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to wonder how DH is so well adjusted...and I am not!

(24 Posts)
EdibleBears Mon 19-Nov-12 20:39:48

DH and his two brothers had a difficult childhood. Mother largely absent, returning periodically till early teens, then not seen until he was in his mid twenties. Father selfish and detached, string of girlfriends barely out of their teens. But DH and siblings all calm, kind, well-adjusted people. Amazing qualifications, good jobs, happy relationships, no obvious issues.

Conversely, I had a wonderful upbringing. Parents still together after 30+ years of marriage, lots of love, attention and no dramas. I haven't found a job I can stick with for more than two years, suffered with depression and PND, bit unhinged at times, terribly insecure. My Dsis has been in trouble with the law and, for other reasons I better not go into, is even more of a mess than me.

Can't understand why the offspring of the negligent parents are so...sane. Only differences I can see is that DH and bros were all packed off to a very prestigious public school and have this inner confidence and peace with themselves that Dsis and I (both went to local comp) clearly lack. And there is the obvious gender difference.

I'm thinking of this a lot now since having my own daughter. I hope to give her the loving upbringing and secure home I had, but it doesn't seem to have done me a lot of good! How do some children turn out so well and happy, and others not so much. Could it be that schooling plays just as important (if not more important) a role??

StripyMagicDragon Mon 19-Nov-12 20:53:52

I don't know, I think a lot is personality. myself and my brother were abused physically, sexually and emotionally growing up. we were in and out of care and attended the same schools and had the same level of support.
we both went through a difficult phase, but I came through and am happily married, with a dd and am relatively sane. I've had bumps but got through them.
my brother died of a drug overdose, suspected suicide. he was unable to cope with life and the pressures that came with it.
a stable, loving upbringing is what matters more than anything in my opinion. a lot of the people I knew growing up in care have become substance abusers or have trouble coping. some came through and are successful and happy. everyone needs a secure base.

whois Mon 19-Nov-12 20:55:44

Nature v nurture isn't it?

One of my friends comes from a super supportive family, modest but comfortable upbringing, really nice family. She's as sane and happy as can be and nicely confident. Her sister is a total mess, depression, multiple suicide attempts, can't hold down a job etc etc.

CaptainVonTrapp Mon 19-Nov-12 20:59:38

Could his upbringing have made him tougher? More resilient? Or is it just that we are all different and as whois said siblings can turn out completely differently.

Sorry OP thats absolutely no help. I'd like to know as well for the same reason as you.

honeytea Mon 19-Nov-12 21:56:17

I used to wonder this about my friends as a teenager, I had a fair few challenges growing up but it seemed to be that the young girls from secure 2 family homes were the ones self harming and with eating disorders.

I think it is a case of learning not to stress about the little things. When you have really had bad things to overcome as a small child then "normal" life is actually relaly nice and there is no need to feel sad/angry/resentful about little things as when you know how bad things can be you are very thankful when things are going nicely/smoothly.

I'm not sure how to apply this theory to my own kids as I don't want to deprive them in anyway, my mother maintains a little neglect is good for kids.

honeytea Mon 19-Nov-12 21:56:49

2 parent homes, not 2 family homes.

ErikNorseman Tue 20-Nov-12 05:36:35

When you say 'packed off' do you mean sent to board? Because boarding may have been a protective factor that supported their resilience. Your occasional struggles with things are not necessarily due to your parenting either, there could be any number of 'reasons' why that I wouldn't like to speculate on.
As for your own children - try your best to provide a calm and nurturing home, foster strong and healthy attachments, and boost her confidence daily, and you are doing the best you can do as a parent. The rest is less in your control smile

ErikNorseman Tue 20-Nov-12 05:43:26

Just read the previous posts - stripy I was just thinking similar, having worked with care leavers who have all faced various adversity in their childhood. Some have amazing resilience even despite lacking the things that we would expect (good attachments, secure foster home etc) and some really do not, despite things being as ideal as they could be in that situation.
Honeytea- adversity does not cause resilience, don't get that confused. Some people have resilience (the ability to positively adapt in the face of adversity) and can turn bad situations to their advantage, learn from them etc, and some have less, and will feel the strain in very challenging ways. I'm not saying that children should grow up with 100% smooth sailing (if that were even possible) but adversity for the sake of developing a child's resilience/personality is a mistake,and a very old fashioned idea that has no basis in evidence.

Whoknowswhocares Tue 20-Nov-12 08:58:27

Perhaps he expects less because less is what he has always had? Job wise does he love what he does or is it just his tolerance higher and expectation lower?

PS..... You did not have PND or depression due to your upbringing! You were ill. It does not hunt out those who have had an easy childhood!! You do know that, right?

janelikesjam Tue 20-Nov-12 09:54:31

Some of these things are hard to work out as you say OP, as there are varied factors.

I think a calm, happy home does help. But there are also other strong factors, "nature" which is obviously genetic e.g. I do think there is a genetic factor in depression. And there are factors that are hard to know unless you were actually there every waking minute e.g. a parent who is 'good' with a baby may be a bully with a growing child, and vice versa. Perhaps being around other good role people in the family or community, or going to a nice school can really help too.

MustStopOutingSelf Tue 20-Nov-12 10:04:49

I don't know but we are similar! DH grew up in a violent and abusive household, he's as calm as can be. Never worries about things, generally a happy guy.

I had a very ordinary loving upbringing. Never any fights. Lots of attention. And I'm pretty nervous about a lot of things. Get in a stew about the most minor stuff sad

SirBoobAlot Tue 20-Nov-12 10:10:34

You can't compare your own mental struggles to other peoples. Two people can face exactly the same situations, and react in opposite ways.

Comparing your childhood to another persons and looking for an explanation as to why you are struggling now is silly. Look into your past and find triggers for your behavior, but don't feel that they are not "good enough" to equal you being ill.

Things happen.

Don't be so harsh on yourself. x

nokidshere Tue 20-Nov-12 10:16:08

We (6 of us) were brought up in the care system after an abusive childhood. The care home wasn't much better!!! All of us have had a pretty good adult life. All married for many years, Good jobs/careers, lots of children and now granchildren - all very stable. Personally, I am very laid back and relaxed about most things - happy with my "normal" life and not prone to looking back at the past.

Lots of people I was brought up with in the "system" have had a very tough time as adults. Some have comitted suicide, some have depression, drug and alcohol problems and their personal lives are following similar pattern to the one they had themselves.

I can't explain why this is really. I know that, for me personally, its about taking responsibility for your own feelings and not blaming others for how I live now. I think it is all too easy to say "its my parents fault" or "its the way I was brought up I don't know any better" - but we all have it in us to change what is past. Why some can and some can't is something that I guess will never be explained.

BarbecuedBillygoats Tue 20-Nov-12 10:20:34

So many good points

One thing I have noticed is that all the people I know who went boarded at public school, even though not all them came out with great qualifications or have great jobs, they all ooze self confidence (not cockniess though some are) but just a confidence in their own abilities and an ability to cope with social situations

AppleAndBlackberry Tue 20-Nov-12 10:20:41

I expect your DH got a lot of stability and probably even parenting from boarding school. I think there is some evidence that if parents are a bit neglectful but children have good input from elsewhere (school/grandparents?) they tend to do ok.

I also think mental illness (depression etc) cannot always be blamed on past events, for some people it is just an illness. Have you ever read anything about bipolar disorder? Some of your symptoms sound familiar although I have no personal experience, just a family member.

MulledWineOnTheBusLady Tue 20-Nov-12 10:37:54

I bang on about am interested in the resilience idea - I think there's a lot of psychological literature now which suggests it's a really key quality to happiness, so maybe it is a factor here. Though for it to work, I guess you can't have a uniformly awful childhood, there has to be some good input from somewhere (in this case the routine order of boarding school), otherwise you'll never learn the second part of the lesson - that things can go wrong for you and be bad BUT the world probably won't end, there'll be another chance.

I think the idea is you can develop it in later life, it's just harder, and you need other people helping you with it - which is quite difficult, because most people are more steeped in the traditional idea that they need to help you "build up your self-esteem". Which is a slightly different thing, I think.

CarolineFromCarolina Tue 20-Nov-12 11:05:10

I consider myself to be fairly well adjusted though I swing between emotional toughness and insecurity. I grew up in a shockingly unstable home. From 14 I slept with a calving knife under my bed, fully anticipating that I may need to use it in defending my mother/sister/self from the drunken violence my father metered out. We had no friends and were physically isolated by his behaviour which he had learned from his own father before him. I still, as an adult, have only a few close friends and am anxious to please; probably trying too hard to be liked/accepted/loved.

I don't wallow in my past but it HAS shaped me as a person and is the driving force behind my trying to provide a safe, secure home for my own child.

honeytea Tue 20-Nov-12 11:08:07

For my family depression and adiction have not passed down to the next generation, I think that sometimes if you see the nasty effects of drugs/alcohol first hand then it is more than enough to put you off doing it yourself. As for parents MH, as a child I picked up hugely on my parents moods and depression (I think this is the case for lots of kids) so when I moved from home and no longer had another persons negative mood hanging over me daily I became much happier and life now feels easy and bright.

The same if you have a rubbish father, my mother worried very much that I would choose men like my father who prioritised alcohol over me and had MH problems but I was the opposite I hae choosen a very calm, kind, settled grounded man to spend my life with, I don't understand those people who have had nasty experiences with their fathers and then choose a partner who has the same issues is as much as a cock as their father.

As for neglect I don't mean no clothes and a hungry tummy but the lesson that you often can't have as much as your friends and you have to take responsibility for things young I don't think is a bad lesson to learn early on. I am not sure how I am going to avoid giving my child too much as we are comfortably off in regards to both time and money.

We don't have a extravagant life but we have lots more than I had growing up.

CaptainVonTrapp Tue 20-Nov-12 14:39:23

I only know 4 people who went to boarding school. They all seem pleasant, successful people but they each independently have said they would never send their own children to boarding school. They do have the confidence you describe though. That I wish I had

DIYapprentice Tue 20-Nov-12 14:47:16

Op, you say you were brought in in a loving, stable home. Were you encouraged to try new things/things outside your comfort zone for yourself? Did you have to do things for yourself or were they done for you? Did your parents protect you from everything, or did they occasionally let you stand on your own two feet?

LessMissAbs Tue 20-Nov-12 15:35:03

I'm a bit surprised you call your DH's childhood a "difficult" one. I would say a childhood with abuse, extreme poverty, parents present with addictions, etc was "difficult" whereas all your DH seems to have experienced is a broken marriage and a good education. And it seems to have made him and his siblings independent and self supporting, which is surely one of the main aims in bringing up children.

Whereas it seems that too much of a comfortable, cosy childhood can produce children who don't understand the consequences of sticking at education or jobs, expect someone else to bail them out, are afraid of going beyond their comfort zone, etc

But yes a lot of it is nature, but nurture can play a big part too.

Eliza22 Tue 20-Nov-12 15:37:38

I was at boarding school aged 10. I would never, ever send my kids to board at school. There were good things but overall, I'd rather not have gone. At least, not so young.

Crinkle77 Tue 20-Nov-12 15:43:13

It's all down to the individual and their personality I think. Although I think that maybe some parents have indulged their children and made them unable to cope with life. Whereas those children from bad backgrounds have learnt from a young age to stand on their own two feet. Not saying that your parents have done this OP but it may be the case for others

CailinDana Tue 20-Nov-12 16:19:06

I agree with LessMiss - I don't think your DH had a particularly difficult childhood, though it wasn't fantastic certainly. I am totally against boarding school but in situations like your DH's it's a lifesaver - it basically operates in the same way as social services (and probably far more effectively) by removing children from neglectful homes and placing them in a nurturing environment. In many ways it is better for a child in boarding school not to have a strong tie with home - that way boarding school becomes their genuine home, they fit in and feel secure rather than feeling rejected or homesick. If you think about it, your DH was very lucky - he was removed from a situation where he would have had very little encouragement and attention and put in a situation that other people view with envy and esteem. From my work with boarding schools (and others have mentioned it here) I've seen that a feature of how a lot of them operate is their tendency to give their pupils the impression that they're special, privileged and destined to do well. For children like your DH who had very little input from parents it sounds like the perfect saviour IMO.

I'm not sure why you mentioned your PND and depression. These are illnesses and aren't directly attributable to any life circumstances. Having a fantastic upbringing doesn't protect you from depression any more than it protects you from having cancer.

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