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Friday Rant Club – why is it only mothers who feel guilty?

Ok I know that this a sweeping generalisation – so go on, shoot me down…

But seriously, why is it only mothers who feel guilty?

Show me the fathers, the husbands who feel guilty that they work full time and aren’t with their children?
Show me the fathers that spend hours questioning their parenting decisions?

Show me the fathers that worry about their decision to support their child being breastfed or bottlefed?

Show me the fathers that fret about Gina vs. attachment parenting?

Show me the fathers that sit up in the middle of the night questioning whether their child’s diet needs more fish or less meat in it?

Get a group of mothers together and at some point the conversation will turn to guilt about one thing or another.  Get a group of fathers together and the conversation is more likely to turn to some sporting event or gadget.


Why when Bigger asks me if I am going to play with her today on a working day I feel a stomach churning angst?  When she asks Mr the same question he doesn’t have the same reaction.  Yes he misses the girls desperately when he doesn’t get to see them, and yes he would like to spend more time with them but its not as if there is a degree of parenting guilt attached.

How does this happen?

Does someone inject you with a guilt inducing drug when you give birth?  Is there some switch that gets flicked once you have a baby?  Is this some strange hormonal kick in the teeth that Mother Nature thought was a good idea?

And how on earth can you get rid of it?

I like to think that I’m fairly immune to the guilt, which probably has something to do with the testosterone poisoning I got from my decade in investment banking, but occasionally it hits me and I’d really rather it didn’t.  Is a sex change the only option?


The Friday Rant Club is a chance to get those niggles, those irritants, those things that make you want to throw a toddler-stylee tantrum off your chest before the weekend.

Go on, let it all out and if you feel like it there’s a rather nice little button over there on the right to show you too rant

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9 comments to Friday Rant Club – why is it only mothers who feel guilty?

  • Redbedhead

    It is definitely the same in our house although I do wonder if it is just down to our natural temperament. Mr RBH is soooo relaxed about things he is nearly horizontal while I am the big thinker – my mind is constantly whirring and with that comes all the ‘have I made the right decision / should I have done that differently’ type guilts.

  • nikhk

    I think Kirsty has a point about societal pressure – there is so much emphasis on making sure you bring up your children in the ‘right’ way, much of it aimed at women. There’s a whole industry based on advising us on the best way to parent, and who do they primarily market to? Us girls.

    It is a bit chicken-and-egg though – is that industry there because we created the demand for it by questioning ourselves every step of the way?

    • Muddling Along

      Interesting point – did the whole help book thing spring up because we wanted it or has it now made us doubt ourselves

  • Andrea

    One of the problems I have been pondering this weeks is it is other women that often create the guilt feelings and pressure to do things in a certain way

    • Muddling Along

      It is strange that the people who seem to judge us most are other women, or perhaps that we perceive ourselves to be judged by other women?

  • Kirsty

    I think you might be right with natural hormones – it would certainly make sense in evolutionary terms. I guess also it’s a result of having so much choice. I doubt that we’d be agonising over whether we’re feeding our kids too much meat if getting food on the table was a struggle. The more options there are, the more ways we have to ‘get it wrong’?

    Do you think it’s a result of society/the media putting pressure on women to be all things, do everything well, and that this idea has seeped into the collective subconscious and women are seen as responsible for all things child and home related? Or maybe a woman’s ‘natural’, pre-disposed role, eternal through the ages, is to directly nurture children, and now that we have more choices, our instincts are struggling to catch up? Big questions!

    FWIW, I feel guilty all the time and I don’t work!

    • Muddling Along

      It has to be the hormones… blasted things

      And thinking about it your point about choices is bang on the issue – there are too many choices and that does make it harder. I think some of the isolation also makes it tough, if you are bringing up children in the context of a wider family then they are implicitly supporting you and helping you, rather than seeing you occasionally and the being perceived as critising the choices you have made yourself

  • I think it’s probably that we are indoctrinated from birth to always do everything perfectly – and trying to combine parenting and a full-time job is always going to involve a huge juggling act and unless you are superwoman something is going to give. It can’t really be the job or you’ll lose it…which means family in some way or another, which equals guilt…I’m not sure that feminism did women any favours to be honest – it seems to have just raised the bar.

  • nurture or nature – I still think it’s mostly nature. I mean, I had all intentions to go back to work full time and not feel guilty, in fact saw childcare as making sure I didn’t mess my kids up. Until they were there. Maybe it’s because we carry them, birth them, feed them – the bond is different and hormones and protection feelings kick in more than they do for fathers.
    Now I want to work part time, I want to spend more times with my children, in spite of having the more secure job. I don’t feel guilty as such, but my priorities have shifted and I have put my career on ice. I know I could climb the career ladder but I’m just not interested just now.

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