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Being a shit mum, horrible to my daughter, repeating mistakes my mum made

(51 Posts)
doodleloo Tue 13-Sep-11 12:50:38

I need help to change my behaviour. I'm horrible, short tempered and sometimes unkind to DD (nearly 5). This morning she had wet her bed and I start making comments, generally moaning about the amount of washing I have to do etc. When I strip her bed and she asks me why I'm doing that I snap a barbed response "why do you think?". I have such a small amount of patience with her. She never listens to me (no wonder) and every request I make, I have to count before she does it, if I get to 5 and she's not done what I asked (put shoes on etc) it's time out. She much prefers her father's company (again no wonder).

She isn't the easiest child in the world, but I think I have never recovered from how hideous her behavoiur was when she was 3 and I had a new born. I know it is natural for children to play up when a sibling arrives, things were so tough then. But that was nearly 2 years ago, I need to be the bigger better person. She's actually a great kid.

I am a better parent to my second child. She must see that. I can.
My Mum was awful, cold, downright neglectful of me and I am scared I will turn into her. Everyday I tell myself, be patient with DD1, but at some point I lose it.

I'm feeling a lot of guilt. I tell her I love her a lot, we kiss and cuddle, spend time together and we do have fun. But I am just aware lurking in the background that sometimes I can be horrible, I don't want to destroy her confidence like my mum destroyed mine. I hate it and am hating myself.
Anybody have a similar experience or have advice on how I can change?

jasminerice Tue 13-Sep-11 13:06:32

I can totally relate to your experience. I was just the same with my DD. Cold, detached, sometimes downright nasty, angry. With DS I was loving, kind, cross sometimes but never venomously angry like with DD. I battled not to show it, but I sometimes truly felt like I hated DD and used to imagine life without her, just me and DS.

That was around 3 or 4 years ago. DD is now 8 and DS is 5.

My mum was the same with me. She seemed to dislike me but loved my younger siblings. I could see it as a child.

I have had to work really really hard to work through the huge issues my parents burdened me with through their neglect and abuse. But I am making huge strides and these days my relationship with DD is as loving as that with DS. A bond is growing with DD that was just not there before.

I urge you to seek therapy for the issues from your childhood and there are plenty of brilliant books out there too.

You can break the cycle of abuse. Posting on here is the first step on your journey.

addressbook Tue 13-Sep-11 13:39:40

jasminerice did you used to post on stately homes? you sound familiar! Of course you don't have to reply, but it is Roseability here.

WynkenBlynken Tue 13-Sep-11 13:46:08

I can relate to this as well, and this is the first time I've ever admitted it and feel sad in doing so. Jasminerice, your first paragraph could have been written by me.

It's a horrible feeling, and like you doodleloo we have lots of cuddles and I tell her I love her, but there's always something lurking underneath. I love her with all my heart, but I can be so horrible to her. She is a lovely, well behaved thing but I am so strict on her.

It's not always like this, but is more often than not.

She is 7 next month and my other DD is 17 months. I am a much better parent to DD2. I think partly this stems from only being 19 when I had DD1, I was completely on my own and I think I wanted to prove everyone wrong and settle for no less than perfection from her (awful I know). She is perfect though, I'm just so horrible sometimes!

Sorry to take over your post, just wanted to let you know your not alone. I don't have much advice, if I did I would take it myself! I know what I'm doing to her is wrong, like you I just want to know how to change it.

Good luck.

MrsRobertDuvall Tue 13-Sep-11 13:50:33

You sound like me sad
I struggled with dd as a baby and a little girl..she was very jealous of her brother, and was a very difficult child.
She is now 15 and we now have a really good relationship, but my god I have had to work at it. I cannot remember my mum ever encouraging me, doing anything with me.....I do remember her telling a neighbour in my hearing when I was 15 , that I was very plain and would never attract a man. sad
I have had therapy which made a huge difference.

You are not a bad mum...you are honest and I hope things get better.

Albrecht Tue 13-Sep-11 13:58:17

I totally agree with jasminerice. You can get help with this.

And don't blame yourself. Sadly it probably isn't even your mum's fault, she may well have had a crappy childhood too and so on and so on back in the generations. But you can improve things for yourself and your children.

How to Talk... is a good book to give you something else to say about requests to do things and responses to their behaviour etc rather than barbed comments.

AlpinePony Tue 13-Sep-11 13:58:31

Therapy, therapy, therapy. smile You're not a bad mum and you're certainly not a bad person - you've recognised a trait which is making both of you unhappy.

ladybutterfly1 Tue 13-Sep-11 14:16:03

i dont think your a bad mum either i think u must have had a very bad time growing up and its affected you i think its strange that you seem to be more in favour of your second has she is the first born

lingle Tue 13-Sep-11 14:25:16

sorry you're going through this.

I second the "How to Talk ..." suggestion.

By the way, I figured out a solution to the bedwetting problem after making similarly humiliating remarks to DS1 in a moment of disgust/exasperation. The answer was to make it his job to strip the bed and put the sheets near or in the washing machine. That way I can actually thank him for taking responsibility and he finds the bedwetting less humiliating. I even let him run the machine with just his sheet in - it's worth the expense not to have to deal with the smelly sheet - and makes me much nicer to him smile.

MistyMountainHop Tue 13-Sep-11 14:33:37

sometimes i feel a bit like this too sad

i am like it with ds (5) although i am really trying to get better

i am a better parent to dd (2)

i was on my own with ds till he was about 18 ish months, had a very bad relationship with his dad and we split when ds was very tiny. and dd is from the "new" relationship, i am now married to her dad and sometimes i think i like her more

my mum was very cold with me when i was growing up too, she would make it clear she didn't like me much growing up and our relationship is still awkward now (although better since i have been an adult, and she is a good GP to my dc) she never showed me affection or complimented me and very often seemed resentful and angry of me and my brother, i don't want to repeat the patterns

so anyway don't mean to hijack the thread but wanted to mark my place

JollyJacks Tue 13-Sep-11 14:37:04

Thank you doodleloo for your post - it is reassuring to know that other people struggle too and not just me being a crap mum. I've recently joined Mumsnet specifically because i'm struggling to keep in control of my anger & frustration with my older DS (3.4 years). I am scared of how much anger i feel at times - i know it shows on my face, i scream & shout, have smacked him and told him that his behaviour makes me want to hurt him! sad I also find myself spending more time with my DD (1yr) deliberately to punish my DS if he has been plying up. Inevitably my behaviour only serves to inflame the situation & the behaviour of my DS. It is a horrible cycle that i can't seem to brake.
I feel so unhappy and terribly guilty. Thankfully there are many many good times too but my outbursts are unpredictable and I feel completely out of control at those times. I hate what i'm doing and love my kids so so much. I have no idea what to do. I have no one locally who i can turn to. If therapy is the way forward, how do you access it without huge expense!?

jasminerice Tue 13-Sep-11 15:31:05

Rose, hello, yes I was on stately homes, a while ago now. How amazing that you recognise me!

OP, you are not a bad mum. In time you will realise and believe that for yourself.

I was depressed for years after having DD without realising it. Now I am no longer ill/depressed I can see quite clearly that my negative thoughts/feelings/behaviour towards DD when she was younger were purely as a result of me being ill.

See yourself as being ill. You need help and support to get better and once you are better, you will feel the love you have inside for your DD, without that horrible nasty voice lurking underneath.

notlettingthefearshow Tue 13-Sep-11 15:40:32

I don't have any experience of this, but I just want to say that you are not a bad mum - you have recognised that your behaviour is not perfect, and you are trying to adjust it. Good luck with it - I am sure you can improve the situation. x

jasminerice Tue 13-Sep-11 17:27:20

Jolly jacks, many therapists operate a sliding scale of charges and you only pay what you can afford. There is also a lot you can do by yourself by reading books such as Toxic Parents by Susan Forward or anything by Alice Miller. It's a long and difficult path to heal and recover from childhood abuse but it absolutely is possible and well well worth it to make sure your own DC's have a very different childhood to your own.

doodleloo Tue 13-Sep-11 18:14:02

Thanks everybody for your supportive messages.

So many of them echo my situation in many ways. I can't believe I would begin to repeat the cycle of my childhooh which was hideous. Jasminerice and others, thank you for your honesty. I guess I am not alone.

I guess I need to start looking into therapy. Am already in couples counselling with DP as I can too be a bitch to him.

I have bought toxic parents, how to talk, growing great girls. I've just not managed to read them due to working own business, studying and no regular childcare. Anyway time to stop making excuses and prioritise my family over the other things.

Thanks everyone for your candour.

addressbook Tue 13-Sep-11 20:09:01

I think it is a certain quality of your posts Jasminerice - you are always very open and honest. You helped me hugely on the stately homes thread and so I recognise the ages of your children etc. It was just a hunch that proved right!

Anyway it is lovely to hear you sound more positive and have a bond with your dd. I can certainly relate to some of the things on this thread. I had PND after my firstborn and it clouded my bond with him at times.

I have worked hard to deal with childhood issues (also no contact with certain members of my family). Therapy and lots of reading. Yes Alice Miller I can highly recommend, why her work isn't more well known is beyond me.

May I just say OP, you are not repeating the cycle due to one prominent issue. You are self aware, you have posted about it here. Truly toxic and abusive parents, whilst they know right from wrong, are completely blind to their own damage they are repeating down the generations. It is a narcissistic quality that they believe only in the pseudo perfect outer image they have created to hide the rot underneath. They would not be posting on a forum questioning their parenting.

My adoptive mother in her own words 'was a fantastic mother' whilst she stood back and let my adoptive father bully and abuse me emotionally, physically and sexually.

I have made mistakes with both my kids, especially ds when I was naive and depressed. But each time I have recognised my anger, my wrong doing and sought to put it right. I allow him to trust in his feelings, so for example once when I pushed him on the sofa and screamed at him (hugely ashamed of this) I walked away calmed down and immediately apologised and hugged him. But it was an unreserved apology, not qualified as 'I am sorry but you were...', just 'i'm sorry, I was wrong and it wasn't your fault'. Like you OP I am always seeking to be a better parent and I can admit I make mistakes.

You will have been affected by your childhood, probably deeper than you know. But you are not your mum. I think I am a much better parent now. Happier, calmer and more positive. It can be done. Good luck

jasminerice Tue 13-Sep-11 20:16:26

Rose, if it's ok with you I'm going to pm you. Would be lovely to catch up. I've never pm'd before so hope it works. OP, sorry for slight thread hijack!

addressbook Tue 13-Sep-11 20:20:55

absolutely fine. I don't know how to pm either but will take your lead!

toptramp Wed 14-Sep-11 07:43:53

I want to play devil's advocate by saying I think it is totally normal to feel and act angry with your kids. I do with my dd and I do shout at her. In fact having a dd has made me forgive my mum's behaviour because I now know how hard, boring and frustating raising kids can be. If you are doing the cuddle thing (which is very warm and loving) don't assume you are abusing your kids. I am very mush of the school of thought that if kids are misbehaving they need a firm ticking off. Nothing to do with not loving them; everything to do with being a human being with limits and demonstrating what people accept and what they don't.

Tortoiseonthehalfshell Wed 14-Sep-11 07:50:25

Doodle, I'm not really understanding what you think is so wrong? You have to count her into actions because otherwise she dithers and dawdles...that seems reasonable to me. If time out isn't working (and it sounds counter productive if the point is to meet a deadline!) then come up with something else, but it's not abusive or neglectful.

And you stripped her bed, she asked why, and your response was a bit snappy. But presumably you didn't yell at her for wetting her bed in the first place, or tell her she was a baby, or punish her?

Most children have some sort of parental preference, don't take that one to heart. And you said you cuddle her and have fun with her and you tell her you love her. Is it possible that your parenting is fine, but the fear of turning into your mother is making you beat yourself up over the smallest things?

Anecdotally, by the way, a lot of my friends say that they expected parenting to get easier when the toddler years were over, but have found that 4-7 is harder, because there's more of a power struggle, and you expect more verbal children to be more amenable to reason, etc.

doodleloo Fri 16-Sep-11 07:13:31

Sorry I have had a super busy few days and nights. Thanks for everyone's replies.

tortoise thanks for your post. I didn't give lots and lots of examples of my behaviour, just the one that happened that morning. No, I didn't call her a baby or shout, but I did complain and moan loadly directly at her and generally flounce around like an awful stroppy teenager. I actually don't think I am abusing her, or being neglectful, but I do critisize, make snappy and barbed comments far too soon, for far too simple a misdemeanour of hers. These things can gradually erode away a child's self esteem I am sure, and I'm desperate to stop. I think writing/talking about it helps.

toptramp thank you. I totally agree with you, and am conflicted by my upbringing. I am probably too firm with her though, and trying to stop.

I am supersensitive to the situation now, like other posters have said with their similar situations, I was in the position of being the disliked sibling in my family and I know how much it hurts and damages.

jimmijam Sun 18-Sep-11 11:05:47

Hi, i can empathise with op, & others of u.
Iv never been close 2 my mum, with my younger brother getting away with everything etc. I do not want 2 b the same!!!
But i treat 5.5 yr old dd older than she is & am much stricter with her than almost 4
yr ol ds, biting her head off constantly 4 her almost never listening (but i know shes good really), whereas ds1 gets away with loads. We have a 1 week old ds2 & shes now starting 2 feel neglected, but as ds2 constantly (breast)feeding i cant give her the cuddles & play hide&seek etc as she needs & i feel terrible 4 it as habing another younger brother wasnt her choice.

WhoseGotMyEyebrows Wed 21-Sep-11 10:26:29

I would recommend "When your kids push your buttons and what you can do about it". It's all about how the things in your childhood have shaped the parent you have become, how to recognise these and and how to change them. It's brilliant!

mamsnet Wed 21-Sep-11 11:51:35

I completely agree with that book. I think I first saw it recommended on here and I have recommended it myself to several people since then. It's quite easy to dip back into too.

jimmijam Wed 21-Sep-11 13:50:13

Ooh, i shall have a nose on ebay/ amazon 4 it wen i can keep my eyes open long enuf 2 use the computer! :+) thanks

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