May 19, 2016 at 10:58 am #105072
I am sure I am going to get a black lash for this one.. but here goes.
I was raised by a single mother who really did not have the best parenting skills. She battled depression and also two teenagers at the same time, my older sister… nightmare. Unfort. I have the same lack of skills dealing with my own teenager, who honestly, is just a normal teenager trying to find herself and pushing at the boundaries.
One thing I have learned as I have gotten older and have raised a child… parenting is tough! I don’t get a night off, I screw up, I say the wrong things, do the wrong things, etc… I have been able to appreciate my own mother after becoming a mother. There were nights when she would come home from working as a nurse, would go in her room and not come out. Gone… my sister would have to make us dinner and we would have to be quiet, not to bother her. We wouldn’t really see her for days…
My sophomore year of high school she sent me to live with my dad because she was just tired. My dad had no idea how to parent anyone… I was pretty much on my own for that year, actually went a whole week without eating just to see if anyone would even notice me… they didn’t. Until I saw my mom at Christmas, and she was surprised how much weight I had lost. (this is just so you know my upbringing).
BUT our parents are people, too. Now they have no right to hit us or verbally abuse us, but DAMN, step back and see that we also have terrible days at work, there are days where I have no idea what I am doing, I am tired, I don’t want to make dinner, I want to be left alone, but I keep on being the best parent I can be… generally the worst parents were not parented well, so they are parenting with the skills they have.. or lack there of. I read where a reader said something about “doing the best they could”… I do think my parents did. My father wasn’t even a father… he didn’t know how. Not only did he not know how to parent, he just did not know how to love, and he died alone and probably very unhappy. How sad.
We wouldn’t expect someone who had no basketball skills to get on the court and excel? But we expect people, yes parents are people, to excel at something they have not been trained to do…
Now you say, then why did they have kids, why don’t they find ways to be a better parent… well, we have to accept the fact that we suck at parenting, first. I also think people go into having kids thinking it isn’t hard… isn’t it amazing all we have to do to drive a car, but we can just keep popping out kids left and right with no thinking??
So, were my parents good enough? Yes, and I do believe they did do the very best they could. My grandparents were even worse than my parents, so hopefully with each generation we correct some of the past with our own children. I have tried to do that, and I know I have created other obstacles for my daughter, that she will hopefully correct when she raises her children one day. But I try and show her how much I love her as often as she lets me… I apologize when I am wrong, and I do as much reading and research I can get my hands on to try and be a better mother. Next time you are unhappy with your parents, ask them about their childhood… you may get a little insight as to why they are they way they are.
But I also believe good parents are people who know how to love and accept themselves… and I know my parents did not know how to do that, and I am trying to learn how…
May 19, 2016 at 11:52 am #105077
- This topic was modified 3 years, 9 months ago by trisha.
I think you’re right in saying it is amazing how little is required to become a parent when compared to other disciplines we have to master, and get licensed for, in order to participate. I think parenting is seen as an “instinct” but we aren’t like the animals. If all we had to do was feed them and teach them some basic survival skills we’d probably all be somewhat qualified, but today’s world demands so much more. I guess I have to day, if you’re tired, and you’re doubting yourself, then you’re probably doing okay. To me this says you’re putting in an effort and showing concern and you care whether or not you get it right. This is a lot more consideration than some parents give to the matter. No one can possibly know what they’re getting into when they have kids. You’re always hopeful they will be healthy, smart and mild tempered, but many people don’t get that lucky. You have to adapt as you go. You do the best you can. You said it yourself. Hang in there and be gentle with yourself. 🙂May 20, 2016 at 7:26 am #105146
I like your topic and glad you initiated this thread.
About parents doing their best with the childhoods they had and the skills the have: when a child comes out of childhood with a parent in a broken state, anywhere from broken bones due to physical abuse to a broken spirit due to ongoing emotional abuse, then the parent’s “best” was very, very bad. And that may be the parent’s best. If a parent broke his child bones and the child is in a wheelchair for the rest of the child’s life, why, the child survived, right? And got to develop strong arms to push that wheelchair: what a blessing after all! So the thinking goes.
Same with a broken spirit: it was the parent’s best, after all, the parent had a painful childhood, came out of it understandably angry and had to release all that anger somehow. So, the parent called the child “a piece of *&%%”- no harm done, it is not like any bones were broken. So the thinking goes.
The proof is in the pudding. When a child experiences unnecessary distress caused by a parental abuse of the child, and the child is left with a broken body or a broken spirit, then the parent’s “best” was well…
I have no doubt parenting is tough, no doubt. But when a parent lacks a heart, that is not a parenting issue, that is a person issue, a person without a heart, repeatedly hurting (through commission and omission) an innocent, trusting child, seeing those scared and hurt eyes of the child and then continuing to hurt, in the same ways, never stopping to correct. Well, that is not a parenting issue. It is a cruelty issue.
anitaMay 20, 2016 at 7:59 am #105149
I agree with most of what you write… I was never abused to that degree nor have I dealt with a person who is that angry and mean, so hard for me to know and understand the person. My experience is more with the unavailable parent… both in time and love. So, I can understand this to be a “did the best I could” scenario, because if we are never shown love how do we know how to give love?
I am not talking about the person who beats their child physically or emotionally… I have to think the person knows that is wrong. That is something I know nothing about and really have no experience even to comment on.
But I know, over the 17 years of parenting I have said and done things I am not proud of. I am sure I have hurt her spirit, not intentionally, but I am still human. The problem is not the person who makes a mistake, the problem is the person who continues to make the same one without correcting themselves… and I have prob done a little of that, too. I have my own wounds that I am trying to fix.
I do have to say, the person who lacks a heart probably does not know… ?? If they have never been shown love, how do they even know it exists??May 20, 2016 at 8:20 am #105152
Again, very interesting topic. I admire you for starting this, as a mother. The very fact that you initiated this topic means to me, best I can tell, that you are a pretty good mother. If you were not, this would be too tough to bring (for a person with a heart) or simply not interesting or relevant (for a person without a heart). And so, my hat is off to you.
To your last question, “the person who lacks a heart… if they have never been shown love, how do they even know it exists???” First to come to my mind is that everyone was shown a little bit of love somewhere along the way. Something. But letting go of this side note, if the person wasn’t loved and abused, how can they love their own child?
The reason for asking this question is very important to me, in trying to answer it. Does it lead to making cruelty against a child understandable and okay if the parent was unloved and abused herself? Does such parent gets “points” in that case?
Another point: if a parent was unloved and abused herself and then proceeds to abuse her child, does it hurt the child less? Does the child feel less pain?
If a person is stabbed and bleeds, does a person bleed less if the one doing the stabbing had a tough childhood?
What is the relevance of the question to child abuse?
There is so much more to this. And of course, I am talking here about child abuse and cruelty which is not a parenting issue.
anitaMay 20, 2016 at 8:49 am #105155
Well, we could go in so many different directions here… and thank you, I want to be a good mother, I know I am not every day. But each day is an opportunity to make it right.
As I said, I have no experience with the person who physically abuses their child. I have never been hit out of anger by someone, so I really can’t say anything. I do wonder, since you keep brining it up, if you have had some experience with this behavior?
As far as my opinion on abuse, I have to think that the person is just so angry and so filled with self hate and hate of probably everything that they are unable to reason in a logical way. I would have to say their perception of the world is so far off… I have heard many times that they tell the abused that “they made them do it”… and maybe they believe it? Or that is their excuse. Pain begets pain… I am not saying at all that is an excuse for the behavior. I guess I am trying to just back away with a little less emotion and understand the motivation… that doesn’t mean I think the behavior is ok.
I am the kind of person who is pretty analytical and I like dissecting the motivation of people to understand why they do what they do… I am not saying I agree with the action or the pain that it inflicts or the lives it destroys, I am just trying to understand that adult, who at some point was also a child… how did they get to the point where they are doing the negative actions they are doing?May 20, 2016 at 9:11 am #105157
When I write to you (and on any particular thread), I know other people read it too, other members and people checking in. So I am not writing about this general topic with only you in mind.
I too care about motivations. So for the strictly intellectual analysis of a person’s motivation, my answer to “that adult, who at some point was also a child… how did they get to the point where they are doing the negative actions they are doing?”
There is the child, all loving, reaching out to the parent with nothing but love and trust, and there is the abuse, unexpected. The child was unprepared and in shock. This pain o betrayal by the person they love so much and the fear of being dependent on a person dangerous to them, that pain and fear are too much to bear. The brain can’t contain it. The child can’t go on living knowing the reality of how unsafe her life is. So the child splits, dissociates the experience from her awareness, from not remembering the incidents to remembering but feeling nothing about it. This divorce from awareness, this dissociation, split- as it continues into adulthood, without healing, continues into present events. So as a parent, the person is still divorced from her own feelings. Just as she stopped feeling (most of) the hurt and fear she felt as a child and ongoing, in a similar way, she doesn’t feel her own child’s hurt and fear.
The mother (or father/ older sibling/ care taker) has no empathy for her child. Having no empathy, hurting is easy.
Whatever we close our eyes/ hearts to as children and as our eyes/ hearts remain closed, we inflict those things on our children. It can be clearly abusive or subtle but abusive as well. Abuse is on a continuum and all of it hurts.
anitaJune 15, 2016 at 4:42 am #107347
I think this is a superb topic and I admire the honesty from the original poster.
My own parents rowed openly in front of my two siblings & I. I had this memory locked away of the three of us on the landing upstairs and a hell of a row raging below. As the row moved towards completion and our tears were subsiding, the three of us were whispering & we were looking through a book with a fox. Anything to escape the madness really. We didn’t say it but the three of us heard silence below, then one of us made a joke about the fox and we were laughing, happy, like POW soldiers in a camp.
Fast forward to my own family & the lady I have a son with was a single mother when I met her. I believe she has BPD/NPD. I spent 8 years with her on & off. I think her mother was not ‘there’ for her when she was a child herself and her father lived in another country to earn money. She told me they marched her out the door at 18 and she had to fend for herself. By 22 she was a mother herself, ditched the father of her child and had a series of broken relationships. Our was fiery, I could never work out why there were so many rows, but I am more aware now.
I have observed her as a parent many times. She has hit her daughter, said horrible nasty things to her. She can be short with our son even though he is 3. I went completely in the other direction. I am probably so aware of my own childhood that I don’t like him seeing any kind of violence, want him to have the best life possible & my way of dealing with his poor behaviour is to slow down & kneel down with him & talk to him. I regularly kiss him, hold him close to my heart (I think a child feels that connection) and try t obuild his self esteem up by saying ‘good boy’ or ‘well done’ if he does tasks like put rubbish in the bin, or is nice to people.
The original poster was extremely honest & I understand how tired a parent can feel. I no longer live with my son, but when I did, it was a lot of work. I never complained about it, but you know that might not be good as venting is good sometimes. My ex vented about everything, but I believe that is more about her suspected personality disorder than being a single parent.
It’s not easy, but I think when you have problematic parents you can go two ways – follow the example they set, or go completely in the other direction. My Dad hit me a couple of times. He was often short tempered and said things that made me feel small. But I love him and admire all he has done for me (college education when he was earning small cash) as has my mum. My Mum sometimes told me what my dad was saying to her in rows & for a 12 year old that was devastating. But you know, it has made me realise that I don’t want that for my son and I want him to be smiling and happy any time he is with me. I correct him, but less vehemently than his Mum. Are either of us right or wrong? No, just different methods I guess and how you were brought up affects how you bring up your kids.
A great topic, Trisha I admire your honesty & bravery.June 15, 2016 at 7:32 am #107353
Thank you… was having one of those days. My thought with people is that they behave in the way they were trained or they experienced… and if they never get to the point where they question why they do what they do, it won’t change. When my mom was present, she was a good woman, but I think her generation felt like as long as the children had food and a place to live, then their job was done. And she did that very well.
I agree with you… a person can either continue with the bad behavior or change it. I have tried so hard to change certain things, but I know I have created other issues for my daughter, that I hope, she will also change. I am not perfect, not even close. I try to talk to her and explain things… but she is 17 now and that can be tough.
It sounds like you are doing a great job! I think the biggest hurdle is being aware of your actions/words on your child, or anyone for that matter… and you are doing that.
And I have to say, you must be British? thanks for the post!June 15, 2016 at 7:44 am #107355
…June 15, 2016 at 7:52 am #107357
Sorry about the “…” above, please ignore. Best to you.
anitaJune 15, 2016 at 8:09 am #107358
I am from Ireland 🙂 Close enough.
My parents both did what they could too. All these years on, my Mother still sees herself as relatively blameless for the rows. I listen, but don’t agree with her. I can remember both having good & bad points. For example, my Dad bought an item that he would use to make extra money for years. When he bought it, my mum described it as ‘his new toy’. I think back now & see that as very disrespectful. He used to make false allegations against her from the time they were going out together. In a lot of ways both were very immature (they were both 20 when I was conceived). But like you say, they did their best with the tools they had.
I am doing the best I can now, but my little boy is 3. I have to face challenges as he grows up. His mother has many more years of experience than me as a parent but I am not sure it is all good. For example, she has had long term relationships with 4 men including her daughter’s Dad since her 16 year old was born. Is everyone else wrong in that case? The girl has had no stability and when my ex recently raised that point in a row, I had enough courage to speak up & say that a lot of the instability was before I came into her life and she carried on with the instability with me. I am not blameless, but there has been one common denominator.
What I was trying to do was provide a stable family environment for us all to live. But my ex seemed to go from being extremely happy to raging & violent in the space of a couple of hours. My guess would be that the instability has continued even though I am no longer there.
I think I am just like any other parent, I just put emphasis on smiling, being gentle, encouraging him to talk, be himself and be proud of who and what he is. I don’t think his sister has had those luxuries and boy did I want her to as she is a lovely young girl, with a lot of good points. Sadly, if someone is focusing on the 10 bad things you do per day and ignoring the 90 great things you do, that affects people and they start to think themselves unworthy of love or respect. I hope my Son will never feel like that, he is too important.
Sean 🙂June 15, 2016 at 8:25 am #107361
Just because someone has more years in the game, does not make them a better athlete 🙂
My personal opinion here, and I in no way mean any disrespect when I say this… I think the mother needs some help, I think angry people are very hurt people and she would prob do good to go and talk to someone. BUT, she has to see that her behavior is wrong, and not sure you are the one to tell her… I think all you can do is suggest, maybe? Maybe if she sees you acting differently with your son, it could help her see a diff way to parent?
I know with my first marriage we had a lot of issues, we didn’t have any children, so it was easier for me to give the ultimatum of either we go and get counseling together or I leave… well, long story short… I left. And it was the best thing… years later I met a man who I married and we have been married for 21 years and we have a 17 yr old daughter.
Second thing I would say, is read everything you can about parenting… I have done that. I do understand the mother saying the teen is not respecting her, I don’t know how many times I have said that about my own teenager, but I read everything I can to help me understand what is going on in their brains and her life. I also try and control myself around her… they do respond much better to calmness than to yelling. I actually went to a counselor to help me parent and she suggested this book: Scream free parenting… here is a link to it: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0767927435/ref=oh_aui_search_detailpage?ie=UTF8&psc=1
And it has helped…
Good luck to you.June 15, 2016 at 9:11 am #107369
Thank You. I have read a lot about parenting, completed courses on parenting & always try to observe others. I agree about the counselling – her not wanting to go looks like she has a lot to hide & she does know that she has problems but will not face up to it.
I am not in a position to suggest anything about her parenting skills any more. The only communication now is around our Son.
I do hope that like you, I go on to meet someone new and enjoy life going forward, but aged 42, meeting someone is going to be difficult. But here’s hoping that it can be done.
SeanOctober 29, 2018 at 2:41 pm #234399
All parents damage their children. It cannot be helped. Youth, like pristine glass, absorbs the prints of its handlers. Some parents smudge, others crack, a few shatter childhoods completely into jagged little pieces, beyond repair. ― Mitch Albom
Do everything right, do everything wrong, regardless which, some children will thrive and some falter.
One of the tasks of individuation is coming to terms with the mother/father complex. It is true indeed that our relationship to our parents tends to be complex. Anyway, as we become adults we must learn to nurture and discipline ourselves, essentially become our own ‘mother’ and ‘father’. This tend to happen by detaching the mother and father archetypes from our parents. And we do this by recognizing our parents as individuals with their own needs, fears, hopes, failings… By learning to relate to our parents as people and not *only* as mother and father (just as we are not *only* son/daughter) we open the way to reconnect to the archetype/energy of mother/father within ourselves.