Guilt: the gift that keeps on giving. –Erma Bombeck
A mother raising children means spit up stains, poopy diapers sleep deprivation, and guilt .We do it to ourselves, we give it to others, and we receive it. For a mother it’s a rite of passage that has been passed down from generation to generation. My mother is the Queen of guilt. Not only would her words sting she had a look that went with it. For example: We would all be at dinner and she would tell me to eat my vegetables. When I refused she would tell me about all the starving people in the world who would appreciate a good meal and how so many children didn’t have a mom to stay home and care for them. Mom could go on and on. She would have this look on her face like she was about to cry. Oh yeah, did I tell you sometimes-lying goes with guilt? Was she really going to send a box of leftovers to a third world country? My mother could send you on a guilt trip for days. Other trips my mother has sent me on are: If you keep making that face it will stay that way, If you don’t wash behind your ears you will grow potatoes behind them, if you sit to close to the TV you will go blind. Yes my mother really used these on me when I was younger. Now that I am a grown women she uses the “why haven’t you called I was worried.” Worried about what? Does she sit by the phone and wait for my call; she could pick up the phone and dial my number. I’m an adult woman with a family of my own why do I feel guilty. I have a life. I am a travel agent sending my own family on a guilt trip.
Husbands are easy to motivate with guilt. When my husband has not trimmed the bushes out in front of our house all I have to do is comment on the neighbors front yard and then say our house looks like the abandoned property on the block. With in 24 hours we will have a manicured front yard. Even my daughter at a young age figured out how to guilt Dad into doing something. If she wanted to ride her bike she would climb up on his lap, tell him that he is the best dad in the whole world, he works so hard and they don’t spend enough quality time together. Next thing I know he is checking the tires on the bikes to make sure they have enough air and off they go. As my daughter got older she uses “you don’t love me anymore”,“you are ruining my life” and the “I never asked to be born” tactics on us. Needless to say this does not work and her attempt to guilt us has failed. As she matures I am certain her skills will improve and as she becomes a mother the guilt trip will be perfected.
Children these days are smarter and it is not as easy to guilt them into things. I once used the potato line to get my daughter to wash behind her ears. She laughed and told me that their are some pretty stinky boys in her class and none of them were growing anything behind their ears. If she refused to leave the park I used the old standard “I’m leaving without you. You will be here all alone.” Most kids would come running. Not my child, again she would sit and laugh at me. My daughter was confident that I was not going anywhere. I find that with my daughter you have to use some truth’s when guilting her into something If I need her to pick up her room all I have to do is mention the items all over her bedroom floor, tell her that these things must not be important to her and go get a large garbage bag. After I have put a few items into the bag she starts cleaning up. The only problem with this method is I start to feel guilty. Did I go to far? Guilt is a vicious circle, you give it, and you get it.
I even give guilt to myself. Why did I feed my child junk food last night? I wish I could afford to buy my daughter the new bike she wants. I should spend more quality time with my family. Guilt it can be a waste of time. What’s done is done now I need to move on.
Many say that guilt is a wasted emotion. Guilt can be used for good not evil. It’s a powerful tool that mothers use to motivate. A thousand years may pass but a mother’s guilt trip will go on and on.
I have included a clip from Everybody Loves Raymond. Doris Roberts who plays the mother on the show really knows how to bring grown men to their knees as they feel the Wrath of her guilt.. Enjoy