The Guilt Market


The news always has stories about the volatility in the financial markets, but there’s one market that CNBC and Bloomberg don’t cover: The Guilt Market.

Mothers are very familiar with this market; it starts the minute the line turns pink on your pregnancy test. Suddenly, you feel guilty for the coffee you had that morning, or the calcium you didn’t. Heaven forbid if you had a glass of wine with dinner or ate your hamburger rare.

Perhaps you were like me and had sushi the night before you found out you were pregnant, because surely the cramps you were feeling meant another month of the baby dance, so you might as well live it up.

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Now as you look at the line you have spent months waiting to see, you are convinced that all your missteps will doom you and your baby.

From there the ticker just takes off.

This is one market where I have a better eye for picking value than Warren Buffet.

Just like the stock exchange, the guilt market has a contingent of analysts, specialists, and investors — all of whom are willing to weigh in. It may be out of true concern, or maybe they just have a need to put their two cents into your portfolio.

Some of my personal favorite “guilt tips” are:

“Don’t worry about having another miscarriage, I read that stress can harm the baby and cause a miscarriage.”

I had four miscarriages. I always found my guilt index climbed anytime someone gave me that recommendation.

“You have to at least try to nurse your third child because you nursed your other two children. It’s only fair to the new baby.”

I’m pretty sure my youngest child, Peter, has never gone a day worrying about the fact that he was bottle fed while Tom and Lizzy were breast-fed. I’m also pretty sure he appreciated having a sane, happy mother. I know Tom, Lizzy, and my husband did.

I will say years later I do think of that tip whenever Peter goes nuts if he doesn’t have the same exact amount as his brother and sister. I have socked a little extra money into his “money-for-therapy-for-all-the-things-I-did-to-screw-you-up fund,” just in case this is the reason.

“You should talk and play with your children more. Maybe that is why they have speech problems.”

A few times I wondered if raising my children in a convent where we had taken a vow of silence was a bad idea. How was I to know that most parents interact with their kids?

That comment paid a high return to the original investor.

When I realized that something was wrong with our daughter, Lizzy at only six weeks old, I racked up so much guilt I could have singlehandedly paid the national debt.

The idea that if only I had done something, anything, differently, my daughter would live a more normal life has eaten up more time than I care to admit.

As a mom, I want to believe that if I only follow the “rules,” everything will work out just fine. If I read the right books, feed the kids the right foods, and take them to their scheduled check-ups, nothing bad will happen.

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When something does occur that’s not in my plan, it’s easier for me to blame myself. If I was at fault, I can control it and make sure it never happens again.

I wish it was that easy. Experience has taught me it’s not. Or, rather, Lizzy has taught me it’s not.

Though Lizzy’s challenges were not in my plan, they’re a part of her.

As she marches through the house wearing three crowns, my shawl around her waist, a sock for a glove, and a hair tie for a bracelet, it’s hard not to admit that Lizzy is who she’s supposed to be.

Lizzy doesn’t blame me for the things she can’t do. She’s too busy living her life and turning her brothers into frogs with the magic wand my cousin gave her. Thank goodness.

Plus, there are more important things that she does blame me for, such as not letting her play with my jewelry or my favorite blouse.

Related post: Why I’m Embracing The Mommy Guilt 

About the writer

Kathy Radigan is a writer, blogger, social media addict, mom to three, wife to one and owner of a possessed appliance. She posts a weekly essay each Sunday on her blog,  My dishwasher's possessed! She lives outside New York City with her family.You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Google +

From Around the Web


Social Butterfly Mom 1 year ago

The Guilt Market: what a concept. We all buy in, don’t we?!

Leigh-Mary 1 year ago

Did everything “right” with my first pregnancy — the one that result in my amazing, rockstar daughter who happens to have autism. With my third, I took the test, set it aside, went and had a cigarette, a Diet Pepsi AND a glass of wine and then took a bath. Once I dried off, I looked at the test. Two lines. Boom.

Do I feel guilt? Absolutely not. He is the biggest PIA of them all. And I love him just as much. By nature of our job — being MOTHER — there are a million things I can feel guilty about every. single. day. Instead, let’s choose to take the Gold in “I made it through the day and my kids are still smiling.” Yeah, we got that!! : )

Great piece, Kathy!

Lori Stover 1 year ago

One dyslexic child and one ADHD child, tons of well meaning guilt dumpers out there. My latest favorite was wondering if the medicine given to stop my preterm labor caused my daughters ADHD? I have no idea. After worrying some I reminded myself of the complications of delivering at 26 weeks and decided I would take the drugs again.

    Kathy Radigan 1 year ago

    Lori for me the guilt around my kids issues was the worse. I too would focus on what i did during my pregnancy. It didn’t help that people would ask me what I did to “cause” the issues! Like you I realized i did the best for my children and i was able to ignore those “guilt tips.’ Then I started to kick people out of my portfolio!! Lol! Thanks! :)

Meredith 1 year ago

Every. Single. Day. I’m right there with you. But I think we should all be more like your sweet Lizzy and focus on important things like magic wands 😉 xo

    Kathy Radigan 1 year ago

    My goal is to be more like Lizzy! I want to walk around wearing three crowns, a sock for a glove and use my magic wand to make everything the way I want it!! Lol! Thanks so much!

Tara Chettiar 1 year ago


Estelle 1 year ago

Great post. I think I gave up feeling guilty about any of my decisions pretty early on and have been happier for it. An added bonus: no one can manipulate me easily.

    Kathy Radigan 1 year ago

    I’m getting much better about it, but I can still let others mess around in my portfolio!! Lol! 1 year ago

I love this Kathy. If you’re a mother, you’ve got guilt! But, I’ve tried over the years to be kinder to myself. Hey it’s a work in progress.

    Kathy Radigan 1 year ago

    I love that it’s a work in progress Nancy!! I am finding that too!

Karen 1 year ago

Love this and oh my goodness, guilt! And it doesn’t stop when they are all grown and off to marriage or college. When they aren’t doing well, I STILL wonder if it was something I did. Oh my. Trying to get over it,

    Kathy Radigan 1 year ago

    No!! It doesn’t get better?!! Darn!! If only we could make real money from this market!! Lol!

Amanda Brady 1 year ago

You feel guilt because you let society drag you down and tell you that you arent good enough.

    Kathy Radigan 1 year ago

    You are so right! When I trust my own gut I don’t feel guilty, even if I find the decision was not one I would make again. Thanks.

Janine Huldie 1 year ago

Kathy, trust me I have mommy guilt covered here too so many times. Even last night, Kevin took Lily to Carvel, because Emma wanted to stay home. They brought home ice cream. Lily picked out one with an Olaf (yes from Frozen) ring on top. They only had one and of course she brought home Emma one with Sven (the reindeer) on top. Emma began to cry because she wanted Olaf. Mommy guilt to the highest here and wished I could have gotten her another Olaf ring. I couldn’t but still I sat with her while she shed some tears and did my best to make it all better. And this is just one of the many times, I have felt this for one of my girls and I am sure there will be many more to come. And yet I know, I am not the only one to have this market cornered.

    Kathy Radigan 1 year ago

    Janine the funny thing about it is, one day that type of thing can make feel guilty and other days it might not even register on my portfolio! Sending love! xo

Tasha Goy Pope 1 year ago

Mommy guilt….. Go to bed every night with it…..

    Kathy Radigan 1 year ago

    I’m sorry and I so know this feeling!!!! It really is awful. For me it’s a constant challenge to keep people out of my portfolio and trust my own feelings. I have found that when I listen to my gut it’s usually right, and even if it’s not, I feel better that I at least did what I thought was right. Sending hugs!

Lisa Brewster 1 year ago

No guilt here. Now they are all grown up. I gave 110%. Time for ME!

    Kathy Radigan 1 year ago

    Good to know that you don’t have to play the market forever! :)

Shellie Smith 1 year ago

Wonderful. I have guilt about absolutely nothing. What purpose does it serve? Does it make you a better mother? No. Stop feeling guilty about stupid things. Be a parent. You ARE the grown up.

    Kathy Radigan 1 year ago

    You are right, always good to remember.

Amber Turner 1 year ago

There is therfore now no condemnation to those living in Christ! Just keep claiming this truth when the world hits you with guilt. Yes we have convictions and those are very healthy but guilt is not.

    Kathy Radigan 1 year ago

    Thank you Amber!

Kelly Mitch Norton 1 year ago

Show me a woman who doesn’t feel guilt and I’ll show you a man.

    Kathy Radigan 1 year ago

    That is great!!!!

Ali Mac 1 year ago

I love this Kathy!! And I cracked up at “guilt tips”. Sometimes I wonder if people actually hear themselves when they speak!

    Kathy Radigan 1 year ago

    Ali it’s so true! One time I did say to my dad that I guess my plan to keep the kids in the closet wasn’t working when he suggested that maybe I need to do more with them (this of course was after i had them all in therapy and every mommy and me possible)!! The worst part, is I’m sure in my 48 years I have invested in other’s guilt accounts. Which of course now just has me feeling guilty! :)

Claudia Schink 1 year ago

Guilt doesn’t work on me,took me 15 years but I’m done

    Kathy Radigan 1 year ago

    Claudia that is great! I”m working on it!

Rebecca Greene 1 year ago

The guilt market goes on and on….”all the other kids….stay up later…..have phones….are allowed to watch TV on school nights, have laptops” blah blah blah…waah….waah…..waah!

    Kathy Radigan 1 year ago

    You right, I didn’t even deal with how our kids can play the market on our own behalf!!

Jenny Kruschke 1 year ago

I fight the mommy guilt with every fiber of my being, but I never feel guilty for bottle-feeding. A sane and happy and mentally-healthy mommy is the most important thing a baby can have.

    Kathy Radigan 1 year ago

    I agree with you, a sane happy mommy equals a happy baby and family! Thanks!

Natalie Summers 1 year ago

I’m f**king sick of feeling guilty!

    Kathy Radigan 1 year ago

    Natalie the guilt really can make it so tough! I have days when I can handle it and days it really gets to me! Hugs to you!

Joy 1 year ago

I’m so well-invested in the Guilt Market. The only question that troubles me is, if I’m already such an expert in it, why the hell do others still insist on giving advice? How dare they not recognize my expertise!

    Kathy Radigan 1 year ago

    Joy you are so right!! Maybe the trick is to tell people to stay our of our portfolios!! Though this is easier said than done!! :)

Harper 1 year ago

LOVE! Great read, Kathy!

    Kathy Radigan 1 year ago

    Thanks so much Harper!

Liz 1 year ago

This totally resonated with me. Especially in my daughter’s first year. The self-doubt was horrendous. Still learning how to loosen the white-knuckle grip!

    Kathy Radigan 1 year ago

    You are so right, the self doubt really does make the market go round, doesn’t it? That first year really is the toughest because everything is so new. Glad it’s getting a bit better now! :)

Ashley 1 year ago

This is sooooo true! And right now I’m feeling guilty cuz I’m on the computer and my kids are watching Cartoon Network. :/

Loved this, Kathy!

    Kathy Radigan 1 year ago

    Ashley thanks so much! Yes being on the computer is very good for my portfolio too!! :)

Cathy Chester 1 year ago

If I could make money on the Guilt Market, Kathy, I’d be wealthy enough to retire, and then some.

I’m with you on this one. I love the analogy. So well written (again) and I enjoyed reading about a kindred spirit!

    Kathy Radigan 1 year ago

    Cathy you and me both!!!! Thanks so much!

Teri 1 year ago

The Guilt Mongers are a hard bunch! They LOVE spreading their brand of joy all over the place like pixie dust at Disney World. You stay the course, you’re a fantastic mom. <3

    Kathy Radigan 1 year ago

    You are so sweet!!! Yes, I have always appreciated the guilt tips!! Lol! Love the pixie dust!!!

Darcy Perdu (So Then Stories) 1 year ago

Great analogy, Kathy! I’m a big spender on the Guilt Market too! Ha!

    Kathy Radigan 1 year ago

    Thanks so much! I’m really an expert at this one too!


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