Thursday, September 10, 2009


I have to take issue with the number of posts this week that proclaim the uselessness of guilt. Thanks to the way I was brought up, I could write a treatise on the topic, but that's not my mission tonight. I was going to post something else entirely on today's topic, but then I was struck by these posts.

Like most things in this life, too much guilt is toxic and it can lead to manipulation. But lack of guilt is just as toxic. I see too many people who refuse to take responsibility for anything that they do badly. I see too many people who blame their parents for the way they act in adulthood. I see too many people who refuse to feel guilty for hurting others. Too many instances of kids brought up without a sense of guilt who run amok and have a mammoth sense of entitlement. Kids who act like they're the center of the universe and expect to be treated like that; they turn into adults who act like kids.

As children, we all have an innate sense of guilt in us. Parents can increase and manipulate it to their advantage, or they can extinguish it altogether. There is a healthy balance somewhere in there.


  1. brilliant as always, Patricia!
    I couldn't agree more.
    weren't you raised catholic?

  2. I was raised Protestant in an Orthodox country. I was infused with guilt since I can remember, so as an adult, I have recoiled from it quite a bit. But, as stated, I can't deny its value altogether. I just hope to do a better job with my own kids, should I ever have them.

  3. Yeah, when it comes to being a parent, guilt takes on a whoooooole 'nother form. It's totally healthy, in good doses, because it makes you realize your responsibility to other creatures. But, left to run unchecked, it can make you too concerned about the process and insecurities, and not enough about the positive and beautiful aspects of being a parent. Maybe that speaks more to confidence, but I'll agree again that a little guilt is good as a parent, but you have to move past it at some point and just do the job as best you can.