We’ve talked about how we can carry around guilt ourselves as single parents and ways to dig in and figure out where it is coming from and letting it go–but the truth is, guilt is not always self-generated. Sometimes, our single parent guilt is originating from people and situation outside of us. We might have an ex partner or spouse who is “laying on the guilt” because we have moved on; we may have family and friends who are putting their own values and belief systems onto us and trying to make us feel guilty for whatever reasons. What can we do to ward off these outside guilt trips and get and keep ourselves mentally healthy?
Being able to identify that an issue, baggage, or guilt is “not ours”–is a good first step. Just by being clear as to what is coming from within you and without, you can start to detach and separate yourself from negative and harmful emotions. Unfortunately, as long as we allow people to dump their guilt trips on us, some of them will continue to do it. It is up to us to figure out what our boundaries are and what is best for our families and find a way to set limits.
The hard thing is that some of this guilt can be coming from people who are incredibly close to us–our parents, best friends, lovers, partners, etc. As most of us know–it is often the ex partner or our child’s other parent that can lay on the heaviest of guilt trips and this can be a seemingly impossible situation! How do we advocate for ourselves with someone whom we have to continue to interact and try to focus on co-parenting?
The truth is, we might need help–getting a counselor or therapist, or joining a group to help us work through these boundary issues can be a good thing. Being able to step outside of the situation and work through what is really going on can mean that we need to remove ourselves from the people who are laying on the guilt–at least temporarily–while we develop the skills to stick up for ourselves and keep the guilt trips at bay.