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How do I stop myself parenting as my parents did?

(19 Posts)
Farmersue Thu 13-Aug-09 22:01:40

Hello everyone!!

This is my first post on here, although I have been lurking for a little while. I'm hoping somebody might be able to give me some advice.

Here's my predicament: I have been married to a fantastic guy for almost 3 yrs now. Recently, we have both been feeling that it is time to start TTC. While I am feeling rather broody and I know I would love to be a mum, I find I have really mixed feelings about it....

I grew up with a physically abusive father and a mother who was/is quite needy and manipulative. It's a long story, but I now have hardly any relationship with my Dad and a somewhat strained one with my mum. I feel that I will spend the rest of my life dealing with the aftermath of my upbringing and I really fear that this will make me a "bad" parent. They say we turn into our parents after all. I have a slight problem with my temper, although I do manage to control it for the most part and I am relatively patient but I'm not confident that I would be able to keep my cool when faced with the pressures of parenting babies / toddlers / teenagers...! My DH on the other hand is calm, patient, gentle, understanding - all of the things you'd want in a father, so no worries there!

I live in a different country to my parents now and so don't see them very often, but when I do, all the old feelings come back and panic sets in. I would rather not have children than have them experience anything like what I did as a child. I have just spent a week visiting them with my DH and couldn't wait to leave

Of course there is also the issue of how much I want them to be involved in my children's lives...

I wonder if there is anyone out there who has had a similar experience. Maybe you could let me know how you manage to deal with it. I realise I am being a bit premature as we haven't even starting TTC yet, but I feel I should enter in to it with positivity and certainty. At the moment I feel unsure and afraid really...

I'd be grateful for any advice!


Fs xxx

BlueFlotsam Thu 13-Aug-09 22:28:42

I have been lurking for eons but rarely post.

But I really think you are worrying over nothing. You are your own person. And if it worries you, then the less time you spend with your parents the less influence they have over you.

I look the spitting image of my mother but I am nothing like her, I am more like my father if anything... but at the end of the day I do the parenting 'my way'..

Hey I know I am not perfect but I do the best I can.

My son is 20, our relationship is improving... (he takes after his dad which, imo, isnt a good thing) my daugher is 18 and we are very close. None of us are perfect but I hope we love each other Dont worry!

Something takes over once you are a 'mum', hormones, whatever, and with a supportive patient husband, I dont see any problems...

all the best.

KTNoo Thu 13-Aug-09 23:05:02

I'm sure someone who has been through a similar situation to you will have more specific advice, but I wanted to post anyway.

I expect there are some people who parent entirely by instinct, possibly following the parenting they received themselves. But for others it's more of a process of deciding what kind of parent they want to be.

I did not go through what you went through, and until I had children I did not think too much about my upbringing. However since my first dc was born 8 years ago I have looked much more objectively at the way my parents were/are, and found that much of it is absolutely NOT how I want to be with my dcs. The issues are quite subtle - there is a lot of emotional manipulation and passive-aggression - which is possibly why it took me so long to put my finger on what was making me so uneasy.

You are obviously way ahead of me and already have complete awareness of wanting to do things differently. Obviously our situations were completely different but we both want to do things differently with our own dcs.

We also live in a different country from my parents, and we don't see them all that often. I don't really like the way they are with my dcs, but as it's not that often I don't feel they can cause any real damage.

Lastly I have found reading parenting books really useful. Some of the ideas (especially the idea of Unconditional Parenting by Alfie Kohn) were so alien to me before. I was brought up in a very conditional way.

Hope this helps. You sound lovely to me.

Farmersue Fri 14-Aug-09 12:40:01

Thanks BlueFlotsam and KTNoo. You've both said exactly what I needed to hear I was having a bad day yesterday and it really helped to post. I know in my heart that I can be a good mum - I guess it's a matter of confidence really. I feel much better. All I need to do now is get pregnant! x

screamingabdab Fri 14-Aug-09 15:15:04

Good luck Farmersue. I have to agree with what KTNoo says.

There is no doubt that parenting is so so challenging, requiring a lot of self-awareness. You have that, and that is a brilliant start, because you will parent thoughtfully.

Many of us, who have not experience what you have still find that along the way, being a parent makes us question ourselves and our upbringing. In those cases, there is help available, in the form of counselling, parenting classes, and books.

Misajode Fri 14-Aug-09 15:25:40

I'm a newby to all this too having just joined up this afternoon. I want to assure you Famersue that you have already won your inner battle by even acknowledging your doubts. I had a very very poor relationship with my own mother and vowed never to have the same relationship like that with my own children. I doubted my ability to parent and was fearful that I would too end up with a poor relationship with any offspring I had. I knew in my heart my children would have a better life than I did growing up because I wanted it so badly for them. I wasn't going to let them have a poor relationship with me and to this day, they talk to me, cuddle me, share things with me, laugh with me and cry with me. You raise your children the way you want not the way you were brought up yourself. It is different and you will love every minute of it. Even the dirty nappies lol.

screamingabdab Fri 14-Aug-09 15:31:39

welcome to MN Misajode

morethanithot Fri 14-Aug-09 15:35:50

well done farmersue,
if you are aware of the problems with their parenting style, it makes it much less likely that you'll repeat the same stuff. i find i have to watch myself and dh, as some of the behaviours are almost habits. what we do is discuss any identified repeat behaviours openly, and plan how to move foward if we find ourselves doing what we had sworn never to do.
i agree with everything said above, except for the part abt loving every minute. if you don't love every minute,don't beat yourself up about it, that is the reality of parenting.
all we can promise is to do our best.
i tell myself, there is no right way to raise a child, there are however, clear wrong ways. avoid the wrong, and you'll be fine.
God bless, and good luck!!!

skihorse Fri 14-Aug-09 16:00:52

I've had a crap load of therapy so I don't end up repeating the mistakes of my parents - I'm now confident in my ability to be a decent mother.

I think it would be worth addressing your problems to a psychologist - you know it's wrong to inflict the damage to another generation.

sundew Fri 14-Aug-09 16:09:35

farmersue I would second what skihorse said and have some counselling. My upbringing wasn't as difficult for you but my parents were very controlling and I didn't have the happiest of upbringings.

It took until my dd1 was 8 to realise I was miserable and I blamed most of it on my dh and his depression blush. It took a few counselling sessions to realise what and why I was doing and parenting the way I was. Although it hasn't been easy I am finding it enjoyable being a mum most of the time (rather that some of the time).

You will be fine - being a mum is hard work but it is worth it smile.

Farmersue Fri 14-Aug-09 18:54:39

Thanks everyone for such encouraging replies.
Sundew and skihorse - I would certainly consider some counselling. I know the only way I can be the kind of mum I would like to be is by coming to terms and making peace with my own past.
All will be well, I'm sure - but I know I will have to work at it! Somehow, motherhood doesn't seem such a frightening prospect today. It gives me hope to hear that others have forged positive relationships with their dcs despite having had troublesome relationships with their own parents. Thank you all.

BottySpottom Fri 14-Aug-09 19:55:19

I'm afraid I don't think you are worrying about nothing and I think your temper issues are relevant (and probably directly related to your upbringing). But I think being so insightful and thoughtful about the issue at this stage stands you in really good stead for being a parent.

I think becoming a parent does open the can of worms that is your childhood so I would expect any feelings you have now to be amplified.

Re this comment: 'You raise your children the way you want not the way you were brought up yourself' - unfortunately it is not always as easy as that and I would find a Psychologist to see now before you start trying to conceive.

Good luck - you sound as though you will make a great mum.

tammybear Fri 14-Aug-09 20:05:38

Hi Farmersue,
My story is I grew up with an abusive mother, a father who left and have rarely seen since I was 7, and siblings who got away with murder. This still affects me now, in fact I have just finished two years of counselling because of this.

I was very nervous about becoming my mum when I became one, and I remember being terrified during the pregnancy that I was going to be a terrible mum. But I found that I learnt and knew how I wouldn't treat my DD. I would never want her to feel 1/10th of what I felt growing up. My focus is for us to have an open and honest relationship, and she is now 7, and everyone I know or who knows us always compliments me on how well I've raised her up. So tbh (as awful as this sounds) I am in some ways grateful ~(not the right word) for what I've been through as I know what I don't want to be and don't want my DD to feel.

The fact that you're worrying shows you already care and are aware of it. I'm sure you'll be just fine

superfrenchie1 Fri 14-Aug-09 20:35:45

hello farmersue,

don't worry! you'll be ok.

there is a thread here about this kind of 'toxic parenting' - lots to read through, but there are others in your position who are managing to bring up their children differently to how they were brought up.

as everyone is saying, the fact that you recognise this now at this early stage is great. don't be scared, if you want to start a family then go ahead and start trying.

good luck! glad you're feeling better about it all.

castlesintheair Fri 14-Aug-09 20:54:29

Agree with BottySpottom, that you have valid concerns and temper issues are undoubtedly a result of your upbringing. I had/have a similar situation to yours and again as BS says, found 'hidden' issues surfaced with having children.

Having said all that, I don't think I have done too badly so far and have consciously gone out of my way to not be the kind of parent that my parents were. I have also had a lot of counselling. I also echo what others have said: recognising your own potential shortcomings means your are already likely to be a better parent than your own. Sadly, toxic parents fail to see their own faults/shortcomings and tend to blame everyone else.

Good luck and welcome to MN

skihorse Fri 14-Aug-09 21:33:56

I am very wary about your own admission of "temper tantrums". Unless you address these seriously and I suspect it boils down to being unable to express your needs sufficiently, then you will express your temper through (I'd hope!) leaving the room/silent treatment - ergo, abandoning your children.

I'm not a psychologist, I'm an escapee from a psych unit wink and none of us here can give you psychotherapy - but if you want to change your life and your attitude you will need to get proper treatment - not just "consider" it because right now I can guarantee you will handle situations in the way I have described above.

skihorse Fri 14-Aug-09 21:35:09

I'm sorry if that sounds harsh - but as I said, I cannot give you psychotherapy - all I can do is try and point you in the right direction and give you my reasons.

Extended Sat 15-Aug-09 11:03:59

Hello Farmersue - are you a real farmer like me?

We were pretty much free to go our own way as we lost all four parents while we were at University. That said we looked at the way we had been raised, kept the things that seemed to work and that we were happy with and firmly dumped the rest.

If any of the four of them are looking down at us they will not be happy - tough, my life, my children, my rules.

Farmersue Sat 15-Aug-09 12:31:53

You are right skihorse - will seek out some therapy. Extended - I'm just an imaginary farmer unfortunately :0
I'm off to have a look on the toxic parenting thread now. Thanks again everyone.

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