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"I would rather have spent my life with your father than had you"

(63 Posts)
newrhythmics Fri 16-Nov-12 14:18:24

I'm not really sure why I'm starting this thread. I suppose I'd like to hear people's reactions to this comment, which was made by my mother to me a couple of years ago. At the time, I had no DC of my own- but I still found it puzzling. Then I had DD, and I found it harder to understand. And now I'm about to give birth to DC2 and it's haunting me again.

There's no real context, except to say I was having dinner with my parents (happily married for 40 years) and we were discussing a friend of mine whose long-term relationship had collapsed when (both in their mid to late 30s) her DP had confirmed that he most definitely did not want to have children- and nothing would change his mind. As my friend most definitely did want children, she felt she had no choice but to move on. My mother said she couldn't understand this at all, and "would much rather have spent her life with my father than had me and my sister".

I think it is quite a strange thing to say to your child. I wouldn't say it has hugely upset me (or even surprised me- I guess I grew up with a sense of this). But I can't imagine saying such a thing to DD.

Or am I being too sensitive about it?

Miggsie Fri 16-Nov-12 14:26:02

I'm not surprised this comment haunts you - your mother basically said that she values your father above you and your sister. This does have an implication that she wouldn't care what happened to you if she was still with your dad.

You are not being too sensitive.

However, I assume your mum was of the generation where having 2 children was part of what a woman did once married and perhaps if she did her life over again now she would choose to remain childless? It was still an insensitive comment for her to make in front of you though.

DaveMccave Fri 16-Nov-12 14:29:53

Of course that's a massive head f*ck and no parent should ever say that to a child, you have a right to feel upset about it and you shouldn't need to question it.

I know my mum thinks the same-I was her unplanned fourth, and she's heavily implied that my birth was the nail in the marriage coffin. I know she went off abroad for a couple of weeks when I was a newborn because she 'had no choice, I needed to try and save my marriage'. But she has never actually come out and said that she regrets having me (and my other sibling close in age-that was planned). I know her life would have been a lot easier if she'd just stuck with the older two, and she remarks on it a lot, often in a jokey way. Her life was sh*t while we were kids, but that was her doing really, I couldn't snap her out of her depression for our sakes, and it's only since having my daughter I've stopped feeling to blame. I don't blame her for her thoughts, they are valid, but it's not my problem.

I don't think this is the kind of thing that is worth 'having it out' with her though. There is no nice outcome for that conversation, she'll either dismiss she said it and belittle you or agree with it.

HecatePropylaea Fri 16-Nov-12 14:31:25

No, you're not been too sensitive. It's really hurtful.

My mum hates my dad. Not enough to leave though hmm

she's fond of saying that if she could have her time over, she'd never have taken up with him and he ruined her life

hmm your two daughters and three grandchildren thank you.

Anything that sounds like your parent didn't/wouldn't want you or would value others above you - particularly above you being on the planet - is hurtful.

fuzzywuzzy Fri 16-Nov-12 14:32:01

I read that as she didn't mean it personally, but she wouldn't have left your dad if he didnt want chidlren, having children for her wasnt a priority to her above her marriage to your father. I don't think she meant she'd wish you away or anything, just that she would nto walk away form her marriage had it been a question of her marriage or having children.

I've personally never loved any one alive so much that I would have put aside my desire to have chidlren. So cannot relate, but Ican understand what she meant.

Awful thing to say in front of you. However, I think some of what Miggsie said is probably true. Depending on your mum's age, she may well be from the time when the idea that you could CHOOSE to have children really wasn't considered the done thing. Many childfree people - those who have chosen not to have kids - find it very hard to understand why, if two people love each other very deeply, someone who wants kids would choose to leave and put a 'hypothetical child' (that you may end up not having if you don't meet the right partner) over someone tangible, that already exists and already loves you.

Regardless, awful thing to say to one's own child.

Floralnomad Fri 16-Nov-12 14:39:26

I think you've taken it the wrong way , she didn't say she didn't love or want you she was just saying that if she'd been in the same position as your friend she would have chosen her husband rather than her desire to have children . I have two children who I love more than anything but if my DH had adamantly not wanted children I wouldn't have left him , I would have stayed and had no children . If however it came to a choice now obviously I'd choose the children ( although I still love my DH) , your mother would probably do the same.

PanickingIdiot Fri 16-Nov-12 14:39:33

I don't think I would find it hurtful if my parents said that to me. I'd value their honesty and the insight.

I wouldn't say it to a small child, but you are an adult and your parents have already raised you. I think they are entitled to be honest about it at this stage.

fantagrape Fri 16-Nov-12 14:45:47

I can empathise OP.

When I was about 10, my mother said to me "I love you, but I don't like you". She didn't mean she didn't like me at that moment, she meant generally.

I will never forget that, and sadly I cannot forgive her. Because since having my children I would rather die than make them feel so very worthless.

izzyizin Fri 16-Nov-12 14:48:24

IMO it's probable that your dm simply expressed herself badly, if not baldly as some of us are wont to do at times.

It seems to me that in, effectively, saying that she would not have sought another man to have dc with had your df been unwilling or unable to father dc with her, she was simply being honest and such honesty in no way implies that she wishes she'd not had you/your sister.

It also seems to me that this is how the quintessential monogamous relationship should be as, in the grand scheme of things, it's unhealthy and undesirable for parents to live their lives through or for their dc and vice versa once those dc have achieved adulthood.

I'm not surprised that you've described your dps as having been happily married for 40 years and I wish them many more.

Trills Fri 16-Nov-12 14:48:39

What VoiceofUnreason said.

PanickingIdiot Fri 16-Nov-12 14:50:12

To add to my earlier post: I'd have phrased it a bit differently, though, making sure to mention it wasn't you and your sister she'd rather not have had, more like life with children in general.

WizardofOs Fri 16-Nov-12 14:52:19

I think maybe you are reading a little too much into it. Perhaps she meant that given the situation your friend was in she would have stayed with your Dad rather than found someone else to have kids with.

She obviously loves your Dad very very much and that is lovely. Doesn't mean she doesn't love you too. For some women having babies is an extension of the love for their partner and for some women is a biological have a baby no matter with who. Also as someone else said having babies is something married women just did without much pondering.

You have to admire her honesty I suppose!

Floralnomad Fri 16-Nov-12 14:53:56

With respect fantagrape what your mother said is a totally different thing and I agree is unforgivable . The OPs mother never said she didn't want her .

AnnaFurLact1c Fri 16-Nov-12 14:55:07

This all depends on what your relationship is like in general.

Could you bring it up again with her and tell her it has upset you and you think about it a fair bit? You might find she'd reassure you and clarify exactly how she meant it.

Marzipanface Fri 16-Nov-12 14:55:22

Sorry I think this is a completely shit thing to say to your children. I'm sorry she said this. It may well be the case that it was just badly worded. Has she form for coming out with shockers like this? If not then perhaps it was just an ill-judged comment.

Did you tell her how it made you feel?

No you aren't being too sensitive about it. So sorry xx

akaemmafrost Fri 16-Nov-12 14:56:36

I think there was very little choice involved in having children for older generations it was something that "happened" to you rather than you chose to do, like people tend to now.

To hear my Mum talk having babies is the worst thing in the world but to her generation, often it was. She was an unmarried mother with me in the early 70's and there was a real stigma attached even then. I think there was an awful lot more negative connotations to parenthood back then. I don't think it means they don't love us just rather that they take us for granted.

IvorHughJanusAndABulgingSack Fri 16-Nov-12 14:59:19

Perhaps what she meant is that had your father given her such an ultimatum prior to her becoming a mother (which is obviously when he would have had to) she would have chosen to forgo parenthood to avoid losing him. It doesn't necessarily follow that she would have chosen him over and above her children after she became a parent.

DH told me he didn't want kids just before we got married. I had to accept it because I love him with all my heart. He changed his mind (no twisting from me, I left him to it, though he knew I wanted them) a couple of years later and we have a DS. Now I know that if I had any kind of inkling of how important and wonderful and all the rest of it DS is, I would never ever have chosen DH over and above having him. But I didn't know that at the time.

Not sure that makes sense...

44SoStartingOver Fri 16-Nov-12 15:02:00

It is a bit if a strange thing to say. However I know my devoted mum would have swapped my sisters and I when my dad died.

We all knew she loved us dearly. However she loved him more. I'm not sure it was a bad thing, as it meant we had the pair of them as our foundations in life.

I can see it woukd have been hurtful.

Mayisout Fri 16-Nov-12 15:04:52

But, really, did she have to give up an exciting career to have you?

If not she is talking pure bullshit, imo. Anyone with DCs knows how busy it keeps you, what fun things can be, though maybe not ALL the time.

And had she an exciting demanding career maybe finding time for DH or not being able to move for promotion (because of DH's career) would have scuppered it.

I think if she didn't have an exciting career she would have been bored brainless waiting for DH to come home each evening. And what thrilling exciting things might they have done every weekend without DCs, OK, the occasional weekend away somewhere but what about the remaining 800 or so.

Also, having children can give you a joint aim for the future. That they grow up capable to go out into the world happily. Take that away and things could be pretty boring. She is being thoughtless and silly imo.

HullyEastergully Fri 16-Nov-12 15:06:16

wot Ivor said


It would have been helpful had she gone on to say however then I wouldn't have had you and you are the most delightful etc...

TerrorNotSoFrightened Fri 16-Nov-12 15:07:03

That's a awful thing to say to your child.
My mother has said before that if she knew what having children was going to be like, she wouldn't have bothered.

It hurts.

Trills Fri 16-Nov-12 15:07:59

Mayisout you seem to have a pretty poor view of life without children.

Maybe it wouldn't be for you. But not everyone likes the same things.

poozlepants Fri 16-Nov-12 15:12:14

I asked my mother if she'd rather either me or my sister had died and not my father. She said yes. It didn't surprise me it was obvious when we were growing up she found it irritating to have had kids. She used to constantly tell me she wished I'd never been born . She used to make sure we knew he loved her more than us. Surprisingly I have a reasonable relationship with her now I have had DS as she is great at being a granny. She was just an incredibly insecure woman and fucked my self esteem for a long time but she was a product of her own relationship with her parents.
I am just happy that I don't feel like that about my DS and that I can be a better mother.

suzyrut Fri 16-Nov-12 15:12:47

Hi OP, I can sympathise mothers can say some of the most hurtful things without even realising they've done it purely because they have so much influence on how we feel about ourselves.

My mum once told me that if she'd had her time again she wouldn't have had children! It took a while for me to rationalise this as her only reflecting on a hypothetical situation and not on whether she loved my sister or I now we were in existence. I think as others have pointed out yours sounds like a similar situation. What she's rationalising is a situation where you weren't around, not wishing you out of existence.

Maybe you can speak to her about it if this kind of thing is out of character, I'm sure she'd be upset to have said something that would cause you to feel bad.

Take care.

HullyEastergully Fri 16-Nov-12 15:19:39

I have actually advised my own dc not to have dc on occasion...


Mayisout Fri 16-Nov-12 15:54:09

Trills, you have a point. Didn't really mean that.

I am childless at the mo as all left home and revel in that now. But am also SAH trailing spouse, here because of my DH's job, and being a doting wife, waiting for DH's return each day, isn't my ideal choice. So if the DM was hankering for many years of that she was seeing it through rose tinted specs imo.

izzyizin Fri 16-Nov-12 16:05:23

I believe it's a measure of maturity when we are able to engage in conversations with our dps without reacting or responding as if we are children and, more particularly, when discussing subjects which we have no compunction about talking about with our peers.

newrhythmics Fri 16-Nov-12 16:14:44

Thanks everyone- I really appreciate the different viewpoints. I don't want to make a big deal of it in my own head. And I think Dave is right in that there is very little to be gained in trying to have it out.

The thing is, she's a really great mother in a very great number of ways. Yes, she has blind spots (and I do accept these now, as being just part of her, through the humility motherhood has brought me and through my own "growing up" processes). Of course I know I have blind spots, too. Hers are being fairly unsensitive at times and also being essentially not "built" for any kind of self-reflection. The tension for us is that my blind spots are in the opposite direction- I know I can over-think things at times, whereas she is very blithe. She shoots and moves on.

If I was to bring this up, she would almost certainly deny having said it and, if that was no longer feasible, would either turn it around into an attack or would be dismissive of it (i.e. it would be my issue for being far too sensitive).

newrhythmics Fri 16-Nov-12 16:18:27

I also agree with all the posters who have said it's great that my parents have had such a strong and happy marriage, and not one lived through DC. that's absolutely right.

I guess I just wish she hadn't said it. Or had qualified it as hully says.

Suzy hits the nail on the head in terms of how what mothers say can have such an impact because of their influence on how we feel about ourselves. And I'm sorry that some posters' mothers have said some really quite crappy things.

Lottapianos Fri 16-Nov-12 16:20:58

'Mayisout you seem to have a pretty poor view of life without children.

Maybe it wouldn't be for you. But not everyone likes the same things'

Thanks Trills smile

OP, you have every right to feel upset. My mum has told me that if she had her time again, she wouldn't marry or have children and it really does hurt and 'haunts' me as you say. There was definitely no point challenging my mother (long history of emotional abuse and NPD) and it sounds like that might be the same in your case. You have had loads of support on here and lots of us feel the same way so I hope that helps. sad for you.

squeakytoy Fri 16-Nov-12 16:23:07

I think she meant it differently to how you have taken it.

It looks to me as if she was saying that if he only choice between having children meant not being with your Dad, then she would have stayed with your Dad. It doesnt mean that she doesnt love you or didnt want you.

My mum said a similar thing. (I am adopted). My dad was unable to have children, and my mum could have had them, after they both had tests to see why she couldnt get pregnant. My mum said that she loved my dad so much that she could not possibly have left him, even if it meant she could not have a baby.

izzyizin Fri 16-Nov-12 16:27:16

Ah well, the line between 'sensitive' and 'insensitive' is finely drawn and we're not always best placed to judge our own footwork, or that of those who may be prone to putting their foot in it.

Maybe we'd be happier if we were fitted with rear view mirrors that eliminate all blind spots, but that would mean less room for disagreement lively debate and I do so enjoy a verbal wrangle workout.

B1ueberryMuff1n Fri 16-Nov-12 16:34:59

That's very hurtful..... i know i could have been happy without children and i may say that one day but that doesn't mean that i wish i hadn't had them! your mother hasn't experienced life NOT being a mother. for all she knows not having children might have spoiled her marriage. her husband your father may not have been so content.

HissyByName Fri 16-Nov-12 16:43:09

If I could go back and slam the door on my DS dad's Dick face, I would.

But I'd have my son every day of the week. I may regret the relationship, and wish he had a dad that was a decent human being, but I'll always be happy to have my son.

You mother should have kept her bile to herself. I'd have wished her luck in the future and left her to it tbh.

SolidGoldYESBROKEMYSPACEBAR Fri 16-Nov-12 16:49:19

I can't imagine being that bothered about a couple-relationship myself. Though I sometimes wonder what my life would have been like if I hadn't had DS, the focus of the imaginary/alternate life is never couplehood.

But I can't imagine ever saying anything to DS that implies I'd rather not have him. Even when he's being maddening.

CailinDana Fri 16-Nov-12 16:51:09

IMO there are certain things you should NEVER say to your children, no matter how old they are. Things like "I wish I'd never had children," or what your mother said OP are never acceptable. They are fundamentally hurtful and inappropriate and expecting someone to take it on the chin just because they're grown up is too much. My mother told me when I was about 12 that I was a "mistake." What she meant was she fell pregnant accidentally but hearing yourself described as a "mistake" from the mouth of the person who should love you most in the world is just awful and I have never forgiven her for it. Fine, say such things to your friends or your husband but NOT YOUR CHILDREN.

Parents retain an influence over how their children feel for practically their entire lives, and they need to be aware of that. You can't just shoot your mouth off as a parent and then claim your child is "too sensitive" if they're upset, it's just nasty.

rubyrubyruby Fri 16-Nov-12 16:56:35

I see nothing wrong with that comment tbh.

amothersplaceisinthewrong Fri 16-Nov-12 17:00:46

If we had our time again and knew what we know now having raised two kids to adulthood I am not sure if DH and I would have children.

CailinDana Fri 16-Nov-12 17:01:36

That's fair enough amothers but I think it would be wrong of you to actually say that to your children because it would inevitably make them feel unwanted.

Out of interest why do you feel that way?

Karoleann Fri 16-Nov-12 17:03:02

Oooh that's a difficult one, I love having my children and I can't imagine my life without any of them. I'm far more fufilled as a mother and wife than I was working.....but I'm not sure I would be without a husband.
You only borrow your children for 18-20 years, then they go off and do their own things. Your husband is hopefully for life.
I'm fairly sure I would never say that to my children though, maybe she'd had a lot to drink?
My father died a couple of years ago (he was 61) and my mother misses him terribly, they had been together alomst 40 years. I'm not sure she would answer a similar question truthfully.

OwlLady Fri 16-Nov-12 17:03:38

I agree with what others have said, that she meant pre having you and your sister she would have chosen your father. can you not talk to her about it?

If you want to know what truly abusive people say to their children you could listen to this one from my dad who said, upon my sisters death, he wished I had died instead

zzzzz Fri 16-Nov-12 17:06:20

When Dh and I got married it was very unlikely I would ever have children. He chose to be with me regardless. Isn't this the same thing.

I would be childless with my Dh rather than have children with someone else. That does not take away from the fact that I love my children, they are my happiness.

MardyArsedMidlander Fri 16-Nov-12 17:11:19

My aunt once said the same thing- that she had children because my uncle really wanted them, but if he hadn't she would have been quite happy to stay married to him. Frankly, I think it's an honest and healthy attitude- surely you want to know you are not the centre of your parents' life?

izzyizin Fri 16-Nov-12 17:14:19

And those who haven't had dc may speculate as to how their lives may have been different if they had.

Once we reach the age of, say, 25 surely we can converse with our dps in an adult manner and are able to posit and debate various scenarios without assuming the stance or posture of 'rejects' if our dps happen to hold or evince views that may not be immediately pleasing to us?

I relish the individuality of my dps as distinct from them being solely 'my parents'. I enjoy learning what made them, shaped them, moved them, as it enables me to learn more about myself.

PanickingIdiot Fri 16-Nov-12 17:15:06

It's a bit ironic, isn't it, to criticise our parents for the finer points of their decisions to have children.

CailinDana Fri 16-Nov-12 17:16:24

I wouldn't criticise any parent for their feelings on having children - they can't help the way they feel. But telling their children those feelings is really insensitive IMO.

rubyrubyruby Fri 16-Nov-12 17:16:45

I would actually be quite proud if my Mum said that to me.

Mayisout Fri 16-Nov-12 17:16:56

My mother said she couldn't understand this at all, and would much rather have spent her life with my father than had me and my sister

Well, it's the 'much rather' which is hurtful. If she had said she could have been as happy with just the father then that might be acceptable to the OP.

ivykaty44 Fri 16-Nov-12 17:30:41

I am struggling with this one as I think I am seeing this from a different angle.

If your mother and father hadn't wanted dc then they would have been happy together without children, there are many couples that wouldn't be happy with out children and some split if children don't come along.

Surely in this comment has nothing really to do with their love for you dc but their love and happiness for and being with each other.

I know I was a long time arriving, but if I hadn't have come along my parents would have still stayed together, they would have been happy together without dc and one wouldn't have left seeking to have children else where. I know that I was the cherry on top of the cake, you can take of and leave on the plate, iyswim

PanickingIdiot Fri 16-Nov-12 17:32:04

Cailin, I disagree. I feel the same way as ruby, I'd feel privileged if my parents shared something as personal as this with me.

I've always known my conception was an accident (bleeding obvious from the circumstances of my birth and their marriage). I think they were very brave to have kept me. I don't exactly know why they did, but I certainly wouldn't criticise them for telling me if they chose to. Given the fact that they have raised me, there's nothing they could do or say now that would make me feel unwanted.

Growlithe Fri 16-Nov-12 17:36:29

It's not a bad thing to say, but I suppose she could have found a better way of saying it. She is just saying she loves your dad and their lives would have taken a different path if he hadn't wanted children. But he did, so it was ok, wasn't it?

Durab Fri 16-Nov-12 17:54:34

I don't think your mother was saying she wished she hadn't had you, she was saying that in a similar situation to your friend's she would have stayed and remained childless rather than ending the marriage. It doesn't mean she's not extremely pleased things worked out the way they did.

Before I had my DC, I didn't feel the need to have them strongly enough that I would have sacrificed a happy marriage to have them, but now they're here, I know that my life would be much poorer without them iyswim

Parents beoig devoted to each other can only be a good thing for the children IMO

rubyrubyruby Fri 16-Nov-12 18:02:34

It concerns me that people are upset by this comment.

Did you marry your husbands or get together with your partners with the intention of spending your lives together or to have children?

Trills Fri 16-Nov-12 18:06:49

Here's a task for all the parents out there - teach your children to understand that hypothetical situations are not always all about them.

maybenow Fri 16-Nov-12 18:09:00

I can see how it might have been more diplomatic not to say this out loud to your own children, but given their time of life, to have raised children and now be enjoying each other's company as a couple again (assuming all the children left home a while ago if similar age to the OP) then looking back they probably can't imagine giving each other up earlier in life because of different desires for their lives... in a 40yr marriage they might be able to imagine what their life might have been like without children, but not without each other. I think that's lovely. (But she might want to have kept it to herself).

Gennz Sat 17-Nov-12 01:41:19

I think you are possibly being a bit oversensitive OP, but then I think your mum was also a bit tactless. I can understand her comment in the context of the conversation you were having. DH and I have often discussed what we would do if we couldn't have kids (we don't have any and haven't tried to yet). We have been together 11 years. I would never ever trade the chance to have children for my husband. If we couldn't have children it would probably be a sadness for both of us but it would also open doors to a different life that we would try to embrace.

SolidGoldYESBROKEMYSPACEBAR Sat 17-Nov-12 02:01:44

I do think it's a bit of a crap thing to say to your own child. THough how hurtful it is to the child probably depends on the family history and relationships. I had a mate (well, boyfriend) who told me that his mother occasionally referred to the fact that she'd turned down a potentially life-changing job offer because she was pregnant with him, but the impression I got was of this being an affectionate family joke rather than something hurtful.
I have been telling DS, since he was old enough to talk and listen, that he was the biggest and best surprise of my life, because when he's old enough to understand about human relationships and society, he's going to know that he was, at least unplanned, but by the time he understands that, he should have had enough years of being loved (by me, his dad and the family on both sides) for it to be no more than mildly interesting or amusing.

AdoraJingleBells Sat 17-Nov-12 02:19:03

It is a total head fuck when you hear your parents say things like this.

You know some families have another baby when they thought they we had enough, most say "it was a surprise" well, I was a mistake according to my mother. It does mess with your head, some people can manage it, some can't.

If I had my time I've over I would be a better parent, rather than not being a parent.

TwistyBraStrap Sat 17-Nov-12 11:29:21

My mum moans constantly about my father, and bitterly regrets marrying him. They divorced when I was 10.

It was only when I asked if she regretted me and my sister that she realised we'd taken it to mean that she wished we hadn't been born. She reassured us that she in no way regretted having children, she just regretted her marriage - she saw it as two separate issues.

It's a hypothetical situation, it is not a reflection on you. I'd just say, "I'm glad you both wanted children then!"

THAT REMINds me of my mother when i was a lot younger saying, sometimes having the third baby ruins the marriage, i was the third and i felt the guilt, as if I chose to be born and cause my df to disappear angry with a younger woman.

B1ueberryS0rbet Sat 17-Nov-12 17:10:40

Des Bishop went on tour with a tour called 'my dad could have been james bond'. When he and his brothers were growing up and his dad was a sort of reluctant family man he used to say to them a few times a week 'i could have been james bond'. He had auditioned for the part! He hadn't been offered it though. Then when he was dying he told them that he was so relieved he'd never got the part of James Bond.

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