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Did anyone else grow up with parents who literally had no idea that children have feelings too? (Long, sorry.)

(6 Posts)
jasminerice Sat 24-Sep-11 16:43:38

My parents were emotionally abusive and neglectful when I was growing up. But as well as the abuse and neglect there were so many incidents where they although they weren't being directly abusive but were so completely clueless about how their words and actions would impact on me. Eg. I remember once when I was about 13, I came home from school one day and without any warning, my dad told me he had just walked out of his job and also told his employers where they could stick his job. I remember feeling completely shocked and worried about money. At 13 obviously I was old enough to know my dad needed to have a job in order for us to survive as a family. My mum had always been a SAHM, I remember my dad was really pleased with himself at what he had done, he seemed happy that he had told his employers to f* off.

At that time I had had no idea he must have been very unhappy in his job in order to do what he had done, I have only made that assumption in hindsight. But I am so upset at how the whole incident was handled by my parents. My mum said nothing to me at the time, I.m not sure if it was as much a shock to her on the day as it was to me.

But I don't think it is appropriate for a parent to spring that sort of information on their 13 year old child in the way my dad did with me. I was reminded of this particular childhood incident because my DH is currently looking for a job after having not worked for a few months. Both DH and I are very confident he will find himself a job soon, he's been for a number of interviews and has more next week and there is a lot of work around in his particular field. And yet I found myself getting extremely anxious about his job situation and my level of anxiety was unwarranted given that he has only been looking for a job for 2 weeks. If he had been looking for much longer and found nothing, then I wouldn't think my level of anxiety was disproportionate.

I don't remember much of what happened immediately after my dad told me about his job when I was 13. My dad just seemed pleased with himself, my mum was, as usual, like a ghost in the shadows, saying nothing and hiding away in the kitchen. Certainly not reassuring me that we would manage somehow with regard to money. I know I must have felt a huge amount of anxiety about the situation, especially as there was no prior notice, no discussion about the possibility of him leaving his job, nothing. Although there was no discussion full stop in my family about anything anyway.

I just find it so hard to understand how my dad could have thought that telling me the way he did would have no impact on me. He might have made plans for this day by saving beforehand etc, but I didn't know any of this. All I knew was that as of that day, we had no money coming into the house and neither my mum or dad gave me any reassurance that we would be ok.

I know both my parents were completely unfit, inadequate, incompetent parents. I'm sure they were hugely damaged themselves by their own parents' abuse and neglect. But knowing all that just doesn't help. I have 2 DC's of my own, younger than I was when my dad left his job, but I can still see that my oldest DC would be adversely affected if DH came home one day and cockily anounced he'd left his job. I would know that my DC would be worried and I would do my best to reassure them and allay their concerns. I got nothing like that and instead was left to cope with my feelings alone, and I did as I always did, stuffed them down inside me and ignored them. What else could I do with neither parent available or willing or even able to talk to me.

Helltotheno Sat 24-Sep-11 17:21:34

Maybe you need to speak to someone about your childhood?
My parents were definitely flawed and really probably not cut out to be parents. They were also pretty much incompatible with each other, though never split up. But they also had good points (as individuals moreso, but also some as parents). The thing you realise is that you can't always look back. You have to accept that you had the childhood you had, get your feelings about it out in the open (however you choose to do that) and just move on. If you have kids, the most you can do is try not to let history repeat itself.

rockinastocking Sat 24-Sep-11 18:35:44

Yep, mine were the same, OP.

My sis was 15 years older than me and was like a mum to me.

She got married and moved away when I was 5. No-one bothered to explain the situation to me, prepare me, nothing. I still feel the abandonment to this day.

I remember getting beaten up at school. My parents' response was derision that I didn't fight back.

There are loads of such incidents. Am still having the therapy.

I get on okay with them now. My attitude is that they did their best, it just wasn't good enough.

beatenbyayellowteacup Sat 24-Sep-11 21:08:28

Come over to the Stately Homes thread if you like. There are a few of us on here!

As I was reading your post I remembered my mum telling me, at age 13, wearing a knee length dress about to go to church, that I looked like a prostitute.


coffeeinbed Sat 24-Sep-11 21:19:13

I'm trying to remember how old I was when my mum sat me down, showed me a paper with a photograph of a man and a woman sitting on a bench in the park, being quite friendly, and asked me " Does this look like your dad to you?". It was one of those street shots illustrating a story. It was a long time ago.
And it did. Look just like him.
It probably was.
I must have been 16 or so.
I still shudder. She shouldn't have done it.

jasminerice Sat 24-Sep-11 22:00:42

Hello, thankyou for all your replies. Sadly, I knew there would be others out there with similar experiences.

What I found most strange and very upsetting about my mum was that whilst she seemed totally unaware that I had feelings as a child, she seemed extremely aware that my younger sister had feelings and she was often beside herself with worry if my sister was unhappy or upset about something. How can my mum simultaneously have been a completely inadequate and unfit parent to me whilst being a very caring and loving and concerned parent to my sister?

I don't find it at all helpful when people say I should just accept my past as I can't change it and move on. The past has shaped who I am today. The little girl who suffered so much years ago lives on inside me. The future is rooted in the past. And because I don't want to repeat the past with my own children I need to be fully aware and conscious of what I went through.

I did post on the Stately Homes threads some time ago, but don't feel they are right for me any more, but thankyou for the suggestion.

My parents are a complete mystery to me. Their level of self delusion, lack of self awareness and complete inability to empathise is truly staggering.

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