Deprogram your MotherGuilt

By Claudia Keech

How guilty did or do you feel when you let your baby cry at night?  You may be/have been exhausted or trying a method of teaching your newborn to sleep through the night. Either way you were probably lying in bed or even standing outside the nursery door - feeling guilty?

Do you sometimes feel guilty when you fix a quick meal minus a food group or three or pick-up a cheap takeaway meal for the family after a long day?

For Mums, guilt begins when you worry about how much you drank, ate or partied before you even knew you were pregnant?

For Dads it seems to kick in at the labour ward, when you realise that the precious cargo you created is not going to arrive with an effortless leap, double pike and dive into life ……..meanwhile your wife/partner is angsting over the choice of natural vs how many drugs to assist labour and emergency or last-minute elective Caesarean, PLUS the guilt which can accompany any choice she makes.

According to Ita Buttrose and Dr Penny Adams joint authors of Motherguilt today's mothers are actually suffering from an epidemic of guilt that is so powerful and so uniquely related to motherhood that it has its own name - Motherguilt!

According to Dr Adams modern mums, want only the very best for their families, and can run themselves ragged, taking care of everyone and everything else before considering their own needs. When things go wrong, as they inevitably do, they blame themselves. In Motherguilt Ita, Pru Goward, Johanna Griggs, Jean Kittson, Wendy Harmer and a host of well known Aussie mums talk guilt.

Fatherguilt seems close on the heels of Motherguilt as 21st Century Dad's Australia-wide feel guilt about missing the first day at school, the sports and concert events, a birthday party and other major milestones. But - while working Dads (and many working Mums) feeling guilty about missing real-life VIP events… it appears ALL mums feel guilty about any and everything as they run after the family.

According to Dr Adams it is possible to deprogram the guilt-factor……….

  • Learn to say no.
  • Enjoy time with your children - a tidy house is a sign of a wasted mind. Unimportant tasks can wait. Take time out to have fun with your kids.
  • Enjoy being sick occasionally - Be kind to yourself, don't battle on when you feel unwell. Accept or seek offers of assistance and look after yourself.
  • Enjoy being like other mothers. Just about everyone gets tired, has trouble breastfeeding at some point, doesn't have a home like Vogue living and does have an overflowing basket of dirty washing.
  • Enjoy time for yourself - An hour or a night off or a few minutes each day - just for yourself.
  • Enjoy being a mother - Praise yourself and other mothers whenever you can.


For an instant feel good, read the Wendy Harmer list of guilt ………

  • On Friday nights, I get pissed and I give them (the kids) frozen food for dinner.
  • Occasionally I forget to give them a bath.
  • Sometimes, because I am really tired, I dodge family occasions that I should attend and pretend I have to work.
  • I often skip whole sections of books when I am reading to the kids, because I want to go to sleep.
  • I keep Maeve's (Wendy's daughter) hair short because I can't be bothered doing it - but it does suit her!
  • Sometimes I park the kids in front of the TV (doesn't everyone) when I should be doing something with them.
  • I have never spent hours making one of those children's birthday cakes out of a Women's Weekly cookbook. Once I made the most crappy birthday cake ever. I bought about forty iced doughnuts, arranged them in a big pile, and stuck candles everywhere. It was a huge hit.

I know what she means! A wall/birthday cake of 30 lamingtons put together a-la-LegoLand was considered totally "sick" (brilliant) for my son's 10 th birthday….and I didn’t feel an ounce of guilt!

MotherGuilt - Ita Buttrose and Dr Penny Adams, Penguin Books