You’re Not Alone: The Overwhelm of Mom Guilt (Guest Post by Kathi Lipp and Cheri Gregory)

How often do you wonder if you could have handled a situation with a child better than you did? Notice, I didn’t ask if you do, I asked how often you do. That’s because if you’re a parent who cares, you have wondered. If we’re not careful, mom guilt or dad guilt can occur and paralyze us as we’re overcome with regrets. It’s just one of the many things that causes parents to be overwhelmed.

Because being overwhelmed is never good and can lead to other negative issues, I was glad to pre-read the new book, Overwhelmed: Quiet the Chaos and Restore Your Sanity, written by Kathi Lipp and Cheri Gregory. You’ll benefit from the book as they share about many things that can cause us to be overwhelmed and, more importantly, what to do about them.

Please read their guest blog. At the end, you’ll want to get the free gift they offer you and follow through to possibly win a free book. (The chapter related to the free gift is worth the price of the book.) – Dr. Kathy

You’re Not Alone: The Overwhelm of Mom Guilt

“What would you do differently as a mom, Cheri?”

I hesitate, look around the table at the five women gathered for a mom’s night out, and realize I’m among friends.

“Pretty much everything!” I say, only half in jest.

“There are three general types of feedback people can give each other: (1) Affirmation (2) Coaching, and (3) Evaluation.”

Everyone nods; they’ve each read Thanks for the Feedback, too.

I continue. “What I wish I’d done was spent their first ten years giving them very intentional coaching in all key areas of life. Then, by the time they were teens, the foundation would have been well-laid, and I could have focused more on affirmation. Unfortunately, I fell for the self-esteem movement of the 90’s.”

All five women roll their eyes in sympathetic understanding.

“I did it the wrong way around: I affirmed my kids’ every waking moment but failed to coach and, as necessary, correct. As a result, they’re 24 and 26 and still trying to figure out how to launch independent lives.”

As our conversation continues, each mom shares her own regrets.

By dessert time, our list is long indeed.

The Overwhelm of Mom Guilt

I’ve seen plenty of social media memes urging us to “Live with no regrets.”

But I have yet to meet a regret-free mom.

Most conversations I have with mothers, of any age or stage, quickly turn to how overwhelmed they are by Mom Guilt.

A few years ago, I posted this question to my Facebook page:

“I’m working on a project and need some examples of negative self-talk that parents use against themselves. (i.e. “They deserve a better mom than me…”) Give me your best imitation(s) of those inner critic, mom/dad guilt voices!”

In less than an hour, almost one hundred women (no men) had left comments like these:

  • “If I was a better Mom, I wouldn’t have such a hard time breastfeeding – or I’d produce more milk.” Or “This baby deserves a better mom – one that isn’t feeling weepy or crabby every day.”
  • “What will people think if my child keeps _______________?” (Fill in blank with crying, sucking his thumb, whining, talking in church, carrying her blankie, refusing green vegetables, etc., etc.)?
  • “At this rate we’ll be Jerry Springer Show regulars by 2015.”
  • “If I were a good mom, my child would… take school work more seriously, be better organized, have more friends, play outside more, not be failing his class, not be working on his project at 10:00 the night before it’s due.”
  • “Whatever I do it will never be enough.”
  • “They would choose (another mom’s name) over me for a mom if they had a choice.”

My Most Overwhelming Regret

I resonate with every single concern voiced above.

But my most overwhelming regret is that I didn’t take care of my own emotional and spiritual health when my children were little.

I met my husband when I was 18, just six months after being discharged from the eating disorder unit of a neuropsychiatric hospital. We married young (21) and had children right away.

I knew that the eating disorder I’d struggled with for five years wasn’t fully resolved. But I did what so many women do: I believed I could put my own needs high on a shelf for the next twenty years, raise my children, and then pick back up where I’d left myself off.

Of course, it didn’t work that way.

My kids grew up with a mom who was barely surviving. Oh, how I wish they’d had a mom who was intentionally thriving!

Giving Our Guilt to God

Over the holidays, my 26-year-old daughter, Annemarie, and I sat at the kitchen table, drinking tea and chatting about how God is working in our lives.

As I shared some of the self-care and boundary-setting decisions I’d recently made, Annemarie responded, “I’m so proud of the choices you’re making, Mom! This is such incredible growth for you.”

“I just wish I hadn’t waited so long to deal with my issues,” I said, deflecting her praise with guilt. “I wish I’d made these kinds of choices twenty years ago.”

Annemarie reached across the kitchen table, put a hand on mine, and her next words took my breath away:

“Mom, you need to know that the 6-year-old in me is watching you, too.”

For so many years, I thought it was too late. The damage was done. It was too late for me to change, to become a better mom, to be the kind of mom my kids needed and deserved.

But my daughter’s words told a different story. They reminded me that God really can
“restore … the years that the locust hath eaten” (Joel 2:25, KJV).

Today, if you’re a parent who feels overwhelmed by regret, here are four truths you need to know:

1)  You’re not alone.

2)  It’s never too late.

3)  You can change.

4)  Even the smallest change you make makes a difference that matters.


Instead of making New Year’s resolutions (that will only last for a week), how about creating a Personal manifesto that will carry you through the rest of your life?  Sign up for great ideas and resources about how to get out from Overwhelmed and you will receive “How to Write Your Personal Manifesto” as our gift to you. Get off the overwhelming cycle of making and breaking resolutions and create a gentle plan for lasting life change.


Kathi and Cheri would like to send a copy of Overwhelmed: Quiet the Chaos & Restore Your Sanity to one of our readers!

To qualify for the drawing, you need to do TWO things:

#1. LEAVE A COMMENT below.

#2. SHARE THIS POST on social media.

That’s it! Once you do both, your name will be entered into the random drawing. Be sure to tell your friends so they can sign up too. The drawing will take place on Friday night so don’t delay! {Contest is limited to US & Canadian readers only.}

About Overwhelmed

Feeling overwhelmed? Wondering if it’s possible to move from “out of my mind” to “in control” when you’ve got too many projects on your plate and too much mess in your relationships?

Kathi and Cheri want to show you five surprising reasons why you become stressed, why social media solutions don’t often work, and how you can finally create a plan that works for you. As you identify your underlying hurts, uncover hope, and embrace practical healing, you’ll understand how to…

  • trade the to-do list that controls you for a calendar that allows space in your life
  • decide whose feedback to forget and whose input to invite
  • replace fear of the future with peace in the present

You can simplify and savor your life—guilt free! Clutter, tasks, and relationships may overwhelm you now, but God can help you overcome with grace.


Kathi Lipp is a busy conference and retreat speaker and the bestselling author of several books, including Clutter Free, The Husband Project, and The Get Yourself Organized Project. She and her husband, Roger, live in California and are the parents of four young adults.

Cheri Gregory spends her weekdays teaching teens and weekends speaking at women’s retreats. She’s been married to her college sweetheart, Daniel, for more than 28 years. The Gregorys and their young adult kids, Annemarie and Jonathon, live in California.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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59 thoughts on “You’re Not Alone: The Overwhelm of Mom Guilt (Guest Post by Kathi Lipp and Cheri Gregory)

    • Thanks for letting us know. If you share the post, I’ll see that and I’ll enter you in the giveaway contest. 🙂

  1. Try being a homeschool mom to teenagers and not getting all the required subjects done before they age out. By the way grandma, auntie and uncle are retired teachers and never really supported my decision. UGH! NO PRESSURE HERE.

    • Thanks for your comment. Overwhelmed for sure. I’m sorry your family hasn’t supported your decision to homeschool. I hear that a lot and I can only imagine how hard that would be.

  2. Oh, so good! Mom guilt: the guilt that justness won’t quit. Thanks for sharing. I’m going to go share this on Facebook now. 🙂

  3. Thank you for addressing this super sensitive subject. It’s hard to admit that we are overwhelmed and are not doing everything well. I look forward to reading more!

  4. I JUST finished emailing my young friend in Wisconsin about THIS VERY THING! Mommy Guilt is a real thing and parenting isn’t for cowards. Help us, Jesus, to be the best parents we can be for the children You have given us!

  5. Thanks for being so real about Mom Guilt. It is a definite tool the enemy uses to render us moms ineffective. I’ve fallen for it more than I’d like to admit. I’m loving listening to the Clutter Free Academy podcasts and would love to win the book! (And Dr. Kathy – I’m excited to start reading 8 Great Smarts!)

  6. In “The Power of Praying for Your Adult Children,” author Stormie O’Martian affirms “there are only two ways to avoid guilt as a parent. The first is to die soon after your child is born!”

    And the second “is to walk with God every day and ask Him for wisdom about everything.”

    In other words, there’s really no way to truly escape parental guilt. (I don;t know about you, but there have been days/seasons in my parenting when I was definitely not walking with God EVERY day and asking for wisdom for EVERYTHING!)

    Personally, I’ve had to trust and appreciate that we all can “give thanks for [mom’s] weaknesses–because it is through my parenting flaws and failures both my children AND I have to come closer to God. I were indeed such a thing as a “Perfect Mother,” I wonder if they’d need him as much . . . .

    Cheri, as always, thank you for sharing your struggles so candidly. And hats off to Annemarie for her lovely, wonderful wisdom. What a treasure. Thank you for sharing her with us.

    You both continue to inspire me!

  7. Wow! I feel like these authors have read my mind. Just hours ago I was thinking about my regrets as a mom. Looking forward to reading this book!!!

  8. Sounds like it would be great for everyone, but I’m especially excited to read it considering I still have little ones at home (2.5 and 4 years old)!

  9. This book is so amazing and helpful. I was part of the launch team and this will be a book I will refer to for years to come. I am telling all my family and friends and have even given the book out as gifts to some. Kathi and Cheri did a wonderful job on this book. Way to go ladies

  10. Amazing how many of us deal with this, and sometimes on a daily or moment-by-moment basis! We know it’s not from God, but sometimes knowing how to practically combat the enemies lies can be hard in the moment. Looking forward to reading more! Sharing on fb!

  11. Thanks, everybody, for commenting and sharing and entering the contest to win the book. I had a member of my staff choose in a random, fair way, and the winner is Cheryl McAlister.

  12. I think this would be a great read!! As a first time Mom with an almost four month old son I already find myself feeling guilt & regret and would love to read this book as i was just getting down on myself tonight after my son went to bed.

  13. I’m going to recommend this book (and you!) for a women’s professional group I’m part of as well as share on Goodreads (thank goodness for that website to help me keep track of books I don’t want to forget about reading!) So many of my girlfriends have talked about this subject and how to let go of the guilt. Additionally, I know I’ve been taking on too much – feel like I’m swimming in to-do’s and yet don’t know what to say ‘no’ to and where to say ‘yes’ because that is the person/activity/project I need in my life.

    And here’s a question, how come it never seems men are struggling with this? Or maybe they are and just don’t talk about it??

  14. Does the fact that I don’t know how I will find the time to read this book indicate I need to focus more on my needs/growth?? 😉 (I’d love this book!)