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Guilty Parenting...

Stick's picture

There's a lot of talk on this site about guilty parenting... guilty fathers, etc.

Do I believe in guilty parenting? YES

Do I think that there is a higher percentage of stepparents on this site that deal with significant others who are guilty parents? YES, this site definitely seems to attract Stepparents that need a place to vent and look for advice, so YES.

Do I think that our perception of guilty parenting is correct? NO... not always, I have to say.

I do think that some of our spouses / SO's are guilty of guilty parenting!! I do! But not always.

Not every single thing they do for their kid is a result of their guilty parenting, or is motivated by guilt, spoiling etc. Sometimes that is just the parent they are (whether that be to their child with BM or that be to any children they may have.)

I don't think that these parents are always at fault of guilty parenting any more than I believe that every time I get pissed off at SD it's because I am jealous of her and / or BM, I am feeling out of control in my situation, I don't understand because I don't have my own children, etc.

Sometimes I'm just pissed off at SD because she did something that, in my opinion, is messed up!!

So ladies, I guess the only thing that I would like to impart today (because I have seen a lot of the guilty parent subject come up lately) is to try to remember that EVEN IF your spouse/s.o. IS a guilty parent... not everything they do is motivated by that. To assume it is, or to just write off their actions under that umbrella, to me, is like saying about ourselves... that because we are stepparents we always have "evil" motivations.


Stick's picture

Stepma!!! Thank you!! That's exactly my point!

*** A rainbow just threw up on me... and now I'm sh*tting glitter! ***

Stick's picture

My definition of a guilt parent is a parent who tries to assuage a situation with extra love (favortism), or extra material things, or a different set of rules.

The tricky part about it... is this...

Let's take a classic "guilty father". He thinks the sun rises and sets on his kids. He spoils them and defends them from criticism from the step mom. He wants to enforce discipline, but is sometimes held back because he feels that the kids are acting out their hurt from the divorce.

Okay... that's somewhat classic guilt and some not. He could have thought the sun rose and set on his kids way before the divorce! Having someone else witness it first hand doesn't make him a guilty parent.

He spoils them. Sure, some of it is spoiling due to feeling that "if BM and I were together, I'd get them this".... And some of it is as easy as the father just seeing something and thinking about his child and thinking, "Wow, I'd like my kid to have that". It has nothing to do with the divorce and EVERYTHING to do with that person as a father.

And as far as defending a child against the other parent... that happens in intact families as well.

My definition is the same as I believe everyone else's on here.

But I still think that just because a parent MAY INDEED BE a guilt parent.... not everything they do falls under that umbrella.

Just like I'm not the evil stepmom (at least I don't think so!!!) Smile Some things I do could look like the evil stepmom... but that doesn't make me one.

Stick's picture

Youngwife... I'm not so sure if that's a guilty parent... a lazy parent (thanks Cruella!) ... or an ignorant, immature parent.

The difference being motivation and follow through and the ability to learn and change.

*** A rainbow just threw up on me... and now I'm sh*tting glitter! ***

Wicked.Step.Monster's picture

Excellent post Stick!!! I have touched on the same thing before when I've written about just the way DH and I parent. Yes, once in a while DH does things simply out of guilt, and once in a while, I do the same thing with perfectson. I DO feel guilty on occasion that he didn't get the regular nuclear family he was born into and now he's in this step family that he didn't ask for. So sure, I do things out of guilt sometimes.

However, DH and I would definitely be labeled as 'Disneyland' parents. We buy the kids tons of stuff that they don't need, but that they want (when we can afford it), we are always on the go whether it be ball games, movies, amusement parks, zoos, whatever we can afford to do and wherever we wake up and decide to go. Some weekends, like this weekend when SDs aren't here and perfectson has been gone most of the weekend, DH and I have some quiet together time, but it's a rare treat. Usually, it's all about the kids. Is all of that out of guilt? Absolutely not!!! This is just the way we live. BM doesn't do any of that stuff and she loves to slap the disneyland label on us, but the truth of the matter is that's just one of the many reasons she and DH split up years back. She doesn't like to do anything or go anywhere. So because I do, and DH and I do all this stuff with the girls, it's supposedly out of guilt. Nope, it's not, it's just the way we live.

Stick's picture

Cruella... yeah, I think that's partly guilt parenting... and partly just who he is. I really think that if you and your husband had those kiddles together, he'd still be making you the Enforcer. I think he just doesn't know how to "be the bad guy". Is he like that with people he works with and friends and family? If he the kind of guy that can't be the bad guy with them either? Or is he the tough guy with everyone BUT his kids??? Wink

*** A rainbow just threw up on me... and now I'm sh*tting glitter! ***

BMJen's picture

I hate seeing "guilt parent" thrown around all the time with no basis as well. My reasoning is the same, not everything they do is guilt. And.....this is a huge AND......why wouldn't they feel guilty?

I know my DH loves his daughters to death. He used to get to kiss them good night every single night, tuck them in, be there for every single crisis. Now he's not. Now he's EOW. It hurts him, so when his daughter is over he doesn't want to spend the few precious days a month he does have with her fussing at her. I don't blame him, I don't either! I want her to have fun when she's with us. I want it to be light hearted and relaxing. I want to enjoy her. If something comes up that we have no choice but to lay down the law we do, but I can honestly say that DH and I both guilt parent, if that's what you want to call it, SD 15. It's not out of any kind of guilt, it's just because she is a huge part of our hearts and we don't get to see her very often. That's not guilt, it's love.

To the peeps that constantly say "guilty this or that" I propose a challenge. Answer as honest as possible, but how would you treat your DH if you only saw him EOW? I bet the arguments would be put aside, the pampering would be big! And of course it would, you would want to spend as much positive time as you could with him because you love him and miss him. Is that guilt? No, it's love.

Since DH has been in the hospital I haven't got to spend to much time with my kids. They are at my moms and when I do go there to spend the night (only been two nights out of 12) I lavash them with attention. Of course I do, I miss my babies. I can't stand not seeing them every day and spending as much time with them as possible. It's not out of guilt, it's out of love that I hold my daughter from the time I walk in the door until she wakes up in the morning. So I can definatley understand why DH lets little things go with SD. And why I do to.

I think this a great blog Stick and I think alot of people may get a better understanding of so called guilt through what you have said. Thanks!!

Amazed's picture

Do I believe in guilty parenting? YES

Do I think that there is a higher percentage of stepparents on this site that deal with significant others who are guilty parents? yes...I believe a lot of step parents are dealing with the hardships of being married to a guilt parent...but then again...there are lots of step parents here that THINK their spouse is a guilt parent when really they're just trying to be a GOOD's a fine line that some have a hard time seeing.

Do I think that our perception of guilty parenting is correct? No. Some of us seem extra special sensitive to "guilt parenting" warning signs and we end up getting it all wrong.
Example--Guilt parent: child wants a new game/toy. Parent says no. child begins to get upset. parent still says no. child has a full blown meltdown stating if they were with their OTHER parent they would be able to have the toy OR using the tactic of, "but you buy your wife/husband everything they want!!" After meltdown...parent caves and buys new item for child.

Example of ---Good parent: Child gets good grades on test...wants a toy. Parent agrees and they go shopping. Child wants new toy but parent would have to spend a large amount of money on it and spouse feels it's an outlandish toy for just passing a test...other parent disagrees and buys toy anyway.

Where we often get confused is thinking just bc parent bought something expensive that they were being guilted into it...when really they weren't. They did it of their own free will and desire to reward their child for a job well done on a test. I went through this with my husband spending an insane amount of $$ on concert tickets for sd. Then it was put into perspective that he wasn't guilted into it...he did it bc he WANTED TO...that's good parenting vs guilt parenting.

I do think that some of our spouses / SO's are guilty of guilty parenting!! ---I think this about my husband occasionally but ONLY when it's blatently OBVIOUS he's being a guilt daddy and not just a good daddy. It's easier to spot when he's being a guilt daddy now that I've learned to spot when i'm being a guilt mommy to my son. Because oh yes...i have been a guilt mommy on occasion *GASP* hehe...

~Why run away? I know who I know who I am. Just let me be~

Kb3Hooah's picture

I haven't read all of the responses.

I think BF does some guilt parenting towards SD but not SS. I think the reason this is, is b/c of her manipulation, the fact that she is younger, and b/c she's a girl. When he does this everyone can see it, my daughter, me, his son, AND SD. She knows he does this and she plays on it. He says he's a little leniate on SD since she isn't in our home often and because overall she is a well behaved child, which she is, but this is sending the wrong message to EVERY child in the house, including her. When she does something wrong, she should get the same punishment as everyone else. BF realizes he does this, but the problem is that he can't see the harm in what he's doing.

Now granted, this doesn't always happen. And I admit sometimes I think he's guilt parenting when he's really just doing what any other loving parent would do. Sometimes I have to take a step back, put my daughter and I in the same situation and think if I would've reacted or done the same thing he did, and most of the time my answer is yes.

That has really eliminated alot of resentment towards him and SD.

“The challenge is to help couples turn "I Do" into "We Can."