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On “Mom Guilt” and Self-Compassion

Parents, and especially mothers, often blame themselves for issues their children face—including issues over which the parents have little or no control. Such internalized guilt can have adverse effects on both parents and children. Amy Paturel’s essay in the Washington Post explores the roots of such feelings and recommends a self-care response.

Who’s to blame for a child’s birth abnormalities, or congenital illness? More importantly, is that the right question to ask? Is “blame” even a useful idea in such situations?

As a psychologist cited by the author notes, “Women are especially good at taking credit for everything that’s wrong in their kids’ lives, in part because the tremendous societal pressure to raise kids ‘right’ often falls on moms, not dads.” But no one benefits when we blame ourselves for suffering we likely could not have foreseen, let alone prevented.

Of course, recognizing that we don’t “deserve” all our negative and painful feelings is easier than ceasing to feel them. But as Paturel points out, there are techniques and approaches than can often reduce our internalized suffering.

Anyone with a Loved One struggling with substance use is likely to find these reflections pertinent indeed. Check out the essay here:


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In your comments, please show respect for each other and do not give advice. Please consider that your choice of words has the power to reduce stigma and change opinions (ie, "person struggling with substance use" vs. "addict", "use" vs. "abuse"...)