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Mom Guilt: Understanding What It Is and How to Let It Go

Updated: Jun 29, 2023

It's no secret that motherhood is a beautiful journey that comes with many challenges, and one of the most common is mom guilt.

As mothers, we often find ourselves feeling inadequate, second-guessing our decisions, and questioning if we're doing this whole "mom thing" right. Most of us experience it first and at its height as new mothers, but unfortunately, it's a battle mothers face even years into raising their children.

Together, let's explore what mom guilt is, where it comes from, and how to cope with it and eventually overcome it. The goal is to find practical strategies to navigate through our complex emotions and finally let the burden of mom guilt go.

Mom Guilt: Understanding What It Is and How to Let It Go

What is Mom Guilt?

Mom guilt is the emotional response that arises when we believe we have fallen short of our own expectations or societal ideals of motherhood. It is the nagging feeling that we are not doing enough or that we are somehow failing our children. Common triggers of mom guilt include the desire to balance work and family, societal pressures, comparison to other mothers, and the unrealistic expectations we place on ourselves.

Mom guilt also takes the shape of unpleasant emotions that stem from the notion that we are not enough. It’s often accompanied with shame, fear, sadness, and more.

Who is at risk of experiencing Mom Guilt?

The truth is, mom guilt can affect any mother, regardless of age, background, or parenting style. From new moms adjusting to the demands of motherhood to seasoned moms juggling multiple responsibilities, mom guilt can creep in at any stage of the journey but most susceptible are new mothers and career moms. Fathers also experience parent guilt!

It is important to recognize that experiencing mom guilt does not make us inadequate or incapable as mothers! It is a normal response to the challenges and expectations we face.

Cultural Context of Mom Guilt for Filipinos

Our culture places a strong emphasis on the role of mothers as caregivers, nurturers, and self-sacrificing figures. While these values are deeply rooted and cherished, they can also contribute to heightened expectations and pressures on Filipino mothers. This cultural context plays a significant role in shaping our experiences of mom guilt, as we always strive to meet those expectations and withstand the many comparisons being made.

How Mom Guilt May Manifest

Mom guilt can manifest in various ways, and it is essential to acknowledge these common triggers and emotional experiences to fully process them. Let's explore some examples of mom guilt to shed light on the complexities of this emotion:

  1. Balancing work and motherhood - As working mothers, we often find ourselves torn between our professional commitments (whether we go to the office or work from home) and spending quality time with our children. The guilt of not being there for every milestone or missing important events can weigh heavily on our hearts.

  2. Setting screen time limits for children - In the digital age, managing our children's screen time has become a significant concern. Screen time is a quick and easy way to keep the kids preoccupied while we get things done. However, it leaves us guilty and full of self-doubt for the time limit we set.

  3. Social media - Comparing ourselves to the image of the "perfect mom" on social media can definitely add some extra pressure on us without even realizing! It can trigger feelings of inadequacy as we ask how these mothers "have it altogether" while we can barely make it through the week? Remind yourself that social media is curated!

  4. When our children get hurt or sick - As mothers, we always strive to protect our children from any harm. However, accidents and illnesses are a part of life, and when our child gets hurt or falls ill, we may experience overwhelming guilt. We blame ourselves for not preventing the accident and constantly question if we could have done something different. It is important to remember that accidents and illnesses are often beyond our control, and instead of blaming ourselves, we can focus on providing comfort, care, and seeking appropriate medical attention for our child.

  5. Feeling overwhelmed and losing temper - Motherhood can be overwhelming, and there are moments when our patience wears thin. During these times, we may experience guilt and self-blame for not always being the calm and composed mothers we aspire to be.

  6. Struggling with self-care - Putting ourselves first can feel like a selfish act when we have little ones depending on us. Neglecting our own well-being in favor of our children's needs can lead to guilt and a sense of losing our identity outside of motherhood.

chart on how to deal with mom guilt triggers
How to Deal with Mom Guilt Triggers

Coping with Mom Guilt

Contrary to what it feels like in the moment, mom guilt doesn’t have to control your thoughts. You have the power to take a breath and refocus on what you’re doing right. It takes a lot of practice but a little self compassion will go a long way. Let go of perfection and embrace progress. You are already more than enough.

While mom guilt may be a common companion on our motherhood journey, it is essential to develop healthy coping strategies to navigate its impact.

  1. Cultivating self-compassion and self-care Remember that you are doing your best and that self-care is not a luxury but a necessity. Prioritize your physical and emotional well-being, allowing yourself time for rest, relaxation, and activities that bring you joy.

  2. Seeking support from partner, family, and friends Lean on your support system. Share your feelings with your partner, seek advice from trusted family and friends, and surround yourself with a community of mothers who can offer empathy, understanding, and solidarity.

  3. Exploring mindfulness and stress reduction techniques Incorporate mindfulness practices, such as meditation or deep breathing exercises, into your daily routine. These techniques can help you stay present, manage stress, and let go of self-judgment.

  4. Connecting with a supportive community of fellow mothers Joining support groups such as Beacon Moms can provide validation, guidance, and a sense of belonging. Sharing your struggles and triumphs with others who truly understand can alleviate the weight of mom guilt.

  5. Seeking professional help Taking care of ourselves is never a sign of weakness. Seeking support in the form of a safe space with a professional is courageous. A threshold to self-care and healing, there are mental health experts here at Beacon who are trained to provide you exactly the kind of guidance you need.

Remember, mom guilt is REAL and it's okay to feel it. Take a deep breath, allow yourself to feel what you’re feeling, and then let it go. Easier said than done, we know, but remember that at the end of the day, you are the best mother for your child.

By understanding our triggers and own impossible expectations, we can begin to navigate this complex emotion with compassion and self-awareness. Because well mothers, mother well.


At Beacon, you can find a safe and confidential space where you can connect with our team of experts who specialize in maternal mental health. You are not alone on this journey.

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