Guilt Tripping - Dealing with Parental Guilt

By Sal Haque 2019-11-01 11:53:17

There’s a complexity of emotions, which all build the relationship between father and son. Among them, guilt has a fundamental impact on our child’s behavior and our parenting style.


The misuse of guilt may lead to rebellion, less than desirable behavior, and potential daddy issues. So, be careful not to overuse this laser of shame, or your daughter could end up spending her university years with some 25 year old bar jock, posing drunk for instagram pics. Real talk!


Guilt, carefully honed, is a serious combatant against bad behavior. My kid’s five, and he for sure feels rudimentary guilt when scolded. You can tell, because he buries his head in a pillow, and kind of flops around all sad for a bit. It still doesn’t stop him from being bad, but it’s a sign that he’s developing a sense of shame. It’s a milestone in parenting, showing us that our effort, in guiding his sense of ethics and standards, is indeed working. But while our children begin their journey into morality, we fathers are also beginning to understand guilt from a whole other perspective.


Fatherhood is an evolving discipline, and we continually learn as our child gets older. But one thing we may not see coming, is the overarching sense of guilt that creeps up, as our baby begins to transform into an actual person. Babies don’t really complain, and they’re generally content as long as they receive basic sustenance, warmth, and love. But once they begin to form ideas and expectations, their needs and wants grow exponentially, and until your kid is emotionally and financially independent, you’re directly responsible for everything it can and can’t do, and everything it has or doesn’t have.


My kids growing sense of “wants” is also redefining his world at a rapid pace. Within a year he has developed his food appreciation beyond just Cheerios and become a mini food connoisseur. His concept of toys went from dinosaurs, to Lego and ninja turtles. It’s no longer just about music, but instead specific songs. He all of a sudden has preferences, which I have to acknowledge, and embrace, because he is building his sense of self and identity. But there is a complexity in that we can not always give them that specific want or preference.


The relationship between father and son is a relationship which will grow exponentially; beginning from when your kid’s a toddler until he reaches the security of adulthood. And it’s pretty much a given that along the way there will be many cases where we fail and many cases where we succeed, and they both might result in guilt. I guess as dads, what’s most important is keeping it all in perspective and hopefully teaching our kids to do the same.