Defeating the Guilt Bully: Snellville United Methodist Church

This story is featured in the Gwinnett Magazine Summer Edition 2023.

You’ve seen it, haven’t you? The endless picture-perfect social media feeds filled with first-day-of-school photos. Perhaps you’ve posted some yourselves—don’t you love those parents who post comparison pics to see how much their kids have grown over a year? But now that the first day has come and school is now in session, the life of a school-age parent begins.

Between the endless forms to sign and having to juggle the transportation schedules to negotiate who’s driving which car on what day for drop off and pick up, getting the kids accustomed to early-morning wakeup calls again, and the insanity of getting everyone fed, dressed, prepped, and out the door during those first few weeks, it’s enough to make any parent feel like maybe back-to-school time isn’t all social media makes it out to be.

The truth is that it’s never been harder to be a parent of a school-aged kid. All the usual stuff is still there — athletics, clubs, managing phone privileges, communication — but in the age of social media, when every other parent seems to be nailing it, the pressure to be “perfect” has never been higher.

The additional safety concerns, academic challenges, and bullying add stress and a mountain of unspoken guilty feelings of treasuring time when the kids are not around as much. It is as if an imaginary “guilt bully” is living rent-free in your head, accusing you of not being a “better parent” for your children.

Working with parents of elementary, middle, high school, and college-aged students in our church, I’ve discovered that we must establish practices to help us. Here are Four Habits of Doing Life Together that help parents at Snellville UMC defeat the “guilt bully” and the pressure to be “perfect.” Practicing these habits will also help you beat your “guilt bully.”

• Spending time with God in worship or prayer

• Spending time with others, a meal

• Sharing and listening to stories of life

• Using our gifts to serve a need in the community.

You don’t have to feel guilty about not being the perfect parent of a school-aged kid that social media portrays. And you don’t have to do it alone. We’re here for you and want you to defeat your “guilt bully.” We pray you and your family receive God’s richest blessings beyond social media “perfect” this school year.

Dr. Quincy Brown
Snellville UMC