Feeling Guilty as a Parent

I imagine we all have shared the experience of being shamed.  Parents, even the best of parents, I imagine slipped at some point in this regard, saddling their children with a overwhelming “guilt trip” that creates the experience of being shamed.

I get why  we call it a “trip.”  During my own lapses with my kids, that is exactly what it was – a recitation of a litany of transgressions – an oh so unpleasant trip down memory lane.  The word is hard to write but the word that comes to mind is “berating.”

So how do we hold those moments?  In working on the Alcatraz series with the content team, it is clear guilt is a two edged sword.  There is, as God makes clear a positive form of guilt.  “Remorse” might be a good synonym.  This positive guilt focuses attention on accountability and action – i.e. “I erred.  This is where.  This is what I am doing to make it right.”  Without some degree of healthy guilt, repentance is impossible.

And guilt can do too far.  Negative guilt tends to frankly shrivel the soul.  It keeps one imprisoned – small, dark space, all alone.  It can go so far that we suffer from a spiritual version of the “Stockholm Syndrome” – a syndrome in which we fall in love our captors.  As Shada Sullivan noted, this in turn becomes the very personification of hell’s impact on us.

Moving beyond negative, imprisoning guilt is immensely challenging.  Maybe one “Monday Morning” thought – God is more interested in change than in guilt.

2 Responses to “Feeling Guilty as a Parent”

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