#WISPchat: Is motherhood synonymous with guilt?

#WISPchat: Is motherhood synonymous with guilt? Can mothers ever escape feeling guilty? Flickr: Brian Clift.

Great debate everyone - scroll down to see the chat in full.


We’ve got a treat for you. Tomorrow on Twitter, you get to kick off motherhood month by picking the brains of two of our podcast participants, career-committed mum-of-two Lyndsey Oliver, Chair of Mothers Against Gangs and single mum Dianne Larrington, and Jody Day, What I See ambassador and founder of Gateway Women.

The podcast is available here (don’t forget to subscribe to future ones on iTunes, by searching 'What I See Project' in the iTunes store). For our first #WISPchat of motherhood month, we’ve decided to focus on something which emerged in the recording. It’s a feeling that’s undoubtedly a massive part of many women’s lives, mother or not. It’s guilt.

Dianne said the biggest challenge for her as a mother is getting her parenting right. ‘You’re constantly asking yourself, did I do the right thing? And you never really know.’

This ‘self-chatter’ is something that Lyndsey, co-founder of changemaking superstars Female Quotient, believes is holding women back. She argues that men seem to demonstrate less self-criticism. ‘I was talking to my husband… and he said: “We [men] don’t feel guilt.”’

Do women, on the other hand, have a tendency to punish themselves – even for things that are out of their control? What I See have recently been chatting with Ruth Jackson, founder of postnatal depression care charity Bluebell. Ruth believes that guilt is a major concern for some of the mothers she helps, as research shows teenagers of women who experience postnatal depression are more likely to suffer from depression during their adolescence (and by the way, stay tuned for our interview with Ruth later this month).

Mother’s guilt around bringing up their children seems to be endless and enveloping – and often brought about by society. Just this morning, Tanya Gold argued that ‘motherhood is riven with insults and fear; it takes place in a solitary room and an amphitheatre where people shout curses or praise.’

No mother is immune to guilt: whether it’s the working mum who loses sleep over not spending enough time with their children, or the stay-at-home mum who worries she’s not contributing financially. And childless women too can fall victim to their own criticism: Jody Day told us that ‘we struggle with shame: a persistent and gnawing feeling…that we’re not quite “real women” because we’re not mothers.’

Is it true that men are less susceptible to guilt… and if so, why? Can a woman ever escape her own ‘self-chatter’, or is guilt enforced by society?  Do we even want to shed the guilt, or do we consider it an asset – a good way of making sure we ‘get it right’?

We want to know what you think. Share your views with Lyndsey, Dianne and Jody at 2pm GMT tomorrow (Friday) on Twitter, using the #WISPchat hashtag.

And here's what happened...



Thanks to everyone who participated - it was a really thoughtful #WISPchat with some really interesting points coming up. See you next week at 2pm!


1 Comment - Add yours


Motherhood = guilt and responsibility for the rest of her life

By Barbara mine on 9 January 2014 at 22:25