Family of Origin issues / Parenting

Discussion in 'Family of Origin' started by Scent of Cedar *, Feb 1, 2014.

  1. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    I wonder whether it would be helpful to us to post about issues with our Families of Origin as we see those troubled relationships affecting our kids.

    How are our toxic parents and sibs affecting, how have these relationships dirtied or downright poisoned, our own childrens' view of themselves and of the world?

    I think there is alot of material here that, once unearthed, may help us understand the dynamic between ourselves and our children.

    I will begin.

    difficult child daughter was 14. We brought her to a dual-diagnostic. They kept her. I was not going to tell my parents, at all. husband, who never did have a clue when it came to the toxicity in my family of origin, insisted that I call them to tell them what had happened. In husband's family, they circle the wagons when one of them is in trouble. In mine? They break out the champagne and sharpen the knives.

    The first words out of my mother's mouth ~ as though she'd known this opportunity was coming and prepared for it all her life: "Well, I guess you weren't such a good mother, after all, were you?"

    That question set the tone of my belief in where I had gone wrong, in what had happened to difficult child daughter, for the next twenty years.

  2. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    It's too bad you believed your mothers mean spirited, ugly, jealous and destructive words Cedar.

    My parents and siblings did not directly interfere in my parenting. Unfortunately though, the damage that I experienced to my own self esteem and well being was passed on to my daughter through my own lack of healthy parenting skill. The short version of that is that my parents were extremely punitive and I was extremely liberal, my parents gave me responsibilities far beyond my age abilities, I gave my daughter very little responsibility, my parents scared me, I never acted in scary ways but rather did not confront the issues that were developing with my daughter in a healthy way.

    For me, I turned away from what I knew to be abuse and acted in the only way I knew at the time, to do the opposite, to try to be loving and kind, which in the big picture was a lot of enabling and turning away from issues I didn't understand and know how to deal with. I really cannot pass on the responsibility for my parenting to my parents or anyone else, I made all the choices I made out of my own ignorance and fear. I too believed myself to be unworthy and somehow inherently "wrong" which no matter what I did, got passed on to my daughter.

    I am comfortable now with what happened. They did what they did because of their own upbringing and their own ignorance and fear. I can see that pretty clearly. I am no longer angry or sad or anything in regards to them, I feel compassion for them and for myself, that we were all wounded and we all acted in certain ways that harmed others. We made mistakes. I made mistakes. The difference is that I made every attempt to correct mine and make it right. When I realized that healing myself and making amends with my daughter was all I could do, the rest of that journey became my daughters. At this point in time, I feel free of my parents and free of my daughter.
  3. Childofmine

    Childofmine one day at a time Staff Member

    My parents had four children, I'm the oldest, then my sister two years later, then my second sister, born with an incurable disease, two years after that, then my brother, born about the time my sister was diagnosed. My parents had their hands full and I had to grow up fast, starting at about six years old. I became a helper, a babysitter, and a "too sensitive child." My third sister died when she was 23. I delayed having children until I was 29, having been there and done that (so I felt). My dad and I didn't get along well---he was command and control and a workaholic, very accomplished professional executive. My mom had jobs, not a career, and she talked to us from day one about getting a college degree. There was never any doubt that was my path---so I would have choices, she said. All three of us did that.

    My parents have now been married for 58 years. I think their marriage would not have survived all it did except for the fact that economically, they couldn't afford to split up. So they somehow, rockily at times, made it work. They do love each other and always have.

    I always thought I had a great mom and a rotten dad. Since he only valued accomplishment and I desperately wanted his approval (although I would have denied that heatedly until the end of time), I became accomplished. He had/has a bad temper, is immature and flies off the handle about nothing. He has limited coping skills. My mom was my rock.

    They have been---all of them---extremely supportive of me throughout my divorce from my husband after 29 years of marriage (alcoholism) and through all of this with my son. They get tough love, boundaries and detachment. They have not gone around me to do anything to help him and I am thankful for that. I have keep them informed along the way so they know the journey.

    How has this affected me? Hmmmm. I made peace with my feelings about my dad, seeing him and forgiving him and accepting him for who he is, about 12 years ago. We had a severe disagreement and didn't speak for about 6 months. I changed during that time, and came to see him in a new way. I see him today as a man who was not prepared for adulthood (he was the youngest of 9, his parents were "done" by the time he came along and didn't really provide all of what he needed either) or for parenthood. He worked hard and coped with his limitations, doing pretty well, but it would all come out when he couldn't control a situation, like with unruly children. I'm sure my sister's diagnosis was incredibly difficult to deal with and bear, along with the financial responsibility, etc., and he felt burdened by it all. After she died, he even told us he felt ashamed, in an unusually open moment.

    My mom tried really hard to parent all of her four kids and respond to their individual needs as much as she could. I knew that even then. I don't know how she did it with all of the stress, etc.

    I do believe making peace with my dad was a tremendous step forward for me in maturity. I was then able to face where my marriage was and do the hard work of ending it. I have lived on my own since 2009, the first time ever in my life as I went nearly directly from college to marriage. This has been good for me. This time has also been the time of my second son's decline. Divorce aftermath and dealing with a son's drug addiction at the same time. It has definitely been hard.

    I had two children. I helicopter-parented them. I was a product of my own upbringing and the times. Even with the blades turning, my sons had responsibilities, rules, part-time jobs, consequences, curfews, grades etc. We were not overly strict but we paid too much attention to them and made things too easy for them, especially my younger son. I just kept thinking he hadn't matured yet and needed more time.

    My family of origin was textbook dysfunctional. My family was dysfunctional. I honestly did the best I could do, and I see both of my parents as doing the same. I am thankful today that we have a good relationship. My brother is an alcoholic and not in recovery. It is hard to watch him but I know he has to want to change in order to change. My dad has a lot of anger and guilt about my brother. We talk some about it (my dad and I) but I know I can't save him either.

    My maternal grandmother took prescription painkillers from three doctors in town. She was "sent away" at one point to a rehab (they didn't call it that, but that is what it was). She called crying and my grandfather promptly went and picked her up. She kept on abusing painkillers all of her life.

    Wow, life is hard, is it not? There is pain everywhere, throughout the generations. It is helpful to look at the past, and try to learn from it, so we can do better.
  4. SeekingStrength

    SeekingStrength Well-Known Member

    Interesting, very, very interesting. My upbringing was a bit dysfunctional, not way over the top, but I have some stories. I'll narrow it down to this to keep it readable:

    My mom has interfered often with respect to gfg32. She is into horoscopes and the # stuff....and has used those "readings" to tell husband and me where we were going wrong. She definitely did not help the situation.

    A not-so-funny story. The worst trouble gfg32 ever got in legally (felony), my mom hired an attorney...never consulted husband or me. The attorney wanted to meet with us. Mom has never been good at directly answering questions. So, when the attorney asked something like, "do you have any idea why your son did these things?", mom pops up with, "The poor boy never had a bed to sleep in."

    husband and I looked at each other, totally shocked. She knew he had a bed. The attorney seemed to catch on. Course, he didn't much care as long as he got $4000 from her.

    She always did much more for gfg32 than our other two children "because I feel so bad for him..."

    She has made comments like, "since he was never taught about God....". He was raised in church....Sunday school, youth group, confirmation...

    Lots of out-of-the-blue stuff like that. She has cut way back in the last few years. Gfg32 said mean, mean things to her when she wouldn't send him $1000 last month. She is 83yo and did not deserve it....even with her shenanigans .

    Sent from my iPhone using ConductDisorders
  5. BackintheSaddle

    BackintheSaddle Active Member

    Oh entire adult life has involved struggles with my parents...I'm the oldest of 3 kids, the most independent and least able to father was a bad yet functioning alcoholic who got mean when he drank and in my teens, we'd have bad mother is a piece of work...she says horrible things and then will pretend like I misunderstood, or am remembering wrong...she's very manipulative-- one time when I was a grown woman, working at my first post college job, my Dad called me frantic because she said she was leaving him...he demanded that I come home and stop her and at 22, I wasn't yet educated on all the dysfunction in my family so I did.....she was claiming she was sick of it all and leaving to go to the nearest hotel, had bags packed...I walked by them and slyly picked the bag up which was completely empty...that's the kind of games she plays-- loves to create wasn't too long after that that I started therapy and started figuring out all the ACOA isues for me, co-dependent, relationship with my mom has never ben stable, positive, anything like a mother-daugther should be...

    when I had my difficult child, I was a single mother and they 'helped' me take care of difficult child for the first few months so I could finish my graduate degree but they've never done anything out of the goodness of their hearts-- there's always a string (or rope) attached so I've grown more and more independent of them so I never had to ask them for anything...the more independent I got, the less we got sister is 47 yo and my father pays for her and her family almost completely because her husband got laid off a year ago, can't find a 'job' and she won't work because she home schools her 14 and 15 yo sons!...won't even get a part-time job, just lets daddy pay the bills and he loves it, though he grips, because he has tremendous power over that brother is a dad has tried to control how difficult child was raised from the get-go...for the first 7-8 years, he was ok with things but as difficult child increasingly showed problems (urinating on carpet, lots of troubles at school, no friends), I did my best to separate them from him...we already had a distant relationship but they kept in touch with their grandson at all costs...then when difficult child was in 6th grade, he was hospitalized and diagnosed as bipolar and my dad went ballistic...said if I 'allow' them to diagnosis him that, he'll be 'branded' his whole life...he was horrible, screaming in my face when my little boy was in the hospital...we ended up having to 'separate' from dad tried to force me not to have difficult child take medications, was totally unsupportive and wacko about it...he ended up disinheriting me the first time then because I wouldn't do what he wanted me to do with regard to difficult child...for 3 years, we didn't speak but he kept sending me long, ranting emails attacking me on every level (I kept a notebook of all of them, was going to write a book!) ...I had to block him and we never answered the husband scared him so we didn't have to worry about him coming over to the house (we live really TOO close to these crazy people and husband really wants to move now but we are in a dream home-- 12 acre farm)...

    anyhow, during that 3 years, they had no contact with difficult child...cut him off with me...sent him cards but that was it...I remember right after that happened trying to explain to difficult child (who was 12) why his grandparents were not visiting him...I kept trying to not make them sound as horrible as they were being...just that they disagreed with what the doctors said...he asked me if I'd ever do that to him, not talk to him and abandom you can imagine, now that I had to kick him out, that promise not to do that, if he remembers, helps me feel guilty...

    then, they sent a letter (not email) right before Christmas that 'sort of' dad has never said he's sorry for anything he's done but he was I went and talked to them and we agreed to let things go...and difficult child became a part of their life again...he's had really mixed feelings about that because he remembers how much they hurt him...but, he's grown to really really look up to my dad, who has spent a lot of time with difficult child and actually is obsessed (in my humble opinion) with difficult child...he basically ignores his other 3 grandkids (though they are my sister's and he's paying for them!) and things difficult child can do no wrong...I've tried to reason with them, i've tried to keep them informed of how awful things have been at home but as soon as I do, difficult child would tell them a whole different made up (confabulated) version and they buy his whole story, no matter how outrageous they that difficult child is living with them, they have the power over me that they haven't had for 30+ years and yes, i suspect they are relishing every moment...hell of a thing to realize about your own parents...but I can't say I'm all that shocked by how things have turned out...I was shocked back when difficult child was 12 and they did what they did but this time, not so much...and so ready to never ever have anything to do with them again...they have my son though so I have to figure out how to balance mending fences with him while keeping the door slammed on them
  6. helpangel

    helpangel Active Member

    I'm youngest of 3 siblings (7&9 years older) I feel my parents were good parents for the most part as far a good moral backbone but after what my siblings did didn't really know how to handle me so kind of threw me on auto pilot when I was 12yo. I was a nervous very high energy kid with tons of sensory issues, my brain was always going faster then the world around me. I always felt like wanted to jump out of my skin until I tried pot, it didn't get me high it calmed me. Even smoking pot every day I graduated with a 3.8 GPA, totally blew my SAT's (didn't know testing day) had dropped 2 hits of blotter acid to go into be faced with a #2 pencil and a bunch of circles... so I made a big mickey mouse out of the circles claimed later it was a protest about formalized testing... and they bought it

    Mom put on the perfect show kept house, cooked dinner but when it came down to it was burnt out on parenting when I came along, I was the surprise baby that happened while Gma was dying of cancer. Famous last words "go out and play" but had to be sitting with clean face & hands across table from dad at 5pm for dinner (not 5:01 5:00!) Don't remember rocking in a chair, being read a book, cuddled etc. I was fed & cared for but didn't get shown love by her. emotionally starved

    My sister got married at 17yo had 3 kids, 12 years into marriage husband gave her divorce papers and she signed them... he got the house, kids, she got her freedom moved back with parents for around 10 years. 2nd husband and I avoid each other it's nothing against either of us but 20 years ago his 18yo daughter drunk bipolar was laughing & flipping the bird at the train when it hit her. My 2 girls have bipolar it causes him pain to see my eyes looking at his eyes in pain and vice versus. Sister breast, bladder & lung cancer survivor.

    Brother got married at 16yo (2 wks after wifes 16th birthday her 8 months pregnant at wedding) is on his 3rd wife I think he finally got it right this time. Funny thing is first wife introduced them they are friends!

    I got pretty out of hand as a teenager smoking & drinking at 9yo, pot at 12yo by the time 14 had tried most all of what was out there at the time including PCP, cocaine & heroin. Moved back with my parents 20yo when pregnant with son (malnutrition threatening miscarriage)lived there until son was 18mo. Have a good relationship with them, neither can drive so I'm there a lot (one city over).

    My mom had a car accident when she was 17yo (head on with Mac truck doing 50+) was literally scalped by windshield there had to have been front lobe damage, sister had Alzheimer's, she's cancer survivor ovarian (25yrs ago) and breast (5yrs ago) anyway mom is completely losing her mind and she is getting really mean. I'm about the only one in family who can handle talking to her (I just keep thinking back to teen years and know I had lots to do with why she lost it)

    My dad I couldn't build a pedestal tall enough for him... (saint) I didn't think so when he caught me dealing drugs out of his house and jumped up and down on my triple beam & held me by my hair and made me watch him flush 1/4 Lb of weed and my 8 ball of coke down the toilet. Just an example of what a great dad he was he gave me $120 to pay the dealer for the weed he flushed then let me bust :censored2: working for my mom 12 times to work off the money. For $10 I got to clean top to bottom kitchen, living room, family room and 2 bathrooms (took about 6-7 hours)

    My dad has helped me so much thru the years, when I ungrounded myself at 17yo he changed the locks put my stuff out on the porch, when I came back at 20yo pregnant he let me back in and banked half the rent I paid to him so I would have security deposit when we moved out. He was 50% tax bracket so the other 1/2 the rent went to uncle sam in taxes, yes he's that honest.

    So that's pretty much my family dynamics but I think you all have figured out I'm chatty so got half my life story in there too. Thanks Cedar I'm enjoying this thread and seeing a little of where everyone is coming from.

  7. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I have given my life story on here many times. (I really need to make a link so I dont have to keep typing it!)

    I was an only child to older parents. My parents were married 11 years when they had me. My mom has been crazy my whole life. I believe the book Mommy Dearest was written about her. Lets just say she abused me physically, emotionally and sexually most of my life. When I was a teen I hated my father because my mom did her utmost best to make sure that was the way things would be. Later when I was away from both of them I made up with my dad and we were very close the last 20 years of his life. I understand why my dad behaved the way he did. He came by it honestly.

    My dad and his second wife really tried to help us with the boys. They never tried to hurt and took pains to tell us that they thought we were doing the best we could for them. That really helped. My mom on the other hand would have paid good money to see us all homeless. She was hard on me and I still have issues stemming from what we went through.
  8. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I was the oldest of two very dysfunctional parents who should never have been married to each other as they brought out the worst in each other. Every Sunday morning, me and my siblings would huddle on the stairs while my parents fought. Why Sunday? It was the only day my father was home. He worked 24/7 so they had no time to fight except then and it was an every week event.

    My dad was borderline violent. He threw things and raged. My mom, rather than pacifying him for our sakes, egged him on. I had a harder time with my mom over all. She was verbally abusive to me, calling me names like "stupid" and "dummy" and "selfish." I did love my dad. I thought he was nice to me. I realize now that he was just not very invested in any of us. If we did something wrong, he was disinterested. He is still rather aloof. He has many narcicistic traits. My mom had some serious borderline traits.

    My brother had Crohn's Disease. Since my mom had an all or nothing, black and white view of the world, my brother was all good and could never do anything wrong and his being sick fueled her feelings. I could do no right. Brother was white. I was black. That is how borderlines think. I thought that way once too, although not as extreme, and had never talked smack to my kids...but I digress. My sister was a very good baby and child and ignored, which caused big issues in her adulthood. She was ashamed of the rest of us.

    I struggled with neurological differences and mental illness from so far back that I remember panic attacks at as early as age four and screaming in terror in school in front of my peers as early as first grade. That didn't do much for my popularity, which was bottom basement because I had no social skills anyway. I was diagnosed later on with a severe non verbal learning disability, which some think is Aspergers or Aspergers Lite, but nobody has ever tagged me with Aspergers. MANY MANY have told me I have right brain dysfunction, executive function disorder and especially a non verbal learning disability. I was afraid I was crazy when I was a kid. My mom screamed at me but did nothing, not even when teachers told her I needed help. My father was oblivious and does not remember my childhood.

    So I had this extremely in-your-face, critical mother who would wake me up sometimes at 3am about something I had gotten her angry over four weeks ago. My sister shared the room and she remembers those night rages too, which I also found similar in Mommy My Dad would sleep through even a massive chaotic meltdown going on at night.

    The positive part, although I didn't think so at the time, was that, with my mom's black and white thinking, she decided to dump me completely (and I do mean completely) after I had my first child. My kids, thank the Good Lord (yes, I believe in Him) never had to deal with her. EVER. I remember I was bleeding internally right after I gave birth to 36 and had to be rushed to the doctor. I called my mom...this was before she stopped talking to me...begging her to come watch my son, her first grandchild, while I went to the hospital. She said, "I told you I would never babysit and I mean it." We had to get my ex's mom to babysit. My mother-in-law was caring and kind and rather appalled that my mom wouldn't babysit in this emergency and s he brought it up the entire time I was married to ex. It just stunned her.

    My family of origin affected me GREATLY as a parent myself. I swore I'd never call my kids a nasty name. I have not always kept that promise to myself, but I can probably count on my fingers the amount of times I even said "brat" a nd I never ever called any of my kids a nasty name without sitting them down, apologizing, and explaining that I was absolutely wrong. I did not hit them. I did not wake them up at 3am to yell over something that upset me three years ago. I was maybe too kind to my kids. My grown kids tell me I should have been a tougher disciplinarian. It took my daughter doing drugs and my fear for her life for me to take any stand at all.

    My mother went on, after dumping me from her life 100%, to think my sister was also all good (white) as well as exalting my brother even higher. Made it difficult for me to feel warmth toward my sister because she tended to believe my mother about me so we still bicker and make up, but we try...we try hard. Brother moved far away. He ain't stupid :)

    None of my kids remember my mother at all. When she passed on, they asked if they had to attend the funeral and I said no. She hadn't even sent them birthday cards on their birthdays and she had NEVER seen Sonic or Jumper. I don't know why I went. I was comforting others. I felt strangely out of place myself, like I was at a funeral for a stranger, not for the woman who gave birth to me.

    I have decided that DNA is irrelevant. Love and your family is about who cares for you, not whose womb you were in.

    I'm done. Sorry it was so long.
  9. SuZir

    SuZir Well-Known Member

    I'm a product of at least three or four hundred years (that I know about) of (often) high-functioning dysfunction. Most of the time at least. My parents both had huge issues and divorced when I was young. My mom wasn't really fit to take care of a goldfish, but very functional in some ways. My dad was even less able to take care of anything and was in and out of my life throughout my childhood. Though I tended to be an adult of our dysfunctional family before I started school. My maternal grandparents had gotten their stuff somewhat together before I came along and were the constant of my life. However my mom tended to use me as a bargaining chip with them, so she didn't let them be available to me at times.

    However my dysfunctional family has had little direct influence to my sons. Of course I'm a product of all that so there has been lot of indirect influence. But my mom died, when my kids were still rather young and before her death we had a better relationship and she didn't interfere much on how I did things. And when she did, it was through trying to influence me, not undermining me. So I had to say she certainly did the grandmother thing much better than mother thing. My grandparents also died several years ago and were even more careful not to intervene even when they gave us financial support. Their inheritance has also left me financially independent that has made certain difference and given me more options also in raising my kids.

    My dad ditched me when my kids were really young and I didn't let him back till almost now. It was last summer when I decided not to try to keep my sons away from him any more and while my boys are not that interested, there is some tentative connection. However after he did ditch me I have made it sure he has absolutely no say to my life. He is welcome to have a small part in it if he behaves, but that is about it. I doubt not having him in our lives made much of the difference to my kids growing up.

    However my husband's family, while not really more dysfunctional than average have had a big part with our lives. Both in good and bad. My mother in law is piece of work and really detests me and due to that also my older son a little (okay, there are lots of reasons for that but anyway that is an outcome.) And my husband is her favourite child, real golden boy and by osmosis also my younger son is an apple of her eye. They live couple hundred yards from us and are very involved in our daily life. father in law is a great guy and close to both of my sons and has always been incredibly helpful without trying to control us too much. In fact it took almost 20 years for him to interfere to our parenting our boys in anyway - and when he did last spring, I was really glad he did. And he wasn't undermining us in front of our kids but just giving my husband a piece of his mind over husband really struggling with our son having really hard time.

    However mother in law has always done her best to undermine me, my rules, my authority and my parenting with my kids. I'm not even sure which is worse, her being imprudent and overly critical, or downright mean with my difficult child in disguise of grandmotherly concern or her over the top doting and praising my easy child and trying to manipulate them against each other. However their practical help has been invaluable. Their help made our life so much easier financially when we were younger, they have always been there to take a catch when we have needed a babysitter for an ill child, help on driving them around to their hobbies or whatever else. And not only is father in law a great guy, also husband's siblings are a great bunch. So detaching from them has never really been an option for us. Especially when that tight family connection was one thing I fell in love with with my husband and something I always graved and wanted to give to my kids. So while mother in law is mother in law and drives me bonkers at times, I have always considered having them in so big parts in our life a positive thing and wouldn't change that. Of course one can consider my willingness to stand the problems of that to be a product of my dysfunctional childhood. I doubt any of my husband's siblings' spouses would be quite as tolerant and they have even said they would never had survived living quite this close, living in the house that used to be theirs (you can bet that causes some issues even in best circumstances) and having mother in law quite as big part of our everyday life.
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2014
  10. greenrene

    greenrene Member

    My family of origin was/is very dysfunctional - my mother has undiagnosed mental issues and major anxiety. Her anxiety is such that she can't function normally - she can't drive, etc. She is also entitled, narcissistic, jealous, and overbearing. She has a hard time controlling her temper and was very emotionally abusive to my sister and me growing up. My dad is the classic codependent, very kind and loving, but failed on many levels to protect us from our mother. On top of that, I grew up in a fundamentalist sect of Christianity that has one foot in the "cult" category and was totally immersed in that world, even more so from 5th grade on when I started attending a school run by that group. Anyhoo...

    I grew up hating my mother and very protective of my father - she was a bully toward him as well. She has mellowed some with age and without kids in the house, but the huge anxiety is still there, she is still very controlling towards my father, and he continues to be codependent. They are also borderline hoarders.

    My difficult child, while not my bio child, reminds me of my mother in SO many ways, from the temper to the social awkwardness to the bullying. It's been hard to grow up with a difficult child mom and then have a very similar difficult child kid to raise. My overall health and wellness have greatly suffered due to the stress of raising difficult child, especially in recent years. Having her out of my house, getting a therapist for myself, and working on self-improvement have been very good for me.
  11. Nomad

    Nomad Well-Known Member

    Wow. I've been thinking a little bit about this.our difficult child was adopted. My DHs family were elderly when difficult child was born and they didn't see much before their passing. My mom was already gone. But I suspect my father, who knew only a little, used it as added fuel to stay as far away as possible from us. He wasn't exactly a loving kinda guy. Interesting as I was a easy child! And maybe a caring grandfather would have helped a tint bit...if nothing else, for my support. Seems these things just don't work oust as you hope sometimes
  12. lovemysons

    lovemysons Well-Known Member

    I was raised as an only child by a very young career-focused mother that loved to move all the time...and seemed to love her social life more than me.

    I would say I was neglected for much of my early childhood. My mother wanted to "prove" herself to her parents after she married and had me at 17. She was divorced by 19 and I did not "meet" or see my bio dad again til I, myself, was 17.

    I don't remember my mother ever sitting down helping me with homework. I don't remember her ever getting down on the floor to play with my toys with me or even reading me a book. SHe was working...and I was with "cheap" babysitters who I don't think cared for me well at all.

    I grew up "not belonging". Not anywhere. As I said we moved all of the time...10 times to be exact by the time I was in 9th grade. I did not make friends easily and suffered from anxiety.

    When I married and began having was extremely important for me to "have a big family", "be involved", "live in one place", "belong". And so I set out to be the perfect wife and mother.

    That "perfection" back-fired in many ways.
    I think I did TOO MUCH for my children and contributed to some of the problems my two son's have experienced...especially young difficult child. Young difficult child does not like to work hard, suffers from great anxiety, and is an addict. Addiction is also prevelant on both husband's and my side.

    I went the "other extreme" in many ways. I tried very hard to "control the picture" at all times. To make all the pieces fit perfectly...and STILL it didn't work as I had planned.

    I will say that I am happy that both oldest difficult child and easy child seem to be adjusted and doing fairlly well today. I just wish my young difficult child could get it together.

    I wish I knew then what I know now...sigh.
  13. Sabine

    Sabine Member

    I find it interesting that most of these stories are written by people that are now in the "grandparent" age range. I'm in a bit younger age group.. still in the "parent" age range.

    This is important because I'm seeing some similarities in the stories that reflect strongly in my family tree.

    The "parents" in most of the stories were born in the early 1900's (maybe up to 1930), right? They tended to be very strict.. my way or the highway types.

    The "children" were probably born around 1950 or so, and then went the "other" direction in raising their own children (in the 1980s) becoming very laid back and permissive.

    The '80s children are now having trouble gaining independence and taking responsibility for their actions.

    My maternal grandmother was born in 1913 and was very strict. My mother was born in 1952 (Grandma started her family late because of WWII) and was very permissive. I was a child of the 80's and am more unmotivated than I should be..

    These family dynamics are society-wide, culturally based. It's not a coincidence.
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    Last edited: Feb 5, 2014
  14. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Hi, bittykitties. Thanks for your contribution.

    The reason most of us are grandparent age is because this page is a focus on grown adult children who have never gotten it together so our children are already in their 20's and, some, in their 30's. I'd say we are mostly 50's and 60's :) My parents were born in the 1920s, but were not particularly strict. Society was just different. It seemed to all flip in the late 1960's when I was in high school. Then it became socially acceptable to have babies without marriage, take drugs, and be VERY disrespectful to authority figures. It was always there, of course, but covered up. In the late 60's it almost became like a badge of honor to belittle authority and rebel and even take dangerous drugs. I stayed out of it, but I saw a lot. The change was very quick. Made my head spin!
  15. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I think your points are valid bittykitties. Grandparents raising their grandchildren is epidemic now. The ME generation has proven to have many flaws, drugs, entitlement, lack of motivation..........and yes, many of us who were raised by punitive parents who did harm to us, became liberal parents who did harm..........swinging from the extremes...............somewhere in there is a middle ground we may not have reached yet.............of course there are certainly exceptions to all of this, but what you are saying is remarkably common today.

    There is also much evidence that the advent of cesarean section has an impact on motivation, interestingly taking the impetus to "fight" to get out of the birth canal completely there are so many factors involved. Like so much in society, we tend to go to extremes before we find middle ground. The women's movement had so many positives and yet the nuclear family was impacted in negative ways by having no parents at home, bringing on the "latchkey" generation..........and we had more affluence so that we had more choices............our parents choices were many factors brought us to this point in time...........good and bad............and my generation is attempting now to cope with what has occurred, without making judgments on all of it, really, it is what it is, we are where we are............all we can do now is attempt to change what we can, make different choices and hopefully the next generation of parents and kids will learn from our mistakes......

    As you have read, myself and others attempted to do the opposite of what our parents did, with so much enthusiasm that we could bring forth kids who were cherished and adored..........we didn't know then what we know now what a thin line it is to slip into enabling...........
  16. Sabine

    Sabine Member

    I agree, middle ground would be very nice :) Maybe the 3rd generation has the best chance. They have the unique opportunity to see (for example) strict grandparents and lenient parents.. so maybe they are the ones that can make the choice of the middle ground.

    That's my goal as a parent (kids are 13, 10, 8).. I should get back on in 20 years to update my success or failure.

    My own story, for what it's worth:

    My grandmother had 5 children. When the youngest was 5, he ran into the street and was struck by a car. He didn't die, but became mentally and physically disabled. While the child was still in the hospital, my grandfather killed himself. He was already suffering depression, and the accident just put him over the edge. Grandma then had to raise the children all by herself. She had to go back to work, learn to drive, etc. etc.

    Meanwhile, my mother was her 2nd to youngest child. Mom was extremely quiet and shy. She was Grandma's "easy" child. Mom grew up, was very bright (valedictorian of her high school.. free ride to college). The summer after her second year in college, she went to a work-study program, and while at the program, she met my Dad.

    They got married 14 days after meeting.

    Dad wanted to be the "man of the house", so didn't want his wife going back to school. Mom dropped out. She promptly became pregnant, and again, and again.. so she was a stay at home mom of 3 kids.

    Now with that background, it's easy to see how Grandma would have been quite strict.. she was doing everything in her power to keep the family together and keep things from fraying right apart.

    Mom fell in love and got swept away from all the rules and work and responsibilities that were so prevalent in her mom's house. Of course, then she became poor as dirt trying to raise three children, and all those teenage dreams flitted away, never to be regained.

    Dad was dyslexic. This was a huge problem from the get-go because it kept him from getting an education and a good job. He was very bright with fixing electronics and such, but there wasn't much money in any of that. Mom would have had the chance of "being someone", but the traditional gender roles ruled the early part of their marriage.

    My eldest brother was the most "dysfunctional", he used some drugs and alcohol, played mailbox baseball, etc.. general misfit. Dropped out of high school (but went back and got his GED). He later had trouble with depression, but at the moment he's doing fairly well working with computers at a big company.

    My middle brother did very well for himself. He was very gifted and was on a team that helped develop the MP3 technology. He passed away a couple years ago, leaving behind 3 small children and a wife.

    Me, I'm a stay at home mom, following very closely in my mother's footsteps (my husband is not that similar to my father though.. he's not dyslexic, he's ADHD instead, and he's holding a decent job).

    Had my mother lived past 49, I could see her on this board talking about my oldest brother. He was still living at home at the time of her death, and was generally shiftless etc. (despite having gone to college and doing a stint in the Navy). Even after she died, he didn't pull himself up and out of a major funk until my middle brother invited him to come and interview at his company. Eldest brother had hit rock bottom by that point, and agreed to move.

    Same parents, 3 different results. Parents shouldn't be hard on themselves. I really feel kids are born the way they are, and they're not as responsible for the end product as what society might want us to think. Granted, severe abuse/neglect/etc. will make a difference, but in the majority of homes where nothing horrible happens, some kids turn out well, others not so much. Society and culture has just as much influence in my opinion.
  17. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I hope you get to that middle ground bittykitties. You sound like a healthy parent who will raise healthy I believe you have a really good shot at middle ground.

    Your story is so interesting and displays the tenacity and remarkable courage and strengths we humans have. Thanks for sharing it!

    In my heart of hearts I do agree that we shouldn't be so hard on ourselves, that there are many other influences on our children..........however, for a few of us older characters here...........we did not grow up in healthy environments where we were taught middle ground, the ground was always shaking and we were scared a our choices were not always healthy and we didn't have good role models for all became skewered and out of balance...........for a few of us, we are just now learning what a healthy parent is............

    It's good to hear your input, thank's good to be reminded of that balance point of a breath of fresh air in fact!
  18. Sabine

    Sabine Member

    Just in case I left too rosy an impression.. my dad became an alcoholic and a cheat. He didn't start drinking in earnest until I was a teenager though, (and he wasn't a mean one), so the drinking didn't affect me very much. He also was addicted to painkillers (?) and we didn't find out about that until he died. (Found needles hidden in his things).

    The biggest benefit I had above all else was the problems in the house were kept completely secret from the kids. I had no idea about most of the stuff until I was an adult. Of course it came as a shock, because I always thought I was living in a "perfect" family. There IS no such thing.

    My kids are all ADHD, and 2 are dyslexic. My youngest son worries me (he's 8 and has always had issues, but they're getting worse. He's started the crazy lying.. "No, I didn't just hit you").

    Yes, I had balance, I'm one of the lucky ones. But, even with a good family background, my kids are STILL having issues. Family background isn't everything (a good one OR a bad one.. this is my point).
  19. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    You know, I am wondering whether bittykitties is right. In the sense that as we learn detachment skills, we become healthier people whether the kids change or not. When I think about that healthy mom I am always imagining, that mom who doesn't blame herself for what her kids does...I just always assumed her kids would come out perfect. But what would that mom do if she had a difficult child?

    And then it occurred to me that I know a mom who had like, six kids. Two of them were/are/and forever will be difficult children. I have posted about her, before. One of her kids is a millionaire. Three are doing just great.

    And two are difficult children.

    One of the difficult child kids is worse than the other.

    Know what she says about that?

    She lists the kids off and finishes with info on the worst of the two difficult children in the following way: "Doesn't have a pot to p**** in or a window to throw it out of."

    But she does not suffer over her children's choices or their lives. She is a very nice lady, living her own life. She looks happy. The only things she says about difficult child kids ~ or any kids ~ is that who knows why they do what they do. All of hers were raised the same way and then, she goes into the story about the pot and the window.

    That is a healthy response.

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