I am proud of my children. My 25-year-old son and 22-year-old daughter are caring, kind and smart. My son has a strong work ethic. He chose not to attend college. My daughter dropped out of high school. She is a new mom and is currently on welfare. I worry they will always struggle financially. I am paralyzed by the guilt that I could have done something different when they were young. It is killing me. How can I get past this guilt?
— Sandra S., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
I can't help wondering why you mention no father or husband. It makes a big difference if you have had to go it alone all these years, or if you must deal with your guilt and regrets without emotional support. If—as I suspect—there is no partner around, then the first step is to find someone to talk to. I don't care if it's a kind, mature friend, a pastor or a trained counselor. You are putting too much of the burden on yourself.
What you are experiencing is the negative side of carrying your burden. I sense you have made major sacrifices for your children, but it's time to let go. In the first part of your letter, you express a mother's pride, but in the second part, you give me no reason to believe they are anything but a source of anxiety. Whether they have fallen short or you feel you have is irrelevant. The crucial thing is to realize you are no longer the caregiver. Your life, centered on them for so many years, must now shift into a new mode. To the extent you can find your purpose today instead of clinging to the past, you will release yourself from this needless guilt. Accept motherhood as a blessing, but reject martyrdom. It's no blessing at all.
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is the author of more than 50 books on health, success, relationships and spirituality, including his current best-seller, Reinventing the Body, Resurrecting the Soul, and The Ultimate Happiness Prescription, which are available now. You can listen to his show on Saturdays every week on SiriusXM Channels 102 and 155.
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