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I've been rough with DS in the past and feel so guilty - please help(13 Posts)
DS is 21 months and we have a great relationship, but a difficult start - he was 6 week premature, BF was tough to get started and he was a difficult sleeper. I also have a history of being brought up in a home where parents were alcoholic and physically abusive towards each other (although never touched me).
During the ages of approx 7-15 months, there were periods when DS wouldn't settle to sleep and after spending ages hanging over the cot trying, something in me would snap and I would pick him up too quickly in frustration, and/or sometimes set him down a bit roughly in the cot. After this point I would usually walk out and either take time to calm down or DH would take over.
I've never hurt him and never would, but I can't get over the guilt of all the times I've been a bit rough with him and worrying about whether I've caused him lasting psychological damage. To be fair most times it happened he didn't even cry but I'm wondering if that's because he didn't care, or he was just too shocked??
I've seen a great therapist who has really helped me deal with my childhood issues and things are so much better now, DS and I have a lovely bond.. But, I just can't move past the guilt. I've read child development books that talk about repeated stressful experiences in the early years leaving an imprint that can cause issues in later life. Please can anyone help? Do other mothers behave like this sometimes?? Can anyone relate?
I just want to move on so badly and stop my incessant worrying and guilt about what damage I may have caused.
I can’t write the lengthy reply to this that I would like to as in a rush to get ready, but I just wanted to say you sound like a lovely, thoughtful mother who has been pushed to he limit at times like we most have.
I had experiences of this when Ds was little and beat myself up over it as we also had feeding/sleeping issues and I was just tested to the limit and felt so guilty if I picked him up roughly in frustration on a few occasions.
I think the overwhelming feeling for them is the bond and love we now share with them, rather than those few horrible times when you did the right thing by walking out of the room or letting dh take over.
I’m certain those times are not the ‘repeated stressful experiences’ often referred to in countless books and internet articles, and that you are doing a great job with your boy.
How many times have you also picked up your ds lovingly, and laughed with him, and cuddled him, and played with him? I bet those times hugely outweigh any frustrating times - and that's what he will remember.
You sound lovely and thoughtful, but it sounds like these thoughts/fears have become intrusive and unhelpful.
Remember: the past is the past. You can't change it. All you can change is now - the present. And it sounds as though you're doing that.
Every parent has been frustrated by their child at some point.
The important thing is that you have recognized this is behaviour you want to change.
I came from an abusive home and parenting has been all about learning not to be like my own parents. I am lucky to have DH and his parents as good role models, but it has been hard to unlearn everything I have unconsciously absorbed about raising a child from my own childhood experience.
You can do it
And yes, I have felt guilt. But mostly fear.
Am I fucking up my child like my DM fucked me up? Maybe not, but am I fucking up in a different way instead? I don't know what is right, I only know what is wrong.
DH can be lovely. He points out I am not like my mother.
Although sometimes I think maybe I am.
The baby won't remember. We've all done something we regret when at the end of our tether. It's good that you have acknowledges and recognised the behavior so you can find a different coping mechanism. Leaving the room for a few minutes tends to work for me when I start to get frustrated. Or asking dh to take over. Babies are hard.
I've done this myself last night, I know just what you mean. You don't hurt them as you just wouldn't and couldn't, but you pick them up a bit forcefully/firmly, move quickly, swear a bit. I spend the other 99% of the day cuddling and being soft with him. We are human and sleepless nights can drive you to the edge. My aim in that moment is desperation to get him to see I want him to sleep, but it just makes it worse so it's pointless! But then I feel okay afterwards as the guilt sets in and I get this renewed stamina to deal with it.
I did it with my first baby too and naturally stopped when he became a toddler and didn't just communicate with crying. Your child won't have any memory of the odd rough pick-up as a baby, honest! You are a good mum.
I did this with DS1 twice when he wouldn't sleep and I was pregnant, nauseous and sleep deprived. I think the most important thing is to regard what you did as a lesson: why did I lose my temper? What was the straw that broke the camel's back? What can I do differently next time to avoid losing my temper? Is there something I can physically do, or do I have to work on my expectations/attitude?
I don't think being rough a couple of times is going to do lasting damage. It's what goes on every day that causes damage or rather, turns him into a happy little boy. I think that as long as you keep observing your behaviour and analysing your feelings you are on the right track to not doing harm!
Thank you so much all for your lovely supportive replies. I do feel better and less like a monster reading your responses. I am worried though as most people have written they've done this just a couple of times, whereas for me the being a bit rough thing has happened loads. As @BillBrysonsBeard describes, picking up a bit forcefully/firmly and moving a bit quickly, putting down in the same manner.
It's not happening anymore as I have had a lot of therapy which has sorted my head out thankfully, but there was a time when it would happen say every night for a week or so, but then I wouldn't lose it at all for a month, then another bad week or so.... surely this frequency is more worrying in terms of possible issues caused?
You can only move forward. You cannot change the past.
So you can basically make sure that you, in future, parent in the best way you can. There's no point dwelling on what you've done because you're doing the right things now. Having therapy is a great way to tackle your issues.
FWIW, I was in a similar place and I did feel guilty but I tell myself that it is not me now, that I'm doing the best with my dcs now and it will be okay.
I myself grew up in a household with no love, just functional care plus we had other shit going on in terms of abuse. I think I turned out okay and I'm very aware of how I am and how that affects my dcs. I've made a promise to myself to be better than my mother.
And it sounds like you are too. You are doing the best for your mental health and in turn for your ds.
I went through similar with my ds1 who only slept if he was being rocked in a certain constant motion. I used to pretend someone calm and efficient was watching me (a particular mum from mums group) and then I would parent more like I imagined she did. Dunno if it makes sense, it worked a bit for me. Fwiw DS1 is now 25, has just moved back in after uni, and is really rather wonderful. I still sometimes mentally beat myself up about my crap early parenting but only for a second or two. We can't change the past, we can only try to do better today.
I think this is probably more common that people are willing to admit, every mother reaches the end of her tether at times and I think the response (ie staying calm, walking away, shouting, being rough, or worse) is probably down to the individual in terms of what coping mechanisms you have to deal with it. This in turn likely stems back to the kind of parenting you had as a child. The main thing is you haven't hurt your DS and you have taken active steps to change your behaviour.
FWIW I felt the same when both my DCs were little but it did get better as they got older. I was scared to admit my ragey feelings to all my friends for fear of them thinking I was a total monster but when I did most mums say they had felt the same (if not necessarily acted on those feelings)
Chin up OP - you're doing the best you can at an impossibly hard job
Thank you ladies. I know that all I can do is look forward and not dwell on the past. It's just so impossibly hard living with all this guilt. Knowing I'm not alone in that I'm not the only one that has done this helps enormously. Maybe it's that I feel less of a monster somehow
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