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Ignoring my children; I think it happened to me and how to stop?

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This topic contains 6 replies, has 5 voices, and was last updated by  Airene 1 year, 10 months ago.

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  • #151870

    HelloFriend
    Participant

    Hello…and thanks for hearing me beat my soul. Here it goes..

    Background on me: had issues with mom growing up. Tough relationship; she has strong traits of narcissism, but she also tries to have empathy so I think it’s unintentional. I have dealt with depression and self harm as a teen. I still have some issues, including getting lost in my thoughts/daydreams constantly and being ocd/ADHD.

    My motherhood journey: I’m in a marriage with someone who also is emotionally abusive (and he has a lot of similar traits/fighting styles my mom has). I love my kids so much., they’re 3.5 and 5. And I hate to admit it. But I tend to avoid spending time with them. I get sucked into my phone very easily (like anytime I’m wondering something, I’ll look it up). And I already have issues with paying attention, focusing and getting distracted so then I need to refocus. Many times I just check-out and get lost in my thoughts or technology and and I’ll realize I put on tv for my kids so I could take a 5min shower- over an hour ago. It’s awful and I resent myself for it. Looking back to my childhood, I realize my mom (a sahm also) rarely played with me, rather she also put a lot of tv on for me or had me play with other kids or play on my own a lot. I wonder if that’s why I tend to zone out into my own head- because so much of my developmental years were spent alone with my own thoughts and imaginary world. I would hate for my own kids to turn out that way and always come up with a “new” schedule or plan to somehow make more time for them and I do try to play with each of them individually every day or so. But there is a lot of disconnect, which I don’t want. And I hate myself when I notice they aren’t good  even with making eye contact with me.  I haven’t been treated for ADHD yet, I just got a new insurance and my therapist mentioned ADHD as a likely issue this past fall. Can anyone shed some light or advice for me? I can’t tell if I’m “accidentally” narcissistic, too ADHD or other issue that causes me to not connect with my children.

    #151994

    anita
    Participant

    Dear HelloFriend:

    There are a few issues here:

    1) A mother’s attention to her children: regardless of a woman’s childhood and mental diagnoses, it is impossible for a person to pay attention to another (be it one’s child or any other person) most of the time, and definitely not all of the time. This is why we need to sleep for quite a few hours every 24 hour cycle and this is why we need alone time every so often during our awake time. A good mother pays enough attention to her children, not perfect attention (the latter is, again, impossible).

    2) Comparing yourself to your mother: “Looking back to my childhood, I realize my mom (shame also) rarely played with me, rather she also put a lot of tv on..” –

    I have a point to make: your OCD, ADHD, self harm (of the past, at least), depression and anxiety, all that you mentioned, these, I suggest, were not the result of your mother rarely playing with you and putting on a lot of TV. These are a result of her aggressive behavior toward you. You didn’t describe such, but it is parental aggression (overt or covert) that brings about such harm on a child (OCD, etc.). Do you agree?

    If you express no aggression toward your children, overt or covert, and neither does your husband, your children are not likely to be as harmed as you have been.

    3) Hate vs Gentleness toward yourself: “And I hate myself when I notice …”- hating yourself hurts your ability to pay more attention to your children. For more attention ability, be gentle with yourself, not hateful. Congratulate yourself for all the efforts you make, for the attention you do give them, smile and say to yourself: “good job!”

    anita

    #152028

    HelloFriend
    Participant

    Thank you Anita, your words mean a lot to me. I see what you are saying and agree. I rarely show aggression towards my children, and when I do I apologize almost immediately after. I try my best to be a gentle parent, especially because my husband is emotionally aggressive.

    #152038

    PearceHawk
    Participant

    Hello Friend…I can hardly touch on what Anita has offered. What she offers, what I see anyway, is a door is opened, a door that when you walk through it will give you ways to see things in a more gentle, loving way. I remember a time when I was in the Navy, just before my daughter was born. I told a Navy buddy of mine, “Troy I’m going to be a good father to her.” He threw me a curve ball that I didn’t expect, and asked me, “How do you know? You have never been a father before.” For some reason, I did not hesitate to answer. I said, “Troy, I’m going to do the opposite my father did. And if that requires me to revisit painful experiences as a vehicle to make good decisions, then I’ll gladly go there.” I have no idea where that answer came from, but, it works. (Incidentally, without going into details, it wasn’t until much later that I learned that who I thought was my father, wasn’t.) My daughter has been gone, off to college, enjoying her life. But before this I DID revisit painful experiences so that I can exercise what I know is right. You’re children need love. ESPECIALLY now. They are imprinting right now. They have been and will continue to do so for quite some time. I guess my point is, knowing this, give them love to imprint. Give them an example they will honor, cherish, love, and pass on to their children. They do not deserve anger and hostility. They deserve your love.

    #152116

    anita
    Participant

    Dear HelloFriend:

    You are welcome. Unfortunately, I see trouble for your children coming from two sources:

    1) “I rarely show aggression towards my children”- muster all your patience, all your strength and show them no aggression at all. It is natural to get angry, but control the expressions of your anger. Be firm when need to, but assertive-firm, not aggressive.

    2) And more so, “I’m in a marriage with someone who also is emotionally abusive …my husband is emotionally aggressive”- with you in the presence of your kids/ with the kids directly- that is a big problem, way more than your concern about not being attentive enough to your children. They need an aggression-free home.

    Best you can do, is provide them with a zero aggression home, whatever it takes.

    anita

    #201297

    Kara
    Participant

    How about baby steps every day set you alarm on your phone and sit down for just 10mins …5mins?) and read a book with them? Draw a picture with them? Walk to the letterbox with them? This may help?

     

    Also focus on what you already do… such as when you give them lunch stop focus eye contact smile! Tie there shoes up? Eye contact smile hug….putting there pj’s tickle them? Putting seatbelt on in car…kiss, high five eye contact smile etc etc try remember to be really present in all those basic routine things you do everyday . I’ve started this and found it better for my self love and telling myself daily I’m a good mum and I’m trying and doing my best.

    #201315

    Airene
    Participant

    Hello HelloFriend,

    The fact that you recognize you are doing something you want to change makes you a great mom, not an “accidental” narcissist.  Perfect moms might be out there somewhere, but I wasn’t one.  I made all kinds of mistakes and like you, I apologized when I needed to and tried to change behaviors that were less than loving.

    Kara’s suggestions are excellent.  Being present in the little things and showing your kids love throughout the day is what they will remember.

    The idea of doing something with them in lieu of looking at your phone, and setting a limit is excellent also.

    Best wishes for you and your cherubs.

    Airene

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