Parenting can be uniquely challenging, as the job description continually changes.

Even if you are a seasoned parent with a large family, the needs of each child vary, and therefore your response to the challenge will vary.

To be most effective, you’ve got to be on your A game at all times, with expectations clearly defined, consequences for both wonderful and worrisome behavior at the ready, and a great, big bag available to carry parental guilt.

Hopefully, you are able to throw out that bag at the end of the day with the rest of trash.


We learn as we go, and most parents carry some guilt for how they have handled or mishandled specific situations. Perhaps some feel guilty for giving in too many times, while others feel guilt for not making an exception to the rule.

Guilt rises after unnecessary yelling or punishment, and especially public misbehavior.


I worked closely with a mother of three, who came to me because her teen daughter continued to blame her for everything wrong in her life.

Mom admitted many mistakes she had made while raising her daughter, yet looked for redirection in raising her two younger children. I listened as she poured her heart out for the many mistakes she had made.

Surprised that I didn’t judge or condemn as her daughter does, I asked if she intentionally caused her daughter harm, or if she knew better at the time. Her response to both were “no”, she never meant to hurt her daughter, and she didn’t know better, having raised herself in the streets.

When we do things intentionally that we know we should not, guilt can teach us not to repeat that action.

However, when we act without knowingly or intentionally causing harm, that guilt is wasted energy, which can be powerfully refocused toward learning new, positive alternatives.
I handed this mom a bag of balloons, suggesting she blow up one balloon for each substantial parenting mistake. Before blowing, she announced her mistake and whether she intentionally meant to harm anyone else.

My office was soon filled with many colorful balloons, none of which carried intent to harm. Although nearly exhausted from blowing balloons and “confessing to guilt,” as she put it, I asked her to pop each balloon that represented an action with malice.

Every balloon was popped within a minute, and exhilaration replaced her exhaustion and guilt. I sent her home with a new bag of balloons to fill whenever she felt guilty, with her new commitment to parent with a purpose.

So, go buy a bag of balloons and get rid of the guilt.

Diana Boggia, M.Ed., is a parenting coach who lives in Stark County, Ohio. She is author of “Parenting with a Purpose.” Send your child-rearing questions to or The Repository, c/o Family Matters, 500 Market Ave. S, Canton, OH 44702. Find parenting resources at her website,