Wednesday, 3 August 2016

PARENTING LESSON #1 ~ Learn From Your Parents' Mistakes

PARENTING LESSON #1 ~ Learn From Your Parents' Mistakes - you don't have to repeat them

BENIGN NEGLECT

I've read some dreadful stories about terrible things parents have done to their children. My parents never abused us, they never physically hurt us, starved us, or beat us. I think what they did was basically ignore us - the old adage "children should be seen and not heard" was the standard for my upbringing (and preferably not seen too much either!) We were raised to know our place and to keep our heads down and to stay out of trouble.

I have no memory of being told I was loved, or being asked what I'd like to do. I don't think I even knew that children could have a say in anything or make a decision about something that pertained to the family. We just sat in the back seat and went where we were told, when we were told. We stayed out from under foot and didn't back answer, we expected nothing and were not disappointed. My mother once commented, when I asked my children what they wanted in their sandwich, "why are you asking them what they'd like?" She had no concept of children having a voice and learning to make decisions for themselves.

Compliments were never given, affirmation was never heard, there was no understanding that children need to be nurtured and encouraged. Even now in adulthood it is rare to hear anything positive expressed. They just never understood the need to build into their children so we would have an innate sense of who we were and our worthiness and place in the world.

AMUSE YOURSELVES

We slept in the back of the car when our parents visited friends for evening get-togethers, we wandered around killing time when our parents went to the car races, we sat on the beach or entertained ourselves when we were taken to our parents' weekender. No family fun times that I can recall and no family memories stored away. My mum made a bit of an effort to attend school and sporting events when it fitted into her schedule, but my dad never did.

My brothers rebelled in their own way in order to get some attention - my middle brother went completely off the rails for most of high school and got into a fair amount of trouble - I think it was his way of asking to be seen. Instead it got him kicked out of home and living in a caravan. We all moved out as soon as we could and made our way in life based on our own merits.


you are not your parents' mistakes, you are not your parents' struggles, you are here NOW with the power to shape your day and your future.
paraphrased from Steve Maraboli

THE SINS OF THE FATHERS

My brothers held a lot of resentment towards the selfishness of our parents, and my only response was "remember what it feels like and don't do it to your own children - don't propagate their mistakes." If you repeat the same mistakes and struggles in your own parenting then the problems just pass from generation to generation. The sad part is that my younger brother made a lot of the same mistakes and has no contact with his children now.


CHOOSE YOUR OWN PATH

I read about girls who want to marry men just like their fathers. I chose someone who was the polar opposite to my dad. We raised our children in the church, in the country, surrounded by extended family, and with traditions and laughter, and supported them to the best of our ability. There may not have been a lot of money but there was a lot of love. I'm sure they have plenty of stories to tell about when we didn't always get it right (those always come up at family Christmas gatherings!), but I'd like to think that there are just as many stories about when we parented well.

I look at our two adult children and how grounded and self confident and balanced they are. It warms my heart to see them display qualities naturally that it took me decades to learn on my own. They have a deep seated sense of self and their place in the world - their right to an opinion and a voice. I'd like to think that I learned from the mistakes my parents made and used those lessons to be a better parent. I hope my children think so.


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PARENTING LESSON #1 ~ Learn From Your Parents' Mistakes - you don't have to repeat them

27 comments:

  1. I was just having a conversation with a friend this morning about parenting and mistakes and how all we can do is strive to make NEW and DIFFERENT ones than we experienced.
    That would be a win for me.

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    1. I like the "new and different mistakes" Carla - because we'll never get it right (and that's okay) it's striving to do our best that really counts.

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  2. Quite true and profound. Although I don't have kids, I can see this wisdom.
    Carol
    http://carolcassara.com/airport-security/#

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    1. Thanks Carol - you might want to adopt a few by the end of this series :)

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  3. I felt so sad reading your post Leanne and had now idea about your childhood even though we have become friend. It would be impossible not to carry the hurt and damage done but you have turned that around to be a positive and to pour your love into your own family. You can be proud that you have been a loving parent and provided your children with what they need most - Love! Take care my friend xx

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    1. Thanks so much Sue - I guess we can't choose the family we come from, but we certainly can choose how we parent our own kids and the family we create in the process. There is always a silver lining x

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  4. I know where you're coming from. My dad never said he loved me until I was over 30 and then it was in 3rd person (your dad loves ya!). He's now dying and says I love you. A lot. My mom is just insane. I love them both but I'm a far better parent by consciously doing the very opposite of anything they did. I always though our effed up family was the exception and was so ashamed of where I come from but as I age I hear so many other similar tales from fellow survivors. Sucks but you know what they say about what doesn't kill ya making ya stronger. We're twisted... but in interesting shapes, I suppose.

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    1. I have really appreciated hearing about other families that were less than ideal Lisa - it definitely made us the people we are today - I'm not sure that's a good thing sometimes! I'm a work in progress and I hope my kids can see how far I've come from where I started!

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  5. Your story made me very sad and I'm sorry that this was your experience. You've done a fine job with your children, and as Jackie Kennedy said if you don't do that right then nothing else matters. So a lot matters with you, Leanne and it shows in your children. Kudos to you and your husband. Thanks for sharing your life with us.

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    1. Thanks Cathy - I think it's good to share our stories and to know that we aren't the only ones who experienced less than perfect childhoods. Often you only hear the great stuff because nobody wants to hear the less than lovely things.

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  6. I just want to hug you! I too have tried very hard not to repeat the mistakes my mother made, I still don't speak with her. My father wasn't perfect by any means but he apologized to me and we became very close. I was devastated when he passed away too young.
    I feel like I stood in the gap and could not be more proud of the parents my kids are to my grandkids.
    How was it that we knew not to repeat what our parents did and thank God we did.

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    1. Doreen I feel for you so much with your distance from your mum. It's so hard to not have that relationship with our parents that we deserve. I don't know how we figured out how to do it better but I'm so glad we did - and I love seeing my kids turn into such great human beings.

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  7. I can't imagine going through that type of neglect but thankfully, you realized what was happening and have changed your life and your family's life for the better. Often adversity makes you stronger.

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    1. It does indeed Rebecca - it teaches us lessons and if we're willing to put in the effort then we can use the bad to move us forward to making different choices.

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  8. Mine was one of those difficult childhoods as my mum had a severe mental illness which got progressively worse after she split with my dad when I was 10. She was abusive and violent and we were estranged for many years before she died. I determined a long time ago NOT to repeat her mistakes, and got counselling when I did find myself getting too angry at the kids and lashing out. Now my kids are grown we have the BEST relationship, so I can say I definitely learned what NOT to do as a parent!

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    1. Your childhood sounds worse than mine by far Janet - it just doesn't seem fair sometimes, but I'm so glad you moved forward too and have great relationships with your kids - it's just the best isn't it? :)

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  9. I'm sorry you had the experiences you had and hope you realize how many people you're helping by sharing your stories. It reminds me of that quote about not being able to write the beginning of our life story but remembering we have the power to write the rest of it. You are powerful!

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    1. Thanks so much Lois - it is nice to know that you don't have to repeat the mistakes made on you. I hope I've managed to make my kids' childhood a much happier memory than mine was :)

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  10. So sorry for what you and your brothers have been through. Your parents were probably bought up in the 'seen and not heard' culture. Each generation since has changed and slowly the culture has changed because of people like you who have seen a better way. It is sad that your parents have not taken note of this change and made some attempt to change their own attitude. It is so wonderful how you have transitioned and your children have had the advantage of a happier home.

    Kathleen
    Blogger's Pit Stop

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    1. I'm glad I learned from their mistakes Kathleen, but you're right, it would have been nice to see my parents adapt more and make more of an effort as they saw what parenting could be like.

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  11. This is great. I always try with a valiant effort to make sure not to do what my parents did

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    1. It's sad that we have to use them as a negative role model - but at least we know what NOT to do :)

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  12. Hi Leanne,
    My mom and I locked horns when I was growing up. I always told myself I wouldn't repeat her mistakes but I'd learn from them.
    Janice

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    1. I think if you learn from your parents' mistakes then it wasn't all for nothing and that is what I hold onto every day Janice!

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  13. My mother was the nurturer in my family of origin and Dad showed his love through his provision. I adored my mother and we had a close relationship with the usual teenage issues thrown in that we recovered from without permanent damage. I always wanted more from my father but grew to appreciate him and see his unique way of showing his love for us. I have always tried to be there for my son but have had those inevitable times when I've let him down. Nonetheless, he does know he is one lucky guy and as he copes with his own children, appreciates me all the more. Glad you turned things around in your own family, Leanne, as it sounds like you've done a wonderful job with your children.

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    1. Thanks Molly - I know that a lot of fathers weren't around all the time for their children back in our days. But if you still felt loved then you knew that your dad was doing his best. I think my problem is I never felt like I was seen by my dad and that's the sad part. I hope we did better for our kids.

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  14. I know someone (I won't say who - it's not secretly me though!) who is very much in a cycle of passing problems down generations. It's very unfortunate, but the children have been so damaged by the parents' behaviours and are so used to seeing it all as normal, that they have just become complicit in supporting and repeating abusive behaviour.

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