Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.
Did you have a happy childhood?(53 Posts)
I am lucky I think mine wasn't too bad compared to many. I have an ok relationship with my parents..could be worse. But how do you give your kids a really happy life? How do you be the parents that your children love, and feel loved by. so if you have a great family life please share your wisdom
I had a very happy childhood and a fantastic relationship with my DM until she died. I think that the key thing is to make sure your children know that a) they're loved and b) it's absolutely unconditional. That they can mess up, make poor decisions, upset you, but they know that no matter how angry, or disappointed, or frustrated they make you, you will always, always love them. No matter what. I cocked up when I was younger, of course I did. But I knew that (once we'd got past the shouting!) DM would always be fighting my corner and trying to help me put it right. That goes a long way.
I did until I turned 9, then it went to shit. I have a very good relationship with my father, limited contact with narc mother and a distant relationship with my only sibling.
Nobody really 'got' me, but my dad still loved me for my quirks and had affectionate names for me.
I hope to learn from their mistakes, will probably make some of my own I also have a dhcwith his own experiences and hopefully we'll balance each other out and not be knobs.
I grew up in a home where my dad was physically abusive towards my mom, she divorced him, a bitter custody battle ensued...........I should hate my daddy, but I love/loved him, he was my best friend and I will always be a daddy's girl. One thing I have ALWAYS known is that I was/am loved and cherished. I was never close to my mom, but she has always been my rock and I love her 81 year old self very much, I speak to her daily and miss her when I've not heard her voice, I adore her..........
Their divorce affected me, then my dad was murdered when I was 13 years old, that affected me, I took myself to therapy when I was 19 and I THINK that is what has helped me greatly.
Looking back I think I had a very happy secure childhood, I felt loved, cared for, secure, somehow all the rubbish times haven't affected me too much I think?!?!?
I'm now a single mother to two almost perfect boys, I talk to them, I'm open with them, I support them, I show them unconditional love, I make memories with them and for them.......I feel very lucky with my life and my family.
My father was distant, cruel and selfish. He had lovely little tricks like leaving my brother and me (4 and 8) in the house alone at night, and telling me the neighbour was looking after us. I asked the neighbour once - he knew nothing about it.
My mother was a very damaged person with severe mental health issues. One of my earliest memories of her sitting at the bottom of my bed saying I should never have born - no doubt her idea of a bedtime story. I didn't know, aged 2, that she was referring to abortion and had disposed of several of my potential siblings that way. Chronicling her abusive behaviour would take far too long for this thread.
Unfortunately, although I tried to be a better parent than mine were, I didn't manage to give my dd a happy childhood.
I didn't have a great childhood at all and spent the first 10 years in foster care. I was adopted at 10 and my parents gave me kindness, love and unconditional adoration that trumped every bad thing that had happened previously.
Agree with LBOC that the main parts of happiness for children are security and unconditional love, and so long as they have those not much else can matter. Mine are loved and adored for exactly who they are and my only expectations are that they are respectful and kind. They can screw up and get it wrong and behave like complete dongs and I'll still love the bones of them. So far it's working pretty well and they're happy in that gorgeous, uncomplicated way only children can be.
Up until I was about 15. I knew my mum wasn't happy and my parents would split. Mum had a bad childhood and that was manifesting as she worried she was too much like her mum (she wasn't) Then mum had depression and I'd been raped and couldn't tell them as I did not want to worry mum, and dad had enough to deal with trying to support her. Made it through GCSEs but college was a washout and I moved out as soon as I was 18 and mum left dad within 2 weeks so I moved back as my dad made comments like not being able to live without her.
Some happy times but childhood was dominated by a father with many narc traits who was volatile and at times emotionally abusive. The combination of his personality/parenting and my introverted anxious nature was a disaster.
My parenting is basically based on the opposite of what my experience was. Emotionally stable home where you are allowed to balls up and not get yelled at. Lots of affection and laughter and DC knowing they can talk to me about anything.
I didn't enjoy being a child, nothing abusive but no connection really with parents, no shared enjoyment. My Mum made no secret of the fact she prefers babies to kids, if you are a baby or have a baby then you caught her interest. I struggle to think of things to say to her now I don't really care about her or miss her when I don't see her often, and I mostly just feel guilty now that I should care but I don't.
With my dc I try to share in jokes and just get on he's level more. I hope if we can laugh together, relax and find the fun in things often even momentarily (because I'm normal and sometimes I'm busy) then he can believe I enjoy he's company and I want to know about him. Too early to tell if that will be enough.
I hear you brokenhearted55a
Bloody awful feeling, isn't it?
for everyone on the thread.
Yes I did.
Difficult to put a finger on how you ensure it happens for your own dc though.
I'd agree that letting them know they are loved, come what may has got to be important, but I'd also throw in letting them see you enjoying life, having fun, laughing, and so forth. It makes 'home' a place you want to be, rather than 'feeling obliged' to be.
Bizarrely, I did. Halcyon days, the sun always shone etc. But the reality is that there was a whole heap of crap going on - looking at it objectively, I had a car crash of a childhood. But I had parents who I always knew loved me very much and I suppose despite the soap-opera happenings going on around me that's why it still feels like it was a happy childhood.
I had a great childhood not over privileged at all but I never went without. Looking back I can see my parents made sacrifices so we got things but at the time I was never aware of this. This is definitely something I want to carry on with my children I don't ever want them to worry about money or bills that kind ot thing I think that's a parents worry not a child's. My children are still relatively young (8 5 &7m) they rarely ask for big expensive things
except for Xmas lists because apparently it's free from Santa
I was really lucky, had an amazing mum, dad left before I was born and step dad (married mum when I was 6) was a bit crap but that mattered less because mum was (and still is) so awesome. Dad leaving had an effect definitely, mostly on my early relationships with men and I'm sure part of the reason I fell for DH was because he's great with kids and was still devoted to his oldest two even though he and their mum were divorced. I've still never met my dad and I'm 40 so think I deliberately chose someone who wouldn't ditch any DC we had even if it didn't work out with us. As a mum I don't think I can do better than to emulate my mum and I can see a lot of her influence in my parenting style. She was endlessly loving, patient and calm and always there when I needed her, still is and I don't think you can go far wrong by just making sure your kids know they're loved and will always have someone they can count on.
Just like roastturnip I had happy times mixed with very unhappy. My mother was always emotional and volatile, she would shout and scream for no apparent reason other than you looked at her the wrong way, next minute (usually in drink) she would be sickly sweet and overpowering. My father was / is an inherently weak man who allowed my mother to completely rule the roost and emotionally and physically abuse me whilst he sat back and did nothing for an easy life. My brother was always the golden child, I was the trouble maker.
Things were largely ok until my father lost his business when I was 13. My mother refused to go out to work and we nearly lost everything. This is when life really became unhappy as my mother increasingly turned to the bottle to cope and my father became snappy and unhappy with money troubles and having to put in with my mother. There were frequent violent arguments but in between it was like nothin had happened. I remember always feeling nervous and anxious, we were aware that we could lose our home yet there was always money for cigarettes and alcohol.
I was kicked out by my mother at 17 - by now the alcoholism had really taken hold and she became this horrible vitriolic woman who hated the fact I was young, happy with my boyfriend and enjoying the life of any other 17 year old. My father sat back again and allowed her to throw me out, doing nothing for an easy life. I've not forgiven him deep down to this day.
And yet I look back and remember the Christmases where we didn't go without, we were clothed, fed, kept warm but either I was being shouted at or smacked or one minute my mother would be railing at me because 'I was distant and didn't show I loved her'. To be honest, I never knew where i was with her, that's why. It's made me anxious, needy and unable to trust people. If I think someone doesn't like me I will walk away and not face them. It's left a mark for sure.
And I shoud add that with my DC I always make sure they know they are loved, we have as stable a household as possible. I never want them to be walking home from school with a knot in their stomachs about whet they are going to come home to. My DH and I very, very rarely have a cross word so I'd like to think that I'm doing a lot better than my parents did.
I'm sorry so many seem to have had unhappy childhoods
I had a lovely childhood, I was an only child but I always had company. The house was always full of people or we were staying with friends. I had lots of other children to play with and I also spent a lot of time with other adults and my parents.
I was close to my mother, she was the most brilliant women I have ever known, intuitive, clever, rational. She always spoke her mind and I trusted her completely. My father was very keen for me to have a good education and to be independent, he was very much into equality for women, and he believed in me. I went off the rails...but they were always there for me.
Both parents had affairs that I was aware of, both were very liberal and laid back, and I could speak to them about anything. Neither claimed to be anything other than who they were, I respected them not because I looked up to them, they were flawed, but because I knew that they would never judge me. The love was unconditional, and the relationships always seemed quite equal. As an example, by the age of about ten my opinion on politics, or religion, or ethical questions was considered alongside their own, I was taken seriously.
I have endeavoured to always be open, to be real, to be honest and to treat my dcs with respect. I listen, I ask questions, I take seriously their concerns/opinions/feelings and I have opted to never "tell" them what to do. So far so good, both are grounded, rational, calm and have good self-esteem...even if this means both are quite confident in disagreeing and debating with teachers/adults. I want free thinkers, just as my parents did.
I had a lovely childhood despite my dad throwing my Clanger out our council flat window and once spanking me on the bum with a wooden spoon with a smiley face on it ha ha ha.
In my memories although money was short Christmases seemed to be bountiful and the summer's used to last forever. Yes i do realsie this is a sign of old age!
Mostly happy, lots of good memories of holidays, parties and socialising, I was always proud of my mum for being young beautiful and fun.
Also lots of awful memories of listening to blazing rows screaming shouting and being scared. My mum was unreliable, didn't really push or support us and rarely said or showed love or affection.
We were never really the number one priority, men and herself came first, we were dumped off to grandparents most weekends thankfully they stepped up and loved and cared for us.
I want to be a better parent to my ds, I tell him and show him I love him every day, I'm interested in him and love spending time with him. I've married a man who would never mistreat or abuse either of us so ds can have a secure home life that I didn't have.
In a word, no.
I was abandoned at the age of 8 by my mother to my father, who proceeded to sexually torture me beyond the limits of my endurance for the next 5 years until I ran away. I was regularly beaten unconscious, starved for days on end & subjected to all manner of bizarre torture like the time he actually tried to drown me in the towns swimming pool! He was never charged & brought to justice as there wasn't enough 'evidence'. I was then fostered by fleabitten abusers on a sink estate. The sad thing is, I gave my mum the opportunity to come back into my life as I grew up but I learned she's actually worse than my father! I am NC now & will never have any contact ever again. I lost my whole extended family over this as no-one would believe a word I said. It is a miracle I managed to keep sane. Of course, I then went on to marry an abusive man.......
My dad was a drunk, eventually the drinking killed him.
My mum never wanted kids.
We had little money. The house was freezing in winter, crappy furniture, dirt, damp. No money for clothes, food, toiletries, toys. There was cash for drink and cigs though.
Apparently I should never have been born, was a disappointment, would never amount to anything and wasn't good enough for my husband who obviously, deserved better.
We couldn't have friends over because of the state of the house.
Teased at school for worn, holey, old fashioned clothes and a lack of hygiene due to the fact there was rarely anything in the house to clean ourselves with.
No. Emotionally abused from birth, sexually abused from age 11. NC with both parents - dad (sexual abuser) for about 25 years, mum since just this February.
The most important thing I have given my DS is that it's okay to feel his feelings. My feelings as a child were never validated unless they were happy smiley ones. Any sadness or anxiety was suppressed with "don't be silly", "you're making it up", "stop making a fuss" or "you really are making a mountain out of a molehill".
I have also drawn a great distinction for DS between "you are naughty" and "your behaviour is naughty". I always talk about his behaviour. Well, I try to, I do slip sometimes when he's been really frustrating.
Meant to add, I did have periods of respite when I stayed with my GPs, who were wonderful. So there were happy times. But you were always wondering and dreading the next bad time when you would be shouted at and punched in the head.
Join the discussion
Please login first.