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Was this “How things were” in the 90’s or was DM a bit Sh*t?

(392 Posts)
ForeverBubblegum Thu 09-Aug-18 14:12:52

My Father was an absolute deadbeat who didn’t see us or pay maintenance (self-employed, cash in hand), so she was dealt a pretty crap hand. Because she was by far the better parent, I’ve always thought of her as a good parent, but since having DS I’ve started to realise quite how bad some of our childhood was. At the time it seemed normal, but now I’m not sure if it was normal for everyone then, or just normal to us.

A few examples:

Always poor but never worked – apparently there wasn’t childcare in the 90’s so she had to quit her job and say of work until I was in secondary school. Admittedly she had been doing shift work, which would have been hard to cover, but surly there were other jobs? Ironically she did do several interest courses at the local collage, so me and DSis would often have to wait in the garden or shed until she got in after 5 (didn’t want us to be latch key kids), but she couldn’t possibly have worked during the same time. This one is especially annoying as she is now playing the martyr because her pension won’t be very good due to all the time she “had to” stay home raising us.

Never had breakfast before school – not sure if it was a cost thing or a time thing, she’d shout from her room that we had to get up/dressed about 10 minutes before we had to leave, then get out of bed herself just in time to drop us off.

Always dirty – we had 2 set of school cloths to last the week, she would say she washed it every weekend but at least half the time it would get to Monday morning and it would still be dirty. We would then have to go in wearing the less mucky set whilst she washed the other, but then only have one clean for the next 4 days.

Congenital heart defect never diagnosed – it runs in the family and I had worked out I must have it by late teens, and later had it confirmed. However despite anecdotes such as I always used to turn blue as a baby and couldn’t stay awake more than 20 minutes until I was nearly 1, she never thought to get it checked at the time. Not much they could have done about it but at least if it was diagnosed I might not have got in trouble every week for not been able to run in PE.

Never used car seats, and often no seat belts – obviously don’t remember been a baby but didn’t have any at 3 or 4 when been dropped at nursery and my younger cousins definitely didn’t (remember holding baby in car) which didn’t seem odd at the time, so I suspect we didn’t either. I also remember her commenting how strange the neighbours were for using booster seats for their primary aged children. I remember going places with her friend and kids, so there would be four of us in the back seat (so can’t have had seat belt each), and also remember travelling in the foot well or boot, though less often.

Smoked like a chimney – around us in the house and car, would never even consider moving away from us or going outside. I’ve even seen pictures of her holding me as a baby, with a fag in her hand.

AIBU to feel she could have done better? Written down it sounds terrible, but at the time it didn’t feet out of the ordinary. Can anyone who remembers the 90’s tell me if it would have seemed bad to you at the time, or were standards generally lower back then?

muddlingalong42 Thu 09-Aug-18 14:15:14

Yes it sounds like she could have done better.

The no car seats thing/sitting in footwell was normal IME tho!

PaddyF0dder Thu 09-Aug-18 14:16:47

We all accept the reality given to us ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Some of that does sound pretty bad. It must have been hard for your mum too. What’s the point in judging now? If you turned out ok then I guess there’s no harm done (apart from the heart condition and the smoking I guess).

Trinity66 Thu 09-Aug-18 14:18:21

Things were different back then especially for a single parent I'd imagine.

PaddyF0dder Thu 09-Aug-18 14:18:47

Just thinking about the work thing... maybe childcare would have cost more than a job would have paid?

Bonkerz Thu 09-Aug-18 14:19:25

Many of these I remember from my childhood too. My mum was stuck in the benefit trap. She smoked like a chimney. Food was all deep fried crap. I think I fended for myself from age 10 and moved out by 16!

tabulahrasa Thu 09-Aug-18 14:19:36

“The no car seats thing/sitting in footwell was normal IME tho!”

Not by the 90’s it wasn’t... I had DS in 1996 and I wasn’t even allowed out of hospital with him without a car seat.

The 80’s yes, more so, but not the 90’s

Mousefunky Thu 09-Aug-18 14:22:18

I was born late eighties and definitely had a car seat, always wore a seatbelt as a child and had a booster seat till a certain age. However my DF had some, um, interesting driving moments which definitely wouldn’t be allowed now such as allowing time to sit on his lap while he drove his arctic lorry and letting go of the steering wheel briefly while doing 100mph on the motorway.

My DM and all of her friends smoked like chimneys so yes, being around smoke was normal. I remember having to walk past the smoking area of restaurants to get to the family part and spent a lot of time in pubs which were so smoky you could barely see your hand in front of your face.

Being dirty and unfed has never been normal though, that’s neglect...

hooochycoo Thu 09-Aug-18 14:22:36

Sounds similar to my childhood . Born 1974

Mum worked all hours so us kids looked after ourselves or helped.

Got ourselves breakfast, walked ourselves to school

Everyone smoked around us at all times

No car seats

And I was never diagnosed as s kid with dyspraxia. ( both my kids have it), my family still take the piss out of me for my clumsiness/ ditziness.

Sounds normal to me

Oogle Thu 09-Aug-18 14:22:55

I was born mid-80s.

Congenital heart defect never diagnosed – Mine was diagnosed but after I turned 3, she stopped taking me to the hospital. So when I turned 11 and needed teeth out under GA, I ended up rushed in for scans and put back under care.

Never used car seats, and often no seat belts – Same here. Our car didn't have seat belts in the back so I used to lay down with my duvet and sleep on the journeys to Cornwall, Blackpool and France. I remember being so jealous of my cousins booster seat.

Smoked like a chimney – Yes and still does. I hate going to her house with my DS.

In all honestly, I was clothed, encouraged and fed (frozen convenience food, but it was still food), however my parents were generally quite crap. I witnessed a lot of domestic violence and they turned down a place at Grammar school as they didn't think I'd fit in. My local school was the absolute pits. I don't think that has anything to do with the 80s/90s and everything to do with them being shit.

Floralnomad Thu 09-Aug-18 14:23:34

I had my eldest in 1993 and I can assure you that that is not the norm particularly the car seats and seat belts as the use of them was a legal requirement by then . Agreed more people did smoke then but the problem with second hand smoke was well known so it was poor parenting for her to smoke indoors .

icelollycraving Thu 09-Aug-18 14:25:03

No seat belts and sitting in the boot/footwell were pretty normal for me but I’m older.
Smoking seemed normal growing up.
Saying that it sounds a bit chaotic and lazy but perhaps she would have better with the structure of a job.
More mums stayed at home though certainly. It would probably have been really difficult doing shift work being a lone parent.
Were her parents structured? Sometimes behaviour just continues in the way we have grown up with. There is so much info available now about everything that is so accessible with the internet that wasn’t there for your mum.

Laiste Thu 09-Aug-18 14:25:21

My eldest was born in ‘93 and my youngest was born 4 years ago. To be honest apart from the advent of small mobile phones, weaning a bit later and not using talcum powder on babies parenting and the way to do it hasn’t changed. So, sorry, I think you’re mum was lax.

However - like pp said - move on now and chose to do better as a parent for your own DCs.

twattymctwatterson Thu 09-Aug-18 14:25:20

The no breakfast thing and being dirty definitely wasn't normal. I was raised by a single parent and was at primary school and we never went to school hungry or dirty. Stuff like hanging around in the garden until Mum got home and being lax about seatbelts was our normal too

BMW6 Thu 09-Aug-18 14:25:56

Neglect has never been "normal" at any time in human history. Sorry OP you were really unlucky in being born to shitty parents.

formerbabe Thu 09-Aug-18 14:26:25

I come from a nice, non-abusive middle class home...my parents also smoked like chimneys...everywhere, car, house etc. I also was never given breakfast despite us being well off and eating well at all other times..no idea why?!

AmIRightOrAMeringue Thu 09-Aug-18 14:26:39

I'm not sure about childcare - but can't remember any of my friends being in holiday clubs and breakfast / after school clubs didn't exist I don't think. I knew other kids who's mums worked and they seemed to be looked after by relatives and friends. I am sure it must have been around in some form but not sure of availability or price.

The washing and breakfast sounds like she was disorganised so I think she could definitely have done better at these.

However the smoking was normal (I remember smoking on planes, pubs, everywhere. Neighbours would come in and babysit us and smoke in our house even though my mum hated it - it just seemed to be what people did).

The car thing was normal, the parents round us took the school run in turns and there were normally 5 / 6 squashed into a car at once...sometimes a mini!

DurhamDurham Thu 09-Aug-18 14:26:53

My girls are 25 and 21, I worked throughout the 90's, there was childcare. Mine went to breakfast clubs, afterschool clubs, holiday clubs, child minders etc. They might look back and think I should have been at home for them but you do the best you can in the given circumstances.

Biggreygoose Thu 09-Aug-18 14:27:33

No car seat was pretty normal. I didn't have a booster seat beyond age 4/5.

I had a (very) poor upbringing but always had breakfast, even if it was a small bowl of porridge with water (porridge with milk was a Saturday treat) or a slice of cheap white toast. I have no idea how common that was though.

Didn't have two full sets of uniform, only 1 jumper but two pairs of trousers and two shirts. Was always clean and never smelt though. My mum could sew so trousers were bought long and adjusted so lasted forever.

Mum worked in a school as a dinner lady so no worries about being latchkey kids. From my friends experience it really wasn't uncommon to either wait for parents to come home or have their own key.

Everything else sounds a bit shit though.

YoureAllABunchOfBastards Thu 09-Aug-18 14:27:43

Sitting in boot/footwell was very 1970s/1980s - we did that on the rare occasions we had a lift in someone's car.

Smoking - everywhere but probably not around babies. I started teaching in 1994 and we still had a smoking room.

BertrandRussell Thu 09-Aug-18 14:27:59

This isn’t 90s stuff. The no car seats and sitting in the footwell were definitely normal in the 60s and 70s, but not by the 90s. Smoking around children was common but declining rapidly by the time I had dd in 1995.

The rest sounds like either neglect or depression or both. But no, not typical of the time. Or of any time, really. sad

FATEdestiny Thu 09-Aug-18 14:28:33

It's reasonable to see your own childhood through different eyes once you are a parent yourself ForeverBubblegum.

There are two sides to that though.

You see the 'failings', thing things you would not repeat. I think you also gain a level of empathy that is impossible before you are a parent yourself. Until you have multiple school-age children, you cannot properly appreciate what life was like for your mun when you were school age.

Going to school without breakfast and dirty is never ok, by the way. Not back then and not now.

BonfiresOfInsanity Thu 09-Aug-18 14:29:14

Very similar to my childhood but I was born early 70s. My mum did work when I was at junior school but was so scared of losing her job that she didn't tell them she had younger children still at juniors so, when we were ill, we stayed at home on our own and mum would pop back at lunchtime for 20 minutes then not be back til after 5pm. We were poor though, other families didn't seem to live quite the same way.

Childrenofthesun Thu 09-Aug-18 14:30:21

I was born in the late 70s and consider this very lax parenting, especially the cleanliness and no breakfast. I had a booster seat in the 80s so they were definitely available. I was a latchkey kid from about age 8 and was allowed to let myself in the house, certainly not made to wait in the garden.

Bibesia Thu 09-Aug-18 14:30:50

apparently there wasn’t childcare in the 90s

Nonsense. I had childcare in the 80s. We also had car seats and booster seats. As for the rest, she sounds inherently lazy.

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