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What breaks the chain of mother/child abuse?

(8 Posts)
Kidulike Mon 24-Nov-14 10:07:00

Following on from another thread, I've been considering what makes a mum who has a toxic mother decide not to continue the madness/ break the chain of abuse with her own kids?
My 'd'm is a narcissist, was very abusive and unpleasant towards myself and siblings and now all of us are nc with her. But I have been determined not to behave that way with my child. It's been very hard in that I've suffered from cripplingly low self esteem within relationships etc. and felt very resentful not having a supportive extended family but however tough things have got, I've always loved my ds and the thought of being cruel for the sake of it just makes me feel sick.

The older I get the less I understand my mum's behaviour. Why couldn't she make a decision like I have not to alienate and sabotage her relationship with her kids? My mum's mum was motherless and pretty abusive herself but my mum was still close to her. She still seemed to look for her mum's approval and the pair of them were always, always 'right' even though I can see both behaved like little girls kicking and screaming their way through life, blaming everyone else. But I cannot understand why some people can 'decide' to break the chain and others cannot..

It makes me think my mum chose to behave badly and decided she just didn't care what hurt/ pain she caused her kids.

CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 24-Nov-14 13:09:48

" I cannot understand why some people can 'decide' to break the chain and others cannot.."

Because there's not really a chain. We're bound to share some personality traits with parents and behaviour modelled in the home is certainly influential but I think it's too simplistic to suggest that it's somehow inevitable.

Your mother's fatal flaw is that she is a cruel and abusive person. I think that would have been true regardless of what her own mother was like. Brought up by an abusive person, and being anxious to please that abusive person, there would have been no constraints on her cruelty. But it didn't make her become something she wasn't. You're simply not a cruel person.

makeitabetterplace Mon 24-Nov-14 13:44:11

My mum is a narcissist and we are now NC and I find myself wondering the same kind of things. My mums mum died young so my mum didn't really have a mum and her father was pretty nasty too. I have a decent dad and a lovely sister, I got an education (my mum didn't) and have good friends. My mum has mental health issues, maybe stemming from her childhood, maybe she's just wired that way. So there's lots if reasons why she is incapable of being a decent mum and hopefully lots of reasons why I can be. Can you think of things like this about you and your mum?

AMumInScotland Mon 24-Nov-14 13:54:48

I think the difference is that some people have better levels of self-awareness and empathy than others do.

So one person grows up in a difficult environment and becomes difficult themself. But another grows up in a difficult environment, recognises that there is a problem, and makes a conscious choice to recognise the behaviours and attitudes that go with it and avoid them in their own life.

People who aren't self-aware, or have little empathy, are all around, and they can be a bit of a pain but not usually that awful to be with. Or at least their good qualities outweigh their bad ones.

But people who have little empathy and have bad patterns around them growing up don't see the need to change them, and just keep repeating that.

FWIW your mother maybe didn't choose to behave that way, but just wasn't capable of looking at her life and making better choices. But that doesn't mean you have to put up with it - part of your own choice to be different is to see the damage that people like your mother can cause to children, and decide how to limit that with your own children, and the decision to go NC is part of what you realise that you have to do to break out of this.

Joysmum Mon 24-Nov-14 13:59:55

My mum went NC with her mum, that broke the chain as she realised it wasn't normal, rejected the behavior and didn't want her behaviour to be affected and for me then to be affected.

She did the tight thing.

thatsnotmynamereally Mon 24-Nov-14 14:51:16

I too have been wondering about how people manage to break the trends, I know that my 'D'M was totally self-absorbed and really fairly abusive (I find it hard putting that label on her but she shared a LOT of traits with my abusive H) and the overwhelming theme was that she'd had a horrible upbringing with an uncaring DM. She constantly, always told of how horrible her mother had been to her, not with concrete examples just generalised comments coupled with wailing and wringing of hands, and often tears, I suppose her distress was real but it certainly meant that my sister and I never ever were allowed to disagree or stand up for ourselves as we got accused of being like her mother, also she was inconsistent-- for example, a question 'what's for dinner?' could have been met with either a simple answer in a jolly voice, such as chicken's in the oven, help yourself, or a tirade of abuse because we 'took her for granted' and how ungrateful we were and expected her to do all the cooking and cleaning. Her mother in contrast had been a fastidious housekeeper and keen socialiser, my mother decided in the name of woman's rights that she wouldn't pride herself on looking good or cooking or cleaning.

In contrast to that-- and determined not to be like MY mother-- I took on all cooking/cleaning/etc traditional womans roles within the household and am now living with an abusive man who know how much I hated my mother's attitude and throws it back at me all the time! Whew sorry for the essay. It's been on my mind.

But what I wanted to say was that I agree, as MumInScotland was saying that self-awareness has got to help a considerable bit, and awareness not just to do the opposite of what your 'defective' parent did but awareness of what type of life/attitude you want to create and enjoy within your own household-- my FIL (H's dad) is a whiney, shouty abusive person but H fixated on the fact that he's mean with money (he is) and determined that he wouldn't be... i.e. H never got driving lessons so insisted that my kids got them whether they wanted or not, we had a holiday home because he never did when he was growing up but the kids HATED having to go there, they endured constant shouting from H about how ungrateful they were and no fond memories of the place. H really has no idea, he thinks he is the polar opposite of his horrible father but he's created his own version which is just as sinister. Or perhaps as cog says some people are just sh*ts. It does make me worried for my DC's even though they are both kind, lovely and have a keen snese of fairness and don't like to see injustice in the world. That is from my point of view of them, anyway.

GoingToCalifornia Mon 24-Nov-14 14:53:49

Because I don't want my 7 year old daughter to grow up scared of me.

I'm conscious of that in my discipline.

I was petrified of my own mother and would wet myself even up to pre-teen age, in anticipation of the good hiding to come as she began winding herself up into an angry frenzy, and then get doubly punished for wetting myself.

As an adult, she explained her violence was down to hormonal imbalance.
I have seen the same behaviour in both my sisters as young adults, so it's clearly hereditary. I think I've only escaped it because I have a different father to my siblings, that's what I reassure myself with anyway; it's not in my genes.

But mostly I am conscious of the fact that it's my responsibility to end a cycle which started even two generations before my mother.

Meerka Mon 24-Nov-14 17:16:04

what breaks the chain?

1) recognition that there has been abuse and then self-insight and determination to do it differently. Followed by finding external help to do it different, sometimes.


2) Luck. Personality/temperament is partly an inborn thing and some people are just born ... nicer. Same as some are born not so nice. But there's often a situation where someone will say that their husband/wife came from a horrible background but seems to have emerged different and much nicer than their parents. Dandelion children, they're called.

That's not to dismiss the very strong effect of parenting. Most people learn the patterns of parenting from their own childhood. They are very deep laid. Changing them can be extraordinarily hard.

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