Guilty Parenting Might Be A Good Thing

I have great parents. They raised me and my siblings to try to always be good human beings. We were also raised with, at times the "Jewish Mother Guilt". I know this is not exclusive to my Jewish mother, as I have friends of all different ethnicity's and religions raised with plenty of guilt and are using that same guilt in many ways with their own kids, as have I, often feeling guilty about guilt giving!

It got me to thinking though. I'm the youngest of four, and we all turned out to be pretty decent adults. We are all different people, but we all share a common trait I attribute to my parents humble child rearing with a bit of guilt thrown in. We all own our actions. In other words, good or bad we take responsibility for our own "stuff".

"Teach a little shame so as not to learn to blame"

Perhaps we were shamed to take our blame and hold ourselves accountable. In my opinion, that came from the guilt parenting. For example, as a little girl I always would take more food on my plate then I'd ever finish, so my mom or dad would say the old line: "Don't you know there are kids starving in _____(fill in blank 3rd world country)? Which, I of course, would answer snarkily "Then send it to them!", which got me sent to my room. yet, deep inside my soul, I cultivated what that meant and how I was lucky to have what was put in front of me. It humbled me.

Then there was the time as a teen I came home past curfew. "You worried us to death, we had now idea if you were hurt or worse!", my mom said. Or when myself or my siblings would leave lights on or something running and my mom would say "Do you not understand how hard your father and I work to pay for electricity"?

You get the gist, there are dozens more examples I could use, and I'm sure you probably have a few of your own. Maybe, like me, you thought "I'll never do that when I have kids". But, Alas! You find yourself doing exactly the same thing. And why? Because there are times and situations when making a child "feel guilty" is also teaching them empathy. My two kids, Leo and Shira, turned out pretty okay, they both are doing well in college and more important are truly decent human beings. I did, in fact, use a bit of that parenting guilt at times, whether it was because I was exhausted and ran out of ideas in certain situations, or it just was something I got from my parents, but it did I believe instill in them that they are responsible when they mess up.

It seems in a world where there is so much blaming, maybe a little bit of my mothers "Jewish Guilt" motherly wisdom could go far for holding future adults accountable for their actions by learning what true remorse is and taking ownership when it's theirs to own. Perhaps a bit of shame may end the blame game?

It's something to contemplate! - Judi

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