Parenting Regrets and Guilt

When a child struggles, it has to be your fault. It’s probably because you bought regular sweet potatoes and not the organic ones. Or you yelled at them that time when you should not have, or didn’t give them a dog when they needed the unconditional love of a pet.

Maybe your child suffers from depression which comes from your side of the family, used medication you had in the cabinet and became addicted, or used it to attempt suicide. If one of your children was more challenging, maybe you weren’t able to give the siblings as much attention because your bandwidth just didn’t reach that far.

Do you count the birthday cakes you baked? The costumes you put together for the play that took a special fringe that had to be ordered from India? What about the ten years you spent coaching their baseball team, ferrying them to and from sports and plays, the spend-the-nights, brownies, and bonfires? The meals you cooked and the love you shared?

We carry so much guilt, take a magnifying glass and hyper focus on everything we did wrong.

And as a mom whose child killed himself, I didn’t just feel guilt, I tortured myself for it for a long time before I forgave myself for being normal. Prior to his death I just knew his drug use was due to some parenting error.

Our kids are part of our families but they are snowflakes. Each one brings their own will, personality, and genetic code. We can’t control them or anyone other than ourselves. Two kids in the exact same home will react entirely differently to adverse circumstances. One hardly registers the event and the other can internalize it and blame themselves.

Parenting is hard. Period. And today, it’s especially hard. We all have regrets but can you put them in perspective and stop living in the past.

Published by

Anne Moss Rogers

I am an emotionally naked mental health speaker, and author of the Book, Diary of a Broken Mind and co-author with Kim O'Brien PhD, LICSW of Emotionally Naked: A Teacher's Guide to Preventing Suicide and Recognizing Students at Risk. I raised two boys, Richard and Charles, and lost my younger son, Charles to addiction and suicide on June 5, 2015. I help people foster a culture of connection to prevent suicide, reduce substance misuse and find life after loss. My motivational mental health keynotes, training and workshop topics include suicide prevention, addiction, mental illness, anxiety, coping strategies/resilience, and grief. As talented and funny as Charles was, letting other people know they matter was his greatest gift. And now the legacy I try and carry forward in my son's memory. Mental Health Speakers Website. Trained in ASIST and trainer for the evidence-based 4-hour training for everyone called safeTALK.

2 thoughts on “Parenting Regrets and Guilt”

  1. You are so right. I still beat myself up for not getting with the program quicker, and figuring out how badly he was doing. Even so, it’s hard to make a 25 year old do anything.

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