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How do you break the mould?(11 Posts)
Not sure if I am in the right place and sorry that this is long...
I had quite an up-and-down childhood with my parents. My sis and I never wanted for material things but they had a very unstable marriage, there were constant screaming matches and they often tried to make us "choose" who we would live with if they split up. They turned sulking into a sport and would blank each other for days, weeks in some cases following arguments.
My dad had a terrible temper, we were in constant fear. He would go crazy over the smallest thing then hit us for doing wrong (e.g. If we accidentally broke a toy) then spend the rest of the time saying sorry.
We were bullied terribly at school as we were both painfully shy (I think because we were scared to speak at home incase of being on the receiving end of anger) that we couldn't ever stand up for ourselves.
We didn't ever DO much, I don't ever remember baking or reading or any of that stuff with my parents. I can count on one hand the number of times my mother has told me she loved me.
I have a DD now, I never thought it was possible to love someone as much as I love her. I absolutely adore her and I have resolved that I will not follow in my parents footsteps. I want my daughter to be confident, secure and loved.
But that's the problem, sometimes I feel my temper rising and that I am impatient like my father. I would never raise a hand to anyone but I have shouted at DD when she cries sometimes.
I feel like I don't know what to do with her, like I don't really know what makes a good mum. Everyone says she's a content, happy little baby so I guess I am doing something right but how can I make sure I am a good mum?
You are aware that there is a mould which needs to be broken which is a great start. You are also aware that your responses are not always stunningly good, which is also good. Also, you're aware of the fact that although your background wasn't great, YOU have the power to change the future.
You don't say how old your dd is? I wonder if you have confidence in your health visitor? They seem to be either brilliant or terrible, although I have had nothing but good experiences. They can often give you plenty of information about parenting courses and that sort of thing. I thought that they were for 'poor parents' but recently I've found out that they are generally populated by parents who just want to do their best.
DD is 10 months old, she hasn't been the easiest baby but I feel like we have come through the hard bit.
My hv isn't that great however I do have a CPN who is supporting me through PND, I don't have any family close by so she had been a godsend really. I will try asking her about parenting courses.
You'll be a good mum just because you're already more self-aware than either of your parents. Please be reassured that it's not wrong to get annoyed with children and it's not wrong to express anger. It's how you do it that makes the difference between being abusive (like your parents) and being a normal human being.
In the early years I think preparation is your best bet. Get good nutrition, as much rest as you can and make time for yourself to kick back, relax and be a grown-up. That helps you stay calm in general and makes it easier to cope with whatever children/life/others can hurl your way. Use anger constructively and sparingly. Learn how to speak effectively & with authority rather than resorting to yelling, for example. Don't put yourself under pressure to be 'perfect' because there's no such thing.
In later years you can talk to your kids and get them to understand that sometimes you're having a bad day and it would help if they kept out of the way. Only yesterday I was getting very stressed about a DIY project that was going wrong. DS could see my BP going up and - bless him - made me have a cup of tea and a sit down. Teamwork
I think counselling would be a good idea if your finances will stretch to it. I advise this because I think it would be a good idea to pick apart the effects of your own childhood as well as discussing strategies for dealing with current family life.
Can you identify what 'triggers' you shouting at your daughter, and therefore suggest some alternative reactions? That's something you could do on here I'm sure.
I would also suggest counselling for you to also start unpicking the threads of your own childhood. You may also want to look at the "well we took you to Stately Homes" thread on these pages and read "Toxic Parents" written by Susan Forward.
It is not your fault your parents behaved in the ways they did; they were damaged by their own family units and pound to a penny their own childhoods were themselves abusive ones. They repeated the behaviours with your sister and you.
I do not think you will end up emulating your parents example of abusive parenting because you would not treat your own child like the way you were treated. You are aware that this mould needs to be busted.
How do you get along with your sister these days?.
Do you have any sort of relationship with either of your parents now?. They do not deserve you or your DD in their lives.
You sound like a great mum and having the level of self-awareness that you do will help you to be even better.
Ok, constructive advice; knowledge is your best friend. Read as much as you can, I quite like Oliver James' stuff, some people hate his books (he's a bit of a 'pop' psychologist), but he's a good straightforward read IMO. Lots of other good books out there too. Seek out some counselling if you think that may help you work through things. Some of the things you mentioned from your childhood stuck a real chord with me
Keep talking to people, no matter how mad you think things may sound, in my case talking has been the key to keeping it all together and staying upbeat (and don't be too hard on yourself!)
Also, you didn't mention what the relationship is like with your partner if you have one..? I found, possibly as a result of my dysfunctional childhood, that my romantic relationships were not all together healthy (before I addressed some negative habits and patterns of behaviour) Just a thought, not meaning to open a can of worms of anything though
Wow, lots of questions, lets see if I can answer them.
Vivacia I think the main trigger is when she's been crying constantly for a long time and I can't figure out what's wrong. If I've fed her, changed her, cuddled her and otherwise tried to distract her and she's still screaming after 30 minutes! I get so stressed and feel like a crap parent because I can't figure out what she needs. Luckily these episodes are few and far between but there have been occasions when I have out her down somewhere safe e.g cot or buggy and just walked out for 5 minutes into another room.
Attila my sister and I have a strange relationship, we aren't as close as we used to be. I left the town we grew up in- needed to make a break I suppose, I knew if I stayed that history would repeat itself. We aren't on bad terms as such bit we don't talk much. She does visit now I have had DD. In terms of my parents, we have a good relationship I suppose, I have come to terms with the fact that our childhood is a subject which is not worth bringing up. They both had it "worse than us" so don't really say what our problem is. My mum has looked after DD a couple times when she has come to visit and she is very good with her. My dad has recently undergone anger management but I am still not sure I would leave her alone with him.
Poohbear the relationship I have with DP is probably my first "adult" relationship. Before that I went through a succession of abusive losers. He is a fantastically supportive partner and a wonderful dad. He is a very calming influence on me.
In terms of counselling, yes I think it would help but I worry about opening up a can of worms. It's taken years and years to get to a place where I thought my life was worth living, I worry that bringing the past up will put me right back to a dark place.
Thanks for all your responses so far!
I think you're doing all of the right things. If you're worried about your temper you should ensure the baby is somewhere safe and then step outside the room and have the breather/cry you need.
Also, I wonder if it would it be helpful to get away from the labels "good parent" or "bad parent"? Someone once advised me that every parent is the best parent they can be, and I found this a very helpful thought.
I understand what you mean about "labels" they can be helpful sometimes but they can drag us down too.
Over the past few days I have been really busy and it's meant I haven't been in touch with my mum as much (normally we talk a couple times of day on the phone). It's really given me some headspace and I have felt less pressured so going to limit our communication a little.
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