feeling I am to blame

I guess I am feeling a little sorry for myself, please excuse me.
Just wondered if anyone else ever beats themselves up feeling that the way their difficult child turned out was all their fault? I feel so guilty, and responsible for how things have turned out. At the time I really thought that everything I did was right and that I was being the best mum I could be....by doing more and more for him to make him happy. Now I realise that I have done too much for him and he is having trouble standing on his own two feet. I think that is why he is depressed because I have never taught him to cope, I have always been his safety net and caught him before he fell.. I now realise that he needed to learn to fall in order to cope, and learn.
Where as My sister, who has always put herself first before her kids, regularly left them alone from an early age to pursue her own enjoyment. In my mind I aways thought she was selfish and I was doing a better job... Now her 3 sons have grown into independent, decent, capable adults who cook coffee cake and make risotto, where as my son can't even make his own bed!!! I feel like a fool who has really messed things up.


Well-Known Member
You are not a fool! And yes we all beat ourselves up for doing too little or too much. I bet if you asked your sister she would tell you things are not perfect in her world either. Her kids may be more independent but they also may resent her for being that way. You will never know because its the kind of things people don't talk about. We only talk about it because our difficult child's make it obvious to the whole world that there is an issue and therefore people want to talk to us about it. Judge us for it as well.

Reality is your son can do these things he just isnt. I didn't say he would be good at them but he can do it. The best thing you can do now is allow him to learn and to do for himself.


Well-Known Member
Saw this quote on somebody's sig around here:

"We did the best we could with what we knew, and when we knew better we did better."

You did the best you could.
All you can do is move forward. What can you do from here forward to help your son? There are things that help him move forward, help him find himself, etc. Find ways to help both of you move from the depression, guilt, blame and everything else, to health.

Tanya M

Living with an attitude of gratitude
Staff member
Oh DS, please do not blame yourself or for that matter compare yourself to your sister.
There are many people who had horrific childhoods and grew up to be respectful, responsible adults and there are people who had wonderful childhoods who grew up to be the opposite.

You, me, your sister and every parent on this planet has made mistakes, we are human. We do the best we can.

While you may think your sisters 3 boys have it all together you are only operating on your perception. As DSTC said, they may resent her. Again, don't compare yourself to someone else. I have 3 sisters, one has a difficult child and the other 2 have easy child. I do not compare myself to them.

Bottom line, I'm sure you have done the best you can for your son and that's all you can do. You can teach your son to make his bed but it doesn't mean he will.

((HUGS)) to you....


Well-Known Member
Just wondered if anyone else ever beats themselves up feeling that the way their difficult child turned out was all their fault?

Only all of us. :) I'm pretty sure that some of us have gotten to the point where they don't blame themselves. I'm sure some of us think about it all the time.

Perfect example: I have a work acquaintance who was very strict and protective. She and I had a talk once when my son was about 14 and hers was 13. My husband had given our son "the talk" after I (literally) caught him with his pants down - solo. :eek: He was just starting to date. Both of us having boys, we discussed it...

I wasn't given details (thank God) but I know that the sex (with other people lol) part was, "You're too young. We don't approve. If you decide not to listen, use protection." My friend was AGAST! Why, we were giving him permission!!! No...we weren't. We told him also, "Don't drink. You are too young. It's harmful. It's illegal. BUT, if you choose to disobey us on this, don't drive or get in a car with someone driving. Call us and we will come get you. We can't guarantee there will be no consequences, but we can say that you'll be alive and well." In my friend's eyes, we might as well have bought him a keg. Their son was simply told NO! Don't have sex until marriage! Don't drink! Don't do drugs!

I thought our son would be responsible and we were being realistic. I thought she was being too restrictive and her son would rebel.

Her son is a straight A student and an eagle scout. My son? Well, read my signature. :rolleyes:

I have a dear friend who has two daughters, just a couple years apart in age. The youngest is perfect! Smart, successful, married to a nice fella, sweet baby...never gave her mom a moment of pain. Thank goodness for that, because the oldest has done nothing but. Drugs, thefts, her mother's life has actually been threatened by drug dealers because of debts the daughter owes...she's not even allowed in her home anymore. These girls were treated exactly the same. There's no sense in it.

There is no right or wrong. We do the best we can.


Well-Known Member
Staff member
Oh boy, I think most of us here could win awards on beating ourselves up, on being guilty, on blaming ourselves for what our kids do. You are not alone!

And, here's what I learned........... that guilt? That self blame? That beating yourself up? It all serves absolutely NO purpose whatsoever but to keep YOU stuck in those negative feelings. You did the best you could, like every single one of us here did. Were we perfect? Hell no. We ALL make mistakes. And, even the most enlightened, loving, nurturing, wonderful parents have kids who go off the rails. You can spend your life blaming yourself or you can forgive yourself, realize you did the best you could with what you knew at the time, and move on. And, your son is now an adult who will have to face life. I had terrible parenting as a kid, it sucked, but I was the one who sought out therapy and I was the one who made my life work. That's what we adults do. Or we don't. But we can't spend our lives blaming our parents for what is now OUR life.

Let it go. Let it all go. Put it in the past where it belongs and start a whole new chapter today. Your son is 20, my daughter is 42, in both cases it's their life and not ours. I can't feel guilty anymore or responsible anymore, it's now up to them to do it. That self blame will ruin your life if you let it. Guilt requires punishment, stop punishing yourself. You have a right to enjoy your life regardless of how your son is presently faring.
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Well-Known Member
Here goes my speel ;) And, trust me, I always dread following somebody as verbose and on-point as RE, but I'll try...hmmmmm...ok.

It is never just OUR fault when a child goes wrong. It is DNA first and foremost. Think of your family tree and that of the child's birthfather, even if the child never met the man. He imprinted 50% of his DNA on your child. And they are a part of one another physically. That matters and many adoptive parents, of which I am one, would say it matters as much or more than nurture. I am in a large adoptive parents group and many of those kids and their parents met bio. families and were shocked at how people their kids have never seen were more like the bio. family than the family they were raised in.

There are teachers who have our kids six hours a day.

There are day care workers if we work.

There are those all important peers who we can not compete with once they turn 12 or 13. They matter. They influence our children more than we do at a certain age. Yes, being popular or "cool" (which has a bad meaning to me) matters more to many teens that if they listen to Dad and Mom.

There is the extended family. Is the child close to a dysfunctional relative who bashes you? I was. My grandmother was the only relative I had who loved me, but she was really playing a mean game with my dysfunctional mother. By pampering my mothers' black sheep, she was getting back at my mother, whom was HER black sheep, and giving me a place to run if I wanted rescue. It didn't matter what I did and I was a difficult child. If I took the car when they told me not to and was in trouble, all I had to do was call Grandma and live there for a while. THIS IMPACTED ME. It took me years to figure out the game Grandma was playing and how much SHE impacted me too...at least as much as my mom and as for Dad, he was never home...

Siblings impact us. Abusive ones. Nice ones. Ones we envy. Ones who subtly put us down. Ones who introduce us to drugs. Ones who bash us to Dad and Mom.

Other things impact our kids: sickness (ours and theirs), their temperment, their resilience, if the child is brilliant or a good or bad athlete...all that impacts your child.

Divorce imapcts a child. Remarriage impacts a child. Stepsiblings impact a child. It's not always bad, but it can go either way. Changes influence our children, good, bad, and ugly.

Why do any of us think it's our horrible mistakes and personalities and things we did wrong? I actually never really did. I was more into the DNA part, but I didn't think about the other stuff until I started reading this great book (here I go abain) "When Parents Hurt" by Dr. Joshua Coleman.

Unless you beat your kid up, he was sexually abused and got no help for it and is doing it to others, was abandoned by you or was constantly verbally abused by you, you have nothing to feel guilty about. And if you did some things wrong, we all do and not all kids turn out to be difficult children. Those of us with both difficult children and PCs know this. Also, the past is the past. Many kids who WERE abused figure out a way to get past it, get help, live great lives. REad "A Child Called It" by Dave Pelzer, who was starved and almost killed by his mother and his father did nothing. He was in the service then spent his life trying to help other abused children. He did not go bad. He had every right to. He chose not to.

Please...be good to yourself. You did the best you could and probably better than some parents of only PCs did. It's just that their kids had different wiring. It doesn't help your grown child or you to blame yourself. It hurts YOU hard. If you feel it is your fault, get counseling of the best sort or, if drugs are involved, go to Al-Anon or do both. I feel really horrible when I read that parents, who are over-the-top wonderful and try to hard even now, blame themselves if one of their children make poor choices.

Say it all together now: IT IS NOT OUR FAULT ;) because it's not.
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Thank you all for your kind replies. It helps so much that you all understand how I feel, and know what I am going through. I have learnt so much from reading the books recommended, and I am trying so hard to see things differently. I am trying really hard to make changes, but I guess Rome was not built in a day, and these things need to happen gradually. At least now I am looking at things with the right glasses on. It is such a relief that I have you all here for support.
Thank you all so much once again.