Updated: Mar 9
Whether you're a brand new mom or have multiple children, you probably have found yourself feeling "guilty" from time to time.
Sometimes, you want to go on a date with your husband or out with your friends - but feel guilty because you're leaving your kids with someone other than you.
Sometimes, you want (or have) to work outside of the home - but feel guilty because you miss those precious moments in your kids' lives.
Sometimes, when you are home with your children, taking care them and the home - you feel guilty because you want some time AWAY from it all (even if it's just a 15 minute shower...or 5 minutes to poop in peace!)
Sometimes, you may even find yourself enjoying a bath, or a hot tea or coffee alone in a quiet home - and then the guilt creeps in because you feel like you should be DOING something right now.
What I hope to help you understand in this article is that there is an actual difference between real guilt and false guilt - although they can both feel very much the same.
According to Websters, GUILT is defined as "the state of one who has committed an offense especially consciously" or " feelings of deserving blame especially for imagined offenses or from a sense of inadequacy." Therefore, whether you are having REAL or FALSE guilt, it's going to FEEL the same!
There are only two things that can cause REAL guilt:
Violation of God's Law (i.e. "Love God and Love Others" Mark 12:30-31)
Violation of the "Law of the Land" (i.e. the governing authorities where you live)
When you violate these Laws, you are meant to feel badly (i.e. guilty) about it, so that you can make amends, restore relationships, and/or face the consequences of your actions - and then receive forgiveness & restoration and move on! Real guilt is reasonable - not to beat you down, but to help you change your behavior and turn back to God!
When you feel guilty because of some self-imposed reason, you end up "shoulding" all over yourself!
I should do more; I shouldn't need a break; I should've gone to that family dinner...
This is a learned response, usually triggered by our own or others' expectations that we did not meet. This kind of guilt is unreasonable, inappropriate and unhealthy as it only serves to "make you" feel badly by blaming yourself for not being or doing good enough. When it's false guilt, there's really no "amends" to make and therefore our guilty feelings do not get resolved and we cannot move on.
This is not going to be "instantaneous" so PLEASE don't start feeling guilty because now you "know" the difference so you shouldn't be feeling guilty about this or that but you still do! This is going to take time and practice to understand and recognize the differences! Connect with someone to help you - maybe a professional if the mom guilt has become debilitating - but even just a true friend who can hear you and hold your story and love you even when you make mistakes!