Author Topic: How do you parent with sanity after being raised by N's???  (Read 8378 times)

*Chutzbagirl*

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How do you parent with sanity after being raised by N's???
« on: April 03, 2005, 01:56:55 AM »
Hi everybody,

This is my essential dilemma in parenting - After being raised by N's, I have an unconscious tendency to do too much for my children.  I don't want them to feel unloved, abandoned or neglected like I did.  I want them to always know the extent of my love.  I cherish my children.  However, when I give too much I see a tendency for them to become selfish and inconsiderate.  (That's a scary picture after living with N's.)  It also pisses me off because I never experienced the freedom to be selfish and demanding.

I have a hard time saying no to their desires for my involvement in their lives.  But, then, after hosting playdates, teaching art docent lessons and leading children's ministry, I get tired and cranky.  I face my own limits and realize I just can't do it all.  I feel afraid that I might cause the same pain I felt.  Sometimes I am confident of my parenting; other times I feel afraid and think I should start saving up for their therapy.

It's really hard not knowing what "normal" is.  Do "normal" moms raise their voice sometimes?  Do "normal"moms feel ambivalent towards their children at times?  Parenting is a lot of work for me because I have to process my intense internal reactions from childhood, their behavior and reactions, AND my best interpretation of how a healthy parent should respond.  Yikes, no wonder I'm so tired. :roll:  

I've been coming to the realization of how much I beat myself up for not being a perfect parent.  Whenever I perceive a slip I feel terrible.   Being raised by an extreme N has caused me to expect constant selflessness, patience, wisdom, playfulness, organization, balance...yada, yada, yada.
The irony of the matter is that my own expectations cause me to become cranky. :x  

Thanks for listening.  I value your input.  This board has become a special place for me. :)

Chutzbagirl :?

mum

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How do you parent with sanity after being raised by N's???
« Reply #1 on: April 03, 2005, 03:20:16 AM »
Chutzpah: I have the same issues with my mothering.  Mine comes from trying to be the balance to my ex and his wife's controlling and meanness.  I probably over compensate.  But my kids are pretty good kids. They are kind and respectful to thier peers and teachers.  I once read that a good indication of how your kids will be as adults is NOT how they treat you, but how they treat others outside the home.  That's who they will be. (unless they plan on living with you forever).
Kids always take parents for granted, at least that's what they would like us to believe.

My kids test me in different ways all the time, at each stage of thier lives it's some new trick. Bottom line, they know they can count on me to act with  love towards them.  They know what love is from me, and for me, it's not the same as control (dad's definition).
They treat others with respect and kindness.  That's what matters to me.
I doesn't matter that they conned me into yet another pair of the latest whatevers.... but that they appreciate what I do (even if I do too much).

That said, it's ok to lose your cool........you're not a robot, you know.  If I lose mine, I make sure I own it...and don't hand off the pain to them.  If I am tired and they push me...I am the one responsible for not setting my own limits in the first place. It's very important to take care of myself.
I say this like I never blow my top, huh?  Dont' believe it.  Just make sure when you do, you apologize or explain, then your kids feel like it's ok for them to make mistakes too!!!  SEE, it's a win win!!!

I bet you're an awesome mom.

delphine

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How do you parent with sanity after being raised by N's???
« Reply #2 on: April 04, 2005, 10:39:47 AM »
Hi Chutzpahgirl,
I really respect you for parenting in such a conscious fashion, just  the knowledge that Mom really cares about  what kind of people they are becoming is a wonderful gift to your kids.

How old are they? Selfishness is the norm in young children...

I heard a speaker say, "You are a good parent when you give your children everything they need... and some of what they want."

That helps me keep my job in perspective. I have a tendency, like you, to overindulge my daughter, to give her more than I can really afford of time, attention, and money, but then she gets a cranky mom. So, she needs an emotionally available mom, and I am instead giving her expensive tennis lessons, a party for her entire class, etc (which are wants, not needs). So, I self-correct- not by taking away something she already has been promised but by saying no to the next ones that come up. it's a real juggling act but essentially my daughter (at 11) now understands that she is responsible for creating fun for herself and her friends in ways that don't require my undying devotion.

When she was younger and got bratty and demanding, I told her, "I feel very tired and unenergetic when you talk to me like that. If I get too tired, I won't have the energy to take you to the park later." She quickly learned that by being pleasant and considerate towards me (and others) she got more of my time and resources, that we were both happier. Teaching kids MUTUALITY is really an important endeavor.

Quote
It's really hard not knowing what "normal" is. Do "normal" moms raise their voice sometimes? Do "normal"moms feel ambivalent towards their children at times?


Parenting groups and friendships with older women who have raised kids you admire can help sort out what's right for you as a parent. Many very different styles of parenting can work out fine. The parents I chose as mentors altered their parenting somewhat for each kid. Some needed stricter rules, some more attention, some got priveleges earlier than others based on maturity.
Quote
I've been coming to the realization of how much I beat myself up for not being a perfect parent.


I can relate to that. I got a lot out of Anon groups (AlAnon and SAnon) in healing my negative, judgemental inner dialogue. I also found Cameron's the Artists Way valuable for allowing myself time for what I want, for who I am.

I also remember living in my crazy dysfunctional family down the street from a perfect famility- they were great humanitarians, gentle, kind, nurturing, wealthy but charitable- and their eldest had a nervous breakdown in freshman college because the real world was not a warm cocoon like her family. The next eldest retreated into a Christian cult because she lacked the ability to think for herself or see bad intentions in others. So, perfect has its drawbacks, too, LOL.

Delphine

Anonymous

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Re: How do you parent with sanity after being raised by N's?
« Reply #3 on: April 04, 2005, 02:42:45 PM »
Hi Chutzbagirl,

okay I'm not a parent but I've been a child. I read a lot about child development and parenting. This is because (a) I like children; (b) my young niece/nephew have N-parents and I try to help them; (c) it interests me; and (d) adults are just older children.

So here's my general idea on it. Normal parenting involves parents showing all kinds of emotions including anger, irritation, frustration, sadness, etc. The parents express all kinds of emotions and so do the kids. The parents, however, MANAGE their emotions so that the children don't perceive the parents as out of control. Parents are mature and kids don't have to be. Maturity doesn't mean you don't feel all kinds of emotions. It just means you're making an effort to manage your emotional states. This role models to children that emotions aren't dangerous.

A child is all about feelings. If you are empathic to a child's feelings, you are already a good enough parent. This doesn't mean caving in to the child's feelings by doing whatever they want. It just means you listen to them, and make an effort to describe what you think is going on with them. A child really appreciates a parent who tries to understand their feelings. This doesn't have to be some complicated thing.

Children also appreciate having limits set.

bunny

Brigid

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How do you parent with sanity after being raised by N's???
« Reply #4 on: April 04, 2005, 09:18:37 PM »
Chutzaba,
I've been away for over a week and have so much catching up to do, but this topic caught my eye and thought I'd throw in my 2 cents.

Parenting is a balancing act in the best of situations and for those of us who are having to do it alone or with an N ex-spouse it becomes even more so.  I have always been very involved in my children's lives (now 16 and 20) and I think they have very much appreciated that.  I think now that their father is virtually out of their lives, I am tending to overindulge their wants and needs so to make up for the loss of one parent's involvement.  One really has nothing to do with the other, but somehow it alleviates some of the guilt I feel for their lives being so disrupted (even though I didn't cause it).  So far my children are really good kids who have always made me proud of their decisions and behaviors.  I agree with Mum that a good indication is not how they behave with you, but with others and I have always gotten excellent reports on both of them.

My parents paid little or no attention to me growing up and I vowed to never treat my children that way.  My parents never told me they loved me and I try to tell my kids I love them every day.  I have seen the payoff of that and will never regret the time and effort I have put into raising them.  It has come back to me ten-fold and just gets better and better.  Kids are selfish and that is just a fact of life and a phase of growing up.  They should outgrow it and become kind unselfish adults if all the rest of the good values are there.

I'm sure you are doing just what they need most and they will turn out great.  You will never make all the right decisions about parenting, but hopefully the right ones will outweigh the wrong ones and you'll learn from them and they'll learn from you.  Have faith that you are doing your best.

Brigid

chutzbagirl

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How do you parent with sanity after being raised by N's???
« Reply #5 on: April 05, 2005, 01:22:03 AM »
Hi and thanks for your replies -

I had a really good session with my T about parenting today.  Here's what I learned - coming from an N Mom I did not learn how to set boundaries and I live with a very strong unconscious expectation to please people even when I am being mistreated.  So...many times I don't feel the initial irritation of my boundaries being pushed.  The cycle without recovery is N's raise people pleasers that raise N's.

I am going to focus on listening to my internal sensors and setting appropriate boundaries.  My daughter is 10 and has become more selfish and harsh towards her younger brother lately.  I feel the need to be 'on my game' in this new phase.  

Thankfully I have received good reports on my kids.  I usually feel like crying from gratitude during parent/teacher conferences because I know it's a miracle that my kids are turning out alright.  I will breathe a sigh of relief when I see how their teen years unfold.  I hope they will be like yours Brigid.   :)

Take care,

Chutz

Anonymous

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Re: How do you parent with sanity after being raised by N's?
« Reply #6 on: April 05, 2005, 02:18:20 AM »
Quote from: *Chutzbagirl*
I have a hard time saying no to their desires for my involvement in their lives.  But, then, after hosting playdates, teaching art docent lessons and leading children's ministry, I get tired and cranky.  I face my own limits and realize I just can't do it all.  I feel afraid that I might cause the same pain I felt.  



i think that yes, normal parents do all that stuff... !!! i feel for you about limitations. cant help being human. i just wanted to share a comment from my daughter recently, we were pretty poor when she was young, i also had a lot of health problems and i had to very frequently say no, but i tried to do it with a hug, and love, i felt that a child really wants love more than any other thing..... she never threw a fit  about it either.. (lucky me )

just recently, she wrote in a letter to me.. she wrote, "remember when you used to brush my hair? i really liked it when you bought toys for me, but i always felt most loved when you hugged me, or brushed my hair..."

how wonderful she feels that way now, i think.. she might remember the things i couldnt give her, but the fact that i hugged her and she felt loved, is what seems to have really stuck..
take care
d'smom

Anonymous

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How do you parent with sanity after being raised by N's???
« Reply #7 on: April 05, 2005, 09:37:12 AM »
Hi Chutzbagirl and everyone:

The fact that you are seeeking "normal" and aware of your limitations, makes you a good parent.

The fact that you bother to do so much for your children and are worried about doing too much, makes you a good parent.

The fact that you care about your children's feelings and are trying so hard to be reasonable and concerned, and to teach them to be considerate of others, makes you a good parent.

I'm sure this list goes on.

If you make a mistake and raise your voice, do you appologize later?
If you think you are being over indulgent, do you stop yourself and try to do something different?
Are your children developing well and do they seem healthy and happy?

No one will ever perfect parenting, or be a perfect parent, since no one is perfect, or able to achieve perfection.  You will make mistakes, as all parents do.  This too, is normal.

Do you cause your children intentional harm or negligent harm?
I think I already know the answer to that one.......absolutely not.

You are a good parent, Chutzbagirl and trying to do even better.

This is admirable and all anyone can strive for, or achieve in this lifetime.
It is a learning process and you are making the grade!!  It is not an easy job but you are doing it and doing it well!

GFN

Guest2

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Parenting
« Reply #8 on: May 19, 2005, 11:57:23 PM »
Thank you for this topic.  I have known for some time I was the child of an N, but not what to call it.  Now with my children, while simultaneously dealing with my aging N mother,  I worry every day that I am either inflicting the parenting I learned from her on my children, or overcompensating.

They are still young but I feel already overwhelmed with their demands, my own parenting requirements, and my mother's competition with them for my attention and resources.  I think I am going to grow old without having put myself or anyone else on earth having put myself first for one instant.  That makes me sad.

My husband does not understand my requirement to be such a good parent.  He is not the type to want to know why, he just wants it to stop.  The support I need from him would be understanding, but he is not interested in hearing my story.  

Well, this is all about me!  And I suddenly feel uncomfortable with that.  I'll hit send before I change my mind.

Anonymous

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How do you parent with sanity after being raised by N's???
« Reply #9 on: May 20, 2005, 12:44:15 AM »
Hello Guest2,

Well it certainly is a dilemma. I'm hearing you say that your parenting requirements are unrealistic; that they continue a destructive pattern of self-sacrifice. But you are compelled not to change them. Is that accurate at all? It sounds like this is mainly about unbearable pressures put on yourself by internal requirements for self-sacrifice. If that's the case, then I think the critical thing that would help you is a supportive therapist. It's not that your husband is a bad guy, but he isn't qualified to understand someone's self-sacrifice and accompanying depression. It's way over his head. Let me know if this makes any sense to you.

bunny

guest2

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parenting
« Reply #10 on: May 20, 2005, 01:50:33 AM »
Thank you Bunny.  You are probably right, but we can't afford it now.  Of course insurance does not cover therapy.   It is great to have a place to go like this group, where I can feel listened to and see what others are doing to cope.  

<I think the critical thing that would help you is a supportive therapist.>

Brigid

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How do you parent with sanity after being raised by N's???
« Reply #11 on: May 20, 2005, 08:44:16 AM »
Guest 2,

I would agree with Bunny that finding a good therapist to discuss your struggles with, would be very helpful to you now.  There are many definitions of being a "good parent."  When we have been raised by N parents, good parenting is a definition we have to create for ourselves as we certainly didn't have good role models.

Hopefully with the help of a therapist, as I also agree with Bunny that your husband doesn't have the perspective to help you with this, you can learn how to appropriately divide your time and energy among your children, your husband and yourself.  I realize you also have your mother in the mix and that is where a good therapist can really help you in setting the boundaries in that relationship and not allow her to insinuate herself into your family decisions.  

I completely understand the self-sacrifice as a parent and have been totally passionate about my role as a parent.  However, I am learning that it is OK to have a life of my own as it won't be long before they are both gone (one is already in college) and the best thing for them will be to see me as a healthy, happy woman that they do not need to be concerned is pining over my empty nest.  

As your children get older, you will find that you can't have as much involvement in their lives (once they can drive, you only have so much control). IMHO I would highly recommend nurturing your marriage now so you do not wake up some day after the kids are gone and wonder who the person is next to you in the bed and what you have in common anymore.

I wish you well as you work through this very difficult dilemma.

Blessings,

Brigid

Anonymous

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How do you parent with sanity after being raised by N's???
« Reply #12 on: May 20, 2005, 11:39:11 AM »
Hi Guest2,

Quote
They are still young but I feel already overwhelmed with their demands, my own parenting requirements, and my mother's competition with them for my attention and resources.

As everyone says, therapy would probably help, but as its out of the question at the moment, maybe you could consider a few things to lighten your load.
I don't know how old your kids are, but there is a sweet spot between toddlerhood and teenage where they can start doing things for themselves, but they still aren't a colossal pain in the rear end as so many teens are. (no comments from all the folks with the perfect teens out there please :wink: )
Maybe you could look forward to that time, say from six to thirteen?

How old and truly needy is your mom? If she is capable of taking care of herself, then maybe you could lay down some rules to her so that you have time for yourself.

How big of a doofus is your hubby? Have you ever really tried to tell him your story or do you assume he won't listen, or is he truly selfish? Sometimes we guys seem selfish, when in fact we are just oblivious to how bad others are feeling, especially our wives. :?
Quote
I worry every day that I am either inflicting the parenting I learned from her on my children, or overcompensating.

The fact that you are worrying about it probably means you are striking a nice balance.
 I don't know how old they are, but do they seem happy and well adjusted? If so, maybe you could work on measuring your parenting by them rather than your mom's example.
Maybe if you watch them develop well, you can not worry so much about how you're doing with them, and take some time to put yourself first.

mudpup

Brigid

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How do you parent with sanity after being raised by N's???
« Reply #13 on: May 20, 2005, 04:54:13 PM »
Guest2,
Sorry, I did not see your response to Bunny about not being able to affort therapy when I wrote my post.

Perhaps you could look into some parenting support classes in your area that could give you some help in learning to balance the various aspects of your life.  

Since I don't know the ages of the children, it is hard to be specific about setting the boundaries and finding the time for yourself, your husband and your children.

Brigid

Serena

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Re: How do you parent with sanity after being raised by N's?
« Reply #14 on: May 29, 2005, 09:04:04 AM »
Quote from: *Chutzbagirl*
Hi everybody,

This is my essential dilemma in parenting - After being raised by N's, I have an unconscious tendency to do too much for my children.  I don't want them to feel unloved, abandoned or neglected like I did.  I want them to always know the extent of my love.  I cherish my children.  However, when I give too much I see a tendency for them to become selfish and inconsiderate.  (That's a scary picture after living with N's.)  It also pisses me off because I never experienced the freedom to be selfish and demanding.

I have a hard time saying no to their desires for my involvement in their lives.  But, then, after hosting playdates, teaching art docent lessons and leading children's ministry, I get tired and cranky.  I face my own limits and realize I just can't do it all.  I feel afraid that I might cause the same pain I felt.  Sometimes I am confident of my parenting; other times I feel afraid and think I should start saving up for their therapy.

It's really hard not knowing what "normal" is.  Do "normal" moms raise their voice sometimes?  Do "normal"moms feel ambivalent towards their children at times?  Parenting is a lot of work for me because I have to process my intense internal reactions from childhood, their behavior and reactions, AND my best interpretation of how a healthy parent should respond.  Yikes, no wonder I'm so tired. :roll:  

I've been coming to the realization of how much I beat myself up for not being a perfect parent.  Whenever I perceive a slip I feel terrible.   Being raised by an extreme N has caused me to expect constant selflessness, patience, wisdom, playfulness, organization, balance...yada, yada, yada.
The irony of the matter is that my own expectations cause me to become cranky. :x  

Thanks for listening.  I value your input.  This board has become a special place for me. :)

Chutzbagirl :?


Just by asking yourself these questions indicates to me that you are a FANTASTIC parent.  I don't suppose your mother or mine ever stopped to question their behaviour towards us???

Your children are lucky!!