Moving beyond the feeling of parental guilt and shame

February 21, 2023

This week, IBSB organised a parent workshop where we talked about the feelings of guilt and shame that parents often experience.

There is no secret that being a parent can trigger the most beautiful emotions out of us, but also the worst. When we are feeling overwhelmed by guilt and shame, we tend to control the outside and ultimately our children.

It is important to know that emotions labelled as negative are meant to move us toward change. Those ‘’negative’’ emotions are meant to feel uncomfortable, because without discomfort, we wouldn’t be motivated to change anything.

What is guilt?

It is a feeling triggered when we act against our own set of values or principles: ‘’I’ve done something wrong…’’

By identifying our own values and trying to adapt our parenting style according to our values, we can reduce the feeling of guilt.

What is shame?

It is the pain experienced of believing that you are inferior, defective in some way, in part or whole, feeling ‘’there is something wrong with me’’. Shame is triggered when we fail to reach a standard or ideal. It tells you that you need to control other people’s opinion of you. Or else you hide so they don’t consider you at all. The lie is that if you can get others to accept you, you will feel acceptable.

Parenting roles

In our daily life we play different roles: the role of a mother, friend, wife, husband, manager, etc. Also, when we are parenting we may adopt different roles. The most common roles in parenting are the ‘’rescuer’’ and ‘’ coach’’. None of these roles are wrong. The secret is to adopt a conscious way of parenting and understand when is the moment to be a rescuer or a coach for your kid.


Parents who sees themselves as protectors tend to prevent their kids from making mistakes. They don’t want anything bad to happen to them. If you see your role as more of a rescuer, your goal may be to protect your child and their happiness.


Parents who view themselves as guides or teachers or managers know that mistakes enable children to learn. They are willing to let their children make their own way through the world and don’t try to define success for them.

Releasing guilt and shame

When we are spending too much time in the role of a protector or rescuer we take on too much responsibility. We are not letting the children find their own path in life, which can lead to feelings of guilt and shame in the long term. As parents, we need to create space in our children’s life for mistakes and pain. Only through experience will they learn how to cope with their own emotions and feelings later in life.

Another way to help you cope with guilt is to identify which are the situations when you need to adopt the role of rescuer or a guide. Once you become aware of these roles, you may notice how some of your responsibilities simply fade away by realising the feeling of guilt and shame.

During the workshop this week, participants offered some insights based on their personal experiences and gained new perspectives by listening to others talk about their parenting style.

If this has sparked your curiosity, we invite you to our next workshop sessions in order to support you on your parenting journey.

Delia Ciobanu
IBSB Student Counsellor