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Nature vs. Nurture

(24 Posts)
GeorginaAdventCalendar Tue 28-Dec-04 17:10:33

Just met up with my uncle for the first time in ... well... years. And my cousin - she's 15 and I saw her last when she was a toddler. This is for various reasons but mostly due to a long running feud between my mum and her MIL and a lot of deep-seated family negativity and control.

It's really odd. I think I've found a kindred spirit... an ally in my family that I didn't really know about before. I learnt a lot about family history, different perspectives and biases on certain key events in our lives. I'm not really sure how I feel about it, but I do feel a corner has been turned in acceptance/understanding of what makes me myself.

I'm not making sense I know. But just wanted to tell someone somewhere.

coppertop Tue 28-Dec-04 17:16:10

It makes perfect sense to me. I met my dad's family recently at his funeral. I found a whole new perspective on things as well as meeting some kindred spirits. We shared a lot of the same interests and had made similar choices despite never having actually met before. It was amazing.

Glad to hear you've found a kindred spirit.

Donbean Tue 28-Dec-04 17:47:42

Perfect sense to me too. Isnt it an eye opener getting another perspective on a situation. It can answer so many unanswered questions and has the "oh thats why thats that way!" side to it doesnt it?
Do you think you will keep in touch with the uncle?

GeorginaAdventCalendar Tue 28-Dec-04 17:53:09

Thank you - you've got it exactly right over the unanswered question side, donbean. My dad died 8 years ago now, so talking to his younger brother today has helped reconcile a few things really.

I'm going to make a real effort to keep in touch. He's only an hour's drive away so there's no excuse really. We've got tentative plans to meet up again in a month.

He's currently doing research in the family tree which I find interesting too - it's his way of moving on from the negativity of the family (by embracing the past) and it's fascinating finding out about our roots. Going to try and dig out some photo albums for next month I think.

GeorginaAdventCalendar Tue 28-Dec-04 17:58:15

coppertop, meant to say - I remember your thread about your dad's family and thinking what a marvellous releasing experience that must have been to have felt less alone in the family. Didn't realise that I was going to get to do the same in mine!

Donbean Tue 28-Dec-04 17:58:57

make sure you write things down, i so regret not doing that when speaking to my Nanna. We would talk for ages on family stuff, she was so interesting and opened my eyes to things like personality traits in family members long dead, these are things that you cant research with a family tree.
She told me stuff about my mum and dad that i would never ever get to know otherwise. Because she was impartial i got stories that were not tainted by hate, arguments or bad feeling and that makes all the difference.

Donbean Tue 28-Dec-04 18:03:07

I also have to say that finding stuff out makes you feel like a very important cog in the family dynamics. IMHO it makes you warm to the people who contributed to you bieng here,(not just parents, who if like me you particularly get along with it explains things) gives you meaning and purpose. Its a good thing all in all.x

NameChangingMancMidlander Tue 28-Dec-04 18:18:35

That's lovely news, Georgina. I know how alienated you often feel in your own family. Let me know if you need/want me to have the boys when you meet up with your uncle. Lx

GeorginaAdventCalendar Tue 28-Dec-04 18:26:45

Donbean: yes we're going to try and write stuff down with photos and everything - my MIL is really into family tree stuff so I'm going to find out what software she uses so she can import our stuff too! I agree that the anecdotes are the particularly important bits - feel like I've learned so much in just an afternoon!

NCMM: thanks hon Chances are most visits will be with dses in tow (ds1 took to them both really quickly, which is unusual for him because he's quite shy with new people) but I might take you up on that sometime ;)

Donbean Tue 28-Dec-04 18:29:16

Good luck and enjoy.
Would you mind keeping posting stuff that you unearth, i would be very interested to hear how you get on.

GeorginaAdventCalendar Tue 28-Dec-04 18:33:55

I will try to in vague sort of terms at least

One of the things that did crop up (hence the nature vs. nurture title) is that I wondered if my granddad had a temper at all, (my dad tended to lose it quite easily and be quick with a clip round the ear for fairly minor transgressions) but apparently he was a very gentle man. There does seem to be history in other parts of the family that did have a violent temper though, so a genetic trait perhaps? Bit of a scary thought - I very much hope that my boys haven't inherited that side of things.

Donbean Tue 28-Dec-04 18:37:59

Ah you see it was both my grandparents that had tempers and lashed out! My dad apparently bore a large brunt of this violence for some reason, he had a temper too as we were growing up.
I think that im a bit short tempered but do my damndest NOT to be violent or aggressive with it.
Isnt it interesting linking the past with the present!

Donbean Tue 28-Dec-04 18:39:34

Also alcoholism is a strong trait, is this true in your family at all. (addiction apparently can be familial)

GeorginaAdventCalendar Tue 28-Dec-04 18:45:27

Hard to say, he did mention one of the violent tempered people was quite drunken (was a sailor who was away for months at a time then would only be at home for three days - the first two would be mending and washing days the last day would be "discipline" the children day). Don't know of any immediate alcoholism in the family but that doesn't necessarily mean it wasn't there.

GeorginaAdventCalendar Tue 28-Dec-04 18:49:12

I have a short-temper too, but as you say, I'm aware of it and have made a conscious decision not to go that route. I find spirals of negativity much harder to battle, though - and although it wasn't said in so many words, I suspect that the atmosphere was just as damaging to him as it was me. Hence the feeling of allies.

It sounds odd, but knowing the start points/backgrounds to it all makes me feel a lot stronger and more "empowered" (hmm, I hate that word but I can't think of a better one at the moment!) to move on from it. The more I know the less it has a hold on me?

Donbean Tue 28-Dec-04 18:50:20

I think from what i can gather that poverty had a great deal to do with the nastiness that went on. They didnt have two pennies to rub together.
do you come from a large family, you know uncles, aunties etc?

Donbean Tue 28-Dec-04 18:52:55

When you say atmosphere, do you mean that it was hostile, i only ask because we grew up in a hostile atmosphere with physical and mental abuse occurring. Speaking with my nanna, it was far far worse than i remember. She filled in lots of gaps for me about stuff.

Donbean Tue 28-Dec-04 18:58:29

Im sorry, i havent even asked you if you mind talking about this, i hope im not upsetting you or distressing you, its just that you sound like you have a similar background to me (from the little you have said, im sorry but i dont know any of your background). I will shut up if im bothering you.

GeorginaAdventCalendar Tue 28-Dec-04 19:02:04

Poverty here too - my grandmother went to live with her grandmother for a while because her mum couldn't afford to keep her. Then at the age of about 14 she was sent away to be a servant to a previously unknown family in London.

Atmosphere - generally very negative, glass half-empty sort of stuff. Some through thoughtlessness some through deliberate nastiness and spite. Fools not suffered gladly. When I was growing up I was often told that I was "really bad at accepting constructive criticism" and any praise was usually followed (either explicitly or implied) with "but..."

Gawd, it sounds dreadful doesn't it. I don't really think I had a terrible upbringing - I do think there's aspects I found damaging and I could improve upon for the sake of my own children. I do struggle to work out what happened genuinely and what has been exaggerated in my memory as part of being an aggrieved teenager.

GeorginaAdventCalendar Tue 28-Dec-04 19:03:56

Noooo it's really good to talk about it! I don't often and I wonder if I make too big a deal of it when I do, to be honest. It's so hard to know what's "normal" for a family in that generation/circumstances and what isn't. I certainly know a lot of people had a lot rougher childhoods and in many ways I had a privileged upbringing. It's just nice to start to unravel it in my brain!

Donbean Tue 28-Dec-04 19:11:09

Thats where your uncle will come in very informative to help clarify many aspects of a hazy memory isnt it. You will be able to piece together stuff and it can only be healthy and therapeutic to you cant it.
For me it was difficult to hear some stuff. By rights i should never have any thing to do with my dad again nor my mother but for some odd reason i dont feel that way.
I cant explain to you, it has made me set a definitive plan of action regarding my own parenting skills and attitudes and from that great positivity has emerged.

Donbean Tue 28-Dec-04 19:13:48

Sorry, i keep thinking of things... I dont think that it is helpful to compare your childhood to anothers because it was you that was living it and it was you that it affected. You may have been well fed and got presents at Christmas but you were made to feel unhappy, shouldnt childhood be a happy time?

GeorginaAdventCalendar Tue 28-Dec-04 19:20:15

I know what you mean. But there was also a lot of good stuff too. Sure, I learned to duck, but I also learned a lot of other stuff too. There was affection, love and security there as well as the bad stuff. I think, by acknowledging the bad stuff with someone who understands by being in the same family, we'll both be able to appreciate the really good stuff too.

Complicated isn't it?

Donbean Tue 28-Dec-04 19:28:50

I have an auntie who occassionally really surprises me with the odd coment she makes about my childhood. Theres only 5 years between us and as we lived away for most of my childhood im not sure of how much she knows.
I was telling her that DS is really quite challenging at the moment (he is 17 months) and that the other day i spent most of the morning yelling at him to either "get out of the kitchen bin!" or "get off the xmas tree" i told her that come bed time, i felt like my mother with all the shouting etc, and she replied "oh my God, you are nothing like your mother, nothing at all"
This took me by surprise because 1) she was acknowledging to me that my mother was a bad mother, 2) that she knew what i was saying without actually saying very much.

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