Media Monday – Mother guilt – Where does the pressure come from?

Mother guilt. Is this merely a term to describe mothers with perfectionist tendencies? Or does this term impact ALL mothers regardless of race, religion or parenting style? Is the perfect or good mother a myth?

Where does our guilt come from? Does it stem from pressure in the media and popular culture? Or does it come from our own unrealistic expectations of the kind of mothers we want to be?

Images of motherhood we see in the media and advertising don’t offer the full picture. We experience the odd “it must be love love love” moments but we also experience frustration, exhaustion,  dirt,  noise and  tears (often ours). This is normal.

Advertising works in a way that normalises perfection so we constantly feel we are never good enough.

But, are we only influenced by popular culture? What about mothers who go against the mainstream and embrace a natural parenting style? Surely they don’t experience mother guilt?

Cass from Australian mum’s commented that whilst feminist Elisabeth Badinter accuses natural parents of placing unnecessary pressure on themselves to parent to this ideal – she may actually have a point. Natural parents and especially those committed to attachment parenting DO experience guilt.

I consider myself a natural-ish parent. I breastfeed. I co-sleep.  I feed my kids healthy, organic food. I question vaccinations.  I think a home-birth would be lovely but I’ve had 4 c-sections. I sometimes use a pram and God forbid, allow my children to eat Mcdonalds. This is why I’ve always been hesitant to declare boldly I AM A NATURAL PARENT.  I don’t measure up. If I was to be quizzed on how natural I am – I would probably fail.

So, beneath the criticism perhaps Elisabeth Badinter has a point.

I am a classic over-thinker. This is why writing a blog is so cathartic for me. I think about everything and I’ll admit, get very passionate (aka obsessed) when something intrigues me.

Recently , I have considered not vaccinating my youngest child. I have literally read dozens of books and ploughed through hundreds of websites. I’ve spent time on the phone to the health department, to doctors and non-vaccinating parents. I have spent hours upon hours researching this decision. It has stressed me out. I’ve had trouble sleeping and I still don’t know what the right decision is. It’s times like this I wish I didn’t think so much. It just makes my life, more um, complicated? More pressured? More guilt-inducing? The ironic thing is, I will probably feel guilty regardless of the decision I make. If I vaccinate I’ll feel guilty if my child has a reaction and if I don’t, I’ll feel guilty if she gets sick from a preventable illness.

Why are we so obsessed with doing this RIGHT? Why are we so afraid of getting this WRONG?  Why is there so much pressure? Are we over-thinking some things? As a culture, is our obsession with research (e.g reading lots of various blogs) and over-thinking guilt-inducing?

Do you feel guilty? What drives your guilt?

Leave a comment