No parental care as a teenager: haunts me still(30 Posts)
Just watched a film about a 14 year old girl groomed over the internet and then raped. It's bought back memories of all the scrapes I got into as a teenager that have affected me all the way into adulthood (43 now). The parents in the film were so present and caring. I can't get my head round how shit my parents were at a time in my life when I needed them most. They divorced when I was 12 and there was no love or care after that - was left to get on with it (my mum had nothing left for us after work and her boyfriend). I floundered around depressed, got into drugs, got pregnant, had a couple of incidents with guys that I can't bring myself to think about now - basically got myself into an absolute state (weighed 5 stone at one point) and got no help or compassion from my family. I don't get it, I just don't. I will never forgive them for it. Nowadays it's all happy families, like the chronic neglect never happened. Most of all I hate myself for sinking so low. Am I wrong to blame (my mum mostly) or should I just accept that I am responsible for what I did? I would die rather than see either of my dss that unhappy. I just don't understand it.
Have you spoken to your mum and dad about it as an adult?
I feel the same as you although my situation wasn't as bad.
I had a good childhood but from the age of about 13 was just left to sort myself out and like you got into horrific 'scrapes'. I also never got any support at school and made stupid choices.
You do to say how old you are but I am 43 and I think a lot of parents at the time had similar parenting attitudes. It contrasts very differently to attitudes now where certainly the teenage children of my friends are coached, nurtured and hothoused.
It may well be that your mum felt she did the best she could at the time what with having to work, your parents divorce etc. I virtually never saw my mum, she worked nearly all the time and whilst my parents were together, my dad just did his own thing.
I don't know if you will get any joy from talking to your mum, she may well feel she did ok by you or she may have regrets herself. But you are not alone in feeling like this.
My own regret is that I could've done so much better with my life if I'd had better support as a teen/young adult and hence made better choices rather than fucking up and learning from my mistakes but at a big cost.
I do think that at 43 you need to get over it
So go to councilling get your head sorted otherwise you will be damaging your own relationship s with your partner and your kids .
You have to learn to accept that your parents did the best they could with the situlations they were given at the time.
Your mum had to work .
And your mum need a relationship.
I disagree with longjane. You were still a child, she was an adult, of course she is to blame not you. Would you put your kids third after work and boyfriend? However, I do agree that counselling would be useful, to learn to give yourself a break.
"Best they could" is kind of glossing over imo.
It sounds like neglect to me from the description of the op.
Friz, you made me stop & think tbh. I have friends who are having a horrific time with their teenage kid & things have got so bad I was thinking to myself that I would be tempted to throw in the towel if it were me. However, you said that you needed them the most at that time & from your post you suggest that you may have done things differently had you received some support and guidance from either of them.
Made me rethink totally.
So thanks for posting. X
This resonates with me too. I was also left to fend for myself after my dad died when I was 10 - also left to look after my younger sibling. I complained only once early on at being constant babysitter, etc, while she went out with friends and was told that being a child, I had my whole life ahead of me, so at that point, her life was more important than mine. I was rather afraid of her as a child, so didn't complain again!
I made some horrible choices as a teen, and cannot bear to remember a lot of that that time at all. But I've not done badly at all (am 40 now), and do not hold it against my mother, who was young and grieving. In some ways I think it's made me pretty resilient - I'm certainly completely independent and self-sufficient. But sometimes I wish I'd had more nurturing and am particularly pissed off that she never made sure I went to the doctor or dentist (paying for the latter in expensive bills still!).
I try and forget all the scrapes with older men, class a drugs and dangerous situations I put myself in. I'm very embarrassed and wouldn't let anyone know what I've done in my past. I also had my dc very young at 17 and 18 and wasn't the best parent through the early years.
My parents got divorced when I was 12 and after moving around the pair of them I ended up in care at 14 and got to do what I wanted to do. It's all happy families now with my mum and this has been brushed right under the table and buried somewhere so I know exactly how you feel op.
All I wanted was a family that loved me.
I had counselling and I made the lovely counselor cry every session with my awful past. It did help but only because I threw myself into it and put loads of work into finding who I am and building myself up.
I have got over it though, I have built my own self esteem and a life that I love and wouldn't swap with no one. I don't depend on my mum and I don't try and gain her affection anymore. I still see her but she's not a huge part of my life.
Parenting teenagers/young adults is notoriously difficult. It's an age when they rebel and want to totally break away from their parents.
I was a single parent to my three kids and as I suffer both physical and mental health problems and as money has always been really tight life has been quite tough. However, I believe I did the best I could for my children. I cooked decent meals for them every night, showed that I cared deeply about their education, had their friends round frequently and gave them all that I possibly could with my limited health and finances.
However, I was totally unable to prevent my teenager daughter getting into the most awful scrapes as she constantly lied and deceived me. I didn't even know she had a boyfriend as she never went out in the evenings but unbeknown to me she was bunking out of school then college to meet him. She ended up pregnant at 16, got repeatedly abused by him. Thought she was sorting her life out but found out she was bunking off college to visit some loser in prison, she lied every time I questioned her. She later skipped uni to meet up with another bloody loser who terrorised and abused her. She lost her home, her job and almost destroyed her little boys life and mine too. She is secretive and lies so she can continue meeting these disgusting men no matter how I try to talk sense into her.
I don't know how negligent your parents were. Perhaps they have failed you badly but sometimes even when parents try everything to keep their children safe those children totally rebel and are hell bent on destroying their own lives.
I do think you need to get some counselling and start to move on now. It was a long time ago and it's not worth wrecking the present over something that you ultimately can't change.
Totally disagree with longjane. I would ignore her post completely.
I can totally relate to how you feel. I was neglected from the age of 10. My dad had a mental breakdown and suddenly became constantly angry, nasty and aggressive. My mum who I was never close to anyway, acted like I didn't exist and focussed totally on my 2 much younger sisters.
Luckily for me I had a lovely best friend who was from a very nice family and as a result of that, and that only, I did not go off the rails, did well at school and went to uni etc.
As an adult I went NC with my parents for 8 years and have only very recently got back in touch at the age of 44.
Things are going ok so far but I still have no respect for my mother in particular. The relationship is superficial. The main benefit is that the DC's are very much enjoying their relationship with their grandparents on my side and that is enough.
Some parents are simply inadequate and not good enough. They may try their best but if their best is not good enough it's the child who suffers and that needs to be acknowledged.
My dad has accepted he let me down and has sincerely apologised for his failures. My mother otoh thinks she did a great job. She is a pathetic woman and I pity her.
Yep her too. Then when hit twenties they were always moaning about how independent I was and that they never saw / heard from me. Funny that! (No contact with any of them now.)
I really feel for you. I was left to fend for myself in many areas of life from about 11 (alcoholic depressed mother). We had a roof over our heads and food in the cupboard but there wasn't much else. I got up to a lot of nonsense and put myself in danger as a teenager/young adult. My mum didn't know or care where I was most of the time.
I made some bad choices that I am ashamed of.
I'm now in my early 40s and I'm ok but it does still haunt me - that is the perfect word for it.
I'm sorry you are having these feelings. Have you tried counselling? I haven't because I seem to be hindered by a feeling that 'I don't deserve help' and 'it wasn't that bad really' so haven't plucked up the courage to go. I would like to though and I'm sure it would help.
How is your life now? I hold onto the fact that I have lovely friends and a good DH and my two darling children to help me feel strong.
I get on ok with my mum now but we are not able to talk about the past. I suppose what helps me is that she was ill so it wasn't deliberate neglect. She just checked out for about 15 years.
Wishing you well
I am 42 and have similar thoughts about my upbringing.
I have always felt I turned 13 and my sister 16 and my mum just though she had done her job and switched off. Almost like she hated being a mum and my sisters 16th birthday was her last day and she kind of just threw in the towel - especially where I was concerned.
I was just left to get on with stuff. No proper guidance at schools. Threats at not to come home pregnant but no real proper care or many boundaries.
As a mum of teens it makes me shudder of the things I faced alone and the scrapes and dodgy situations I got myself into and out of.
Its funny this thread should be here actually because the last few weeks alot of stuff has come to a head and I have been thinking about this type of thing alot.
Have just reread your post and wanted to add that I think forgiveness is overrated. I don't forgive my parents (my dad left and kept contact with us and paid child support but he didn't 'parent' in any way other than that). They let me and my sister down. Yes we both went on to 'make bad choices' but we were only children. And we were hurting and hurt clouds your judgement.
When I turned 18 neither of my parents did anything for my birthday. No card, no saying happy birthday, nothing. I got dressed to go out and (for once!) my mum asked where I was going. I can't remember why I was at hers because I had moved in with a friend by then. I said I was meeting friends to celebrate my birthday and she just ignored me. It still hurts that she didn't even say happy birthday then. It's funny the things that stay with you. I was pretty hardened by that age but that hurt me. I went out and got hammered with my friends (was working so had plenty of money) and made some 'bad choices' that night. Officially I was an adult and hold responsibility for everything I did. I try not to beat myself up too much about it. I was hurting with the hurt of many years.
Be kind to yourself.
I was babysitting my little brother and step sister from the age of 9. They were 4 and 5. It was horrible. My mother was so busy with her new boyfriend [an abusive bastard of a man] and they were out drinking all the bloody time.
One year, I was left [aged 11 or 12] to cook the family Christmas dinner [usually eaten around 2pm], and they never came home! Rolled in around 8 pm pissed as fuck and then moaned that the dinner was burnt. Yeah, it has been in a cool oven for 6 hours waiting for you to return.
I learn lots of skills, in people management, money management, patience, risk assessment, cooking, time management, resilience, sarcasm, personal responsibility, reading bad situations and getting out of them etc...and they have served me well. I first got pissed aged 13 at a friend's house as my mother trusted me to get home when I was ready, and we didn't have a house phone so I couldn't call. If I didn't go home she just assumed I was at theirs.
I'd much rather she had never met him though. But we can't change time. All we can do is take what is given and make it good for ourselves.
Another one here. Early 40s now. Had counselling a couple of years ago to deal with things from the past. Best thing I ever did.
Many of the stories on here are very familiar. My parents were together but very busy. Dad worked all hours in a low paid job. Mum was always busy with my sisters (one with significant special needs, one with emotional health needs from teens). I was the youngest, sort of coped by myself. I don't want to go over the details here but emotional abandonment would sum it up.
I recognise the dodgy, dangerous situations involving drugs and older men.
But it is possible to move past it. I sought counselling because I am determined that the situation will not repeat itself with my own children.
I also found reading a book called "The Emotionally Absent Mother" useful. And the Stately Homes threads on mumsnet are invaluable for their support.
I had counselling and my lovely fella suggested bringing it up with my parents. I tried and got total denial and suggestions that it was the other parents fault (they broke up when I was 11, my Mum left). I felt like I had to let it go and be happy.
My Dsis hasn't and is a scewed up adult and I fear for her children's future, they are all misreable.
Keep up counselling but don't expect closure from your parents, get it from you and the knowledge that you are the better person.
Finola1stepI have never heard of that book. Will buy it now. Thanks
Seasons it's by Jasmin Lee Cori. Less than a tenner on Amazon. Money well spent but can be a difficult read at times as of course, it opens up some wounds as well as giving you some clarity over your own situation.
I agree with longjane's idea but don't think it was very compassionately put. I had a very similar parental experience as you, Frizz, parents separated at 12, I just didn't feature on their radars; there was neglect and my father was alcoholic and horrendously abusive and of course it altered the course of my life and options available to me at that time.
However, while is understandable you will never feel happy about this, it is gone and the suffering you feel now is now. There is nothing to be done about the past. It is forever closed to us.
It is okay not to understand it. It is okay to feel pain about it.. these are inevitable feelings, normal in the circumstances. However, if they upset you and cause suffering NOW on a regular basis you need to find a way to accept the past and overcome their influence on your present experience, for your own benefit.
I can relate to all of that. I remember being left to cook for my brother 8 and my sister 3, I was 7 while my mother went to work. I have never felt loved by my now deceased parents. I was a teachers nightmare at senior school and my friend and I got into terrible scrapes but nothing dangerous. I remember one Christmas Eve my mother came in and said I suppose you know I haven't bought you anything for your Christmas and threw a fiver at me. She was a bit better a few years later but like someone above said, it made me very in dependant, good with money, can cook and have used her behaviour as a guide to how not to treat your children. I was messed up for a long time but one day I sat and thought about it and realised I wasn't the horrible person I was told I was. I was like that because of our childhood and my mothers behaviour . When I realised that, I was able to change my thinking and my behaviour, I didn't need counselling because I worked it out myself. To be honest I changed almost overnight. My brother and sister have also both been successful in their lives as well despite my brother being told he wasn't clever all the time. I still often can't believe people like me. Turn everything round, look for the positives. Be the best you can and love your children.
Thank you for taking the time to respond and I am sorry that so many have had similar experiences. I am not surprised though: a lot of women (my mum being one of them) I think would not have chosen to have kids if they weren't subject to the social constraints of the time. I do think once they divorced my mum thought that it was her time to live now and disengaged completely. I feel more sorry for my brothers who were 8/10 at the time - it must be harder for them.
It is not always at the forefront of my mind after all this time but inevitably does rear its head now and again (like watching those good, caring parents in last night's film). Like a pp said, I can't help thinking what a different path my life would have taken if I had anyone who gave a toss - I certainly would not of carried on like I did. As it is, the shame and embarrassment is always there in the back of my mind. What a mess I was! On the plus side, as others have said, it has given me valuable skills; I am independent, good with money and due to the emotional mayhem I went through, pragmatic about most things. I also am determined to give my kids a better ride. It took.me a long time though to deal properly with my emotions - scary how out of control they were. Hence me living in a bit of an emotional void - the only thing I feel passionate about are my kids. I don't think my partner finds that easy but it is just how I am now. My siblings (especially my sister feel very similar to me). We could never discuss with mum - she is a scary woman and will no doubt have justified it all to herself by now.
I have tried the counselling which validated what I felt to an extent but as others have so wisely said, I need to work a bit harder at forgiving myself I think. Thanks again for taking the time to post. I really appreciate your honesty.
it seems that around 40, that is when the "penny drops" for want of a better expression.
when the realisation and understanding of childhood neglect /abandonment comes to the fore.
once I understood my lack of love from my mother, life became easier.
she too was happy with the first child of her marriage, but simply didn't want any more, then I came along.
I ended up homeless at 15 ,and in a spiral of total depression and poverty.
years of lying in the gutter looking up at the stars, alone and unloved.
then one day I met someone who would become my mentor, resulting in my successful business life and security.
one of the things he said to me was that I was beautiful, it had never occurred to me that I was.
it was then that I realised that I had been living a life as cold as stone, no emotion at all.
as a retired pensioner now, I "forgive" my mother, I understand how she behaved, and even feel sympathetic towards her.
sadly she was killed many years ago, but I have peace knowing that even though I wasn't loved or even wanted, I have accepted that it happened and I learned to be strong and kind.
I second reading The Emotionally Absent Mother. Very good book. I have downloaded but not yet read 'Running on Empty'.
I was driven to the brink of suicide by the emotional hurt and pain my parents caused. I agree forgiveness is overrated. I am in touch with them for pragmatic reasons. No emotional investment on my part at all. They are oblivious to the damage they did. In fact they are probably congratulating themselves on how well I have turned out!
They are around 70 now. So hopefully won't be around for very much longer.
Frizz please do forgive yourself and don't waste any more time criticizing yourself. You didn't do anything wrong and not only that you coped admirably in such a hard situation. Anytime you feel negative about yourself stop and tell yourself that you are a strong loving person who survived a very difficult situation that was not of your making. Going down the path you were forced down has benefitted your children.
My mother switched off when I was young. She was like your mother in that she would not have chosen to have so many children (7) and would loved to have worked outside the home. Incredibly contraceptives were illegal in the country I was reared - MIND BOGGLING!!! She was lucky she didn't end up with 20 children. Divorce was also illegal so she had the added hell of being in an unhappy marriage.
My mother was permanently in a bad mood. I left home as soon as I could and didn't contact my mother for about 4 years. Around that time she told me that she had dreadful post natal depression with the births of each of her children and that along with being trapped in an unhappy marriage made her life hell. When I remember her during my teenage years she was always in bed and I mean for years. Hearing that changed things completely for me. I felt so sorry for her and I absolutely adore her now.
I have two teenage DC who are causing me massive anxiety and I can now see things from both sides. I would love to switch off but I don't. Deep down I know what it is like not to have a mother who is present and I am damned if my DC can ever say that.
I hope you can take a bit of comfort from knowing that you are not alone in having had the experiences you had.
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