Beth feels guilty because she doesn’t want her mother to watch her 2-year-old son. She would prefer to use her mother-in-law, her husband Sam’s mom. Why? Because Beth doesn’t want her son to be exposed to the same belittling treatment she experienced as a child.
Beth feels strongly about her position, but teeters at times. She’s weakened by her mom’s guilt tactics.
“Maybe I should let her,” Beth said.
I told her this:
“Guilt should never be the basis for our decisions. It’s a poor judge of what’s right.”
“Your priority is your son, not your mother and not your guilt. Can you imagine the amount of guilt you would feel if your son experienced even a portion of the emotional abuse you experienced?”
Wiping away tears, she nodded. “You’re right.”
By the end of the session, Beth was relieved. She learned several things that gave her a new way of seeing things. For one, she learned it was okay to set a boundary—even right to do so!
Moving forward, Beth and Sam will avoid mentioning babysitting, period. Instead, they’ll arrange times for their son to visit grandma when either Sam or Beth can be present. And if Beth’s mom starts using guilt tactics, Beth will change the subject.
We don’t have to be held hostage to guilt or to those who wield it like a weapon.
To read more about Sam and Beth, click on their tag below.
Names are changed to honor client confidentiality.