Signs of Parenting Out of Guilt

Guilt is that unpleasant human emotion that tells you something is not quite right with the way things are going. Parents can experience guilt for a variety of reasons. If you find yourself awash in negative emotions, take a quick check for signs of guilty parenting. Although a guilty prod can be beneficial, ignoring guilt won’t produce positive results.


Regardless of the issues driving your guilt, depression or sadness can be an sign that you’re struggling internally. Perhaps you feel depressed about one single event or action such as an accident or injury. You could also be reeling from guilt associated from an ongoing circumstance -- working and spending less time with your kids or not being able to afford extras that your kids want. If a dense fog of sadness envelops you, look carefully to see whether guilt lurks there.


Some parents process feelings of guilt by hovering over children at every opportunity. This hyper-vigilance places you squarely in the middle of all of your children’s daily activities. You insist on being involved and informed about every detail, micromanaging the situation as you care for your children. The rationale of hovering might be that you’re protecting your children from harm, but the reality might be that you’re struggling with feelings of inadequacy and guilt about not having been there enough for your children, according to the Psychology Today website 1.

Demanding Perfection

Feeling guilty about parenting skills could manifest itself in your expectations for your children. You might demand perfection from your children as they learn skills and earn grades. Such demands might stem from a feeling of guilt that you’re not doing enough and your children aren’t developing and learning as they should. The result of your demands for perfection might be your children feeling inadequate. Children might try to hide their fears and feelings of inadequacy to protect you or they might reject your demands and distance themselves emotionally, warns the Psychology Today website 1.


Parents who struggle with guilt might revert to a permissive parenting style in an attempt to protect children or give children material possessions. The refusal to set consistent limits because you feel guilty about the time you spend away from your children will only confuse children and it could teach them to be manipulative. By allowing guilt to foster permissive parenting, you might also create spoiled, self-centered children, according to the University of Alabama.