Bad Parent?

mary1helen2April 29, 2007

Do any of you ever look back and wish you could re-raise your children, and do a much better job of it? I try not to, but know I failed in some major ways...one of the children has been telling me how awful she felt during some of her childhood, (which I already knew), but did not realize it had affected her so badly until our talk. I apologized and told her of my regret, ( my husband and I were divorced, I had to go out to work, and being in my thirties had a little bit too much social life...but I don't feel they were abandoned or mistreated. She apparently sees it much differently. She thinks it has virtually ruined her life and caused her to have issues to this day. She is seeing a therapist but I feel really terrible about all this.

I would like to know if anyone else has children who feel this way and if they got past it somehow, the child, I mean.

Thanks.

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Vickey__MN

I think we can all look back and see things we wish we'd done differently...along with see things we think (or in some of us KNOW) our parents had done differently. BUT I think that #1 you can't turn back the clock, and #2 it made us who we are today so we have to accept that and go on with our lives. THe child who says that "it's all your fault", isn't accepting responsibilities for the person they are now. An abused child doesn't HAVE to grow up to be an abusive person. A child of an alcholic won't necessarily grow up to be an alcholic now will they. WE make the decisions that affect our lives. Yes we made mistakes, yes you can apologize, but that is all you can do, you cannot UNDO what was done. You can go on from here and NOT make those same mistakes. Don't let it eat you up. I was a child whose faher sexually abused her. I got over it, still have a relationship with my father (aliebet a limited one), but it is no longer his issue, nor mine. Did that make sense? I am not a victim any longer and will not let him control me..which is what blaming him continously for all the wrong in my life because of what he did would make me...still a victim.

Vickey-MN

    Bookmark   April 29, 2007 at 7:46PM
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lindac

This wasn't your question but....
Your daughter needs to move on.
I have a friend in her 70's who still blames her insecurities on having grown up with an alcoholic father...puh-leeze! She got married at 20 and before that wwent to college.
It doesn't sound like you were an abusive mother to me....your daughter needs to take responsibility for her problems and not blame you for here inability to deal with her life. We all know people who had a seemingly perfect upbringing and who spend their adult life messing up.
If we choose to we can all find reasons to "see a therapist". The bottom line is a person is about as happy as they want to be.
Linda C

    Bookmark   April 30, 2007 at 9:48AM
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coolmama

My sister and I have disagreement over this very topic. I feel that our mom did the best she could raising us all by herself (our dad never paid child support,and wasnt around much before he DIED)
She feels that our mom's actions are why her life is so messed up to this day.
While my mom did some things I certainly would never do with my own child,my sister is almost 30 years old herself,and I feel it's time she took responsibility for her own life.

What kids dont realize is that,parents arent perfect. They make mistakes too.
Mary1helen2~Your daughter should be in therapy over this. Hopefully they can help her come to terms with her feelings.
I wish my sister would get into some therapy.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2007 at 3:08PM
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sweeby

I knew two sisters once who were close in age. Their parents had been divorced when they were young and Dad moved far away. Mom worked long hours at a relatively low-paying job and scrimped and saved to raise them both. Dad took them for a few weeks each summer and played 'Disneyland'.

Daughter #1 thought her mother was a saint and an excellent role model, who taught them the value of hard work and that good things were worth working for.

Daughter #2 thought the father was a saint, and that their mom did a lousy job because she spent too much time at work.

Daughter #1 took out student loans, got scholarships, and earned a master's degree; last I heard, she was a successful young professional. Daughter #2 (who worked for me) married young, and quit her job the instant she became pregnant. When I asked her if she would be interested in working part time so she could 'keep her foot in the door' she responded that low-paying jobs weren't worth having and that her husband (who did not earn a lot) could support her and the baby.

Same mom. Same dad. Totally different reactions.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2007 at 4:07PM
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sheilajoyce_gw

It's strange how some kids remember things, even things that are not true. My two sons were born May 12th and May 13th. I ALWAYS made sure that they had their OWN birthday cakes. Even when we lived in a rural area with no bakery for a few years, I have always baked their cakes (because they prefer my birthday cake, and dislike icing too). I even mailed them their cakes when they went to college and afterward too when they moved away from home. I can remember staying up so late on the 12th after the elder one's party to make a cake for the younger one for the next day.

They are 27 and 30 now, and when we were together at Thanksgiving time, the younger one commented to the family how he recently told his friends that he'd never had his own birthday cake, that he always had to make do with leftover cake from his brother's birthday. (As if there is EVER leftover cake here!)

I was flabberghasted. It took the whole family swearing that he always had his own cake to quiet him down. I don't know if he believes us, but I was sooooo surprised after all the effort I have gone to with baking their own from scratch cake every year. Strange.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2007 at 8:44PM
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proserpina

I think part of a child's development is that to blame a parent (I know for sure I did!)... But some "children" never reach the second step: accepting their parents as human beings.

I think Vickey put it best with her example: your daughter is living in the past. If she is holding onto the past for her "shortcomings" in the present, it is no longer your responsibility, it's hers. Sure, you could have been more present; but keep in mind, she is still interpreting your ADULT reality through a CHILD's perspective. Her hurt is that of a child... Hopefully, with the help of her therapist, she can view her past through her adult eyes.

From a parental standpoint, I am sure we all wish we could re-say or re-do certain things... but think of it this way, if we were the perfect parents, would our children really be better off? The answer could only be yes if you were the parent of Siddhartha Gautama (i.e. Buddha)! I know my childhood shortcomings have helped me make mistakes, but have also brought me to be a stronger person ("We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves strong. The amount of work is the same" -Carlos Castaneda. My aunt gave it to my at my bridal shower and it now hangs right by the children's bedroom).

*Discaimer for VickeyMN: what I wrote is what I got from what you said. I don't want to put words in your mouth, especially if you disagree.*

    Bookmark   May 1, 2007 at 4:40PM
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mary1helen2

I've read all your answers and so appreciate your thoughts. I agree with all of you to an extent, but I know there are other situations that enter into this mix, not abuse of any type, but things are brought up that I had long forgotten and thought she had too...things not having to do with this family even. The older two children were away at college when most of the real trouble in our family started and the younger two were left to bear the brunt of it. Their father was an alcoholic, and after we were divorced, I was an absent parent, well not absent, but you know what I mean, I think. My son became an alcoholic and one of her complaints is being left with him in the Summer, while I was working. She used to call me, she was about 11 or 12 and complain about him aggravating her, I would get him on the phone and think I had it all settled. But it wasn't settled well enough she says.
The thing is all these guys are college grads except my son; he learned a very lucrative trade from working in his dad's business. One daughter has a Ph.D and the other a Masters. The youngest with the problems has a degree and a very successful career, so they arent' slackers or anything like that. I always thought she was very strong, maybe that was a big mistake on my part because she gave off that impression, independent, able and strong minded. Now I find out she has actually considered harming herself, and this sort of thing has all come out over an unhappy experience with a man. She said she was always the placater and make-it-all-okay in the family and took care of everyone else, which is true. Probably the product of an alcoholic parent and a nitwit parent (me). I had to laugh, I'm sorry SheilaJoyce, at your story because I have experienced that with this child. A lot of things are "You never"....or "You always"....when I know the black or white isn't true. I have always told her she makes things all or nothing in her memory bank, and that was not always the case. Did you feel like quitting the second cake baking after that exchange, and just serving the leftover crumbs, because what was the use? I think you should send future cakes with a little green card that says sign when received. :-)
Also Sweetby, same thing here. My second oldest thinks I was a wonderful mother and my son, who no longer drinks and is happily married, says what was the problem mom, you took care of us and did the best you could. The oldest is a little distant, she never could stand her father, and here we are, the baby is really ill from all this.
Coolmama, I hope your sister gets some counseling as well, you know at least a good therapist is divorced from all the interfamily drama and issues, so he can be objective. My daughter did say he isn't letting her get away with anything....he calls her on everything and wants her to explain why she feels that way. Hopefully, it will get better. We may do family counseling, which would probably do us good overall. I still feel some guilt and hurt, I think she is pulling away and we have had an excellent relationship, I thought, for at least 20 years or more.
I mentioned some specific names but the rest of you gave me very important viewpoints and I am considering them all. You all lifted a burden for me in your individual comments. Thanks so much. I will try to come back and let you know what the future brings.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2007 at 10:12AM
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Vickey__MN

You know what you said in your last post that makes me KNOW that you did all you could (and that is all a person can do)..."I still feel some guilt and hurt"...this means that you tried to be a good parent, and trying is all a person can be asked to do. Darn it, you are not perfect now are you, and were not then. You did the best you could, now you're getting guilted for that because your best wasn't good enough was it. SHAME ON HER, not shame on you! How could you know things if you were not told, or couldn't (not wouldn't, but couldn't) be there!!! You can NOT live your life on WHAT IF's. You can only do the best you can and go on from there. PERIOD. SHE has to learn that, as it looks like you know that. SHE has to grow up, stop being the victim and stop putting the blame on you.

Vickey-MN

    Bookmark   May 2, 2007 at 12:21PM
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sheilajoyce_gw

No, I baked a cake for him two weeks ago when he flew home to meet his new nephew for the first time and visit with his sister who was visiting that week. We had his birthday early at his request then. But I will bake another cake and mail it to him Monday, allowing plenty of time for it to arrive on the east coast. I have been considering a note of some kind about this being his alone, and not crumbs.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2007 at 12:01AM
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