Does parenting exist without guilt? Let’s face it - guilt comes with the territory. Whether or not your child is on the Autism spectrum, guilt is a difficult emotion to avoid no matter how hard a parent tries. If you are a seasoned parent you may have had more than a few encounters with guilt but experience may have taught you how to handle it better.

There are numerous things that can trigger guilt in any parent. As a parent of a special needs child you probably struggle with the choices you have had to make regarding your child’s care. Children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder usually need many therapies and parents are often bombarded with too much information and too many choices. Then when the one they chose doesn’t work as expected, they may blame themselves and the “should’s” start being expressed. “I should have taken him to a different therapist.” Or “We should have known she needed a sensory diet sooner.”

Establishing a healthy way to manage these thoughts and emotions in order to maintain a sense of peace about your parenting is an important goal to have. Whether you are currently coping with guilt or you have a periodic yet ongoing relationship with it, it IS possible to develop and maintain a mindset that will bring peace and harmony to your soul.

Here are a few tips that might help you alleviate, prevent or pardon yourself from GUILT:

*Trust That You Are Not Alone - You do not own the market on guilt. Guilt has been shared by every parent, moms AND dads, for centuries. Guilt is defined as an awareness of having done wrong accompanied by feelings of shame or regret. Your choices are neither right nor wrong, it is what you believed was best for you and your family at that time. It can always be altered.
*Develop a Polite Yet Restrained Relationship with Guilt - Because guilt seems to be a fact of life it is best to find a constructive way to deal with it. Guilt can be persistent, like a nagging neighbor tapping at your door for days on end. It just wants to be recognized so try inviting it in. Once you open the door be polite but do not entertain it for too long. Simply acknowledge its presence, briefly listen to what it is telling you, name it for what it is and then graciously ask it to leave.
*Surround Yourself with Supporters - Be wary of the company you keep and stay away from people who set off feelings of guilt. If a certain relationship is draining you by constantly triggering guilt or causing you to question your every parenting move, make a choice to eliminate this confidence snatcher, if possible. If dissolving the relationship is not possible, practice positive self-talk when around them and invent creative comebacks or find ways to avoid them.
*Focus on effort not outcome. Just as experts advise parents to highlight the effort their children are expending on a task and not the results when praising them, parents need to keep this in mind for themselves as well when they parent. All parents do the best they can with the tools they have at the time. The important thing is to notice and focus on what does work so it can be repeated and to always strive for growth. Berating and blaming yourself is not productive. Instead, take the time to identify lessons learned, add them to your toolbox and grow from there.
*Take a Mental Health Day - When everything else fails take time off to help yourself regroup. Spend a day with your child doing what feels pure and authentic. Look upon it as a chance to recharge your batteries in order to help you better sustain your connection when apart. Concentrated bonding sessions such as these can feed your soul and boost your energies in other areas of your life.

You are balancing a lot on your plate while teaching your child to accomplish small activities that most parents don’t even have to think about. No matter how much you research, do, give, spend, etcetera - there will always be more. Trust that you are doing your best.

Author's Bio: 

Connie Hammer, MSW, parent educator, consultant and coach, guides parents of young children recently diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder to uncover abilities and change possibilities.
“If your child has recently been diagnosed with an ASD click here
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