Parenting Blog

The official blog for Ann Douglas, parenting book author and weekend parenting columnist for CBC Radio. Ann is the creator of The Mother of All Books series and the author of Parenting Through the Storm. Her most recent book, Happy Parents, Happy Kids, was published by HarperCollins Canada in February 2019.

Self-Compassion is the Ultimate Parenting Guilt Eraser

Parenting guilt eraser self compassion.jpg

Here’s that parenting guilt eraser you’ve been looking for.

It’s called “self compassion” and it makes parenting so much easier and less stressful.

Learning about self-compassion has been life changing for me, both as a parent and as a person.

  • It has encouraged me to embrace my own glorious imperfection.

  • It has helped me to see myself as a work-in-progress and to recognize the hard work of being human as an amazing opportunity for personal discovery and growth.

  • It has helped me to recognize that I don’t have to be perfect and neither do my kids. We can be gloriously imperfect together.

And that’s why I write and speak about self-compassion so passionately and so often: because self-compassion is the ultimate guilt eraser.

Eager to start applying the principles of self-compassion to your own life? Here’s a simple way to get started. Think about what you would say to a friend who was having a really hard time (what you would say to support and encourage that friend) and then say those very same kind and reassuring words to yourself. Perhaps you might find yourself telling your friend something like this: “You’re doing the best that you can in a really difficult situation.” (Because sometimes life – and parenting – can be really hard.)

Want to know more? My most recent book, Happy Parents, Happy Kids, takes a deep dive into all things self-compassion. I also highly recommend Kristen Neff’s book Self-Compassion – the book that got me thinking about self-compassion in the first place.

If you have a story to share about how you’ve been working at practicing self-compassion in your own life and/or encouraging other people (maybe your kids?) to do the same, I’d love to hear it. Hopefully, by sharing your story, you'll encourage other people to be a little kinder to themselves, too -- which may help to send out ripples of kindness into our world.

Can We Talk About Summer Parenting Guilt?

Work-life imbalance tends to get worse during the summer months, fuelling feelings of parental guilt, notes Ann Douglas, author of Happy Parents, Happy Kids.

Work-life imbalance tends to get worse during the summer months, fuelling feelings of parental guilt, notes Ann Douglas, author of Happy Parents, Happy Kids.

Can we talk about summer parenting guilt: about the fact that work-life imbalance has a tendency to become nothing short of crushing during the summer months?

Most parents I know are scrambling to piece together a patchwork quilt of summer childcare solutions — often very expensive solutions — in order to respond to the problem that has been dumped in their laps: the fact that the school year calendar is completely out of synch with the world of work.

Why does this matter? Because there’s a huge and growing body of research to show that work-life imbalance is a major source of parenting guilt and parental unhappiness.

But here’s the thing: parents aren’t the ones who should be feeling guilty. It’s policymakers who should be feeling guilty—for failing to create family and workplace policies that actually acknowledge the realities of what it means to be a parent in 2019.

We need policies that recognize the fact that the world of work has changed dramatically over the past few decades. Most parents aren’t just working: they’re working full-time — and someone needs to be caring for their kids while they’re at work.

So instead of allowing yourself to feel crushed by work-life imbalance guilt this summer, channel that emotional energy in other directions. Talk to other parents about what they’re thinking and feeling. Look for opportunities to join forces in some way. Maybe there’s a way you could help one another to shoulder some of the summer parenting load. And, while you’re at it, maybe you could start a conversation about the kinds of social and workplace policies that would actually help to ease that load. Because if every parent is feeling massively overloaded, isn’t it time for workplaces and policymakers to look for ways to ease that load? On second thought, isn’t it long past that time?

Ann Douglas is the author of numerous books about parenting including, most recently, Happy Parents, Happy Kids, which explains why so many parents are feeling anxious, guilty, and overwhelmed — and what it’s actually going to take to make things better.