06 Dec Shame and Guilt: When Your Child Fails As A Parent
My child has failed as a parent! There is nothing more devastating than feeling this in your heart. You know you have done everything you thought was right. You did the best you could; you’ve given it your all. You know that like everyone else, you have made mistakes and that your own life has gotten you into some sticky stuff, but still the questions creep in and take over. “Was I that bad of a parent? I thought I taught them better than this. Why?! What went wrong? Where did “I” go wrong?”
This shame and guilt will consume you and make you angry. You want to fix it and make it go away. You want to make it all better. Your child only wants you to listen, but listening feels like you are condoning the behavior—the behavior that has caused you and so many others such stress and pain. Instead, you shake your finger, scold them, and think you can shame them into making better choices. You can’t. It doesn’t work. The more you try, the more you push them away. This makes you feel even worse. Sometimes the idea of being one big happy family can feel so hopeless and far away.
These are some of the many thoughts and feelings that I as a grandparent raising my grandchild experience. I have heard many of the same things through my interactions with other grandparents in similar situations. It can be so difficult not to blame yourself. It can be so hard not to place all the responsibility for our child’s choices and actions on ourselves.
It makes sense that we would want to fix the situation, but one of the most important things to keep in mind is to remember that this is not your fault. This is not your undoing.
This may be one of the most difficult things you will ever have to do. But as one wise grandmother told me, “I never lost hope, and I never will.”
We are resilient.
By Gail Engel, Founder of Grand Family Coalition, Jana Carson GRANDcares Site Coordinator, Bev Bar, grandmother