Coping with “Mom Guilt”

Leighya Richard, licensed psychotherapist specializing in Women's Mental Wellness and Perinatal Mental Health

Mom Guilt

Do you ever feel some kind of way after you treated yourself? Or celebrated something you worked so hard for? Or even for saying no when asked for a favor by friends and/or family?
This nagging feeling is so persistent and sometimes it’s difficult to shake.

Friends, allow me to Re-introduce you to


Not to be confused with remorse or even its close friends Depression and Anxiety.

Guilt is feeling bad for something you did  and because you did something you are a terrible person or you need to be punished daily or you don’t deserve to ever be happy. Feel free to fill in your version here_______________

Well the good news is you are not a sociopath and you have a conscience. (Just in case you were wondering). Let’s dissect this concept further.

Remorse vs Guilt

It’s a normal and human reaction to feel bad if there is something you did wrong. This essentially is remorse. Additionally, that feeling of remorse can encourage you to make amends or change your behavior which is helpful and healthy.

Guilt is taking remorse to  another level. Not only do you feel bad about ie: missing a key milestone in your child’s life, unable to help your family out or even missing a deadline at work, you also extend those perceived wrong doings to you as a person. So because you were unable to do something now you are a bad person, horrible mother and you don’t deserve love. Whoa that escalated quickly. Does that sound right to you? Would you have that same energy for your friend or even your child? Probably not…..

But what if the guilt is not warranted? What if you didn’t actually do anything wrong? What if you or others are putting pressure on you contributing to this feeling?

Let’s sort this out

1) Behavior doesn’t equal who you are. So, if you made a poor decision learn and grow from it. Beating yourself up and ruminating on it won’t change the past nor will it make you feel better. Ask yourself what purpose is this guilt serving?

2) Check in with yourself are you “Shoulding” on yourself? We have a tendency to put demands on ourselves that are 1) not realistic 2) based on cultural or societal expectations 3) Not helpful.
This is the number one thinking error contributing to resentment, depression, anger etc.
What unnecessary pressures are you putting on yourself?
Even if it is something that you “need” to do what would happen if this shifted to a preference?
For example, I would like to do xyz but if I don’t, it’s not the end of the world and it doesn’t reflect on who I am as a person. I am doing the best I can with what I have and I am working towards doing xyz.
This type of mindset will result in less guilt and other unpleasant feelings. Additionally, you are practicing self compassion as well as encouraging yourself to strive towards meeting that need or demand.
Does that make sense?

3) Piggy backing off of the last concept of thinking errors let’s talk about All or Nothing thinking. This or That? Could it ever be both? Could be in between? We either respond to our children’s beck and call or we are neglectful parents. How sway? With parenting there is always grey. There is no one way to go about things so why are we so rigid in our thinking?

You are not alone many women feel the same way. This blog isn’t meant to banish your guilt in three easy steps. ( I wish) What you can do is use these questions as a point of self-reflection and see what this guilt is really all about.  If guilt is seeping into other areas of your life you may benefit from working with a therapist.  Contact us today to help you lessen the guilt and help you live your best life!

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