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How do i stop myself from turning into my dad?

(11 Posts)
WantToBeDifferent Fri 26-Jun-09 10:48:43

My father and i have a distant relationship. We get on ok, mostly as we don't see each other a huge amount.

My childhood relationship with him was rotten. More than once he told me i was an unwanted accident. He smacked us if we were 'naughty', generally only spoke to us when he was annoyed by us and i felt like everything i did disappointed him. The only times he was ever proud of me, were when i achieved something academically, but even then i think on some level he felt that was a reflection on him. He shouted alot, or else he ignored me. I had to wear what he said, couldn't speak to or look at boys, and wasn't allowed out. I moved out at 16, to live with my mother's parents, and he stopped talking to me for about a year because he didn't approve of my boyfriend (now my DH)

My mother was a brilliant mother- patient, actually talked to us, didn't make me feel like a pain. She couldn't change my Dad, and he controlled her too. I grew up with my mother having no friends, no time on her own, she even couldn't wear what she wanted without disapproval. She didn't work for a long time, and did all the household chores / DIY.

I've married a lovely man, the opposite of my Dad in many ways - patient, has never commented on what i wear, where i go, who i see. I also have my own friends and job, so i feel we're setting a much better example to my sons, especially about a woman's role in a family and how they should be treated.

But i feel like my Dad's parenting is making me a bad mother. I find myself impatient and shouting, and i hear my Dad's voice, and it breaks my heart. I never respected my Dad, often hated him in my teens, and i felt he resented me. The thought that i might make my boys feel like that hurts like hell. I thought i'd be more like my mother, but i'm not. This morning i screamed at my 3yr old to shut up. I could use the excuse of not feeling very well and being tired, but it happens quite often. I've also smacked his hand a couple of times, not in a calculated way, but in an instant reaction. I'm afraid i'm like my father more than i'd like.

I tell my boys i love them every day, and hug and kiss them every day. When i do lose my rag i apologise and try to explain why, but i don't think that's good enough.

I know i've gone on, sorry. If you've read this far then thanks.

lilacclaire Fri 26-Jun-09 11:26:16

You have my sympathy, my father was also the same and I often shout etc before I've realised what im doing.
I really try and not to now, i leave the room etc.
What i've found is trying to do more 'fun' things with ds, get a routine going, up and ready in the morning, out to do something try and tire him out, leaves less room for them playing up and also your more in tune with them.
I still shout, but not half as much.

GBR Fri 26-Jun-09 11:27:38

Would you go to some counselling to help you work through your feelings about your dad? You realise he had a problem, and you don't want to turn out like him or his relationships, so that's already a good step I would think.

WantToBeDifferent Fri 26-Jun-09 11:31:19

thanks for replying.

I'm planning some fun stuff for later on. Partly to make up for being a cow this morning.

I have been to counselling before, and it was useful, but it was before i had children. Maybe things are resurfacing for me now that i'm actually a parent?

PearsinTears Fri 26-Jun-09 15:08:16

Had a rotten relationship with my father as well... and have not seen him since I was 18.

I don't feel it affects me in my parenting style, probably because of the fact that he was not parenting at all... just absent.

I think it is very good you realise that your "internalised father" comes up occasionally...

maybe you can keep a diary where you write down what kind of behaviour comes up, when and why... then a kind of pattern will crystallize and next time it is about to happen, you may be actually able to prevent it.

Greyclay Fri 26-Jun-09 15:59:21

Hi Wanttobe, my father was not as bad as you described yours to be...but he was still a very angry and controlling man and I have had to come to terms with many issues stemming from that as an adult. I would like to reassure you that 1) The fact that you are questioning and thinking about your behaviour indicates that you are being self-aware about the whole thing which is healthy and will go far in helping you be a better parent to your sons 2) the fact that you have gone to therapy in the past will also help and 3) you say and know you don't want to become your father...ergo, you won't be like him (even if bad habits pop out from time to time...forgive yourself and move forward).

I would also second the idea of revisiting a therapist since having your sons. I am considering going back myself now that I have my daughter. In my case I am more worried about becoming my mother...who was lovely but who always deferred to my father. My husband is a lovely man, but I sometimes feel I act out bad habits on him (ie. treating him like my father). But enough about me. You sound like you are trying very hard to be a good mom. And you sound like you are succeeding in doing so. Maybe all you need is a therapy "check up" to help you feel better and more in control of the bad times. Good luck!

uberalice Fri 26-Jun-09 16:18:53

I could have written your post, pretty much word for word. I had counselling and a course of CBT a while ago to help me deal with various issues, and it helped a lot. I had low self esteem and didn't realise it. I think becoming a parent makes you re-evaluate things in your life and your past, that you previously thought were dealt with.

I keep telling myself over and over again that I am a better parent than my dad. LOADS BETTER. I'm not perfect, and sometimes I do lose my rag, but parenting is really hard work and it's impossible to keep your cool all the time.

Even though my Dad is now an old man, and he has eventually recongnised his failings as a parent I still don't think he has any idea where he went wrong. He just doesn't have a clue. He's a victim of inadequate parenting himself, so I can't blame him entirely.

Here's a strategy I used when I was feeling really low, to help me reinforce the fact that I am a good mum. Each time you do something nice for your DCs, award yourself a point. So if you cook them a nice meal, that's a point. If you given them a hug and tell them you love them, that's a point. If you sit and read with them, that's a point. If you play a game with them, that's a point. If you lose your temper and shout, lose a point. Just one point, OK? At the end of the day, tot up those points, and I'll guarantee that you'll be well in credit. smile

I have to echo what Greyclay is saying - the fact that you're asking yourself these questions means that you're not turning out like him. If you give yourself a hard time over it, you'll feel worse, so please give yourself a break. Perhaps some more counselling would help you - it certainly sorted my feelings out.

Scorpette Fri 26-Jun-09 21:06:53

Could it be that when you're being shouty or short-tempered, you're just behaving like any normal stressed-out mum who can't be perfect all the time BUT because of the shit way your dad treated you, you see all displays of anger and annoyance as being terrible? Your mother seems to have been a very sweet and gentle but docile parent, so if your only real example of bad temper was your Dad being a bully, you might not be able to properly judge what is abusive anger and what it just you having an 'off moment'. If you've grown up seeing unjustified bullying and resentment as the only real example of anger, it makes sense that when you feel anger now, you see bullying and resentment in it, even when there's none, and you feel unjustified in being annoyed - even when you may have a perfect right to be. And remember, even if you're not justified - EVERYONE loses their temper over something unreasonable now and again; I'm sure your family would forgive and forget any examples of this, just as you do when they're the same

notbloodybranston Fri 26-Jun-09 22:56:20

As other posters have said - I could have written your OP.

My Dad was fairly violent to my sister and I, never took any interest in us and spent most of any family time in a seperate room to us. We never went to the park, we had two days out in our whole childhood. He would scream in our faces and we would be thumped for little things - sitting on beds, spilling, tripping over, even being ill. I remember hoping that aunts/neighbours would step in but no one did.

My mum was like yours - but I can't bring myself to say "brilliant" because she didn't stop him.

I tell my DD (4) and DS (1) that I love them all the time. With my DD, I tell her how good she is, how she tries hard, how pretty she is. We go out all the time etc... But I do shout a lot. And I smack and I am so ashamed. I get really frustrated and she has recently reached a naughty phase. If I am tired I can't deal with it and I can see a look of horror in my DH's eyes (his family are very passive and quiet).

I have had some counselling (before DCs). I am worried to admit this to anyone else in RL. I can see my Dad's action in mine every day and sometimes it stops me sleeping.

I can only say - at least we are trying, at least we tell our children they are loved. And at least we are trying to stop.

with love
xx

WantToBeDifferent Sun 28-Jun-09 10:00:44

Thanks so much guys.

I think what uberalice said about points was interesting. I think i would mostly be in credit most days hmm I hope!

And i also think having a few more counselling sessions would help me out.

Scorpette- what you said about temper could be right- my mother rarely lost hers, the grandparents i lived with at 16 didn't, nor does my DH.

I have some nice things planned for today, and i'm going to do my best to not shout. Even though my 3yr old is testing even my DHs patience.

ActingNormal Sun 28-Jun-09 13:04:07

Different, I know what you mean about finding it difficult to know if you are being really awful and carrying on patterns from your own upbringing or just having a few bad moments where you 'lose it' a bit like all normal parents.

What Scorpette said struck me - about reminding yourself of a family member every time you do anything even a tiny bit like them and then worrying that you must be really awful. That was quite reassuring because hopefully it means that you are not really awful but you care so much about not being like them that you notice any signs that you could be carrying on the bad patterns and can 'self-monitor' yourself and make sure you don't. It could be seen as a positive thing that you are even more aware of what effect you have on your children than people with 'normal' upbringings.

I love UberAlice's idea with the points and am going to try this myself! I think that is really clever. I think we have a tendency to only notice our mistakes and not counterbalance our view of ourselves with the good things we have done. Actively measuring it, with points and numbers, will give us a 'scientific' answer! It will make it much more easy to believe we aren't terrible if we have used a 'scientific' method to measure it! If we do come out with not many points at least we will know for sure whether we need to change or not. I swing between thinking I'm too 'strict'/'hard' and too 'soft'. I just feel I really don't know how I'm doing as a parent.

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