What is ‘Mum Guilt’ and why do we feel it?
Mum guilt is a term that most mums are very familiar with, it refers to the emotional and psychological experience that many of us go through, where we feel guilty or anxious about aspects of our parenting, work-life balance, or decisions related to our children.
It can feel like a shadow that trails behind us; a silent companion woven into the fabric of our lives. It’s the echo of every decision, every choice, resonating with the question, “Am I doing enough for my child?”
From the moment we become mothers, we find ourselves navigating a maze of expectations, judgments, and comparisons. Society often paints an ideal image of the perfect mother, a portrait of selflessness and constant sacrifice. The pressure to live up to this ideal can feel suffocating at times.
Mum guilt is pervasive and sneaky, finding a way to seep into even the tiniest crevices of a mother’s heart. It creeps in when you are too tired to play, too swamped to attend a school event, or even when you just want a moment alone. It whispers, “You could do better,” even when you are giving your all.
Mainly, this feeling comes from societal expectations or perceived comparisons with other mothers along with pressure to be a “perfect” parent, and the desire to meet both personal and family needs.
Ironically, ‘mum guilt’ doesn’t just arise from societal pressures, but also from within. Us mothers often set impossibly high standards, aiming for a perfection that’s unattainable. Every mistake, no matter how small, can be amplified by a sense of personal failure. I think this is the key to why we don’t hear the phase ‘Dad Guilt’ anywhere nearly as often.
Historically, mothers have been traditionally expected to bear the primary responsibility for childcare and household duties, which can lead to a different set of pressures and guilt compared to fathers. In recent years, there has been a shift towards more equal parenting roles, but societal norms and expectations still contribute to the perception of “mum guilt” in distinct ways.