How many times have you heard a mom say, with a wink and a smile, “you know, it’s just that mom guilt”? I have said it often myself. It’s as if, by making a joke, it’s not real somehow.

I’m in the process of being certified as a Shanker Self-Reg Learning Facilitator. Dr. Stuart Shanker’s Self-Reg model talks about the 5 steps of Self-Reg as being Reframing, Recognizing, Reducing, Reflecting and Responding. I am delving deep into the Reframing step right now in my course work. Reframing is about looking at an old problem through a different frame or lens. I like to think of it as if I’m a photographer. If I’m looking through the lens of a camera and the view is not quite right, I can step just a few feet in either direction to give a completely new frame for a great picture. This is reframing – looking at the same view from a different perspective.


Reframing is something that is often easily done when kids misbehave. We see they are struggling, we see they are tired, we see they are hungry.

Somehow, we can’t as easily reframe our own behaviours and, especially, not our own emotions as complex as guilt.

Why would we want to reframe our mom guilt?

We talk about mom guilt as if it is a joke. As if it’s not real or we ‘shouldn’t’ feel it. But the fact is we DO feel it and it IS real. More importantly, our bodies respond to this mom guilt by getting stressed. We set higher and higher expectations for ourselves to combat this guilt, we get overwhelmed when these expectations can’t be met and we end up snapping at our kids, throwing unnecessary punishments at them, having sleepless nights and getting tense muscles from the weight of all this on our shoulders.

Those are pretty good reasons to reframe mom guilt –  Let’s reframe!

There are many different definitions but one of the most common is that it is an emotion felt when we believe we deserve blame.

We give our all to our children and when things don’t work our perfectly (and they never do), we take on the full blame for this. We should have done better, we should have tried harder, we should have worked/not worked/changed their schools/home schooled/bought more food/bought less food/bought different food/ yelled more/yelled less/slept more/slept less … on and on and on.

Do you see a pattern here?

We never feel like we did anything ok. I wonder if it is less about believing we deserve blame and more about our ability to accept ourselves as human, wonderfully imperfect humans.

What if we consider the possibility that all these things (that we should have done better) are a matter of us being human? Could that be possible? I think so.

This would then mean that we can accept the possibility that we are doing the best we can and that we have always done the best we could.

So, the next time you hear yourself saying, with a wink and a smile, “you know, it’s just that mom guilt”, take a pause and consider the possibility that you are just a wonderfully imperfect human being, you are doing the best you can and….you can push the reset button any time to start the day over in guilt free way!

Penny Mayo, a Parent Solutions Consultant, Helps Families Help Themselves! Struggling with finding support for her challenging kids, Penny changed her career from engineering to working with kids with different needs. Through experience, Penny has honed her ability to see the stressors that kids face and to collaboratively solve the problems that stand in the way of a calm home front. Now, Penny teaches other parents how to do this for their own families. She provides consulting and, workshops and is developing on-line resources for parents.

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