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The ‘Guilty Truth’: New Research Reveals Top Reasons for Parental Guilt


The ‘Guilty Truth’: New Research Reveals Top Reasons for Parental Guilt

Children may see their parents as superheroes, but moms and dads across America would readily admit they’re far from perfect. In fact, new research by Farm Rich reveals American parents feel an average of 23 pangs of guilt every single week over decisions they feel weren’t quite up to standard.

The new national survey of 2,000 parents of school-aged children, commissioned by Farm Rich, found:

  • 75 per cent of parents feel pressured to be “perfect” from friends, family and social media
  • 1 in 4 have had their decisions questioned by other parents
  • 31 per cent of Millennial parents regularly compete with other parents on social media
  • When it comes to famous role models, the celebrity parents respondents most look up to are Barack and Michelle Obama

Parenting Pangs

When rating their own skills, 25 per cent of parents find themselves second-guessing their decisions on a regular basis, with losing their temper being the #1 source of guilt. With a third being so busy with work that they’ve missed their child’s activities, sports games or teacher meetings, the results show that not being home enough is another top reason behind parental guilt. Moms are more than twice as likely to feel bad about giving their kids too much screen time with electronics, nagging kids over chores, and not making enough home-cooked meals.

Food for Thought

While the average parent cooks four meals per week, 70 per cent say they would make home-cooked meals every day if they had the time – but realistically have only about 30 minutes to prepare meals on a school night.

  • 63 per cent of parents say something as simple as making a home-cooked dinner makes them feel like a supermom or superdad
  • 1 in 3 parents treat their family to a special weekend meal or a trip to a restaurant to make up for feelings of guilt
  • Waking up early to serve kids a good breakfast also makes parents feel successful
  • Around 50 percent say their goal for this school year is to eat as a family three times a week; and 6 in 10 say they will try and serve a home-cooked meal every week night

School-Day Striving

According to the survey, back-to-school time can add to the pressure parents feel.

  • 2 out of 3 parents believe they must send kids back to school with a memorable summer experience and a backpack full of all new supplies
  • A third of parents say that work has caused them to miss a key school activity, sports game or teacher meeting
  • Not being home enough is another top reason behind parental guilt

“Today’s moms and dads are under more pressure than ever to be and do everything for their kids, and do it well,” said Shannon Gilreath, Farm Rich director of marketing. “But parenting isn’t a one-size-fits-all strategy. Doing the best you can often is the best – and parents need to recognize and celebrate all the things they do well and give themselves permission to let go of some of the guilt and set more realistic expectations. Kids likely won’t remember the details of what was served for dinner, but rather the time spent together as a family.” 

The Social Struggle is Real

For parents, social media can be a benefit but also a curse: 

  • 1 in 5 parents admit to competing with other parents on social media by posting photos and videos of their “happy” family
  • Older Millennials and GenX parents say they’re more likely to experience inspiration and happiness from the social posts of other parents
  • Younger Millennial parents, on the other hand, are more likely to experience negative emotions such as guilt and jealousy
  • Overall, parents who use Facebook experience the most guilt
  • 62 per cent say that if they have something to be proud of when it comes to their parenting, they’ll likely post about it on social media

Other key findings from the survey:


1.    Losing my temper

2.    Not playing enough with my children

3.    Not being home enough

4.    Letting my children have too much screen time

5.    When I don’t feel like I’m being a good role model

6.    Not being able to take my children on more vacations or outings

7.    When I don’t have time to make home-cooked meals

8.    Not reading enough to and with my children

9.    Letting my kids eat junk food

10.  Working too much



1.    Being present for my kids

2.    Being a good listener and giving good advice

3.    Being available to help with daily homework

4.    Attending all or most of my children’s academic, social and extracurricular activities

5.    Being able to take my children on vacation