The guilt we inculcate in our children also comes from the guilt we internalize in childhood. By unconsciously letting it develop into adulthood, we have come to pass it on to our children, with the consequences of a difficult situation to control.
The sense of guilt, which generates suffering and leads to nothing, is largely a consequence of the education we have received. The set of rules taught to us must be strictly respected in all circumstances.
The function of guilt
What does guilt really represent in our lives? How does it manifest itself? From childhood we go to form a moral code, which continues to be built through the reactions of other people in relation to our actions. Guilt has the function of a signal, which indicates that we have transgressed established norms.
So, guilt causes us to respect the rules we have acquired throughout our life, whether they are conscious or not.
Our inner judge takes it upon himself to warn us and, depending on his rigidity, the sense of guilt will detect a problem ; this will increase the guilt or, if we have managed to make it flexible, it will help us to make necessary corrections.
As parents, we inculcate guilt in our children without thinking about what it brings: we feed a rigid inner judge who will torment them in adulthood. We convey this guilt through phrases similar to the following:
- Always take care of your parents.
- We must always listen to the authority and not question what is said.
- It is necessary to behave well to be loved.
- You have to be responsible, work, take care of your family and be attentive at all times.
- Whoever does not work and does nothing is an irresponsible lazy person.
They are sentences in which it is told how to behave at any time, regardless of the circumstances, motivation and personal characteristics of their children. Furthermore, they are implicitly taught that if they do not abide by these rules, they are not acting adequately and must feel bad about it.
This is the message that comes to our children during their own development, a time when they learn by observation and through the affection they receive about their conduct.
Educate through responsibility, not through blame
The rigid norms that are acquired end up being obsolete, not adapting to the life experiences through which everyone has passed. That inner judge who blames us is constantly manifesting, making us feel bad about what we may have done but haven’t accomplished, or what we should be doing now.
Educating to responsibility presupposes the awareness that, in itself, there is no such thing as good and evil, that every action has its consequences, which are our responsibility, together with our own experience, our impulses, emotions. and feelings.
By taking charge of our actions, the inner judge acquires flexibility, thus adapting to our needs and allowing us to experience in order to observe and learn from the consequences. This is without the need to feel guilty when we fail to meet the expectations of others.
Free yourself from guilt in order to take it away from others
Being careful not to instill guilt in our children certainly requires a lot of effort, as we have unconsciously learned to do so, just as we have been taught. Therefore, before we can act on our children, we must free ourselves from guilt.
In adulthood we are responsible for being able to change the state we find ourselves in, alienated from the sense of guilt. We continue to act like the children we were, seeking the affection and tenderness of others through our actions.
It is necessary to realize that we are no longer children and that affection and tenderness do not depend on expectations that we must respect, but rather on honestly opening up to the experience deriving from the decisions we make every moment, then taking on the relative consequences. . This implies acting through responsibility and not through guilt. It presupposes freedom of decision, no need and no obligation.