty for not working.

My four year old has started crying and clinging to my leg when I try to leave and it’s breaking my heart. I’m exhausted and secretly dream about taking a weekend to myself like you described in episode 72 “I need a break from mothering”.

I’m sure life coaching would help me become a better mother but I feel guilty spending time and money on myself. How do I stop feeling guilty?”

Kelly

Parent Educator Answer: 

Guilt is an emotion whose purpose is to motivate us to right wrongs. You say something mean, you feel guilty, you apologize and ask for forgiveness. The emotion is so uncomfortable that you curb your behavior. You don’t say those mean words anymore and your relationship stabilizes. 

 

The problem with guilt is an unmanaged mind will often turn it into shame. Guilt says, “I did something wrong.” Shame says, “I AM wrong.”  

 

Shame is an emotion whose purpose is also to motivate us. It comes from erroneous beliefs about feeling inadequate, unworthy, unlovable, or not enough. If we think, “I’m not a good mom” we may try harder to be present and patient with our kids but most of us do not change our belief to “I’m such a good mom” after an hour of patient, present parenting. We just dress up the shame in a different outfit. Instead of “I’m not a good mom”, we go to “I’m not working hard enough” or “I’m not a good enough employee, money manager, housekeeper, cook, wife, friend, daughter-in-law” etc.

 

It sounds like what Kelly is dealing with is this insidious inadequacy, where no matter how much time she spends at work or at home, she never gets to hear the wonderful words: ou are enough.

 

Before letting go of guilt, ask yourself, “is this guilt productive?” Meaning…“Is there any immediate action step I can take to remedy this situation?Is there anyone I can apologize to and ask for forgiveness?” If not, we can work on letting it go. 

 

Our brains need to be reminded that most guilt is unnecessary and unhelpful. Guilt that does not lead to an apology or productive action is a waste of emotional energy. 

 

Somehow we got the idea that feeling guilty means we care. It is true that highly empathic people tend to have more guilt, but holding on to guilt does not make us better people. Guilt is there to right wrongs; to draw our attention to ways we may have hurt someone so we can preserve our relationships. 

 

I believe guilt takes away from our ability to be excellent parents. Guilt disrupts our sleep, drains our energy, and takes us away from us enjoying the present moment. 

 

Here are 5 “Golden Stars” that help kids thrive and moms feel good about their parenting: 

  1. Being emotionally present when with your children. (Your mind and body are in the same place at the same time.)
  2. Providing comfort, stability, and reassurance. 
  3. Being attuned to your child’s feelings.
  4. Having your eyes light up when your child walks in the room. Expressing delight. 
  5. Supporting your child’s goals, dreams and ambitions. 

 

Do you know how hard it is to do these 5 things when you feel guilty?

How about when you are exhausted from being with your child all day?

 

Think about the longest you’ve ever been away from your child. Remember how you acted when you finally got to reunite with them. My guess is, you were present. You blocked everything else out and gave your full attention to your child. You were probably attuned to their emotions, offering comfort and support where needed. I am SURE your eyes lit up with delight when you finally got to be with your child again. 

 

Stop listening to the cultural voices saying, “A good mom should stay with her kid all day, everyday, no matter how hard it is for her to do so.” or “It’s a shame you have to work, you must miss your child.” 

 

Instead, make the 5 golden stars your GOAL. Ask yourself, “What do I need in order to achieve these 5 golden stars?” 

 

Everyone’s answers will differ. Kelly might figure out that what she needs most is rest or permission to take a break. Maybe she needs life coaching or therapy to teach her how to stop putting so much pressure on herself. Maybe she needs a wonderful babysitter or nanny to help her feel confident her daughter is in good hands. Maybe she needs to go for a run or take a yoga class before transitioning to her second job as mom. 

 

Instead of creating a one-size-fits-all formula for how to be a good mom (and judging other moms when they make different choices), let’s recognize that we all have different paths to achieve the same goal: peaceful and present parenting that brings out the best in us. 

 

Life Coaching Answer:

What gets in the way of our taking the necessary steps towards peaceful & present parenting? GUILT OVER LETTING GO OF GUILT !!! 

 

I just had a free discovery call with a mom who has been listening to me for 20 YEARS! She finally scheduled a free call with me and discovered how much life coaching could help her, but she felt overwhelmed with the idea of spending time and money on her own personal growth. She felt guilty about letting go of guilt! 

 

What gets in our way from letting go of guilt, is our desire to FEEL GOOD FIRST before taking new action. We think, “I’ll just try harder, work more, suck it up.” Or we think, “I’ll just wait” or “I can figure this out on my own.” 

We TRY to take different action without changing the beliefs that got us stuck in this situation in the first place. This can work, but it’s A LOT harder and the changes rarely stick. 

 

Life coaching works on changing the belief system that drives the behavior. This makes change MUCH easier and more long-lasting. 

 

It may seem like Kelly having to leave her 4-year-old clinging and crying is the cause of her guilt but the real culprit is what she is making it mean about HER. I don’t know what the thought is, I’m just speculating, but I’m guessing it’s something like “I’m not doing enough.” 

 

When you think and believe this thought, “I am not doing enough,” it FEELS TRUE so we don’t think to question it. We look at our unending to-do list, Pinterest and Instagram, all the things we forgot and balls we dropped and suddenly have tons of evidence to prove it true, “I am not doing enough.” 

 

What we focus on expands. When we focus on all the things left undone, it feels monumental. We feel small and inadequate because we are thinking about all the ways we are not measuring up. 

 

Telling yourself, “I am worthy of rest” or “I have done enough” will not work. She has repeated the opposite so many times and collected so much evidence to the contrary that she wouldn’t believe it. The way to overcome guilt is to QUESTION the belief that is causing it. 

 

Think about an area you feel guilty for not measuring up. Maybe you go on social media and think, “I could be prettier, fitter, or more creative or ambitious.” “I could be a better mom, housekeeper, saver, employee.” Pick one area of inadequacy and hold it as we start to question the belief, “I’m not doing enough.”

 

Are you absolutely sure this thought is true that, “I am not doing enough?” If there was another working mom who felt guilty about being away from her child all day, would you tell her she isn’t doing enough? Why not? 

 

If your daughter grows up and becomes a working mom will you tell her “She’s not doing enough?” Why or why not? 

 

Who determines how much is enough? If you work 13 hours a day, is that enough? How will you know when you’ve reached the magical state of enoughness?

Exactly how many hours of self sacrifice does it take to make you a good person? 

What is the thought, “I’m not doing enough” costing you? 

Can you imagine who you would be without this thought? 

Is it possible you have always been enough and you just didn’t know it? Did you just pick up what advertisers were trying to sell you though none of it was true? Why would you want to believe you aren’t doing enough?

How would it feel to truly believe that you are doing enough? What does enoughness feel like as an emotion in the body? 

 

If you want to be the mom who meets these 5 golden stars, you’ve got to surrender to a process of undoing guilt. I can give you all my tips and tricks, but these beliefs are so subconscious that it’s nearly impossible to coach yourself on them. 

 

The only way I know how to let go of guilt is with another qualified person. Whether that is with a  therapist, life coach, priest, EFT practitioner, or a friend who knows how to say the right things at the right time, having a compassionate witness to your guilt is the most important requirement in letting it go. 

Supermom Kryptonite – Beating yourself up for beating yourself up

When Supermoms first come to life coaching, they are astounded at how much better they can feel in such a short period of time. They get so excited about their new tools and the power they have to make changes. They feel so free and start implementing new habits like journaling and self-coaching. 

Inevitably, these mommas find new ways to beat themselves up. They start feeling guilty for feeling guilty. They berate themselves for berating themselves. The same old inadequacies show up wearing a new outfit. That’s why my Supermom is Getting Tired coaching program is 12 weeks long. I like having enough time for this to happen so we can recognize this insidious little beast when it shows up.

 

Supermom Power Boost – Make a commitment to build momentum

I loved this Supermom who had been thinking about life coaching for 20 years. She was so genuine and self aware, so devoted to her children. She said, “I would spend this money on my children in a heartbeat but for me, I just can’t.” It was too big of a leap for her. I do hope she doesn’t wait another 20 years before calling again, but before I let her get off the phone, I asked her to make a commitment. 

Scheduling her free call felt scary but she did it anyway. I didn’t want her to retreat back into her comfort zone of safety. I wanted her to stay scared and feel vulnerable outside her comfort zone so she could get used to it. I asked her to make a commitment toward some kind of forward momentum. 

Signing up for life coaching is obviously a big step in a positive direction. You are surrendering to a process and trusting it will work. There are other ways to build forward momentum, get unstuck, and prove to yourself that positive changes are happening. 

 

Here are some suggestions of commitments you can make, just make sure you do it out loud so others can hold you accountable. 

  • Tell your family you want life coaching as a Christmas present.
  • Put a deposit down or pre-pay for a “momcation”.
  • Pick a date on the calendar for a “do whatever I feel like doing” day. 
  • Schedule a free life coaching call at www.lifecoachingforparents.com/work-with-me
  • Sign up for a class: art, meditation, exercise, life coaching, whatever helps you move closer to being the mom you want to be. 

 

Pay attention to the things that bring you closer to the 5 golden stars 

  • Being emotionally present when with your children. Your mind and body are in the same place at the same time. 
  • Providing comfort, stability and reassurance. 
  • Being attuned to your child’s feelings.
  • Having your eyes light up when your child walks in the room. Expressing delight. 
  • Supporting your child’s goals, dreams and ambitions. 

 

Quote of the Day:

“Guilt can either hold you back from growing or it can show you what you need to shift in your life.” Unknown

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