Unable to forgive my parents for constant smacking when I was a child

(123 Posts)
MrsMcColl Sat 22-Mar-14 22:16:00

Reading another thread today on strangers advising parents to smack their children made me think - again - about my own childhood. I think about it a lot, even though I'm in my 40s and have a life of my own that's separate to my parents. I just can't let it go.

They were very brutal. My dad used his leather belt on my brother and me. My mum used a wooden spoon. It happened often. I don't think our behaviour was unusually terrible, but they were clearly disgusted and disappointed with us. Every smacking was preceded and followed with the words, 'this is the only language you understand'. They truly believed in the rightness of it. They are very religious (evangelical protestant), and saw it as necessary to instil righteousness into us.

If they said they were sorry and were open to discussing why they did it, I might forgive them. But as it is, I just can't. We have a very distant relationship now, and both my brother and I have anger issues that we struggle to resolve. I have always struggled with low self-esteem.

Am I being unreasonable not to just put it in the past and focus on my life now with DH and DCs? I find it so hard not to dwell on it and I think I hate my parents. How to let it go?

Euphemia Sat 22-Mar-14 22:18:59

I don't think you can let it go, but you can accept that this is how they are, and that you are different.

I assume you don't treat your DCs the way your parents treated you: focus on that. Focus on the fact that you are doing right by your DCs.

Do you still have contact with your parents?

MrsMcColl Sat 22-Mar-14 22:21:37

Thanks euphemia. Limited contact. We don't live near and don't visit/speak often.

Musicaltheatremum Sat 22-Mar-14 22:22:09

My parents say they smacked me but I have no memory of this( I am 50). If you remember then it must have been bad.

MrsMcColl Sat 22-Mar-14 22:25:08

There's no way of not remembering! It happened all the time. It was painful! And horrible. Parents made us feel like shit.

approaching40notmarried Sat 22-Mar-14 22:25:31

I don't think that is necessarily true, Musical, and of course that does not negate the OP's experiences. I was smacked, not frequently and not hard, but it did happen from time to time and I remember it.

The only one I feel resentful about was when my dad smacked me in front of my friend. It was for a really stupid reason anyway - we were visiting a stately home of some description and I touched something I shouldn't have. I was around eight and absolutely mortified, horrified, my friend saw it, and feel now with adult eyes that it was a poor judgement of my dad's - but the smack itself wasn't "bad."

Euphemia Sat 22-Mar-14 22:27:13

My brother and I were the same with our dad - he gave us his hand, his slipper and for DB his belt on the bare bum. Mum never hit us, but neither did she deal with discipline at all. She would send us to our rooms to wait in terror until Dad came home: oh the horror of the sound of his key in the front door! sad

I lost respect for both of them. Like you, I've had anger and self-esteem issues my whole life. Only Dad was allowed to express anger in our house.

I don't think DB ever forgave him.

Topaz25 Sat 22-Mar-14 22:32:15

It sounds like physical and emotional abuse to me, not just smacking. YANBU to still be affected by it, have you considered counselling?

monicalewinski Sat 22-Mar-14 22:32:33

MrsMcColl, that's not smacking - that's beating, and I'm not surprised you still think of it now.

I don't know how you can let it go, but I wouldn't waste any of my time or energy trying to justify their actions or replaying it - I realise that sounds quite trite though and is easy for me to say.

flowers

CrystalBeth Sat 22-Mar-14 22:34:10

OP I could have written your post thanks

ReallyTired Sat 22-Mar-14 22:36:28

I was smacked a lot as a child and even hit with a bamboo cane on occassions. I think that it was a common parenting practice in the 1970s.
My brother went utterly wild in his teens and my parents couldn't use violence to subdue him.

I think that there is a world of difference between an occassional smack and when smacking is used constantly. I have to admit that I remember smacking my son at the age of four when he repeatly took his seatbelt off while I was driving on the M25.

I have self esteem issues, but its not the smacking that caused them.

MrsMcColl Sat 22-Mar-14 22:36:29

Topaz, yes, I've had counselling - clearly nowhere near enough though smile

Monica, I agree. Not 'smacking'. But that's what they called it. Just want to stop thinking about it.

baggytshirt Sat 22-Mar-14 22:36:39

Yanbu MrsMcColl, they were the sole responsible people supposed to keep you safe and they beat you. My mum was the same and she doesn't even know I have a dd, and she never will.

MrsMcColl Sat 22-Mar-14 22:39:08

Crystal, really? I'm sorry you've had this experience too. How have you dealt with it?

Was it really that common in the 70s? My close friends don't seem to have experienced anything like it.

MavisG Sat 22-Mar-14 22:40:49

I'm so sorry this happened to you MrsMcColl.

Fwiw I think you have to feel each emotion, let yourself be with the feeling, however uncomfortable, realise you are feeling the feelings from then, that these feelings aren't about now, and that if you allow the emotions to surface they will eventually go and you will have peace.

I have similar issues though not so severe and I can see that my parents were abused themselves and tried to be lighter on us (but were still violent and unpredictable). It's totally normal to not be able simply to ignore the past and crack on with raising your family etc.

niddy Sat 22-Mar-14 22:45:04

There was a lot of 'fear' in my childhood. Was too scared to do any wrong. Absolutely terrified of my dad. A lot of critical parenting too which affected my self development as a person and the choices I made.
I continue to struggle and just only maintain a distant relationship with them now.
Ironically have been thinking about reloading back for dd and family pull. Having second thoughts now!hmm

DairyFogMother Sat 22-Mar-14 22:50:25

The only thing being subjected to violence inflicted on me by my parents, my mother being the most violent as she lacked control taught me, never, ever hit another person. Whatever was handy, she'd use to lay into me. My father merely used a leather belt which involved bending over and not flinching as punishment was inflicted for the most minor of infringements.

I have been NC since being taken into care in the late 1950's. Somethings cannot be forgotten or forgiven. Childhood was something endured and the rigours of a regimented life in care homes was a piece of cake in comparison. Bitter? At times, yes.

MrsMcColl Sat 22-Mar-14 22:50:38

I suspect my parents were very much 'not okay' themselves. I only see that in retrospect though. Whenever I feel angry with my own DCs, it's invariably because I feel utterly unable to deal with whatever the situation is. It doesn't make their brand of lashing out okay though. What makes me simmer with rage is their apparent belief that it was right - that this was how to create obedient children. Ugh.

DairyFogMother Sat 22-Mar-14 22:52:00

YANBU to find your parents behaviour unforgiveable.

Preciousbane Sat 22-Mar-14 22:55:41

That's not a smack though is it, that is actually being beaten.
DH was smacked across the top of the legs a few times, one smack. He loves his Mother and when I gave forth my anti smacking rhetoric he was taken aback as it happened to him and was fine.

However I was beaten as a child like you op, with a bamboo cane and with other stuff, my bitch of a Mother even threw a chair at me once.

I am almost NC with my very elderly Mother now, she took all her hatred and frustration out on me. When she dies if she leaves any money to me I will give it to DS as I don't want any of it.

MrsMcColl Sat 22-Mar-14 22:58:53

Thanks DairyFog. My dilemma is over how to handle my parents now. I am happiest with the least possible contact - whenever we search other, I get churned up all over again. But if I cut contact, they will assume the moral high ground and be mystified and wounded over why I am being so unreasonable...

MrsMcColl Sat 22-Mar-14 23:00:57

Search = see each!!

NeedsAsockamnesty Sat 22-Mar-14 23:01:29

Why do you need to forgive them and why should you?

I love my mother but I have no respect for her and have not had since I was about 13,she has a relationship with my children but has never not once in over 20 years been alone with them ever not even long enough for me to use the loo.

She was very much like your parents I used to beg ss for help but nobody listened she was rich and they were quite scared of her,some of my memories fill me with horror.not just the violence but the humiliation and hopelessness (she had huge power issues and was fond of public displays of power)

I even used to admit to stuff that was not me and take beatings because I was stronger than my siblings and I knew they would suffer more that I would.i spent over a decade after i left being treated by everybody like a little shit who was lying or my very existence being covered up but for a few years they have started remembering stuff that happened to me my siblings (other than the golden child) do not leave their kids with her.

It took me along time but I worked out that I do not need to forgive her nor should I, I've moved on I've worked on the issues it caused,I live well and do not treat my children negatively any forgiveness would be for her benefit not mine,

Don't get me wrong,I'm civil I'm kind I'm just no longer a child who needs her approval and I no longer need an apology as that will not change what she did to me

NurseyWursey Sat 22-Mar-14 23:03:19

YANBU at all!

My mum gave me a smack every now and again which I don't have any hard feelings about at all. I understand others feel differently and they're perfectly entitled to. But using a belt or a spoon? That's a weapon.

I'm so sorry OP, you have every right to feel how you do thanks

MrsMcColl Sat 22-Mar-14 23:08:59

Good question, why forgive them. Only for my own sake, I guess, not theirs. Because I want to spend less time dwelling on childhood crap, and get them out of my head - they don't deserve to be there!

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