We carry it around on our back like a heavy toddler screaming for a piggy back ride. Every time I hear “Let it Go”, which is several times a day in a house with five kids, I think about how nice it would be if I could. I was reflecting on guilt last night, both my own and the guilt that other people so generously place on me. It occurred to me that every bad decision I have made in my life, every single one that I regret to my core, was made because of guilt. Someone convinced me that THEIR needs were more important than MY needs.
We do this all time. We tell our kids “No” but they give is that face. You know, the cute one that could melt ice during a Pittsburgh winter. Or we tell someone we can’t attend something because we don’t feel good and then after a guilt trip, we decide to try anyways. This is bad for a lot of reasons, but the worst part of guilt trips is how you feel towards the person afterwards. Here comes that “Let it go” theme again. Now please hear me, I know that holding a grudge is not the Christian thing to do. I am well aware that forgiveness always needs to take place. Forgiving does not mean forgetting. Chances are, if you put a guilt trip on me and it results in a bad outcome, I will not be able to forget that.
We are not taught to put our own needs first. We are wives, mothers, daughters, sisters, employees, and friends. I have always tried to put everyone’s needs before my own because I do believe that is what God wants us to do. However, I am pretty sure He is ok with boundaries! Nowhere in the bible does it say “Thou shalt never say No”.
I am raising a lot of teenagers right now, and I want them to say “No”. I don’t want them to fall prey to guilt trips like I did. Guilt makes you drink with your friend so she doesn’t have to drink alone. Guilt makes you sneak off to parties and lie to your parents about where you are going because your boyfriend tells you “If you loved me, you would want to be with me”. Guilt makes you do adult things that you are not ready to handle.
As a parent, I want to balance teaching my children to put others before themselves with taking GOOD care of themselves. I talk about stress a lot, and so much of our stress comes from guilt and the misconception that we have to meet everyone else’s needs.
How do you balance teaching your children to put others first while not falling for guilt? This Oily Mama needs your suggestions!