If you feel a sense of guilt about your child’s learning and attention issues, it’s important to know you’re not alone. Guilt is a common emotion for parents who have kids with these issues. You can channel this normal but needless feeling into productive steps.
Why You May Feel Guilty
There are a number of reasons you may feel guilty about your child’s learning and attention issues. Some of the most common are:
- Feeling that you created the problem. You might feel that you must have done something to cause your child’s learning and attention issues. If you gave birth to your child, you might wonder if you didn’t take good enough care of yourself during your pregnancy, for example.
- Thinking you did something to deserve this. Sometimes you might view your child’s learning and attention issues as a punishment for something you did or didn’t do. You might think “Why me?” or “Why my child?”
- Feeling shame about your own learning and attention issues. You may have struggled with learning and attention issues of your own. And you might feel guilty because you think you’ve saddled your child with bad genes.
- Feeling ashamed about being a bad parent. You may think that if only you’d tried harder, your child wouldn’t be struggling in school. Or even if you know that learning and attention issues aren't caused by bad parenting, other people might imply that this is the case. This could make you feel bad.
Tips to Move Past Feeling Guilty
“Any feelings of guilt you may have are normal. But that doesn’t mean they’re justified.”
Any feelings of guilt you may have are normal. But that doesn’t mean they’re justified. Knowing this may help you take your guilt and channel it into more positive activities. These tips can help you.
- Know that you didn’t cause your child’s issues. Learning and attention issues are complex and can’t be fully explained by genetics. Some kids with a family history of dyslexia may develop dyslexia, but others won’t. And some kids with no family history of ADHD may develop ADHD. Resist the urge to blame yourself or your child’s other parent.
- Get support from others. Don’t keep your feelings bottled up inside. Other parents of kids with learning and attention issues can be great resources—and sources of comfort and advice. You might also get support from extended family members, friends, religious leaders and therapists.
- Learn as much as you can about your child’s learning and attention issues. Understanding more about your child’s issues and your educational rights can increase your confidence. It can also help you advocate for your child with the school.
- Have a plan to deal with others. “Why does Jason have so much trouble sitting still?” How do you want to reply when people say things that make you feel guilty or annoyed? Having a response ready, such as, “Fidgeting is actually good for Jason—it helps him stay focused,” can help make these comments less bothersome.
Even when you have strategies to cope, some days will be better than others. Find out how to keep from losing your cool.