Thursday, October 18, 2007

Back Link Redistributing/ Rechannelling Guilt

from bindi of the epossums blog

Susanne wrote recently of a mother's guilt. Her post has given me cause for reflection for a couple of weeks. Today my ideas crystallized...

I have been working hard this week. I am lucky in that my husband will take the children to school in the mornings and cook dinner in the evenings if I can't. Today I left as he was making the school lunches using pita bread from the freezer.

“Oh, no fresh bread!”, I remarked. “I hadn't realised we were close to running out because I didn't make the lunches yesterday”.

Notice here that my comment was motivated through guilt. Usually, stocking up the pantry is my domain. The result of my guilt-motivated comment was to subtly shift blame from myself onto him. The implicit message is, if you knew we were running low why didn't you buy some more bread, or even inform me? It is not my fault.

His reply was, “Yes, you have been absorbed in you own world lately”.

How did his comment make me feel? Slightly angry. It definitely fed my guilt.

As I drove off to work, I decided not to let his comment touch me. In my heart, I know he thinks I'm a good mum. The comment was pitched at the perfect level to push my buttons for the sake of argument, and that is all. It was a response to my attempt to redistribute my guilt. He is excellent at fighting fire with fire.

... I agree with Susanne. Guilt affects us all. However, what I hope to illustrate in my example above, is behaviour motivated by guilt. I think it is important to be able to make choices about the way we live.

Understanding how guilt motivates us is the first step towards being able to make the choice to live a different way.

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Blogger Susanne said...

Thank you for writing about this. When I wrote that post about mommy guilt on my own blog somebody commented and said that guilt was a good thing because it motivated us. Well, I don't believe in motivation through guilt and your example proves it. If you hadn't been so aware this could have resulted in a fight in which everyone would have tried to make the other one take the blame.

Feeling guilty is like wallowing in the problem instead of trying to find solutions.

19 October, 2007 11:47  
Anonymous bindi said...

Unfortunately lots of emotional energy in parenting can be wasted in attributing blame at the expense of productively supporting each other.

08 December, 2007 01:17  
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