What am I doing wrong

gell333December 18, 2007

I would like to put in my story if I can. I have 4 kids to a man who treated me like a servant, he abused me, but he didn't do that to our kids so I thought he was better then my father was. I tried to be the best mother I could, while there father did nothing, but try to be their buddies, so I was the only real parent to them. After 23 years I left, after making the decision not to kill myself or him, I was that depressed by then. My oldest has not spoken to me since then, as he was always daddies boy, & when they were young I encouraged that, I wanted all my kids to have a good relationship with their father even though he never returned the favour for me. I was the one who cooked, cleaned, fixed up there cuts, made sure they could read & write, & tried to teach them how to look after them selves. I found a man now, who I never thought I could find & for the last 11 years I have been happy for the first time in my life. Now my adult kids think they should come first in my life, they all have lives & families of they own. I have since been through cancer & now I'm getting my knees replaced, so I have found that I just want peace in my life now. The problem seems that I can't communicate with the other three kids, without doing something to upset them even when I try not to. If I try to advice them, I'm interfering, if I don't say much, I don't care about them, if I try to let them know I understand them by telling them a time I went through the same thing, then I'm being self centred, so no matter what I say or do I am doing the wrong thing, they don't seem to understand me because they haven't gone through what I have & that is because I tried my hardest to make sure they didn't. My oldest daughter even told me I was not a good grandparent, because I wasn't very motherly but, when I told one of them why she wasn't allowed to move my things around in my lounge, my daughter got upset. I now have all my kids upset with me for one thing or another & if the things they were upset with me for, they had have done to me, then there wouldn't be anyone upset. My youngest daughter has been angry at me because I said I was selfish for having her to someone else. She has since married her boy friend but made sure we couldn't come & even said because her father wouldn't come if I was there, then she would rather not have any one there, yet she expected us to send a card & call when she gave me the impression she didn't want anything. She didn't send me a card when I went into hospital for my knee opp, but wants every one else to consider her feeling. They want me to be there depressed mummy who devoted her whole life to them because I didn't have any one else to give my love to. Well I'm not depressed now & I don't want to be, so how can I get them to see that.

My grandmother once told my mother that kids make your arms ache when they are young but they make your heart ache when they have grown.

Can any one help me work out what an I doing wrong.

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Sometimes, we are simply misunderstood by those we love the most. Their interpretations can be wrong, and they can take offense where none was intended. They can come to conclusions of us that are simply wrong, and they draw these on old bits and pieces of memories, where they simply did not have the whole picture, or could not grasp the history surrounding things that happened, and your response to them.

Sadly, you may never be understood by your children, especially if their father is manipulating history.

Perhaps you should begin journaling. At least one day, when they are older and their children are older, they may come across your writings, and begin to understand who their mother really is, and what she thought, and struggled with, etc. Also, those who write gratitude journals say that it really helps them to look at life differently. They are looking for the good.

I imagine many people today struggle with being misunderstood by their now adult children, especially if a divorce occurred. You have he said, she said going on in the midst of remarriages etc. And kids may be coming to conclusions based on all of this, along with bits and pieces of memories and history, without understanding all of what was going on in the midst of it all.

But without hearing your children's version, how can anyone help you work out what you are doing wrong? Maybe you should have your kids write you a letter, attempting to express what they are upset about and what they think you are doing wrong. Meditate on what they have written, without being defensive, or trying to explain. Just simply "hear" what they feel. And ponder their words. And ponder how they came to the conclusion that they did.

And perhaps at some point you can write to them and help them understand you as a human being, and not just their mom.

I have no idea if this is good advice or not. Perhaps someone else can comment on what I have written.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2007 at 9:20AM
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You might write them letters & tell them the truth of your marriage & what you sacrificed for their upbringing, letting them see it in black & white & giving them the opportunity to read it & react to it without blowing up on you.


1. People who have been abused often side with & identify with the abuser, who, after all, has all the power, & blame the other parent, the victim, assuming that it's all her fault.
She brought it on, she deserved it, whatever.

2. children pretty much believe what they're told, even when the truth is vastly different.

Even though they were *there*, they don't know the truth.

My aunt & my brother both have had experiences similar to yours:

My aunt always built her husband up to her children because she wanted them to look up to him, even though he was volatile, irrational, & angry, even though he often spent the rent money at the bars with other women, even though their home was filled with yelling & threats.

Well, guess what?

They believed her.

They thought their father was a tragic figure, tormented by life, etc.

& besides that, they couldn't get mad at their father, he'd have knocked them into the middle of next week.

so they got mad at their mother, *& they blamed her for everything that goes wrong in their lives.*

She's nearly 90, & they're in their 60's, & everything is still her fault.

They've taken over where their father left off.

My brother's ex & her family refused to let him see his children when he was supposed to, told them he didn't care about them, told them all kinds of stuff.

My brother never argued & never took up for himself, not wanting to make the situation worse & thinking that, when they grew up, the children would realize that he had been there & that he had paid child support, that he had made real sacrifices for them.

It didn't work that way:
*they believed what they had been told instead of what they saw.*

When my brother received a small, much-needed insurance settlement, they demanded that he give it to their grandfather, because "he did everything for us, he took care of us when you wouldn't".

When his son emailed him "I want to know what you're going to do about that money. Think about your answer, because it will determine whether we have a relationship in the future", my brother said he decided he wasn't going to be emotionally blackmailed any more, that he realized that the children had taken over where their mother & their grandparents had left off.

I wish you the best.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2007 at 11:00AM
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I think life can be pretty complicated, especially when you try and please lots of people. In fact, this is difficult to do.

So...in your case I would consider concentrating on yourself. You have health issues, and you have a good husband. Enjoy your life NOW, concentrate on that. Really...do you need these stresses and strains with your children ?

You did your absolute best with them when they where younger, thats all any of us can do, as parents.

I think writing a journal is a wonderful idea, write your side of the picture, let them know how you felt at the time. Let them know how you looked after them when they where small and vulnerable.

Unfortunately human nature seems to dictate that we always must blame somebody if things are not going well for us, in our lives.

But it doesn't have to be like that. We can be responsible for ourselves, and not blame. Find joy in the good things in our lives, let go of the past, and above all FORGIVE.

You are doing your best now...your kids need to accept this. And to be told you are not a good grandparent, well how insulting, how hurtful. Gee, what a thing to say to your mother.

Mother's deserve respect !!

All the best to you.


    Bookmark   December 19, 2007 at 2:57AM
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Thank for all your replies. It's a bit hard to tell the whole storey & not make it into a book, but I'll try to give a bit more info as briefly as I can.
I have tried to tell my kids how it was with there father as they got older & I thought they could handle it, but they didn't want to hear it. They say that they know that he wasn't a good husband & my daughter remembers her father pushing me up against a wall hitting me, I can't remember it & neither can my oldest son.
Their ages are 32, a son who sided with his father & who hasn't talked to me for 11 years, he has 3 kids.
A 29yo daughter I felt was the closest to me, who has 3 kids also, but got upset with me & my hubby the for the first time for taking our dogs to their place last Christmas. They live 3 hours from us so we stayed over night, we had not long got our 2nd dog & she was only 5 months old & into a lot of mischief, because we love our dogs & they are our responsibility plus we wanted to see the grandkids & my daughter, we took the dogs with us. My daughter thought they would be a nuisance, she didn't want them there, but they were well behaved, as I tried to tell her they would be, I've worked with dogs. Because we did take them, I was accused of thinking more of the dogs, then our grand kids, hence, one of the reasons I'm not good grand mother.
A 28yo son, he has 1 child, & when ever I try to give him advice I get told that he wants to make his own mistake, but it's so hard to keep my mouth shut, I do try, & not to try to help him, so he still talks to me but I feel I'm walking on egg shells when I do see him, just trying not to upset him. Any way we don't see them much, they live 1 hour away.
Now for my youngest, she's 20, she just got married & she also just sent me an email with ultrasound pics of her baby. I wasn't surprised as I think that she was tied of being only an aunt. She lives on the other side of the country, so the last time I saw her was when she came over here for her sisters new babies Christening. There, I told a young mother about how I had her for selfish reasons because I was lonely & she was the one who was ripped away from all she had known when I left her father & I felt guilty. She told me she felt I was sorry, I had her & I tried to tell her that I never regretted having her, she was the one I enjoyed the most because of the gap between the last one & I was a more experienced mother by then. She got me at a bad time, as I was trying to get mentally ready to go into hospital & had to go of my hormone meds before the opp so I wouldn't have blood clots & I was having trouble with my blood pressure, so when she started to yell at me for telling that young mother that, she took it that I was telling this young woman how terrible her father was but I never mentioned him. so I told her I couldn't handle it & to leave, I tried to explain this to her later but I was told I was only thinking of myself. That was 2 months ago & I haven't seen her since. We have been e-mailing, but I can't seem to say the right things to her no matter how hard I try to word things, & she thinks I don't understand her. I try to give her an example of something that happened in my life that was like whatever she was going through, but if I do that, I'm thinking of myself. I tried not to say to much, but then I don't care about her. If I try to advice her, then I'm criticising her, & I do try hard not to. I keep tell her she is smart but I have tried to encouraged her to push herself & not to put herself down. Their father used to say he was dumb & I think he wanted all of his family to be dumb as well so he would often tell the kids that they were like him, he didn't like me to be smart ether.
Anyway without going on for ever, I had better stop. All 4 kids have grown up & not been in jail or been hooked on drugs, they are all good workers even though they haven't got university degrees, so I'm happy with that.
I have started a journal, & hopefully one day they can understand me & what I went through, I just want them to understand me, if not to agree with me.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2007 at 6:32AM
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gell, I think we all want those closest to us to understand us, and to love us in spite of it all. Find joy in the life you have with your husband. And may your spirit find peace over the past which you cannot change. You know the truth. As Oprah says, you did the best you could with what you knew at the time. Find peace in that. Your kids are not able to see the past through your eyes and heart at the time. Forgive them for what they do not understand.

Write and journal so that one day, they will come across your writings and they will one day understand who their mother really was, and what your experience in this life was like. The hope, the good times, and the struggles, that shaped and formed you to who you are today. Include photo's that show the expression and hope of you as a young bride, and the young mother you once were. And your early dreams. Let them see the young woman and the changes you made where you had to grow up to protect your children, and perhaps yourself, from the anger of your husband, and their father. The fear you experienced, not only from his anger, but of trying to hold your family together, and why you needed to do this, for them and for yourself.

Explain that you did the best you knew how, for them, and for the family as a whole.

Write about good and happy memories too. Memories of funny things they each said, or times you were so proud of each one.

I wish you peace over what you cannot change, and joy where you can find it.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2007 at 9:51AM
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I forgot to respond to the part about the dogs. When you are traveling with your dogs, in the future, please look into all of the hotels that you can stay in with your dogs. There are so many now, that accept pets.

To many dog owners, their pets are so special to them, and they want others to accept their beloved pets as well. But to others, they don't feel the same as you do, and many people don't want someone else's pets in their home, "even if" they are well behaved. I like animals. But would not let someone bring their dogs into my home. I also had to tell a family member that we would love to have them, but that they could not bring their dogs over. So they got a friend to watch the dogs when they visited us. Now that they know, they no longer ask me, and it is what it is, and we all have a nice time. And I like dogs. I just don't want other people's pets in my home.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2007 at 11:33AM
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As I said, it's hard to give the whole story in such a short space.
We wouldn't have normally taken the dogs, we would leave them home & our neighbours would check on the dogs for us. If we they didn't like dogs & if they didn't have one, we would have stayed home, to our disappointment, as it would have been impossible to find a kennel at that/this time of year, but as they do have a dog & they love dogs to, I truly thought, they would understand that & I tried to say to them, in a light heart way, that they would probably be worse then us when their kids left home, as they both love dogs, they are both caring people & would need a dog then. We also don't have our dogs inside & nether do they, but my daughter was worried the dogs wouldn't get on. I told her that I would handle the dogs as I have worked with dogs & I know I could have had them playing together in no time, but she didn't seem to believe me. All the dogs are medium sized dogs.
We live on 5 acres in Western Australia & we were worried that the young one would get out while we were away or get into some other trouble. I do know that when you have a young family, then the kids come first, as mine did, but when they have grown up & leave home your pets become your child substitute. Any way, I didn't think that would be enough to be accused of thinking more of the dogs then our grand kids. I find it hard to understand why it was such a big deal, we wouldn't have given something like that, a second thought, if the situation had of been in reverse, maybe it's just as we get older less small things get us riled up, we worry more about how the world is falling apart socially & environmental.
Well, I am trying to take every ones advice & it's comforting to read other parents stories, I'm probably luckier then some others.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2007 at 12:14AM
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Its not acceptable to take your dogs to someone else's house. Sorry to sound blunt, but if someone doesn't like it, then don't take them.

I think you did put the dogs first, IMHO.

You went there to see your children, not to take care of your dogs.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2007 at 2:19AM
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Ok, you have a point, but as a dog lover, I still can't see it being such a sticking point to my relationship with my daughter. It would be nice if we could just forgive & forget it.
I'll tell you how much my daughter loved her dogs before the kids came. When she was about 13, I got her a little dog, & we had a mare in foal. She went to clean up the paddock to make it safe for the foal She took the ute, so she could put all the rubbish on it (we were on a farm). Later on she came screaming down to the house, saying "I killed her, I killed her", well at the time she had also taken her younger sister with her, so the first thing I thought of was she had run over her sister. I had to take a deep breath & calm her & myself down to find out what happened. Well I finally found out she had run over her dog, it had fallen asleep under the wheel of the ute. The only way I could calm her was promise to get her another dog, so I went in to get a paper to find a dog & found one. I put her in the car & went for a 1 1/2 hour drive to Perth to buy this dog for her. She had that dog till after she had her first baby & then it died. She really does love dogs, & that is why I thought she would understand & I do understand her kids come first & I do love them but because they are 3 hours from us, we don't see them much. We love the dogs as well, but we would have rather have left them home & saved the hassle, but I was determined to see the kids, & taking the dogs was the only way I could get to see them. I would have felt terrible if we had left them & came home to a dead dog. Anyway, I won't be taking the dogs anywhere there not welcome again.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2007 at 3:51AM
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I think there might be a bit of a misconception here. We didn't stay over night at my daughters place last Christmas, we stayed were our dogs were welcome. The whole time we were at my daughters place, the dogs were chained up.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2007 at 4:57AM
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Thank you for clarifying about the dogs. It was a side point to my first post on Wed, Dec. 19. If you could re-read my first post on the 19th, does it offer you any hope or peace in the situation with your adult kids?

Enjoy this new husband of yours who makes you smile, and brings you joy. Mail things to your grandchildren now and then to make them smile, as well. Kids love getting things in the mail. It makes them feel special and loved. It can be as simple as a card, a coloring book, a photo of you, or them, or a DVD for children, or an inexpensive necklace. Even something like like barrettes or a matchbox car? They will know they are loved and cherished, and your daughter will too.

Remember, that sometimes we say things that hurt and we didn't mean for it to come out that way. Or we did not really understand the hurt we caused. Can you forgive your daughter for saying something that she should not have said, and I don't imagine is true? If only we realized how deeply words can wound, we would be so much more thoughtful when we spoke. But in stress, or anger, we say things we really don't mean, and would be horrified to find out that these words deeply hurt someone we love.

I wish you peace and joy in the coming year. And healing. If you are able to bring yourself to have your children write to you about the hurts, can you read them as a therapist might,(almost like an impersonal observer) without defense, or blame, but simply seeking information that you will ponder and think about, and see if there is any truth in their words. Is there something you need to hear, and learn, and grow from? Remember, this is simply their viewpoint. It may be accurate, or it may be completely inaccurate since they do not have the ability to view it through the true experience you actually lived, which was your marriage, and all that encompassed, where their viewpoint was that of a child, who only understood bits and pieces of your reality.

If an apology is neccessary, then give a sincere apology, and not one that is defensive, or blames. There is an excellent CD available on forgiveness from an American man named ED Young. It may come from a religious viewpoint, I don't remember, (I heard it on the radio while driving on a trip) but it had some of the best advice I have ever heard on the subject of forgiveness, and apologies.

Because relationships can fracture, and be a source of pain for years. And we can find it hard to forgive, even when it harms us, by not forgiving. The goal is healing and peace, for your children as well as yourself.

I have no idea if this is good advice, or bad advice. For those reading, could you please comment? Would this bring healing, or bring all of the old hurts, and misunderstandings, back to the surface, causing more problems? Is it better to let things be, or as the old saying goes...let sleeping dogs lay, and not stir up all of the old stuff?

Anyone? And Gell, find peace and enjoy this man you love. I wish you well.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2007 at 11:22AM
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I agree with you Bnicebkind.

I have been thinking a lot about forgiveness, of late.

If we all did more forgiving, then we would all be happier. No more wasting time regretting things, blaming people.

By forgiving I mean, really working hard at it, perhaps a writing a letter, talking face to face to the person, hugging, saying the words "I forgive you". You must feel it in your heart. This also means resolving the conflict and never bringing it up again.

With this new year looming, perhaps we could all work on forgiveness and start the new year with a new happy outlook, with a clean slate. So we can fill our lives with positive thoughts and do some good in the world.

Gosh, that sounds like a Sunday Sermon ! LOL.

Another thing about the dog issue....I loved cats, always had one, just adored them. But when I had my daughter, I found I did not love them as much, loved my daughter more ! So, Gell, maybe your daughter has moved on from her love of dogs, she may still love them, but she has children to dote on now.

    Bookmark   December 21, 2007 at 1:38AM
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Gell, I also do not know if you would consider counseling, but I imagine it would help you come to peace over the past, and the injustice of it all. A "good" counselor (I hear there are many not so good, so choose wisely) could help you work through the old emotions that I imagine you experience from that first marriage, and its continued effect on your life through your relationships with your now adult children, who simply do not understand. It may also help you to figure out why you are having difficulty communicating with your now adult children, and help you find a better way, that works better for you.

Can anyone suggest some good books that might be helpful, or books on tapes/CD that would help Gell?

In the meantime, find joy in your marriage, and peace in the quiet moments.

    Bookmark   December 24, 2007 at 6:55AM
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