If there’s one thing I’ve learned being a mother, it’s that Mom Guilt is a powerful force.

Each day brings a new reason to experience Mom Guilt and, many times, there is no “right” answer… only more questions.

From the stay at home / work outside the home conundrum, to seemingly simple questions like “should I let my child walk home from school alone?”, there are no easy answers. Since we are constantly bombarded with fear mongering media, every decision we make is accompanied by a follow-up “what if?”.

For example…What if my daughter gets abducted walking home? There’s a very slim chance of that happening here in Canada, but thoughts of “what if?” cause my Mom Guilt to rear its ugly head.

And, in this age of the Helicopter Parent and Tiger Mom, the opinions of other parents can make us second-guess how we raise our own kids. This only leads to – you guessed it – more Mom Guilt.

Not only are we conflicted about making the right parenting decisions, we also worry about how our peers will perceive us. This kind of pressure definitely isn’t conducive to healthy parenting or a positive mental state. Instead, it feeds our Mom Guilt.

So how do we combat this ever-present (and growing) syndrome? Try these strategies to regain a bit of parental sanity…

1. Go with your gut

It sounds simple, but listening to your intuition – and common sense, of course – goes a long way in reducing Mom Guilt. If your nine-year-old asks to walk home alone and you have confidence in her stranger danger knowledge and responsibility level, follow your gut. You know your child better than anyone.

2. Don’t compare

We all know children mature at different rates, so don’t compare your child to anyone else’s. For example, just because your child’s peers aren’t walking home alone, doesn’t mean he’s not ready (or vice versa). The same goes for you – don’t compare yourself to another parent, because each family has different needs and complexities.

3. Don’t worry what other people think

This isn’t an easy task! Worrying about what others think of how we discipline our children, what we feed them, the amount of screen time we allow or how much time we volunteer at our child’s school, can be paralyzing. Remember that we’re all unique, and parenting is not ‘one size fits all’. What counts is that we strive to do what’s best for our families and ourselves.

4. Don’t follow the herd

When it comes to parenting, there’s often a herd mentality – if the majority of parents are doing something, we should too, right? We assume there’s a good reason for it (like safety), but what if that reason is unfounded? For example, the benefits of kids walking to school have been proven, yet many parents won’t allow it, because they’ve fallen into a cycle of helicopter parenting that’s perpetuated by fear. This stifles kids’ independence and decreases their overall well-being. At times like this, it’s important to separate fact from fiction and break away from the herd.

5. Be confident in your choices

As a Mom who worked outside the home for the first four years of my daughter’s life, I worried that I wasn’t spending enough time with her. Then, when my second child came, I started my own business and worried that I wasn’t being truly present while working at home and caring for them.

No matter what I did, I felt guilty – until I began to ‘own’ my choices.

I embraced them, insecurities and all, and realized that Mom Guilt is only as powerful as we allow it to be.

So, let’s be confident in our choices, and support each other in theirs.

Our goal is to be fulfilled and raise happy, healthy, independent children. To that end, let’s blaze our own paths, knowing that the more we do it, the easier it becomes.