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Can't help but feel resentful towards my own parents about my upbringing

(24 Posts)
Icarriedawatermelon123 Wed 31-Aug-16 22:20:47

I've recently had a little boy, and like all mums I am totally in love. My worlds done a total 180, I didn't even think I wanted children but now I realise I don't care much for my career, all I want to do is be the best mum I can be to him.

I am on cloud9 but there's been this one thing playing on my mind since I got pregnant and started thinking about how I wanted to raise him. It's made me revisit my own childhood experiences and its dug up some really difficult emotions towards my own parents.
I love and respect both of them, but I can't stop being angry with them for the decisions they made when raising me.
I lived with a nanny in the same apartment block Mon-Fri from when I was 6 weeks old until I was 3years old. I'm told this was the norm where I am from (Hong Kong) but now neither of my parents have a clue about babies now and as a result are even more hands off with their grandchild - so I can't ask for any advice they simply weren't there when their baby was going through teething or sleep regressions!

I was 3 when we moved to the UK; I stayed with childminders and family friends every evening until I was 11 and old enough to stay at home on my own. My parents had a restaurant and never took an evening off to spend time with me at home. They told me they didn't have a choice but as I grew older I realised.. of course they did, they just chose not to! As soon as I went to Uni they packed up and moved back to HK where they've been ever since.

They've always been very unavailable to me and made it out as if they were only doing it to support me financially (they paid for me to go to private school and then on to uni) but all I ever really wanted was their presence.

I remember always being really envious of my friends who had family meals every evening, trips to the seaside over the school holidays etc but I just accepted that my life was different to theirs out of necessity.

However now I have a child of my own I keep wondering how and why they chose to raise me the way they did. I would never dream of wasting the time I have with my child in the same way they did. I was an only child and spent a lot of time feeling quite lonely and neglected; I would never want my son to feel like that.

I'm not sure what I'm looking for by posting this.. I suppose some reassurance that it's normal to feel the way I do, and that I'm not being spoiled and unreasonable. Perhaps would like to hear from anyone who has shared a similar experience?

HerdsOfWilderbeest Wed 31-Aug-16 22:24:04

I think you have to try and let it go.
They did the best they could with what they knew. They felt that the best start was to work hard to afford school fees. If you had their genes and their parents and lived in their time, you would have been them.
Perhaps their own parents were like that, too. Nowadays people have access to vast amounts more of information and advice on how to raise kids. At that time, kids were not the front and centre stage 24/7 that they are now.

DrunkenUnicorn Wed 31-Aug-16 22:32:36

You sound very similar to one of my best friends growing up OP (fairly sure you're not her as she has two slightly older children now!)

They had a Restaurant and from the age of 11 she was left home alone every night whilst they worked til 1am or so... I remember being a young teenager and thinking it was marvellous- they would leave at 6/7pm and we would sneak out after they left and return before they did, getting up to all sorts we shouldn't have!

However looking back I see it so differently. It must not have been easy at all for my friend. We never really talked about it, but she didn't have a close relationship with her parents. It's better now, her mum has returned from HK to help out with childcare, but neither of us have ever brought it up.

YANBU at all.

Luckybe40 Wed 31-Aug-16 22:40:35

Not sure what to say OP other than you're very justified in being hurt. I would be very upset with them as well. My parents made some very odd decisions as well, all I can do is resolve to be a better parent then they were. Have you every spoken to them about it? Would that help?

nennyrainbow Wed 31-Aug-16 22:41:19

I think you've also got to allow for culture differences as well as changes in attitudes / parenting over time. I went off to boarding school age 9, and my sister went at 7. Back then it seemed quite a normal age ( if anything 9 was quite late) to go away to board. These days it is far more unusual, and sending young children to boarding school is generally frowned on. I don't hold it against my parents as they did what they thought was best.

LRDtheFeministDragon Wed 31-Aug-16 22:42:12

I think you need to separate your feelings about your parents, and the way you feel about your own son.

You say you want to be the 'best mum' and therefore don't care about your career - but not caring about a career is surely only one way of being a 'best mum,' and for some people it would be destructive. My mum, for example, gave up on her career and it made her very sad and lonely, and I firmly believe she would have been a better mum to us had she had some outlet for her ambitions and talents. My SIL is very career-focussed, but also a brilliant mum, because you can see the interest she gets from her career stimulates her through other things. Just to give two examples there.

That doesn't mean you're wrong to feel hurt by the way your parents are - I think you should talk to them about it all - it's just I'm not clear that their example proves you have to feel as you do, in order to be a good parent.

Munstermonchgirl Wed 31-Aug-16 22:42:26

I agree with herds. Most parents aren't deliberately abusive or neglectful: they are a product of their own upbringing and time.

There were things my parents did which seem dreadful to me, eg my dad was very much head of the household, and for anything that was deemed a serious misdemeanour my siblings and i would be caned when he got home. That seems horrifying now but corporal punishment was very much the norm in the 60s and 70s

Your parents must have believed they were doing the right thing, providing a good education etc
And having been to a shitty comprehensive myself, I can see that many people would be envious of aspects of your upbringing.

Try to let go of it- it doesn't have to define how you want to parent your children.

Astoria797 Wed 31-Aug-16 22:43:02

YANBU but neither are they. People from Asia of a certain generation have a 'work or die' mentality. Back then in Asia if you didn't work like a dog 24-7 you couldn't suceed and kids would often be dragged along for the ride. My own parents were similar - often doing overtime and leaving me (a 13 year old) to look after 2 kids and a baby after school. I was responsible for homework, food, shopping (often would do it with a newborn baby on my hip), discipline, and if my siblings did anything wrong I'd get the blame for it. I chose to view it as a positive experience but some of my friends with similar childhoods were driven to breakdowns.

MrsJayy Wed 31-Aug-16 22:43:42

I think your parents did what they could for you I know you missed them and of course you are normal for feeling the way you do but I think you can do it different to them.

ApocalypseSlough Wed 31-Aug-16 22:44:27

Don't underestimate the impact their own upbringings had on them.

pinkdonkey Wed 31-Aug-16 22:49:13

Theres a very good self help book called "They F**k you up" about dealing with issues from childhood with parents. Its written by a child psychologist and guides you through working through issues like this.

SisterMoonshine Wed 31-Aug-16 22:50:10

It's interesting how becoming a parent yourself can make you feel towards your own parents.
I put up with some stuff, without much question. Until I had DCs myself and now I really struggle to forgive some stuff.

Munstermonchgirl Wed 31-Aug-16 22:57:13

I think we all re-evaluate our own parenting when we have our first child. It's a natural process.

You're clearly in that first flush of motherhood where you feel you've suddenly found the meaning of life and nothing else matters. Don't mean to sound patronising because I suspect we can all identify with that, but it doesn't mean that career, aspirations etc just go flying out of the window. It sounds as though your parents worked really hard to provide you with opportunities.

And actually, the irony is- you probably have a lot more choices open to you, because of your upbringing, than they had. If you have a good life in the UK with roof over your head, food on your table and the choice of whether to keep your career going or give it up, that's undoubtedly a lot more than they had

Icarriedawatermelon123 Wed 31-Aug-16 23:04:06

Thanks all for your words.
To be clear re the career comment as I don't think I was clear.

I mean I won't be working overtime in the weekends or 15 hour days anymore. I don't have the option to not go back to work smile But my son comes first now so I can no longer prioritise climbing the career ladder, or going above and beyond... at least not for a few years!

Obsidian77 Wed 31-Aug-16 23:10:11

Congratulations on the birth of your son. It's completely understandable that you feel the way you do. You adore him and just want the best for him. But consider that your parents probably felt exactly the same about you when you were a baby and that every decision they made was made with (what they thought were) your best interests at heart.
It strikes me that they stayed around until you were an adult, then moved back to HK, effectively putting their own lives on hold to give you the best opportunities.
I don't mean to downplay the unhappiness and loneliness you must have felt or suggest that you've had it easy but it sounds like they did the best they could.
If these feelings are too overwhelming, can you talk to your
Health Visitor? If you were my friend I would worry that you are setting yourself unrealistic ideals for parenting.
Enjoy your baby and accept that you'll fuck up plenty too. flowers

Italiangreyhound Wed 31-Aug-16 23:19:31

Icarriedawatermelon123 congratulations on the birth of your son. I am not from Asia but lived in Asia for a short time and society and expectations are very different in some cases.

I too feel your parents did what they did because they felt it was best.

I do think it would possibly help you to have some counselling to process these feelings and to move forward.

Times have changed and you have moved country and continent, you will do things differently, I really hope you will process these feelings, with help, and move on.

Italiangreyhound Wed 31-Aug-16 23:20:12


ArchibaldsDaddy Wed 31-Aug-16 23:39:57

You are quite right to feel the way you do - do not be ashamed about it at all.

However, the most important thing is to make sure that you neither repeat, nor over-compensate for, your own upbringing with your own child(ren).

I regularly go through long phases where I detest my parents (largely for their previous and ongoing solipsism) but regularly get pangs of guilt about it. So the way you feel is normal and I don't think some of the comments on here about 'just moving on' are helpful. I think we both know that the feelings are too deep and ingrained for that.

I hope this helps!

ishallconquerthat Wed 31-Aug-16 23:47:13

OP, I've felt something similar when I've had DS1. I felt angry with the way my dad raised us (he used to shout, hit us, all that. When I had my son I'd look at him and wonder how my dad could have treated us the way he did??). It took me a few years to figure out that people can only give what they have to give. My dad, I think, was stunted emotionally, and wasn't able to give any more than he gave. And that's it. After a few years I accepted that.

What I mean is: allow yourself to be angry with your parents, but understand that they gave you what they could give. I may have been too little. Not all parents are good. Some don't even put their children in first place. Others think they are doing the best they can. One day, try to let it go (But don't rush. If you feel angry, allow yourself to feel that).

OwlinaTree Thu 01-Sep-16 00:28:07

Times change. What is deemed acceptable changes.

There's lots of things my parents did I would never do (child in 70s/80s). Tea with 2 sugars in a sippy cup, eat everything on the plate, smacked if naughty, mum cut our hair, weaned onto cows milk at 6 months, walked to and from school on own at age 7, I could go on!

Sometimes advice changes, mainly people do what they think is best at the time with the information and experiences they have at the time. They were not 'wrong'as such, just reacting to a different world.

Congratulations on your baby. I always think when my children are grown they will look back at some of my parenting decisions with a what were you thinking? That helps me keep it all in perspective!

BananaInPyjama Thu 01-Sep-16 01:12:48

My DH is from the same place - and probably had a very similar upbringing to you.
Packed off to boarding school. parents working all possible hours to give him the best education, despite teh fact he was a very lonely little boy and even now I can see its impacted him. Only difference being that he thinks his parents were wonderful to give him these amazing opportunities while putting their own lives on hold.

Similar circumstances- just a different slant on the events. I would be far more resentful and feel like you do (must be UK upbringing shining through)- he just accepts it was like that.
You have been brought up in UK so probably see things with a UK perspective, whereas if you had lived in HK, you would have probably seen this as nothing unusual.

Plus baby hormones make you extra sensitive...and sometimes never disappear!(I cry over sad adverts now, and my DC are at primary school!)

Atenco Thu 01-Sep-16 01:46:51

It sounds awful, but I feel dreadfully sorry for your mother, being separated from her 6 week old baby. I live in Mexico and there is a young Chinese woman who sent her baby back to China to be brought when he was a year old, but now she is just a shadow of her former self, it breaks my heart.

Sunshineonacloudyday Thu 01-Sep-16 02:28:56

Do the opposite to them show them what they missed my mum is always telling me I never done that with you and she wished she did.

Congratulations on you're new bundle of

MermaidTears Thu 01-Sep-16 08:16:30

I completely sympathise with you op
I really do understand how you are thinking now.


It's all with hindsight.

At the time, the culture, etc, they probably told themselves they needed to get their heads down, work super hard, get their business off the ground, give you the they never had. Make sure you were educated enough that you nver had to start from the bottom and work like a dog, that you need needed to leave your child like they had to.

So while I do agree it sounds pretty harsh how you were brought up and you missed a lot of love and tlc. I do think they must have believed it was for the right reasons.

They probably told themselves, 'it won't be for much longer then we can step back' but as anyone in that particular business knows, it's never-ending.

I would say enjoy your son and try to let the past go.

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