Parenthood After a Bad Childhood.. - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 20 Old 04-06-2008, 12:02 AM - Thread Starter
 
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This is really going to be difficult but I need to talk about it. Unfortunately I am new where I live and don't have anyone to talk to, so I am reaching out to you all.

I'd talk to DH, but its hard for him to relate. He had a (literal) white-picket fence perfect family. I hope I can find someone to relate to here.


Here I go, this is "my story."

My mom was a single parent and I was an only child. My mom left my dad because of his drug abuse and child abuse when I was 2 years old. After she fled the state that he lived in, I was kidnapped a total of 3 times before I was 5 years old when my Mom finally obtained legal custody of me. Oh yeah, then I had cancer when I was 6. We were dirt poor, and my Mom always had to work at least 2 jobs. From the time I was 8 I would cook myself dinner, because we couldn't afford a baby sitter.

I guess all of this was very hard on my mother, who was a very violent alcoholic by the time I was 10. Of course, when you're 10, you don't understand what alcoholism is. I believed her when she blamed me for everything that was wrong in her life. I lived for a very long time believing I was the sole source of all the evil in the world. I was abused like this until I went to college (against her wishes).

As an adult, I can look back on all the abuse and know that it was not my fault. This does not, and will not ever, take the pain away or undo the damage it caused.

Anyway, now that you have the back story...

I am so worried that I will be an unfit mother because of the way I grew up. Because I felt like the source of all my mother's pain, I expect in the back of my mind that this baby will ruin my life. And then I feel absolutely terrible about it.

I wonder about how I will react to things, and am scared that I will react the way that my mother did.

I'm terrified that I won't love my baby because I don't know what mother-daughter love is supposed to feel like.

I don't know what to do or who to talk to... I've been very depressed because I really don't have any friends around here and it's so hard to go through this alone. I'm just so scared...


Thanks for listening.

Nik! Mama to Evelynn Rose 08/19/08 and Autumn Lily 11/02/10
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#2 of 20 Old 04-06-2008, 12:23 AM
 
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First of all mama, how brave of you to post your story when you are already feeling vulnerable and alone.

I too had a very traumatic childhood, and while the situations are different the outcome was the same. I had a hard time coming to terms with my first pregnancy.

Some things that helped me:

Therapy. Talking to someone who could really help me put my past into perspective and work things out inside of myself.

Forgiving my parents. Harboring resentment or anger was only hurting me, and I did not want it to hurt my child.

Reminding myself over and over that I am not my mother, and have the free will to make my own parenting decisions.

Reminding myself that I want better for my child, and will not resent my child for being in my life, as I know how damaging that can be. (This has never been an issue, as the moment my child was born I was transformed, healed and have loved all of the changes my new life brings.)

Being kind to myself. Bubble baths have been my refuge, and every day I try to take 15 min to just be by myself and examine if everything is truly ok kwim?

Sharing with my dh any time I'm feeling upset. My dh is an awesomly understanding man, and I can share my feelings with him without recrimination. He is a compassionate listening ear and also helps to put things into perspective when I'm getting bent out of shape over something small.

Please feel free to continue sharing with the wise mamas on this board, and to pm me if you ever feel like you need to talk one on one. Also, check out the Spare the Rod board for ideas and books about gentle discipline. My childhood had a lot of physical/emotional abuse and reading about different techniques before my babe was born really helped to shape a positive parenting plan for me.

HTH!

I am not crunchy enough for this forum. Everyday I get a little crunchier though! :
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#3 of 20 Old 04-06-2008, 04:15 AM
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holothuroidea, I feel exactly like you. For that reason I also never even wanted to have any children.

What I think is that at least you are aware of what you are feeling and know why. So that alone can make you feel better.

Later if you find you do something wrong you know why and you can understand it and work on it.

But yeah, you still keep being worried about a child ruining your life, about you not loving it and not wanting it, because you remember how nobody wanted you and loved you and told you you ruined their life. I think its understandable.

We'll see how it turns out
I think there is a good chance that you don't make the same mistakes because you know how bad it is ...
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#4 of 20 Old 04-06-2008, 04:20 AM
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holothuroidea, oh I also wanted to ask you something. Do you also find it the hardest thing in the world to tell your mother that you are pregnant?

I don't think I will ever tell her ...
(live in another country so that would even be possible lol)

That probably comes from the same problem, doesn't it? That you feel your mother didn't want you, so you feel she would be just as upset about yet another child or something, criticize you for it maybe.
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#5 of 20 Old 04-06-2008, 04:57 AM
 
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Originally Posted by holothuroidea View Post
I don't know what to do or who to talk to... I've been very depressed because I really don't have any friends around here and it's so hard to go through this alone. I'm just so scared...
Oh my heart breaks for you right now... and I'm sending you a big hug from Sunny Southern California (I'm originally from NYC). When I was pg I too needed a support group and was lucky to find a Prenatal Yoga group and although I did not share my deepest feelings with the moms, it felt SO GOOD TO MY SOUL to be around other women going through the same thing.

Do you have anything like that in Central NJ? Any mommy groups? There has to be something... Join now... many people (myself included) have had crappy childhoods. You are not alone.

I was terrified my firstborn would be a girl because I had a lousy mother/daughter relationship with my own mom (widow, insulted me all the time growing up). I was relieved when it was a boy.

I found that being so hyper aware of my own horrible feelings, and in tune to how children feel (because I remembered) I really liked and related to children well. I was a babysitter/nanny during my early 20s because I loved being with children.

Can you see it from that perspective? You are not unconscious to the trauma you went through, you are very aware and I will bet a shiny penny (a million of those) that you will be a loving, devoted, present, and aware mother.

(I too was transformed by my son's birth and first year... how we bonded together and how I cared for him.)

You are not your mother.

10 - boy
5.5 - girl
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#6 of 20 Old 04-06-2008, 11:07 AM
 
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Hugs, mama, that's a tough story. I think a big part of not repeating your childhood is awareness and knowing that we have a choice to fall into patterns or make new ones. The great thing about pregnancy is that it gives you a lot of focusing time to think about what you want to do as a parent, and what is important to you. I found it a really healing (and difficult!) time, as you think about and encounter your past-a lot is dug up...but it also filled me with hope that things would be different and better-and they have been.
I had a difficult child/teenhood too (my dad and brother died very closely together, and my mom so completely fell apart, as did everyone in the family) and realized, as another poster pointed out, that I am not my mother.
Even if your DH can't relate (my DH has the perfect family too-sometimes I can't believe they're real!), he is your partner and a sounding board. Sometimes it's just a matter of dredging it up, getting it out, and laying it to rest. And as he'll be 50% of the equation in you guys raising a happy and together kid, maybe you can talk about some things that are especially important to you to do(or not do!), and come up with some strategies...

fridgeart, lucky mum to E (5) and Ro (2)
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#7 of 20 Old 04-06-2008, 12:30 PM
 
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Thank you for sharing your story. Although I did not have a similar childhood, my mom's was hard and she has demonstrated that you can decide to be different (always with lots of love and support from others-therapist, friends, kids..) I wish you well as you begin the path to healthy parenting and hope that the love that develops with your child over time serves as a positive motivation....

Married to CH (2005) and mother to DS1 (6/2006), DS2 (8/2008) and DS3 Sept 22nd, 2011!   

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#8 of 20 Old 04-06-2008, 01:46 PM
 
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I agree with others, therapy, finding someone you can work your feelings through helps.

Coming from an alcoholic background, a good free place to start is alanon.

I too had a very rough childhood, filled with drugs and alcohol and have been successful in breaking the cycle. Like everyone else says you are not your mother.

You will find that this child will bring you more joy then you ever imagined.

A good read is Dr. Laura's book Bad childhood, good life.

Hugs Mama.
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#9 of 20 Old 04-06-2008, 07:48 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Aww

Thank you all so much for the support. It helps so much to know that I'm not the only one that feels this way.

lil_earthmomma- Thanks for the advice. I'm addicted to the GD forum, now! It's really helping. I never would have thought of that.

deethai- Yes I did have a LOT of trouble telling my Mom about the baby. I actually had to devise a cute way of telling her without actually saying anything (and while I wasn't in the room)!

She's all excited about it, though, and will be at the birth. I've always forgiven her because... I guess 'cause she's my mom and she did her best.



All of your posts have given me a lot of hope. What I think I really need are some friends, it's hard for me to make friends though. I don't know about mommy groups. I feel like if I went to a mommy group everyone would judge me for the home birth and cloth diapering and staying at home and stuff. NJ is not crunchy-friendly. Also, I feel like I would be so much younger than everyone else.

Any advice on this?

Thanks again!

Nik! Mama to Evelynn Rose 08/19/08 and Autumn Lily 11/02/10
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#10 of 20 Old 04-06-2008, 08:43 PM
 
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Originally Posted by holothuroidea View Post
All of your posts have given me a lot of hope. What I think I really need are some friends, it's hard for me to make friends though. I don't know about mommy groups. I feel like if I went to a mommy group everyone would judge me for the home birth and cloth diapering and staying at home and stuff. NJ is not crunchy-friendly. Also, I feel like I would be so much younger than everyone else.

Any advice on this?
I hear you on NJ not being crunchy-friendly. (In the 90s, we used to rent a beach house in Sea Girt.) A lot of places are like that. But you will find that if you just try, and put yourself out there, you will find like-minded friends in the mainstream sea. You are not the only crunchy mama-to-be in NJ!

The first place I can suggest for finding like-minded (Mothering Mag type) mothers are La Leche League meetings.
http://www.lalecheleaguenj.org/
It's ideal to go when you are pg (I didn't) because then you go to meeting, hear other women's struggles and come away with tips! And then when you go back to the meetings, month after month, you won't feel like a stranger because the faces are familiar. Over time you'll make friends.

What we did... after the meeting (usually during the weekday) announce a lunch date and all of us (babies & toddlers included) would go to lunch. Then we started a weekly playdate (great way to get to know other moms) and one member started a yahoo group (e-mail list). That was 8 years ago. She is long gone, but the list is still active.

(An introverted friend of mine started another County AP yahoo group e-mail group and it's nice to "connect" with moms online - although I don't have time to make it to stuff like I used to. YOU could start that.
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/VenturaCountyAPMoms/)

What's your zip code? County? I can do an online search for you and get you started on local groups. Easy peasy.

It was * always * hard for me to make friends, but as I've gotten older (I'm 39. My son was born when I was 31) I've become a lot more comfortable being "outgoing" and suggesting we (the group) do this or that.

I also met a lot of like-minded parents at my children's Co-op Preschool (developmental program, parents are required to work in the program to learn about child development, very affordable). Not every community has one though. It's been a lifesaver for me.

Now that my son is in regular elementary school (many of the people I like homeschool) I'm in a sea of moms who are pretty mainstream and it is hard to connect with people, but I won't stop trying. I try to get to know others through their children... I like their children, I will probably like the parents... but it's important for me to get to know them b/c my children will grow up wanting them as friends.

10 - boy
5.5 - girl
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#11 of 20 Old 04-07-2008, 12:42 AM
 
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I'm also addicted to the GD forum!!!

As for finding some crunchy friends, I used to live in a very "mainstream" city, and I found that going on the Finding Your Tribe forum helped a lot! They suggested AP play groups, etc.

Also, check out something like baby yoga, where you know you're doing something healthy and fun with your new babe! I loved salsa babies, and it was a great way to meet other mamas that wear their babes.

I'm glad you have forgiven your Mom, it really helps to not have that eating you up... I know.

I am not crunchy enough for this forum. Everyday I get a little crunchier though! :
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#12 of 20 Old 04-07-2008, 12:57 AM
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Originally Posted by holothuroidea View Post
deethai- Yes I did have a LOT of trouble telling my Mom about the baby. I actually had to devise a cute way of telling her without actually saying anything (and while I wasn't in the room)!

She's all excited about it, though, and will be at the birth. I've always forgiven her because... I guess 'cause she's my mom and she did her best.
That's interesting really, so how long did you wait to let her know about it how far along were you? I suppose you couldn't wait long if she lives close to you. How did you tell her and what was her initial reaction to finding out?

I have it easier I only talk to mine via instant messaging, so it would be a matter of typing something to tell her, even that I don't really want to do.
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#13 of 20 Old 04-07-2008, 11:05 AM - Thread Starter
 
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That's interesting really, so how long did you wait to let her know about it how far along were you? I suppose you couldn't wait long if she lives close to you. How did you tell her and what was her initial reaction to finding out?

I have it easier I only talk to mine via instant messaging, so it would be a matter of typing something to tell her, even that I don't really want to do.
She lives about 3 hours away. She visited for my birthday, I was about 6 weeks then.

I knew she was going to ask what DH had given me for my birthday, I planted the "What to Expect When You're Expecting" book on the kitchen table. So I said, "Oh, he gave me a book, it's on the table in the kitchen."

She just said "NO WAY!!" Then she came and gave me a big hug and told me how awesome it was. For the rest of the night she would periodically laugh and say "I just can't believe it!"

Even though I was glad she was excited, I really didn't want to talk to her about it. I would just smile and let DH do all the talking.

I can't keep secrets, I told every one I could as soon as I knew.

Nik! Mama to Evelynn Rose 08/19/08 and Autumn Lily 11/02/10
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#14 of 20 Old 04-07-2008, 10:39 PM
 
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Just wanted to pass on this resource (great book associated w/ this site)

http://www.becomingtheparent.com/all/hp.html .

Best of luck to you!
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#15 of 20 Old 04-08-2008, 02:49 AM
 
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mama. I think everyone can relate to the fear of messing up your kids and wanting to do it differently than your parents. One of the reasons it took me so long to even want kids is because of this idea. Now, I just wish I had more time, so I could have a dozen. You will make mistakes with your kids and you will have guilt. That's going to happen. And you'll have to deal with it. But, you will not mess them up because you have already broken the cycle of abuse by awareness. It's hard, but it's going to be worth it. You've got all the support we can give you here at mdc and even though we're online, we're still here for you

I used to live in Central NJ (now I'm in SF East Bay) but I know there are a lot of Holistic Moms Network chapters in NJ. Check them out, as you may find a community of other moms for support: http://www.holisticmoms.org/

Zoie, granola mum to three boys on earth, one girl who soars  
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#16 of 20 Old 04-08-2008, 03:01 AM
 
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I had a somewhat bad childhood (alcoholic father) but also had some great role models (strong but not perfect mom, great g-parents). I feel for all that you had to go through. I think in many ways that could make you a much better parent then some. Especially if you recognize the challenges that you had to go through for what they were, crappy times and not normal.

So, have faith in yourself that you'll do the right thing. Motherhood is a wonderful thing that is amazing and will completely take you by surprise. I was on the fence about having kids and not a super natural nuturing type. I sort of thought I would do it eventually but really had no plan in mind. My partner of a long time and I ended up accidentally getting pregnant. I was sort of in shock but also glad it happened since I didn't have to actually do any hard planning. Anyhow, this has totally taken me by surprise and I've loved every minute of it. My DD is now 3. I really wish I would have started sooner I love this so much.

I do recommend that you take some parenting classes. The reason I say that is everyone can use those skills, no one is a natural Mary Poppins w/ a few exceptions. Think the classes will give you more confidence and a road map to follow. It also will help you (& maybe your DH) to not question your skills. It might also give you both tools in which to be consistent together.

I didn't read all the other replies but I liked the ideas like finding a baby yoga class and the like. You will find that mothering does bring you close to others with children. It's extremely helpful for many reasons. So, be creative, get out there & meet some of those people w/ similar philosophies. You could maybe even start now and do some pre-natal yoga.

Congrats & good luck. (Oh, I jumped on from the DDC Oct. '08)
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#17 of 20 Old 04-08-2008, 03:27 AM
 
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My childhood wasn't bad, but I was abused by my father. He used to beat me with the end of a broomstick whenever I disobeyed. I used to get bruises and he told me to never tell anyone. He also used to yell a lot. I was always so afraid that i'd marry my father and end up with a man that abuses my children and yells at them. I can't stand yelling. But my husband is the polar opposite of what my father was. He is the sweetest man and wouldn't hit a fly. He also never yells. It's taken years to forgive my father for what he did to me and my sisters when we were children but I finally have. It was also hard to accept that he is a different person today. He's come to terms with his anger and depression and is seeing a therapist regularly now.

I know I am not like my mother in that I would not stand idly by and watch my child get beaten. I would not allow yelling either. I don't think it's right to yell at a child. I think it really scars them... it certainly left scars for me.

Rachel lady.gif, in love with my baby girl Abigailenergy.gifborn 9/17/08!
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#18 of 20 Old 04-08-2008, 06:41 PM - Thread Starter
 
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funfunkyfantastic

Thank you for sharing your story. I think that a lot of people who are abused have a fear of ending up with another abuser. I'm glad I didn't, as well! My husband only yells at the television during hockey games.

I get upset for no reason some times. When I get upset, DH never has an angry response. He just says I'm being "a poopyface" and offers to "wash the poop off your face with kisses." LOL

We are so lucky. We do not have to repeat the cycle.

Nik! Mama to Evelynn Rose 08/19/08 and Autumn Lily 11/02/10
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#19 of 20 Old 04-09-2008, 11:54 AM
 
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therapy is really helping me now, while my parents were not physically abusive there was sextual abuse bu me older brother to myself sister and a cousin.

It was all supressed until I had a girl, we found out at the ultrasound and I dreaded every minute till she was born. She is wonderful and very well behaved but I am an OVERLY protective mother to the point of causing her discomfort and maybe even harm. Then we had a boy with another on the way. Part of me is happy my daughter is older but I am learning boundries, like what is normal mom fears and what fears are fuled but past abuse. It is hard but I LOVE my kids and I always try to think of them first on bad days, like are we short on sleep, are they really not listening or am I haveing a bad day therefore I am on edge and my expectations are too high.

It is really alot different from how I was raised, my parents still dont understand alot of the phlilosophy's that I use but I can also let comments slide if they are disagreeable instead of a "Well it is better then what you did" fight.

You will be a great mother if you put your mind to it and have support. My husband has been my support. We still have some disagreements but we comunicate well enough to get thru them!

To the moms!

Jenn
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#20 of 20 Old 04-13-2008, 09:43 AM
 
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FWIW, I have worked with several mothers who have had horrible upbringings and turned out to be wonderful, loving mothers. The hardest thing for them was forgiving themselves when they made typical parenting mistakes. Just remember not to be too hard on yourself!
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