We talk a lot about mom guilt in our practice as we see a lot of moms and it's something that comes up over and over. Today I want to talk about dad guilt or why dad guilt isn’t a thing .
Of course dads feel guilt at times but as a whole it doesn’t exist the way “mom guilt" does. Why is that?
Many moms tell us they're abandoning themselves for the sake of their children. In society, the more we do for our kids, the more positively we're judged (by ourselves and others). The more we do for ourselves, the more negatively we’re judged (by ourselves and others).
Many people would be very upset to be called selfish for putting themselves first. This can lead to looking for self acceptance through other people when it can really only come from ourselves.
When we look at the norms of society, dads have never been told THEIR KIDS HAVE TO BE THEIR ENTIRE LIVES. So dads have never thought that.
They love their kids and view them as part of their life, but not their whole life; so when they do things that aren’t all about their kids, they don’t feel bad. We don’t judge dads harshly when they do things for themselves because we’ve never believed kids have to be their whole life.
I hear from moms all the time who tell me the mom guilt is their own fault. Their partners don’t make them feel bad, it’s within themselves. In reality, when we take a step back we must realize we're not actually to blame.
Society has a deeply ingrained set of unwritten rules of what a “good mom” is and so when we feel like we aren’t meeting them, we're overwhelmed with guilt and feel like we're failing our kids.
As a result, when we take time for ourselves, we judge ourselves incredibly harshly. And when we see other women pursuing their dreams, meeting their own needs, taking a damn break, we can judge them incredibly critically too. Between being consumed by the mom guilt and the fear of this judgement by others, we never get a break, but you know what, this is not serving us, our kids, or our families; we are BURNED OUT.
So instead of resenting the dads for taking a day for themselves, working late, checking out for a break when they need one or taking care of themselves seemingly guilt free (we have all been there haven’t we?) let’s follow suit. The dads have it right on this one. Plan a day away from the kids. Do something for yourself. Take a break when you need to. And don’t feel one bit badly about it.
We can rewrite these rules.
Dads AND moms can be great parents and take care of themselves, have their own goals, meet their own needs.
Let’s make mom guilt as much of a non-thing as dad guilt is.