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Prents who find their children disappointing - interested in your perspective?

(18 Posts)
magnificatAnimaMea Mon 07-Mar-16 08:28:40

Just that really.

I've been a lifelong disappointment one way or another to my parents. They spend a lot of time rubbing my nose in it these days because I've moved on from desperately trying to follow their ideas and have established a different life from what they wanted me to do, and am reasonably happy.

I don't give them much info about my life any more, and they have concluded that I am boring, stupid and socially inept. Every now and then I tell them about something I care about - and they pointedly ignore it, because I'm not telling them about the kind of career success story they want to hear.

Ironically it was while having the kind of career success that my parents wanted, that I realised how much I was bored by that career, how much I hated the working culture, and wanted something more functional, that made me feel more alive. I struggled with trying to keep going for some years and eventually gave it away and am now on the path to having a career that I should've gone for 20 years ago. My father can't stop harking back to pointing out what I've "thrown away" - and my mother keeps interjecting with theories as to why my general shitness/social ineptitude / ugliness/ failure to be everything my mother ever wanted must have been the reason everyone hated me in my career and I had to leave.

I have a very lively, very bright friend whose son (who's basically fine but a bit disinclined to do anything) is a huge disappointment to her. I listen sadly to her complaints about him and desperately wish I could somehow help her see that it could all be so different. He might blossom if he didn't have constant input from her, stifling him.

So I am interested in other parents' perspectives on this.
Has anyone ever got over finding their kids a bit boring/ wet / underachieving? Do you care what the kids think? Has anyone ever thought these things about you? Is that why you're so desperate for your kids not to be like this?

Readysteadyknit Mon 07-Mar-16 09:07:28

Your post made me sad - my parents are not very nice people who have priorities and a morality very different from mine - I have learnt to accept that and have gone NC or LC at various times over the last 30 years to preserve my sanity. My DB's mental health has been completely destroyed by their expectations and obvious disappointment in the choices he made.

DS (18) hopes to have a career in the armed services. This is not a career I would have chosen for him for many reasons and, although I tried to dissuade him initially, I have come to accept that it is not my choice to make. I love him and I want him to be happy - he feels that this will make him happy so I am doing my best to support him through the application process. DD is following a more traditional education route. I am really proud of both my DC - they have both had their moments growing up but they are thoughtful, kind and caring people.

Well done for making your own choices

MoominPie22 Mon 07-Mar-16 09:22:10

I know this isn´t the point of your thread but can´t you go NC with your horrible parents?? Seriously, so they call you terrible insulting names ( how very mature! ) all because you had the strength of character to stop being a bloody sheep and use your own brain, take the initiative and actually do what you would like to do? shock

Most loving parents would just want their kids to be happy and choose for themselves which career path to follow. Kids have personalities and skills different to that of their parents usually, but yours just wanted to get you to do what they wanted as opposed to what you wanted. They never listened to you or saw other strengths in you. They sound like horrendous bullies. sad

They also sound exceedingly damaging, dysfunctional and toxic and I would not want to subject myself to this sort of treatment. You have a choice you know, even though they are your parents, no way are you obliged to suffer their spiteful, malicious treatment of you. Very sad and worrying.

tallwivglasses Mon 07-Mar-16 09:26:56

I don't think many Mumsnetters are going to come on here to admit to being disappointed with their children. I've watched my dd make some awful life - choices and it seems she needs to make the same mistakes several times before she learns from them - but she's absolutely lovely and far from boring. And she's happy - that's the main thing. What a shame your parents can't see the positive side of you forging a path that will make you happy. Stuff 'em. And good for you.

RiceCrispieTreats Mon 07-Mar-16 09:32:23

I feel for you, but be careful not to project your own experience on your friend's son. She is not your parents, and her relationship with her son may be very different to what you experienced with your parents. Maybe she moans to you because she's concerned, but is letting him make his own mistakes. You just don't know.

I'm sorry your parents didn't believe in you. You deserved their support. We'll done for forging your own path now.

logfiresspit Mon 07-Mar-16 09:32:25

Really interesting question - I wonder when it happens. I don't know anybody who would say they were disappointed with their (small) children, but I certainly know people of my parents' generation who are disappointed with the path their adult offspring have taken.
When does this happen? How?

Claraoswald36 Mon 07-Mar-16 10:09:20

I am nc with my father and have come close with my mother. Having children made me toughen up. I don't want my dc to think it's ok to accept their treatment of me.
I would write them a stinking letter - so they can't talk over you when you get your point across and go nc. You have to award yourself the opportunity to simply refuse to deal with this nonsense.
Re your friend either have q word with her or distance yourself as you seem to find this friendship very triggering flowers

LoisWilkersonsLastNerve Mon 07-Mar-16 10:12:08

Interesting thread. There's a huge difference between me and my siblings and I know it bemuses my parents. Siblings have professional careers, big houses etc. I have minimum wage job, bought an ex council house etc. I was once really hurt to hear my dm exaggerating my job to a friend. I think my life is perfectly fine and I don't compare myself to others but it hurts when others do.

cocochanel21 Mon 07-Mar-16 12:27:07

Yes I've been disappointed in the lifestyle choices my dd made.

I've also been furious hurt and angry by some of the thing's she's actually done.

But I always loved and supported her.

SaggingTits Mon 07-Mar-16 12:46:01

I don't think many parents will admit that their child has disappointed them, even if they have. It's not how parent feel, it's how they act. I'm 23, have a 3 year old and am a barmaid. Probably not how my parents wanted my life to be but they still tell me they are proud of me.

I suppose you don't feel able to talk to your parents about this? If they show such disinterest in you I would have very little contact with them, or none.

lljkk Mon 07-Mar-16 12:56:25

I also would find it hard to listen to someone being down on their kid when the kid's character defects were pretty minor stuff. Especially couldn't handle this as a constant topic of conversation.

I'm disappointed with teen DS right now.

Sometimes on MN me or others say they've stepped back, detached, it's their DC's decision to be underachievers. So we get YELLed at by other posters for being irresponsible parents by doing that. I mean... we can't win, can we? If we accept our DC or if we harangue DC to be their best, we'll get it in the neck either way.

My parents are/were disappointed with me because I'm not sociable like them. But my shyness would have been normal in DH's family, and indeed MIL gets a confused expression on her face if DH talks about having a social life. Families are Weird.

MypocketsarelikeNarnia Mon 07-Mar-16 13:09:41

I think this conversation is just another way for you to accept their version of life by trying to understand it. You're essentially saying it's ok for them to feel and act like this (and normal), you just want a better understanding of their motives.

It's not ok for them to do this. You can't fix them, you'll never be good enough, even if you WERE the doctor /lawyer/astronaut they want you to be. What you are should be good enough for them. You need to change the conversation you're having with yourself.

Pop on over to the stately homes thread if you like?

And btw our binman is one of the happiest people I know. smile

absolutelynotfabulous Mon 07-Mar-16 13:23:07

My mother was very disappointed in me, but I was never sure why. She's of that generation that sometimes can't cope with their children being different from them in terms of aspiration or lifestyle choices.

She wanted me to be a teacher in the local comprehensive school and went so far as to get a teacher friend there to offer me a jobshock.

I was having none of it, and moved out of teaching altogether. After that, she never showed interest in my life, my achievements or my difficulties. I didn't gain her favour back until I had dd, and even then I was subjected to quite a bit of nastiness.

She died 10 years ago. On her deathbed, she made me promise to "never put dd in that navy dress again". She carried on with "so-and-so's dd is SO good to her", the subtext being "why did I have you for a daughter?".

I never did anything right, even though I had a decent job, was financially independent and loyal to her. It wouldn't have occurred to me to go NC (no MN back then!); in fact, on many a Mother's Day she would threaten to go NC with ME!

MoominPie22 Mon 07-Mar-16 13:30:22

How were your parents towards you when you were in the career that they wanted? Cos it sounds very much like their love and approval is completely dependant on your achievements.

So were they playing the loving and proud ( all a facade clearly as this currently is their true colours! ) parents previously but withdrew that positive behaviour once you announced you´re gonna change jobs and actually be your own person? Cos it seems evident that they don´t like the fact you have the ability to think for yourself and not be bullied into living the life that they want you to live. You are not the pushover anymore, therefore you cannot be manipulated into doing their bidding.

So they remove their so-called ¨love¨ and approval and begin abusing you instead. But people don´t change personality overnight. They were always abusive bullies and I suspect that behaviour manifested itself in other ways even when you were doing their bidding by being stuck in a job they approved of but you hated!

It sounds all about control to me. By being in a job you want, rather than being forced into it by them, you´ve regained control and they´ve lost some of the power over you they had. They probably see it as a rebellion and they don´t like it one little bit.

But how dare they call you those awful names and verbally abuse you! angry I would be mightily pissed off if I were you.

Frika Mon 07-Mar-16 13:30:46

Disappointment is so personal. I grew up in a slum with parents who hadn't finished primary school, went to failing schools and never had any encouragement from family or teachers, but managed by dint of being stubborn to get out of it, went to Oxford, and have a professional career in another country. My parents have always been disappointed by this - it doesn't fit their definition of success or normality. They make no secret of the fact that what I've done is 'not for the likes of us', makes me look 'above myself' and will never make me happy, and that what I should have done is opened a little business locally and lived down the road and had a lot of children.

I think they feel rebuked by my 'success' - because it points up that their 'oh, life's just like that, can't win, don't try, and whatever you do, don't get above yourself' approach to life isn't the only one.

The only thing I've ever done that they've approved of is have a child, but even then they think it's appalling to have only one, to have that child as old as I was, and to work full time and make no secret of preferring it to full-time child stuff.

PuellaEstCornelia Mon 07-Mar-16 17:43:23

My MIL used to moan about my DH until she started one day and I said, in a very cheery voice, 'I blame the parents. Cup of tea MIL?'
Can still remember the expression of jaw dropped horror.

SeaCabbage Mon 07-Mar-16 17:56:13

Puella grin that is hilarious.

OP I hope this thread gives you some things to think about and some insights that you seem to be after. But I really hope, as others do, that you go very LC or NC soon. Your parents sound horrific. You sound strong.

magnificatAnimaMea Mon 07-Mar-16 19:56:11

Puella grin grin grin
Also I like your username. Still have my Ecce Romani books somewhere...

flowers all round to those who feel like I do. Absolutelynotfabulous, your mother sounds very like my parents. My father tried to get his old boss to give me a job a few years ago. We both played along, knowing that it wasn't what either of us wanted. It was humiliating.

Moominpie - my father spent most of the time playing alpha-male git with massive chip on shoulder when I had the career (which was the same as his, except I was more successful than him - possibly because I had more ability to reflect on my own actions). He repeatedly tried to tell me I was shit and useless, but my way of coping with that was to just fling down another gauntlet of work achievement (while provately becoming increasingly suicidal). My mother spent a lot of time talking it all up as the greatest thing ever to her friends, while privately ripping me to shreds because I was apparently rejecting her life by not being married with children and a perfect snivelling martyr to housework. In some ways I think she was more disappointed when I gave up, because now she has nothing to brag to her friends about, from me, and I'm still not a martyr to housework.

LoisWilkersonsLastNerve I completely get where you're coming from re the parental exaggeration. I'm perfectly OK being with my lovely DH in my nice house in nice fairly isolated country town (a very long way from my parents' self-important cosmpolitan city), doing my uni degree in a subject that my parents know nothing about, working my crappy minimum wage job, and having hobbies that make me really happy.
However it hurts when people on my parents' Christmas card list pointedly say "oh, haven't heard anything from your parents about what you're up to these days... oh, right... and what do your parents think about that, haha?". The last time DH and I were mentioned in my parents' bloody awful Christmas letters was some years ago when we had a post wedding party back in the university town where we'd met. Parents didn't even bother mentioning that we had got married or that they'd been to our wedding, nothing else at all about what we were doing, where we lived - just "they had a party in their old college". Then another 2 pages full of stuff about them, my perfect sister and BIL who live in a perfectly codependent relationship with our parents, and my perfect niece who hasn't rebelled yet...

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