Is Parent Guilt Real?

Mom is surprised by family video on a laptop while being interviewed

Is Parent Guilt Real?

There’s no doubt about it: Parenting is hard. Guilt is a feeling that many parents struggle with — especially those who juggle full-time jobs in addition to taking care of their families.

At Primrose, we decided to tackle parent guilt head-on by finding a unique way to reassure parents that they’re doing a great job — even if it doesn’t always feel that way.

We told parents what they need to hear

We found five parents who not only juggle work and family but also are committed to nurturing positive character traits in their children. Then, we gave them the surprise of their lives under the guise of a marketing research project. We asked them questions about parenting, but at the end of the interview we showed them video of their loved ones telling them what a great job they’re doing as parents. As you’ll see, their reactions are priceless.

Afterward, we asked two of the moms — Maria, a nurse practitioner and mother of five, and Melissa, a sales director and mom of two — to share their experiences:

What did you think walking into this experience?

Maria: I walked into the interview nervous and didn’t know what to expect. As a working mother, I often feel overwhelmed, alone and sometimes defeated. I was in utter disbelief when I learned that this experience was meant for me — I felt re-energized, motivated and, best of all, noticed. Although I don’t seek recognition, I secretly yearn to be recognized and validated as a good parent. After the interview, I felt important, empowered and encouraged to continue being a mother!

Melissa: The night before the interview, I told my husband that I felt like I couldn’t breathe at work, and I felt so guilty for spending two to three nights a week away from the family traveling. So the question about mom guilt really stuck out to me. I’m constantly balancing the demands of my job and the demands of being a mom — never feeling that I’m doing enough. After the reveal, I was so inspired — and am still over the moon about it. Just hearing the words “thank you” and being appreciated means the world. Knowing I have an incredible support system appreciating me and backing me up is the best. It made me feel amazing, like I could conquer another day!

How have your thoughts on parent guilt changed — and how do you plan to control guilt moving forward?

Melissa: I don’t think that mom guilt will ever go away. However, I’ll stop and watch the video whenever I need a reminder that I’m doing a great job. Just reflecting on the video and the day makes me feel so special and appreciated.

Maria: This experience helped me understand that I’m not alone. Now, I’m committed to making more time for me — I’m planning to take yoga one or two times per week to help center myself and come back rejuvenated.

What messages do you have for other working parents?

Maria: Stay positive and live in the moment with your family. Know that you are appreciated, even if you’re not often told. You are doing an amazing job that is not easy and deserves an abundance of praise. Don’t feel guilty when you take time for yourself, and if guilt still creeps in occasionally, just know that you are not alone.

Melissa: Being a parent is the hardest job on the planet! I want to tell every mom and dad that they’re doing a great job and to keep up the awesome work! You’re doing enough.

At Primrose, we want to make parents feel supported and celebrated for their efforts to raise kind, caring and compassionate children. Learn more from USA Today about how we helped surprise working moms and encouraged them to let guilt go.

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