I recently read an article by Robin Grille called Parent Guilt: A Silent Epidemic.* It made me realise that I had been carrying around a huge amount of guilt about how I had raised William to date. Essentially my guilt relates to the first three months of William’s life (before I allowed myself to trust my instincts).
For example, I had guilt that:
I allowed him to go to sleep by himself (he self-settled from birth believe it or not ~ I actually thought that was a good thing until I read James McKenna’s research on co- sleeping!);
I put him in the co-sleeper next to my bed for three months (rather than in our bed);
I couldn’t let him comfort suck (I had attachment problems and it was too painful) . It did not take long for him to find his thumb for comfort ~ which is an everyday reminder for me.
… I think that was it!
I spoke to my husband a few times about how I felt and he would say to me ‘You did the best you could with the
knowledge you had at the time’. But, as a perfectionist, that just didn’t cut it. It didn’t alleviate my guilt. Then along
came Grille’s article – like it was written just for me! He explained that there is a difference between guilt and remorse.
He wrote that guilt is ‘self-focused – and it is about beating ourselves up. By definition, guilt is the fear of retribution. Guilt gnaws at your guts while it tells you ‘look what you’ve done, what kind of a parent are you? You should have known better!’ As a pre-emptive measure against judgment of our peers, guilt strikes the first blow against ourselves’.
On the other hand, Grille explains that remorse ‘builds love; it heals, it is the very thing that allows us to move on and let go’.
By shifting my perspective I could heal and build a better relationship with my son. So, while breastfeeding one day I spoke to William about my feelings. I know that he did not understand the words I spoke (he was only 9 months old), but I know that he would have felt the feeling I had. I actually cried during this discussion, which felt like a release.
Needless to say, I felt much better. Now, whilst I wish I had of read more natural parenting information before I gave birth, I feel that we are now on the right track (for us!) and I don’t carry around that guilt that kept me awake some nights.
I know that I’m not the only one that had this guilt. Parental guilt is everywhere. I’m sure while reading this your mind raised a few little guilts too. If so, feel them, acknowledge them and talk to your child about them and, if your child can talk, listen while your child tells you how they feel about it ~ as that
is the only way you can heal and move on to a more rewarding relationship with your child.
So, the second reason for starting the magazine was to provide others with the information I wish I had prior to having William to help them with their parental decisions. Knowing what I know now, I would have co-slept from the start, settled him to sleep every time and obtained lactation help much sooner.
Knowledge is power! So I hope that this is more power to you!
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