Mothers and fathers should learn to let go of parental guilt, experts say

Guilt and parenthood seem to go together. When it comes to missing out on a child's game or performance, it can feel devastating to a parent.
But some experts say parents need to learn to let go of the guilt.

Jessica Lee knows that guilty feeling all too well. The busy nurse and single mom of four has kids who are active in everything from music to football. She struggles to juggle their performances and games with everything else life demands.

"I work. I work long hours and I can't be there for every game. I feel terrible when I miss something. You know, it hurts," Lee said.

Experts argue today's parents are pulled in so many directions that guilt can go through the roof.

"If they work, they feel extra guilty...if they're not spending time individually with each of their kids," said Ali Katz, a parenting and lifestyle coach. "Parents feel guilty about so many more things."

A recent survey found that half of working dads and 56 percent of working moms find it hard to balance all their responsibilities.

But Katz suggests using that guilt as a teaching moment -- something you learn that you can pass onto your kids.

"Feelings of disappointment or frustration are temporary -- they don't last forever," Katz said. "We all have uncomfortable feelings. We have to learn how to maneuver them, deal with them, and then they pass and we're on to something that feels better."

One suggestion: come up with creative solutions when you can't be at an event in person. Ask someone to step in for you. Katz said, "A partner, a family member, a friend can facetime you in, can text you updates of scores, can take pictures for you."

Then, make a point of reliving that experience with your kids later. Talk about the performance or game. Ask them to describe the event. Use the pictures or scores to show them your interest.
The key, say experts, is to show your children your relationship is about more than just that missed performance or game. It's the effort you make for most of their events.

"I'm there for every performance, every game that I can be there for, and they know that and that's what's important," Lee said.

And don't discount outside pressure. Katz says social media has a lot to do with some of the guilt that people feel. Keep in mind, many just post the positive, carefully curating their experiences in each post.

She reminds parents to remember that generally, most parents are dealing with the same issues of stress and guilt.
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