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To ask if this should have been a happy childhood?

(12 Posts)
Onlyonce Wed 04-May-16 21:49:44

Trying to make sense of things at the moment and have been talking to a couple of people in RL regarding childhood and upbringing. Talking about it has dragged up a load of negative feelings but I don't know if I have perhaps got this out of proportion in my head and just need to let it be. So I just wondered if anyone has had similar experiences to me and how they handled it at the time and the impact it has now.

My parents relationship was awful. Not physically violent towards each other but verbally awful. Regular arguments where they would stop speaking for weeks on end and use me as a go between. On holiday on one occasion and mum walked away, we spent the afternoon driving around to find her. Even now I am an adult mum still drags me in to it. Calls me when they are arguing. Repeatedly calls me.

Mum could be lovely in some ways. But her version of discipline was to smack. On a few occasions it would be repeated strikes unti she was out of breath but then she would feel all guilty and want to hug me. Which I always found very confusing.

Dad has always been very opinionated. Can't disagree with him about anything. So it's at the stage now where I don't have any real conversation with him

missymayhemsmum Wed 04-May-16 22:56:05

You are remembering the very real negatives about your childhood. As you should. Were there also happy times? Did your parents love you, even if they didn't get on with each other? Did they care for you and look after you? Were they doing their best, even if their best was sometimes a bit rubbish? You say your dad is very opinionated, what was he like to live with as a husband, do you think?
You don't say what stage in life you are at now. I think part of adulthood is detaching from your parents and turning round to face them adult to adult, so you can decide what you would want todo the same with your own kids and what you want to do differently, and what you have a right to be angry about. It sounds as though that's what you are doing. And then, in turn, your kids grow up and take you to task for some of the things you did or didn't do for whatever reason that made them unhappy.
To answer the question, yes, there were some similar episodes in my childhood, but generally I would say I was well parented. As a child you tend to just accept things as normal, which as an adult you can look back on and say were not ok. But then as a parent of adult children myself I can look back and accept that parenting is hard, and that my parents did their best.
I hope that helps

Theladyloriana Wed 04-May-16 23:54:48

Sounds awful to me op. Keep working through it,I find that helps, and accepting that's what it was flowers

Janecc Thu 05-May-16 00:45:39

What I have learnt in my therapy is that most people are very confused. Your parents seem to have given you an upbringing leaving you very confused - along with anger and sadness. They also sound very confused. They did their best for you and their best on this occasion doesn't sound good enough. And at times was pretty dire. Keep working through your issues and remember there is an off button on your phone if your mother won't take the "No, I do not intend to get involved in your disputes" answer.

Onlyicanclean10 Thu 05-May-16 00:58:44

Good grief op I found myself checking your user name as I could have posted that exact post apart from the repeated mum slapping. Once usually sufficed. hmm

Honestly I find the best way forward now with 4 almost grown up kids of my own is to hang o to this,

My parents did/do love me

They were the smacking generation

They were 2 kids who suffered traumas as tiny evacuated kids during the war. ( yes I am 50)

They did get lots of other things right.

They were brilliant grand parents.

My dsis has no contact with them and still can't forgive them but they are old now and needy.

Sometimes you just realise that they are who they are and you parent differently.

Sometimes it's best to live for now, be the best mum you can be now and move on.

Mislou Thu 05-May-16 01:40:24

I have similar kinds of memories, the arguing , shouting in front of us, one of them storming off etc, but overall I had the feeling that I was cared for and they would always be there for me .Now, as an older parent I understand more what it might have been like for them, working and raising kids in their early twenties. In those days in that area it was normal to smack, I don't think our parents knew it was damaging - I think they just couldn't cope at times. Do you have happy memories too, did you feel safe and cared for when you went to bed at night?

Onlyonce Thu 05-May-16 09:34:31

I think they thought they were doing their best, which is probably important. And yes i think they loved me and still do. I am an adult in my 30s with a DD of my own now. Parents are early 70s. I think Dad was and is very hard to live with as a husband. if he doesnt like something it is automatically seen as wrong or rubbish because he doesnt like it. He just cannot accept that others may diagree or like and enjoy someting different.

I am going to keep working through it. It has hit me hard over the last few days although i do appreciate many many kids had a much much more difficult childhood than me. I dont want to get dragged into their relationship anymore, although I think that will be easier said than done.

It is true being a parent myself has made me see how hard it can be at times.

I think in some situations they didnt know how to parent. I had an eating disorder as a teen and was made to sit at the table and eat, was blamed for spoiling a holiday by not eating. Got dragged on to the bathroom scales to be weighed. A few years later I got into a relationship they did not approve of. I can see now they were right in that it was wrong for me. However, being backed into a corner and hit by my mum was not the answer.

I'm not saying she hit me regularly but I can remember three or four times when she flew into a rage.

I quite often felt sick and anxious wondering what was going on with them, when were they going to start speaking to each other again.

Theladyloriana Thu 05-May-16 14:39:06

God that is awful op. No wonder you'RE thinking about it now. All I can say is, therapy really helped me flowers

Onlyonce Thu 05-May-16 20:53:14

Thanks everyone. I don't know where this will take me but it is hurting just now. Strange how it has all just hit me.

SomeDayMyPrinceMightCome Thu 05-May-16 21:32:29


My goodness poor you.

I know how it feels, that sick and heavy feeling when you start to come to terms with that kind of childhood.

Much of what you say has echoes for me, too. My parents' relationship was AWFUL, my mum had (I think) undiagnosed depression for much of my childhood and this manifested itself in screaming rages. Their rows were terrible, my dad would yell at her that she was mad and needed to see a psychiatrist but he never actually DID anything about her temper or her misery.

Like your mum, she could be lovely but she was mostly either in a very irritable mood or actively aggressive. We would get screamed at, for up to half an hour on end, if we did something that upset her - the sorts of things that upset her were not getting the right grade in music exams (she once screamed at me that I probably hadn't done better because I was 'so ugly' that the examiner hadn't wanted to give me a higher mark) and not coming top in schooll tests.

We would also upset her to the point of screaming violence if we expressed any bad moods of our own, she once screamed at us that she was going to drive us all into the back of another car and kill us all, because there had been a bit of argy-bargy getting out the door for school one morning (it usually ran liek clockwork). WE were aged 6 ish to 10ish.

My dad did nothing when she went into these rages with us and, as I say, when they had their own massive screaming rows, he would just yell that she was mad and needed help confused

She would hit us too when we were quite a bit younger, it stopped when I was about 5 but by then we were well trained enough not to do too much to upset her.

All our parents rows would end in my mum storming off somewhere and us all being in tears trying to bring her back. Often on holiday, like your situation.

Sometimes when they had rows late at night when they thought we were asleep my mum would throw things and break things. And slap him. Once (I think) he hit her back.

We were very very middle class, they had profesisonal jobs, and nobody would ever have thought this was our life.

More to the point, I never knew there was anything QUITE so very wrong or abnormal about it until I was an adult. I mean, I knew it was a stressful, walking-on-eggshells childhood but I couldlnt' have verbalised that.

I had an eating disorder when I was in my late teens/early 20s, and pretty much a complete nervous breakdown in my early-mid 20s.

I think the sick, heavy feeling you describe just overwhelmed me by then.

I had a lot of very good therapy but some of that made the sick/heavy feeling worse. I remember after one session, where I talked for the first time about my childhood, feeling like I had been punched and kicked, I felt physically bruised by talking about it.

I'm so sorry you're feeling this way, I don't know if you have chidlren of your own but I thinkk that can be a time when your own childhood comes to the fore.

I am better now, I have come through it, but coming to terms with it was difficult and painful.

However, coming to terms with it has made me a much better mother than I ever thought I'd be capable of!! I was very anti motherhood as I thought it was just a grim thing and that you automatically ended up with children who were scared of you/felt beholden to you... little did I know!!! Now that I have DC of my own, I know that this is not the case.

People who say that your parents did the best they could are trying to help, i think, but I don't actually think that is helpful to you. I think maybe you need ot be allowed to feel furious with them for the way they treated you. Thinking that they 'did their best' doesn't always help you to be furious.

In my case, my parents didn't do their best, frankly. Yes, they both had emotional problems. But that was NO excuse or explanation. They always put on a very different front for friends/family. We were the perfect family, in otehrs' eyes. They knew they were making big mistakes, my dad clearly knew my mum was unstable but he did nothing to help her or protect us. THat isn't him doing his best.

Sorry this has been epic!!! Do PM me if you want!

Just wishing you the best, really, and saying that I understand. It sucks, big time, but once you are through this feeling, you WILL be able to move on and be stronger for it.

SomeDayMyPrinceMightCome Thu 05-May-16 21:34:16

Sorry, that shoudln't have said up to half an hour on end!! I meant Hours on end! Don't know how I managed to type that...

Onlyonce Thu 05-May-16 22:25:27

I am sorry to hear of all the things so many of you have been through. It is helpful to see though that you are all through this stage and have found ways to process it and move past it. Hopefully I can do the same when things settle. It just feels a bit raw at the moment.

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