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If you grew up with warring parents who stayed together....

(122 Posts)
CogitOCrapNotMoreSprouts Sun 23-Dec-12 08:57:02

... how would you say - positively or negatively - it has gone on to affect your life? Do you wish they'd split or are you grateful they stuck it out?

Just that really. We don't have many terms of reference as kids but we can look back from an adult perspective and judge how wise the idea of 'staying together for the kids' actually was.

ChristineDaae Sun 23-Dec-12 09:02:12

Mine stayed together for 15 years and 3 kids worth of warring. I can honestly say life so much better and happier once they split!

fanjolina Sun 23-Dec-12 09:09:54

Totally negatively. Gave us all a messed up view on relationships. None of us children have had a healthy relationship as a result, and that is now being passed down to grandchildren too.

CogitOCrapNotMoreSprouts Sun 23-Dec-12 09:11:02

The effect on me - I now realise - was that I grew up desperately wanting to create a household where Mum and Dad still kissed each other goodbye in the morning or put an arm around each other on the sofa watching TV. In pursuit of that I ended up settling down far too young with the first likely candidate that came along and excusing/minimising/forgiving his bad behaviour in pursuit of this 'Happy Family' goal. Would stop short of directly blaming my parents for my choices and mistakes but can see where my motivation came from.

Muminwestlondon Sun 23-Dec-12 09:11:50

My parents finally split up when I was 16. I spent the whole of my childhood listening to my parents arguing and abusing each other every night. I was often so frightened that I couldn't sleep.

I couldn't invite most of my friends over as I was ashamed. By the time I was 16, I had developed a phobia about crowds, had no confidence and was generally a nervous wreck who had no social confidence. It also affected my sister who still has terrible tantrums in her 40s and cannot go out without her hair being perfect (she washes her hair twice a day) and plastered in make up.

I think more importantly perhaps it led to very destructive relationships. I had some really unhappy abusive relationships during my teens and twenties. It was like I was repeating the pattern. I was lucky that I met DH when I was 32 who was not my "type" at all - it was meant to be a short fling - I ended up pregnant and we are still together after 17 years.

As for my Mum who is still alive, she often has abusive rows with her current husband and was so abusive to me and my family that we no longer see her.

TheArmadillo Sun 23-Dec-12 09:15:35

Hated it - though that wasn't the only problem. Made me very insecure as they were telling me everything was fine but it didn't feel like it. I also still can't cope with (angry) shouting in my own home.

I hated the bitching to me about each other as well. They are still together as far as I know (we don't speak anymore). It ruined lots of special occasions and holidays. I remember the feeling in the pit of my stomach knowing they were going to start.

When we got older and they started going on holiday together (i.e. by themselves) I was genuinely mystified as they couldn't bare to be in the same room without fighting.

I never had any intention of getting married/having kids as a child as I assumed that was how it had to be.

I remember several mortifying occasions especially one where they were buying a big item and we were sat at a desk with the salesman and started screaming at each other. The salesguy turned to me and said 'this must be so embarrassing for you' and I wanted to die.

I think it is part of the reason me and my sister fought constantly from a young age/never got on. We used to have some extremely violent fights (though my dad might throw/bang things they never physically fought). This was our model of behaviour for relationships - we copied them. They could not understand where our behaviour came from blamed me and thought enough shouting would make us 'behave' but we didn't know how I don't think.

I have got friends whose parents (more than one set) appeared to get on fine then divorced without warning when the youngest left home to go to university. This has caused at least as much damage as mine did, as again there was the insecurity at not knowing what was true/inability to judge situations.

fayster Sun 23-Dec-12 09:50:57

Same as the others, really. I grew up without any concept of respect within relationships (as children, we were never shown any either) and as a result have put up with several boyfriends over the years who treated me appallingly. No doubt I've not been a very good girlfriend in return.

I don't know if it would have been any different if they had separated, though, as I think a lot of their behaviour is down to who they are (and my Mum's depression). I also can't blame them for how I've lived my life, but I can understand better now why I've made certain choices. I just wish I'd realised sooner that there was a much healthier alternative.

HoleyGhost Sun 23-Dec-12 10:03:23

It has meant that I have few happy memories of my childhood. However it protected me in some ways. With such a grim example, I had no intention of settling down at all. I had and have radar for abusive people and have avoided them. I have a happy marriage.

PrimeSuspect Sun 23-Dec-12 10:10:55

For me it was terrible. Growing up in a house of shouting and slamming doors and tension. I actually think it is such a selfish thing to do to your children and I think it has nothing to do with the children being better off but often the wife not wanting the husband to leave and using the kids as a form if guilt/blackmail (or vice versa). Everyone loses and the children are the damaged, innocent parties.

elizaregina Sun 23-Dec-12 10:15:04

as above - horrendous - one long streak of misery - any happy time was short lived - invited friends round to hideous arguing etc...

wish they had spilt earlier - dont know how sticking together was justified for us to live in a war zone.....

some people are just arguers and shouters and will be difficlt no matter who they are with - not my parents - they were both absoluty fine once removed from each other.

id never put my children through that.

HoleyGhost Sun 23-Dec-12 10:18:03

It also meant my mother resented and blamed us for her misery. That was damaging in itself.

peachypips Sun 23-Dec-12 10:19:22

I think I am an anxious person as a result of it. I have had some severe mental health issues that are anxiety related and I am sure they would not be there if I had not spent my entire childhood trying to hold mum and dad together and head off potential fights. I am the eldest and my siblings and I are very close but they have always said they didn't feel the sense of responsibility to keep the home happy that I had.

If I could feel a fight brewing I would jump in and try and distract like you would do with a toddler who is about to have a tantrum. They would both slag each other off to me too and I hated it, but would never say as I didn't want to bring more unhappiness.

cog I totally identify with wanting my parents to kiss each other goodbye and snuggle up together. I remember seeing a friend's parents do this at a young age and thinking it was weird!! Then it dawned on me that this was the way it should be.

I am fortunate to have been married for ten years and my husband and I are still in love and have a healthy relationship.

CogitOCrapNotMoreSprouts Sun 23-Dec-12 10:19:51

I suppose the flip-side to my question is 'how were you affected if they split up?'. I'd estimate that the negative side-effects of a split would be the same as staying together if the animosity carried on post-split, whereas things would be more stable if the separation meant that, like elizaregina's parents, they were fine once apart.

Just seems to be this automatic assumption that a) DCs are better off with two parents under the same roof no matter what and b) two-centre families/lone parenting is doing DCs a disservice.

BelleDameSousMistletoe Sun 23-Dec-12 10:21:26

God it was awful. Truly, scarily awful. We had alcoholism and DV in the mix too.

I am 47. I may, just, be ready for a relationship with someone nice. We'll see.

CogitOCrapNotMoreSprouts Sun 23-Dec-12 10:22:34

"I remember seeing a friend's parents do this at a young age and thinking it was weird!!"

Snap smile It was my first serious boyfriend's parents that I thought were weird. They sat close on the sofa, laughed together & even held hands in public shock. Having said that, I'm still in touch with said boyfriend. His own marriage and that of his DB are not what you call idyllic... so it's not necessarily straight-line cause/effect.

OhThisIsJustGrape Sun 23-Dec-12 10:26:16

I grew up in a household where my parents spent every weekend arguing (Dad worked away all week). The rows were horrendous, made worse by the fact that Dad often refused to argue back and would just sit there whilst my mum threw cups of tea/plates of dinner at him.

She would then storm off in the car leaving us children with no idea when or if she would return.

For years, whenever this would happen, we would beg and beg her to not go (she always returned a few hours later) but by the time I was 13 or so I gave up and started to wish she would just go. She used to threaten to divorce my father and I used to sit there thinking go on then, please do.

It affected my future relationship massively, when I first got with DH at just 17 my natural response when we argued was to turn it into something massive and hysterical. I honestly thought that was what you had to do - I would try and provoke a reaction. Luckily DH had more of a spine than my father did and refused to put up with it and showed me that every row, especially when usually over something silly, did not have to end with me storming out and saying that was it, we're over.

Mum and dad never did split up, my mum died shortly after their 25th wedding anniversary and the last few weeks of her life (she was terminally ill) were spent in deep devotion to each other. My father adored her, god knows why, we all adored her. If only she could've seen that during the rest of their marriage and our childhood, we would all have been much happier.

They should've split up though, no question about it. What they put us children through was horrific, even though we had happy times too and they were under tremendous financial stress for the majority of their relationship - still no excuse. Luckily all us children are in stable relationships, DH and I have some major issues but thankfully not related to my childhood.

BelleDameSousMistletoe Sun 23-Dec-12 10:27:23

I can remember being very uncomfortable with the song "I saw mommy kissing Santa Claus" and the line in Merry Christmas Everybody that goes "What will your daddy do when he sees your mummy kissing Santa Claus?" because the answer was that he would punch Santa and then punch my mother.

My childhood was mostly spent in fear that my dad would kill my mum. I used to fantasise about waiting until he was asleep and then stabbing him so we'd all be safe.

I realise this may be more extreme than many other situations here.

I haven't gone on to have abusive relationships or get involved with alcoholics or addicts but my relationships have generally been with unsuitable men.

DowagersHump Sun 23-Dec-12 10:28:46

It was awful which is why my POV is always LTB.

I have very fucked up attitudes towards relationships and always pick terrible men so I've been single for years.

I felt like my mother always put my father first and that was hugely damaging. They would have massive violent rows and make up after we'd gone to sleep and act like nothing had happened the morning after. It was really confusing

ArtVandelay Sun 23-Dec-12 10:38:12

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ArtVandelay Sun 23-Dec-12 10:40:48

I have had horrible anxiety illnesses intermittently through my life which has had a limiting effect upon my career and just joining in /enjoying stuff in general. I don't trust anyone with the exception of my son and one of my cousins. I have lots of friends many of whom I actually love but deep down, I don't trust them as such. I always think DH is dead or doing something he shouldn't if he doesn't get home on time. I don't react on it cos I know its bollocks but then I'm carrying round the stress and horror of imagining it all. Me and my mum were talking about memories last night and I said I wish I didn't have any. Somehow she can remember stuff without the argument or the storming off that occurred during the event. She is kind but a bit deluded. I haven't seen or spoken to my father for years because he is horrible. They divorced when I was 23. Just in time for me starting adult life so instead of planning for myself I was trying to cope (again) with their drama. My life is pretty good now but I could just scream when I think about my parents and my childhood. My opinion is don't do it!

elizaregina Sun 23-Dec-12 10:42:23

yes we had alcholism too - by the end my mother brought metal plates as they wouldnt smash when thrown!

Thankfully by the grace of god I have a wonderful wonderful DH now who is the total opposite from the men in my family!!!!

ArtVandelay Sun 23-Dec-12 10:43:05

Reported my 1st post... Silly phone sent it too quick!

Muminwestlondon Sun 23-Dec-12 10:45:50

Yes, I also had an alcoholic father that I considered murdering, I always hoped he was dead when he didn't come home until late. He died a few months after my parents divorced - I assume his work was done and he had no one left to abuse. My Mum still seems to think screaming abuse at people is normal, which is why I no longer see her and my sister moved to the other side of the world.

ArtVandelay Sun 23-Dec-12 10:46:30

Grape - YY to storming off sad

ArtVandelay Sun 23-Dec-12 10:52:38

Yes, MumIWL, how many of us or our siblings moved faraway or living overseas? I bet its quite a lot. I never go home, I am convinced something non-specific and terrible will happen if I visit (stupid, I know).

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