It’s All The Parents Fault

October 24, 2006 at 4:33 pm 14 comments

Nothing like a cat coat to keep you warm on a brisk fall day. Ophelia loves to sprawl on the grandgirls, they don’t complain.

I got up late this morning, and while I was getting ready, instead of hearing the morning news in the background one of those talk shows with a psychiatrist was on instead. Three grown women trying to decide whether to ever speak to their father again because of the way he disciplined them in their youth. They had a litany of complaints from hair pulling to spanking to not connecting with them emotionally. They said they cheered when their mother divorced him.

“What Mom and Dad did wrong” is a favorite game of my five children. Unlike the aforementioned young women, they usually do it with laughter and much clowning around. Apparently I wasn’t “Mommy Dearest” enough to keep them from flopping on my couch and emptying my fridge whenever the spirit moves them. But they have managed to commit to memory all of my very worst moments as a mother. There were a few, let’s face it, I’m human and because I was close to my kids they all knew just how to push my buttons.

Now that they’re all in their twenties and either have or are planning families of their own, we sometimes talk seriously about those parenting errors I made. I’ve said I was sorry for some things I did that were just boneheaded, but much of what they complain about came either from how Pap and I were parented, or rules the two of us just really feel strongly about, right or wrong. When we were raising them, there was no internet, few parenting books and terms like “playgroups” and “educational” toys may have been used, but not in our neighborhood.

I’ve been telling my kids for years, (when discussing those behaviors I don’t feel sorry for and still believe strongly in), to do it different with their kids. This makes my son foam at the mouth. Which makes me remind him of my cast-in-concrete philosophy of parenthood. Our job, as parents, is to do it better than our parents. I did it better. I kept you.

Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

Lucky People Ticking Clock and A Touch of Ranting

14 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Linda  |  October 24, 2006 at 5:33 pm

    I don’t really speak to my parents and I have a good deal of problems with the way I was raised, but I never dwell on it. My mother was very young when I was born and I think she never really wanted to be in that role that was thrust upon her so early in life, so I try to give her a break, but that is not always easy. I make mistakes all of the time, but I try to learn from them. I take things one day at a time. That is all that I can really do. My goal as a parent is to be the complete and total opposite of my own parents. It may sound harsh, but it keeps me in check.

  • 2. Stacy  |  October 24, 2006 at 6:35 pm

    I have a lot of issues with how I was raised, too, but while I wish things had been different, I don’t blame my parents for choices I make now. My mom was an unwed mother in a small, mostly rural town in the early 60’s. Keeping me took a lot of courage, but I also think she resented me to some degree. We’ve never been close emotionally, but it’s only been since my adoptive dad died and she took up with her new husband that our relationship has gone straight down the toilet.

    My “revenge” is to try and be as different from her as I can be as a mom.

  • 3. Smythe  |  October 24, 2006 at 8:01 pm

    This is a dynamite-filled subject and so I am not surprised at the above posts–and I am certainly not one of those who will say my life with my parents was filled with joy and flowers. More like vodka and speed (black beauties were all the rage then) But, like I have heard over and over the best revenge is to live a good life. I have tried to and I have tried to love my kids as best I can–regrets, sure, remorse-nope!

  • 4. Catch  |  October 24, 2006 at 8:11 pm

    I am lucky enough to have a great relationship with my Mother and my Father before he passed away and was raised in a very normal atmosphere. My Father was strict but we knew he loved us. We had curfews, when we were younger we got spanked…it never hurt us, he tried to make us responsible adults. WHen I had my kids I wish they had come with instructions…of course by then times were different. I did the best I knew how to do. Ive just realized since I have gotten older that not everybody had the same upbringing. It makes me sad to think of children being mistreated and not taken care of.

  • 5. Velvet Sacks  |  October 24, 2006 at 9:11 pm

    I didn’t want to make the same mistakes my mother did, so I found a whole new set of mistakes and made those. My kids turned out great in spite of the my cluelessness, and the older I got, the more I understood that my mother did the best she knew how to do. Sometimes I needed more from her, but in the end, I finally learned to appreciate “the best she knew how to do” and cut her some slack. Once I eased up on my expectations, the time we spent together was sooo much better for both of us.

  • 6. Sunflower Optimism  |  October 24, 2006 at 9:40 pm

    Yep, Kat, the best we can hope for is to parent better than our parents did. Each generation learns by increments. The trick is not to dwell on the missteps of our parents, but to learn from them. Unfortunately, sometimes that part takes a lot of years

    I know my children (well, ok, my daughter, not sure about that boy of mine yet! LOL) will be better parents than I was.

  • 7. sandy  |  October 24, 2006 at 9:49 pm

    This one’s a biggie and I’m running late, but I never felt close to my parents until I was in my twenties
    and my Mom’s second divorce, being with her and helping her through it brough us closer. As a child Mum just didn’t sem to have the time, it wa always grannie. That’s one leson I hope has passed on to our son family should talk over problems and stick together.
    Catch up with you soon Kat.

  • 8. Jay  |  October 25, 2006 at 12:09 am

    If they’re still talking to you, you can’t have been that bad. And the fact that you can admit that you’ve been wrong puts you way up in the 93rd percentile.

  • 9. DaveM  |  October 25, 2006 at 1:53 am

    I think that if as a parenet you try to be better than your parents then that has to be good. We all make mistakes but its a case of recognising them and learning from them, whether thats us or our kids. I certainly have a different relationship with my kids than I did with my father. Often once your kids become parents, they then realise that its not an easy job being a parent.

    As Sandy says Kat, this ones a biggy.

  • 10. Kat Campbell  |  October 25, 2006 at 5:45 am

    Linda and Stacy – Unfortunately we don’t get to pick our parents. But you took a bad situation and turned it around to make improvements in the next generation. That’s admirable.

    Smythe – Yeah, since parenthood doesn’t come with a guidebook, we all make a few mistakes along the way.

    Catch – You’re one of the lucky ones, I was too despite being raised unconventionally, there were a lot of people who loved me.

    Velvet – LOL, that’s pretty much what happened to me, made a whole new set of mistakes trying to do better than my sister mom.

    Sunflower – What is it with those boys? LOL, mine is 20 and thinks he has the answers to fixing everything in my life.

    Sandy – thanks for stopping when you had no time! Grannie’s are wonderful things, I’m glad you at least had that.

    Dave – definately a hot topic, who knew? But I agree, as long as parents are doing their best, that’s all a kid can ask for.

  • 11. Kat Campbell  |  October 25, 2006 at 5:48 am

    Jay – I wasn’t a bad parent, and my kids that have kids – are parenting them very much like they were parented, or striving to. That says more about how I did it any than anything.

  • 12. Mike  |  October 25, 2006 at 11:36 am

    Yes, there is the internet and many parenting books now, but so much of it is just noise. When my wife and I were struggling to deal with my daughter’s sleeping issues, I was able to find books that advocated every different flavor of advice.

    Some books told me to bring my daughter into our bed.

    Some books told me to leave her in her bed, but stay with her when she cries.

    Some books told me to leave her in her bed and let her cry alone.

    Some books used a combination of the above approaches.

    Some books told me what I did at night was irrelevant and I just needed to love her lots during the daytime.

    Great. 100 competing opinions in 100 different books. How does this help again?

  • 13. Skye  |  October 26, 2006 at 7:20 am

    Loved the picture of your cat sprawled out over your grandchild. It brought back memories of my cats doing that and how the rhythym of their purring was very relaxing. Miss that.

    We joke with my mom sometimes too about the stuff she did when we were younger. The most famous one is the shoe incident. My brother swears she hit in the head with her shoe. She has no recollection of it. If she did do it, I’m sure my brother deserved it. He was always getting into some mischief…lol.

    I was glad to reach the age when, like velvet sacks said, I finally understood that she did the best she knew how. I think about myself in my 20’s and realize how much I didn’t know, and by that point, my poor mom had 7 kids to deal with. I wouldn’t have been able to do that. So, I’m thankful to her for doing as well as she did.

    Thanks for your comments

  • 14. Kat Campbell  |  October 26, 2006 at 10:50 pm

    Mike – just goes to show that you can’t standardize rules for human beings. We do the best we can and hope we don’t screw the kids up in the process.

    Skye – your blog is a pleasure to read. Thanks for coming by.


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