The Extreme Parenting Guilt When Accidents Happen
I would be the first person to console a parent if they were feeling guilty about their child being involved in an accident of some kind. I would do everything in my power to ensure that they knew that it did not reflect on their parenting abilities. Accident happen. Unfortunately, it’s a lot harder to take that advice from yourself.
There is so much that is fundamentally wrong with any situation that involves your child being in pain. I remember taking my son for his first vaccinations and feeling the strongest surge of guilt as we drove there. I knew that I was doing the right thing and that it was medically recommended but I still felt huge guilt about actively putting my baby in a situation that would cause him pain, even if just for a few seconds.
When your child has an accident of some kind it shakes you to the core. All that is most precious to you in the world is vulnerable, sad and in pain. It is positively unnatural on all levels. But when it is on your watch it reaches a whole new paradigm of wrong. How could something like this have happened when you were responsible for taking care of your children? It makes no sense in your world.
But it happens. Put 100 parents into a room and you might be surprised at how many raise their hands when asked who has been present when their child had an accident. Fingers have been slammed in doors, children have slipped on wet tiles and hot cookers have been touched. Every parent adores their child beyond words. Many would consider themselves extremely cautious parents too. It just happens.
I was personally involved with such an experience this week. My son burnt his hand and it was honestly the day from hell (I’d like to add that he also split his head open in the shower one time and broke his leg at soft play – yes soft play). He roared, begging me to take the pain away. We got medical attention and are currently in the midst of changing bandages twice daily and keeping on top of pain relief. He’s uncomfortable but he will be OK very soon.
I can’t describe the level of guilt that I felt when it happened. It boiled down to the fact that it was so easily avoidable and it happened in an instant. It could have been very different. I was the sole reason why the accident happened. Nobody else. That thought truly shook me. If someone hurt my child the anger I would feel is not compatible with words. Applying that feeling towards myself was even worse. Every cry and screech ripped through me and I honestly felt like the worst mother in the world.
The clouds have now lifted and I see clearer. I know that every single day I wake up with the intention of loving, protecting and creating happy memories for my kid. I would never willingly put harm in his way. Accidents happen. Life will be full of experiences that are shocking, unfair and sometimes physically painful. It is not the first time and it won’t be the last time.
I’ve dropped the guilt and I’m here to tell you that you should too. Accidents happen.
Written by Tracey Quinn staff writer at Family Friendly HQ who also writes at www.loveofliving.ie.