The Blame Game

During our Nov. 29 discussion about John Dickerson's book about his mother, Foamgnome raised a provocative point:

"It seems like blaming your parents is an American pasttime. Is this a recent trend or has it always existed? At some point, you need to move on from your childhood. Unless you were abused, I think you should pull up your socks and learn to deal with the past. Take the good things from your childhood and repeat them, actively don't do the bad things, and ignore a lot of the stuff in between. Why do Americans spend so much time worrying about what didn't happen and just start focusing on what they can do today?"

I think about this all the time. My parents were a lively mix of wonderful and faulty, and for years I blamed them for a lot of my problems. I'm shocked to look back now and realize how devoted they were to us kids. So my question for you today: Why do some of us blame our parents for their human errors? Is this blame game a uniquely American, 20th century phenomenon? Will our kids blame us for their problems? Is there anything we can do to stop the blame and accept the past?

By Leslie Morgan Steiner |  December 8, 2006; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Free-for-All
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I blame my mom for my allergies, because she didn't breast feed me.

There are some other things I'd like to pin on my parents, but they really aren't fair topics. So I'll just stick with the first one.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 8, 2006 7:54 AM

To dadwannabe from yesterday:

Does your wife's Fed office have a Leave Donation program? I have donated to a number of folks for various reasons, including narcolepsy and ADD. One woman in my office received a year's worth of donated Leave for something like your wife's situation.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 8, 2006 7:58 AM

Blaming your parents is the national pastime? How about blame somebody for anything that doesn't go your way. Late for work - soemone else drove too slowly. Kid not succeding at school - bad teachers. No one in this country wants to be accountable for anything anymore. Maybe your kid is in jail because you were a lousy, absent parent, maybe not - but you've certainly got to be open to the idea. Everyone needs to spend more time looking inside themselves where the real accountability lies and that includes the kids with lousy parents and the parents who are lousy.

Let me add, that I'm really speaking about garden variety bad parents, not parents who are abusive or live in extreme poverty - I know nothing about that and cannot speak to that experience.

Posted by: moxiemom | December 8, 2006 7:59 AM

I grew up in the 50's and 60's. I was taught to never criticize my elders and never speak ill of the dead. This philosophy fostered a societal cover-up for the adults who abused, neglected, beat and raped children and wives.

As for the blame game being a 20th century (and 21st century) phenomenon, seems to me there are a lot of writings before the 20th century that point out bad parenting.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 8, 2006 8:09 AM

moxiemom- THANK YOU! I have nothing to add.

Posted by: atb | December 8, 2006 8:10 AM

'blame my mom for my allergies, because she didn't breast feed me.'

I am hoping this isn't serious. There may or may not be a causal relationship and the sooner that we realize the breatfeeding is not the end all and be all that it is portrayed as today, the better. I am not against breast feeding, I just don't think that someone HAS to do in order to be a good mom.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 8, 2006 8:15 AM

Once I had kids any "blame" I had for my parents pretty much dissappeared. There was plenty they did wrong but so much more they did right. You just try not to make the same mistakes with your own kids.

I know some extraordinary people who had horrible childhoods. I also know plenty of people that blame almost everything on their parents - and they are miserable. Somewhere along the way people either learn to cope or not. It is such a crap shoot - it is one of the things I think about as a parent.

Posted by: cmac | December 8, 2006 8:25 AM

I don't think it's uniquely American, but I think Americans have more time to blame their parents because in general the country's so wealthy that people have the mental room to navel-gaze (like on this blog). Also I think sacrificing for your kids, that all parents do, is less visible here because even after all the sacrifices people are relatively well off. I didn't grow up here, and when my parents sacrificed for my future you couldn't miss it: they never had new clothes, they never owned their own home, they never took vacations, etc. They invested all their resources to give us opportunities. So I look back and I'm grateful.

Posted by: m | December 8, 2006 8:27 AM

I believe you lose your "right" to blame your parents for your failures about the time you turn 21. You are an adult. You are making your own choices. You are aware of resources available to assist you to improve. Even if it is just the library, we all can learn to improve those areas that need it.
If you choose NOT to do this, it is YOUR fault, not your parents.

Posted by: Accept responsibility | December 8, 2006 8:31 AM

I seem to recall the opening of "Anna Karenina"including the phrase "unhappy families are each unhappy in their own way"- so, no, i don't think it's modern or uniquely American.

Posted by: childfree and equal | December 8, 2006 8:34 AM

I think there is a "survivor gene". Some people have it and some don't. We all know of people who have had terrible childhoods and are able to rise above it and become very successful (Oprah comes to mind). There are other people who allow themselves to become victims and blame everyone else for their problems and shortcomings. I am not trying to say that people don't have true problems but what is it that makes some people able to get past them when others can't? Not so sure it is parents or upbringing.

Posted by: KB Silver Spring | December 8, 2006 8:36 AM

I would be convenient but I do not blame my parents for my choices.

I have learned from my parents mistakes, my inlaws, and yes the horror even my own.

My daughter is being raised to be accountable for her own choices. She loves
us depends on us at age five but will be her own woman.

My husband thinks I am mean because she can do most of her own laundry. He did like
it when she matched and folded his socks.

I do encourage a lot play but sometimes skills need to be learned.

Posted by: shdd | December 8, 2006 8:36 AM

I will be forever grateful for my parents (now in their 70's). Sure, they made plenty of mistakes, but they got a lot of things right. And I never knew until very recently that my father was raised in a terribly broken home with no father of his own, and a rather neglectful mother; somehow he put this past him when he and my mother became their own family.

They taught me about faith, courage, loyalty, and integrity, and I don't think I could ask for anything else.

Posted by: ViennaDad | December 8, 2006 8:36 AM

Blaming others has become part of American society. Why take responsiblity for your own actions? Failure to take responsibility for yourself and your actions is becoming a cultural force. It means your parents made your life lousy, and you should watch your neighbors, too - they may hold you down as well. We've become paranoid. We worry about what others do and don't worry about how badly we act. After all, none of it is our fault, and we're not half as bad as others we know! Placing blame has become a kind of cultural zero-sum game. We have to identify who did what to whom and keep score. If we don't win, we've lost. It's everywhere, from education to politics to a general loss of civility. Perhaps I'm being a bit critical, but then, is it really my fault that I behave this way? I'm just like everyone else. I blame the rest of you.

Posted by: CommonSense | December 8, 2006 8:36 AM

I blamed my mom for most of my problems, until I had my son. Now I get it, and we have a much better relationship.

I think blaming parents is a scapegoat, but an easy one that we get stuck in a lot.

Posted by: NewMom | December 8, 2006 8:43 AM

I agree with CommonSense and moxiemom. It isn't blaming your parents per se. It is about giving yourself an out for not doing your best, for just being lazy, ...

Posted by: dotted | December 8, 2006 8:44 AM

KB, I completely agree with you. I'm not sure why some are able to rise above their miserable or disfunctional childhoods and others are not, but it is true that there seem to be two paths -- victim or survivor. I think that it comes down to making a choice about how you want to live your life. It seems to be easier to be a victim, which is probably why there are more of them.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | December 8, 2006 8:44 AM

I suppose my view is rather contrarian, but I think that some of what is mislabeled as placing blame is actually constructive and introspective analysis. My husband, for example, grew up in a family that, while not at all abusive or neglectful, was rife with dysfunction. He's turned a critical eye toward many things that he witnessed or experienced in his parent's home in order to avoid replicating negative behaviors himself. For instance, he's thought a lot about the way his parents communicate and the reasons that their conversations so often devolve into fights. Doing so has made it possible for him to avoid doing those same things when he and I are interacting. And yet, his brothers who've really cherished the idea that their childhood was something just waiting to be captured by Norman Rockwell are quick to label this as blaming/criticizing their parents. (I should note that my husband doesn't trot these thoughts out in front of his siblings, it's just that the few times it's come up over the years they've been almost instantly defensive.)

Posted by: TC | December 8, 2006 8:49 AM

I think that there is something to be said for understanding how your childhood affected who you are today. That, in itself is NOT blaming your parents in some vindictive way, but it may be saying "My mom had a weakness in X area, and she did not know how to teach me to be better at it, so I also have a weakness in X area."

Now, you do not need that information so you can say, "Poor me, my life is terrible", but so you can use it for self improvement and make sure you don't pass along whatever issue this might be.

I think it is worth distinguishing between pointlessly blaming your parent so you can have an excuse (Bad) and identifying what personal deficiencies you might be able to trace back to your parents so you can improve (Good).

Posted by: Random Guy | December 8, 2006 8:50 AM

How is this relevant to work/life balance?

Posted by: TinkyWinky | December 8, 2006 8:52 AM

I never really 'blamed my parents' until I became a parent myself.

That's when severe post partum depression made me realize how much I had internalized things that happened in my childhood. I was not able to be the parent I wanted to be until I dealt with those things within myself.

I blame them in the sense of realizing that their actions shaped how I negatively interacted in adult relationships. It made realized how much I had internalized my anger at them, and was directing it at myself.

And then I let it go. I did not confront my parents, write them letters, and other things that therapists suggested.

I am cordial with my parents; I do not live near them. Why dredge up the past? None of are the people we were at that point in time. I've moved past all that.

It gives me unbounded pleasure to see how happy my children are compared to how I had it as a child.

Posted by: momof3 | December 8, 2006 8:52 AM

Um... What TC said.

Posted by: Random Guy | December 8, 2006 8:53 AM

I blame Freud. Didn't he come up with the idea that it's all the mother's fault? :-)

Seriously, though, it seems like after the 60s, society went from this "stiff upper lip" mentality to "getting in touch with your inner self" (the 70s weren't called the "me" decade for nothing). So people started looking for the root of their destructive feelings and patterns -- usually childhood, ergo back to the most powerful figures in childhood. (Of course, real therapy tries to identify the cause of a problem just as step one toward fixing it, but that seems to get lost in translation.)

Why do we focus on it? Sometimes it's an effort to understand and make peace with it, which is the sense I get about Mr. Dickerson's book from last week's blog. But sometimes it's because we want an excuse not to take responsibility. Blaming someone else is the "safe" route, because it gives you an excuse not to try anything, and if you don't try, you can't fail. So you can sit there and say, gee, I could have found a cure for cancer, but my mom made me study business, so It's Not My Fault that I never accomplished anything -- and you never have to face the reality that you probably wouldn't have found a cure for cancer even if your mom had been perfect.

I have a brother like this, who is 30+ and still living at home -- he has serious problems with depression, yes, but also seems like he'd rather sit and be angry with his parents for everything they ever did than actually try to DO anything. He has to hang onto that, because it's his only excuse for not trying. I used to think that way, too -- my mother is exceedingly strong-willed, and when I felt powerless, it was easy to blame her for anything that didn't go my way.

But when I grew up, I realized that thinking that way was KEEPING me powerless, because it was letting my own success depend on other people's thoughts and actions. And I decided I'd rather live my life and see what I CAN do than sit around blaming the world for everything I COULDN'T. Even at the risk of discovering I'm not as brilliant and successful and perfect as I'd like to think. :-)

Posted by: Laura | December 8, 2006 8:55 AM

To TC: I don't think you are being contrary at all. It is probably a good thing to look at how we were brought up and make changes (like your husband has done). My mother left the family when I was 16. I was the oldest and was in charge of an alcoholic father and a younger brother and sister. Basically a mom at 16. I cooked, cleaned, shopped and went to high school. I turned out ok - never married but am ok. I don't necessarily blame my parents for my not getting married but I certainly didn't have a great view of marriage as a kid.

Posted by: KB Silver Spring | December 8, 2006 8:55 AM

My parents did as well (or better) than anyone should have expected and that is over. My situation is my fault or accomplishment. I hate it to read "I drank because my father drank." Give me a break.

Posted by: Gary Masters | December 8, 2006 8:58 AM

I grew up in the scary, dirty house that frightened people away. My parents are not bad people, just severely eccentric, and never really took the time to clean or make a home for us. (Books, we got those! A couch -- not so much.)

I consider myself extremely lucky that I ever got married -- since after meeting my parents and seeing our house, most men ran screaming in the other direction. I actually discovered a website for children of compulsive hoarders and discovered that most of them never marry. I regret the loss at holidays -- since we can never get together with my siblings at my parent's house -- mostly because the spouses are so horrified at the mess in the house that they can't face going there.

It's not about blame anymore -- just acknowledging the loss and moving on. We all have them -- things we wish were different -- in all cultures. It's only human.

Posted by: Armchair Mom | December 8, 2006 9:02 AM

"I don't think it's uniquely American, but I think Americans have more time to blame their parents because in general the country's so wealthy that people have the mental room to navel-gaze (like on this blog)."

...and the people who have more reason to blame their parents have less time and freedom to do so. An expecting teenage American gets encouraged to blame her pregnancy on her mother choosing to earn a salary or have a social life or whatever. An expecting teenage Fulani gets discouraged from blaming her pregnancy on her father's choice to marry her off when she was 10 or 13 or whatever.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 8, 2006 9:03 AM

The most ridiculous cases of the blame game are criminals who get off easy because they had a bad childhood.

Each of us has specific tendencies, either brought on by nature or nurture. Some have a bad temper, others are type A, some have compulsive tendencies, etc. Yet all of us exercise control and discipline over our urges. We choose how to act. Some behavior is easier for us, others are a big struggle. Don't blame anyone for it. Nature and nurture dictate your tendencies, but ultimately only you are responsible for your actions.

I used to "blame" my parents until I realised that what I thought was a weakness was actually a strength. For example, when I was 10-13yrs old, I was sent to a boarding school in another country to live and study on my own. It was a difficult time for me, but today I can trace my discipline, independence and mental toughness to going through that difficulty. So do I blame my parents or thank them instead?

Remember that parents do what they think is best for you at that time. Sometimes hindsight says it was a bad decision, but they had good intentions and acted in your best interests.

"Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it. " Proverbs 22:6 from the good book

Posted by: Mr.Honda | December 8, 2006 9:04 AM

It took a long time for Oprah to rise above her childhood; she still lives with the memory of the child she bore (who died) at the age of 14, she had a long term affair with a married man, and she had a cocaine habit for a while. She and her mother have been estranged for many years.

Some people aren't able to shrug off the past like a garment and move on. Some scars never heal.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 8, 2006 9:04 AM

In a discussion last week about the childless by choice, I suggested that one reason that more adults chose to remain childless was because they were raised in an indulgent environment that catered to their childish wants, needs, and desires. Thus, being the child meant getting what you want when you want it with no thought to compromise or common interest. Thus, they chose not to replace themselves as the child by bearing a child of their own. Meaning they could continue to excercise their childish selfishness on themselves.

I think the trend to be critical of our parents is another side to this same coin. Typically, when we mature we get over and/or move past the preceived shortcomings of our parents. But what if people don't mature in certain ways and retain a childlike/childish perspective? Then, perhaps, they continue to see their parents as the flawed oppressors who just don't get them.

As others have said, abuse and gross neglect is another matter all together.

Posted by: An Dliodoir | December 8, 2006 9:05 AM

You who are on the road
Must have a code that you can live by
And so become yourself
Because the past is just a good bye.

Teach your children well,
Their father's hell did slowly go by,
And feed them on your dreams
The one they picks, the one you'll know by.

Don't you ever ask them why, if they told you, you will cry,
So just look at them and sigh and know they love you.

And you, of tender years,
Can't know the fears that your elders grew by,
And so please help them with your youth,
They seek the truth before they can die.

Teach your parents well,
Their children's hell will slowly go by,
And feed them on your dreams
The one they picks, the one you'll know by.

Don't you ever ask them why, if they told you, you will cry,
So just look at them and sigh and know they love you.

Posted by: Graham Nash | December 8, 2006 9:12 AM

This society just doesn't want to be held accountable for anything. We blame our parents, kids, spouses, coworkers, bosses, friends, politicians, etc...

Some is justified, but most is just a kee-jerk reaction. Admitting fault or wrongdoing is a character flaw most just can't live with.

Our future generation is going to have lots of blame to place on us, though. Rightfully so, too! Our materialistic, SUV-obsessed society is painting a bleak picture for our kids. One day there won't be any fields or natural forests for them to see, because we just keep building and building. But what do we care? We need something to cart them around and house them? Besides, we'll be dead then. They'll just have to deal!

Right?

Posted by: "I'm blameless!" | December 8, 2006 9:15 AM

Sure there are things I would have liked to have been different as a child, but my parents did what they thought was right. Most of the time, it was right. What I find funny how my parent point out my mistakes with my children. Sometimes I applaud there wisdom and sometime I cringe.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 8, 2006 9:15 AM

Why do we blame our parents? Because it is easy to be an armchair quarterback. It is easy for me to say now that perhaps my parents should have made some different choices, because I know how it all worked out. At the time, they were doing the best they could, which frankly was pretty darn good. Additionally, what happened to the adage "That which does not kill us, only makes us stronger"? If my parents had made different choices (and perhaps indulged my sister and me a little more), we might be different people today, and not necessarily in a good way. The experiences we had as children shape who we are today - but that shouldn't always be a burden, necessarily.

Posted by: akmitc | December 8, 2006 9:16 AM

Careful there, An Dliodoir:

That might be true for some, but please don't blanket the childless or childfree with that explanation, because they're not all selfish.
It would be just as unfair to say that all parents are selfish, and use their status to get what they want, simply because they have a child. Not all parents are, but the argument certainly goes both ways.

Posted by: meh | December 8, 2006 9:21 AM

What about stuff some parents do in the present instead of in the past? Does disliking any of this count as a round of the blame game?

For one little and certainly non-abusive example, suppose your boss encourages you to dress for the office and your parents encourage you to dress for the weather. If you get fired despite following your family's "everyone sweats, so getting sweat stains on the way to the Metro stop isn't dirty" advice in summer or their "it's cold out, wear puffy parkas and sweaters instead of fitted jackets and suits" advice in winter, how grateful should you be? If you still dress for your job and still talk to your parents but they keep nagging you to adopt the camping look for the commute, what can you say without being a whiner?

Posted by: Anonymous | December 8, 2006 9:21 AM

"Some people aren't able to shrug off the past like a garment and move on. Some scars never heal."

I believe there's nothing you can't rise above if you try. You owe it to yourself to stop blaming other people and take control to have a better life. And YOU are the only one who can make it happen.

Posted by: Unreal | December 8, 2006 9:25 AM

My brother and I are very different people - we were raised very differently in a very traditional household. Although I was expected to go to college, I am not sure I was ever expected to 'be' anything. I think my struggles with math were overlooked as a 'girl thing.' I never thought to demand that they find extra help for me in that area. Today, my brother is a doctor and after two Masters (done simultaneously), I still don't really know what I want to do. My mom played favorites with my brother - overtly and it is well-acknowledged in the family - that has been something that has been very hard for me to deal with through the years and may or may not have some influence on how I view myself today. So sometimes I feel a little bit like a failure because I don't have the great career my brother does - but, on the other hand, I have had all the same opportunities he had. I don't know - I do think it is a combination of all of it - personality, outside influences, education, opportunity. etc. I think if I had more self-confidence, I would have been more certain about a career path.
All of the above is a big part of why I don't think I want to have kids (plus bro has three 'perfect' ones so can't compete there, anyway). Although hubby and I are well-aware of how we would like to do things differently from both families, well, we will see. . .

Posted by: WAMC | December 8, 2006 9:27 AM

Only YOU can prevent forest fires!

Posted by: Smokey | December 8, 2006 9:28 AM

I am at the time in my life where my siblings and I are becomming more of the "parents" to our parents. My mother lives alone but needs financial assistance. We help as much as we can. My dad passed away last year after a lengthy illness. We all helped. Thank goodness we all have jobs that were able to do that as we all live far away and had to take weeks off at a time to care for him. And thank goodness that we all get along and were able to agree on his care.

Posted by: KB Silver Spring | December 8, 2006 9:28 AM

I think the American way is to blame someone else for everything. No one takes any responsibility for anything these days. Blaming parents is just one example.

Posted by: Brian | December 8, 2006 9:38 AM

Meh,
I hear ya. There are plenty of good reasons to remain childfree (by choice), just as there are many reasons to justiably lay responsibility for certain things at the feet of ones parents. However, many childfree adults cite freedom to go on vacation or spend more money on themselves as their primary reason to forego children. Me, me, me, me me. That's what I hear from that crowd.

In that same vein, some blame their parents for things in spite of overwhelming evidence that their own decisions have led them to the misery/conflict/shortcoming they face. Some adults don't accept personal responsiblity for their actions/decisions. . .just like a child.

Posted by: An Dliodoir | December 8, 2006 9:40 AM

Americans always blame someone else. They look everywhere and especially at corporations to place the blame. Now they are starting to sue McDonalds for making them fat. This culture perpetuated by ambulance chasing lawyers.

Posted by: Thierry | December 8, 2006 9:43 AM

I actually think it's because, as a whole, we try to be and are better parents that we get blamed more. As we become more and more involved in our children's lives and place a higher priority on our kid's feelings and needs - we also raise the bar for how they view US as parents.

Also, there is nothing wrong with realizing that your parents messed up in a lot of ways. I have moved on, but that doesn't replace issues that I had grwoing up and as a yougn adult being raised in an alcoholic home. I'm not BLAMING, but it certainly AFFECTED my life. How could it not? We are not completely seperate entities from our parents- there is no way that the first FORMATIVE 18 years of our lives won't affect our behavior.

Posted by: SAHMbacktowork | December 8, 2006 9:45 AM

I think that blaming parents is more of an American concept. I don't find "parent blaming" in my large Dominican family or in my husband's Italian family.

Posted by: montgomery village | December 8, 2006 9:45 AM

I blame my mom for my allergies, because she didn't breast feed me.

Are you for real?? My cousin's kids were breast fed and all three use nebulizers because they have breathing problems from allergies. I don't by that excuse.

Posted by: Laughing. | December 8, 2006 9:46 AM

I don't blame my parents for anything. But when I think of the poor choices they made I feel very sad for the wonderful lives that they could have had, but threw away with both hands.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 8, 2006 9:47 AM

Maybe the problem in our society now is that we expect people to be perfect - and if they aren't, we delight in assigning blame. We are trying to teach our children to be more accepting of other cultures, religions, etc. - but we're not teaching them the old "no one's perfect" lesson anymore. I'm certainly not a perfect parent - but I hope my children grow up to appreciate my eccentricities.

Posted by: VA mom o' 2 | December 8, 2006 9:48 AM

I blame my parents because I don't look like Heidi Klum or Christie Brinkley. Now I can't be a model - all their fault.

Posted by: Ugly in DC | December 8, 2006 9:48 AM


I too hope the 'blaming mom for allergies since she didn't bf' is not serious.

Since my dd had severe food allergies while I bf her, this is a subject I delved deeply into while trying to figure out how I could possibly get her health under control.

Current as of that date 6 years ago, the bf/allergy connection is much more complex than the common knowledge spin. Yes, in general, bf children have lower rates of asthma and allergy later. That's among the general population, and is an epidemiological effect: it affects aggregate rates mildly, making one group slightly more likely than another to develop allergy but neither highly likely, and it's far from a predictor of who will get allergies. Moreover, if one looks more closely, studies that distinguish the allergy status of the mom show different results. For moms who are normal, or not experiencing allergy during pregnancy, (measured by blood levels of IgE), bf their child reduces the child's chances of allergy and asthma. But for the most allergic moms, those in the top third for blood IgE levels, bf actually increases their child's allergy risk versus formula feeding. And these are the babies at highest risk of allergy and asthma to start with.

I've also read interesting research on the striking immunological differences in the composition of breastmilk of moms of severely allergic, versus nonallergic, babies. My hope would be that such research might eventually lead to a way to treat allergy moms or supplement their breastmilk in a way that reduces their babies' risk exposure at the most dangerous times.

Now, I didn't learn all this til my dd was firmly in the bf and highly allergic camp and changing that would change the whole context of our relationship (not to mention, bf babies older than 4-6 months nearly always cannot be persuaded to accept the prescription formulas). Among my allergy mom list, all very very informed, we clearly accepted that both bf and formula are problematic for allergic kids, and involve tradeoffs. I knew people in the most desperate of situations either way --- the nonprescription 'hypoallergenic' formulas still cause allergic reactions in 15% of babies, who move on to prescription formulas (like Neocate) costing more than $1000/month. What's worse, I knew babies who were developing reactions even to those, and at that point, the formula industry stops manufacturing options for your 1 in a million sick baby. Bf highly allergic babies may have higher risk and wider exposures leading to more sensitivities, but the one thing a bf mom can do is always control changes to her diet, she can always tinker and search search search to find a diet that will adapt to her baby's allergies and be safe. That adaptability being under a mom's direct control is a huge plus of the bf side; knowing that nobody else has the final control in saying you are out of options to help your sick child. Though I also knew bf moms who weren't figuring it out, who were dropping 100+ pounds themselves without stabilizing, while their babies were still sick and not growing too. Most of us went through acute phases like that and somehow sorted it out, but some seemed to struggle forever . . .

So, the bf/allergy connection is subtle and not even obvious which way at the individual level. Plus, 2 or more decades ago, parents would have been unaware of any connection. I don't think you can blame parents for not being omniscient, for doing their best with the knowledge reasonably available to them at the time. One can regret that better information wasn't available, but that's not the same as blaming the parent.

There is an irrational, dogmatic edge to fringe elements in the bf advocacy camp, as anywhere. I remember when I posted widely for help in my crisis days, before getting connected to the right knowledgeable community, so out of options that I was beginning to examine not bf. I got responses like "if the baby is so sick while bf, not bfing would kill her." Clearly helpful; clearly adds to my knowledge base. And once I was connected, when I stuck around misc.kids.bf to catch new moms presenting in allergy crisis, to give some advice and point them to our allergy mom group, the recurrence of such questions and response every few weeks aggravated some of the other regulars. They even had a thread suggesting the allergy posts go away, since most bf babies don't have these problems and discussing them makes it sound like bf can be hard. It might discourage people from trying bf, you know, if they think well maybe baby would have allergies and I might have to adjust my diet. This really enraged me --- as if sticking to a propaganda line is worth denying reality and refusing to acknowledge and help real babies and moms in medical crisis. A baby's suffering may be inconvenient counterpoint to your worldview, but the baby and not the worldview takes precedence.

I think there can be blameworthy medical situations. A friend of my dd's now has struggled with uncontrolled asthma, missing lots of school, birthday parties she'd planned on attending, and worse, it made her miss a session of horse camp with her friends that I know she had been terribly excited about and looking forward to for months. My heart ached for her. Much later, when I picked up my dd after this friend's slumber party, I was stunned. I walked in the door and the whole time there my sinuses hurt, my breath was short, and I felt my fight-or-flight, must escape before asthma attack starts, response. I cannot believe a parent of a child with such severe asthma still routinely smokes in the house! To me, in this day when the risks and connections are well-known and the first question/advice out of any doctor's mouth when treating asthma, this is blameworthy parenting.

Disclaimers: my dd outgrew all her allergy issues by 4yo, so it really is a crisis that's past. Also, I've been posting as KB for a while but there's another poster KB Silver Spring, I'm hoping people won't confuse us too badly.

Posted by: KB | December 8, 2006 9:52 AM

I think blaming your parents is appropriate when they are at fault. A lot of people are uncomfortable confronting their family or standing up for themselves.

Sometimes there is value to getting a long-standing gripe off your chest, so that everybody can move on. Especially if your parent is still doing whatever it is that you resent them for.

Placing the blame where it belongs can be a key part of changing complicated bad patterns in families. OK the "I drink because my Dad drinks" comment that an earlier poster made might not be that useful. But on the other hand, directing that blame to the person who is responsible can be an important way to change things for the better, a la "You are an alcoholic. You set a horrible example for me, and make it hard for me to be sober. Call us when you stop drinking."

Posted by: Silver Spring | December 8, 2006 9:54 AM

"However, many childfree adults cite freedom to go on vacation or spend more money on themselves as their primary reason to forego children. Me, me, me, me me. That's what I hear from that crowd"

Those are probably not the real reasons those adults chose to be childfree. It's none of your business why anyone chooses to have or not have a child. What do you care? And for the zillionth time, if someone doesn't want a child, get off their back! Some people have an inner voice that guides them. Nagging someone is not going to make them a good parent!

Posted by: Anonymous | December 8, 2006 10:01 AM

"However, many childfree adults cite freedom to go on vacation or spend more money on themselves as their primary reason to forego children. Me, me, me, me me. That's what I hear from that crowd"

What on earth is wrong with this point of view? If a person postpones having kids so they can do all this with their spouse, is that also me, me, me selfishness, or a way to love/enjoy/get to know their spouse? Once you're married, is delaying getting pregnant selfish? I think my 5 years of marriage without kids has been incredible for my marriage! And now we're having a baby. What a selfish horrible person I am to want to bring a baby into a happy, strong marriage.

Posted by: atb | December 8, 2006 10:06 AM

(1) I was breastfed and, at 23, became the only person in my family to develop allergies. I don't think it works like that...

(2) I do not have anything to blame my parents for. They aren't perfect, but they love me and raised me to be a responsible adult. Now that I am at an age where I am thinking about having kids, my biggest obstacle is not financial or emotional - it's societal. I am very worried that my parenting skills will not be able to compete with the children my kids go to school with. It seems as though our society is getting more and more indulged and blame-happy. I do not want my kids to go to school with kids who think they can do no wrong. If my kid fails math or gets into a fight, I expect their to be serious reprocussions - at school and at home. I don't want some other parent coming in and saying that their child is a perfect angel who would never start a fight with my child - so there must be something wrong with the school. (I used to be a teacher and saw this EVERY day, so no exaggeration here.) I am terribly worried that the lessons and values I teach my kids will make them hate me the second Susie gets a brand-new BMW for her 16th birthday, or Brent doen't understand why my son can't go to the movies because he already used up his allowance.

While the blame game is only part of this, the growing concept of "I can do no wrong" in our society is shocking. How do those of you who are parents do it? How do you raise your kids to be responsible adults in the mdist of so much indulgence and in a society where blaming others is encouraged?

Posted by: scr | December 8, 2006 10:08 AM

To KB regarding Neocate and allergy moms group.....

Is there a website for this allergy moms group? Babies who take Neocate?

Posted by: TinkyWinky | December 8, 2006 10:09 AM

I think there must be some truth to the idea that some people are wired differently from the start--survivors versus victims. For years, I haven't been able to figure out my brother. I'm one of six kids and we had a ridiculously idyllic childhood--nice house in the suburbs, parents loving but with decent discipline and limitations placed on us, tons of other kids in the neighborhood and long days and evenings spent playing base runners and S.P.U.D., public schools for the first few years, then moved into private schools through high school. Family vacations camping and visiting relatives. Really nice childhood and for five of the six, it seemed to work--we've grown into well adjusted, happy, productive adults. My brother, however, can't get over the misery of his childhood and completely blames our parents for his misery and failings as an adult. I have no clue what misery he sees in this childhood--he points to the discipline (being grounded for breaking rules) and perceived slights (missing tryouts for a team once because they conflicted with a family vacation). He stopped speaking to us for several years, and even went so far as to legally change his last name. The rest of us are just scratching our heads in confusion, trying to figure out how he can see this childhood and our family as anything other than loving and supportive. And he is equally confused, not able to figure out why the rest of us don't see how dysfunctional and horrible our parents were. I don't get it.

What I don't understand is the chicken-and-egg question--does he blame our parents and his upbringing and therefore isn't able to move forward in his life now, thus leading to problems with marriage, unemployment, weight, etc. OR does he have problems with his job, marriage, weight, etc. and needs to place the blame somewhere so it lands (undeservedly IMO) on our parents?

Posted by: Sarah | December 8, 2006 10:11 AM


I actually think we blame, or should I say attribute our situations to our parents because as a nation of immigrants in a land where everyone is equal we look to understand our place in the world by latching onto an individualistic identity.

The classic American dream is the self-made man/woman. We love to overcome adversity. Some of us give up and quit trying - we're blamers. Others of us struggle with the cowboy myth our entire lives - we're dreamers.

How many of us own self-help books? It's the American way.

It gives us more control to say our parents did this to us. It wasn't fate, it was destiny, and Americans love a story that overcomes destiny. It's our national character.

Posted by: AmericanIdentity | December 8, 2006 10:11 AM

I think getting over mistakes your parents may have made is part of growing up. For me it happened when I became a Mom. You suddenly see just how hard it is, and recognize that we each (hopefully) are trying to do our best, our parents included.
However... the short haircuts when I was a little girl that made people mistake me for a boy... I think I might need to have a couple more kids to put that one in perspective and fully forgive my mom!! ;)

Posted by: tgif | December 8, 2006 10:11 AM

"Is this blame game a uniquely American, 20th century phenomenon?"

Geez, Leslie --

Ever heard of Freud?

Posted by: pittypat | December 8, 2006 10:12 AM

"You are an alcoholic. You set a horrible example for me, and make it hard for me to be sober. Call us when you stop drinking."

This is a good example of a victim speaking. All of this may be true, but it does no good to dwell. YOU are the one who makes it hard for you to stop drinking. No one else. Only you.

Posted by: Unreal | December 8, 2006 10:16 AM

yes, I'm the original "blame mom for allergies." Do you actually think I was 100% serious? It's fun to play on your parents' guilt sometimes and I expect my son to do it to me in good humor.

You people take this stuff so seriously, sheesh.

Here's a list you should all resist the need to critique:

I blame my parents for my:

* white skin (I'll never be able to rock a bright orange or yellow shirt), oh yeah and the white guilt too
* wearing glasses (can't fly for the air force in combat)
* being short (do you know how hard it is for short men to find pants that fit)

life is soooo hard.

Posted by: wow | December 8, 2006 10:16 AM

"How do you raise your kids to be responsible adults in the mdist of so much indulgence and in a society where blaming others is encouraged?"

Learn to say no. Live where the parents don't indulge the kids; send your kids to schools that share your values. Don't blame others and don't tolerate your children blaming others. You can and should have an enormous role in shaping the character of your child. It takes a lot of work.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 8, 2006 10:19 AM

"It's none of your business why anyone chooses to have or not have a child. What do you care? And for the zillionth time, if someone doesn't want a child, get off their back! Some people have an inner voice that guides them. Nagging someone is not going to make them a good parent!"

Me thinks the lady doth protest too much.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 8, 2006 10:19 AM

I'm gonna vote with meh on this. I think people who remain childfree in this society are brave and often a lot more self aware than many who have children. It takes a lot of courage in this society to say "I don't want kids". Lots of people have kids, not because they want them, but because they think they should and end up being lousy parents.

I'd also beg to differ on the "selfish" issue. I'm a SAHM who doesn't think that having children is some sort of selfless endeavor. There is a lot of ego tied up in these little people. A lot of parents get a lot of self satisfaction through their kids. They feel good about themselves when their kid is pretty or does something well, not good for their kid. Get the difference.

Bravo to the childless! I hope you enjoy your choice as I have mine - I hope you enjoy your luxuries (no sarcasm intended - this is a genuine wish) and I hope that my kids don't ruin the plane trip for you.

Posted by: moxiemom | December 8, 2006 10:20 AM

***WARNING: TOTALLY OFF-TOPIC POST**
Sorry for posting this here; it belongs to the tail-end of yesterday's discussion, when we started debating the qualities of the legal system. I initially posted it there, but I thought it might be of interest to more people than the handful who may still be reading yesterday's stuff. I don't mean to start another discussion about that here; I just thought some of you may be curious about how a lawsuit actually works.

Disclaimer: this is a description of how things work in federal court. I believe most states have similar procedural steps, but your mileage may vary. Disclaimer #2: this is a description of a civil suit. Criminal prosecutions have their own sets of rules and procedural safeguards mandated by the Constitution.

1. a complaint is filed. That's where the person suing (the plaintiff) says what the person being sued (the defendant) did that was against the law and in what way the plaintiff was damaged.

2. the defendant can immediately challenge the complaint through a motion to dismiss. A motion to dismiss basically says, assuming for the sake of argument that I actually did all the things that the plaintiff says I did, that is still not illegal. (E.g.: if my neighbor sues me because I bought a bigger car than he has and he is suffering emotional distress from it, I can ask the judge to throw out the suit because, in essence, "so what?")

3. If the defendant chooses not to immediately challenge the complaint, or loses the motion to dismiss, then the lawsuit goes on. The defendant files an "Answer" in which he gives his version of the facts. Then there is discovery, during which the parties exchange documents and interview each other's witnesses under oath (this is called a "deposition.")

4. At the end of discovery, the plaintiff and the defendant can each file what is called a motion for summary judgment. Most commonly, these are filed by the defendant. The defendant basically says: look, Judge, in order to win this lawsuit, the plaintiff has to prove A, B, and C. We are now at the end of discovery, which means that we know exactly what the plaintiff's evidence in support of his case is going to be, and there just isn't enough there for anyone in their right mind to say he wins. (e.g. my neighbor sues me because he says I drove my car into his fence, but his fence is fine, my car has no scratches, and none of the neighbors heard any noises at the time he says this happened.)

4. If there are no motions for summary judgment or the judge denies all of them, the case proceeds to trial. (Keep in mind that at any point during this entire process the parties can agree to settle the case.) A jury is picked and hears the evidence.

5. Before the jury deliberates, either party can ask the judge to hand down a verdict without submitting the case to the jury. The standard for doing this is very stringent--essentially, the judge must be convinced that no reasonable person could disagree on what the verdict can be. It is very rare for judges to do this; usually they prefer to let the jury take a shot.

6. The jury deliberates and returns a verdict. If the plaintiff wins, at the same time, or sometimes after a separate part of the trial, it also decides what the defendant should pay the plaintiff for the damages the plaintiff has suffered as a result of the defendant's illegal conduct.

7. Either party has yet another shot at changing the verdict. The losing party can move for "judgment notwithstanding the verdict"--the standard, again, being that no reasonable person could possibly have found the way the jury did. Either party can also challenge the damages, saying they are too much or too little. The judge has the authority to change the amount upwards or downwards if she believes the award to be unreasonable.

8. Unhappy parties can appeal any part of the verdict, including the damages, to the court of appeals and, theoretically, to the Supreme Court (though in practice the Supreme Court takes a minuscule number of cases). The court of appeals gets a fresh look to any legal issues (e.g. when the judge instructed the jury at trial, she was wrong about the law) but treats the jury's factual determinations with great deference.

To summarize: Truly frivolous lawsuits are weeded out at the motion to dismiss and the summary judgment stage, and if the evidence at trial was really insufficient the judge has the power to ignore a jury's clearly irrational verdict.

**END OF OFF-TOPIC POST. BACK TO PARENTS.**

Posted by: aging mom | December 8, 2006 10:20 AM

There is a difference between accepting that your parents are human beings who made a few mistakes vs. blaming them for everything that has gone wrong in your life.

Acknowledging that your parents may have made a few choices that, looking back now, were questionable and then learning from their mistakes is one thing; sitting around being a jerk your entire adult life and refusing to accept any responsibility for your own choices is another altogether.

Mr. Dickerson seemed to be working his way through the latter to the former in his book, which I think is interesting and laudable.


Posted by: Anonymous | December 8, 2006 10:22 AM

I have two minds to this subject, one as a parent and one as a son. It is hard to raise any child and we should honor parents for their effort. I realize that this effort may have been crappy in some cases but we should still be thankful, because as we all know it is a lot of work and costly. The other mind is that some parents just suck and should not even try to have children. They are too irresponsible, self centered, neurotic,abusive or disturbed aand they should be held accountable by their children.

Posted by: pATRICK | December 8, 2006 10:24 AM

To Patrick: To what end is it to hold an irresponsible, self centered, neurotic, abusive or disturbed parent accountable? Identify, get help if needed, learn and hopefully move on to a better life. Blaming them and holding on to the pain and bitterness only hurts you, not them.

Posted by: KLB Silver Spring (formerly KB Silver Spring) | December 8, 2006 10:27 AM

Jokester

What happened to Mary's baby in 1973?

Posted by: Anonymous | December 8, 2006 10:29 AM

I think it is helpful at some point to try and understand where your tendencies and behaviors came from, to better understand yourself. And examining your parents and how they raised you is a vital part of that. But "blaming" is a strong word. Also sounds too passive to me - as if you can't change and rise above your circumstances. That's the way I see it - it is good to understand what you are dealing with, where you are starting from, to be able to grow and move on. But if you blame your parents for your failings, it means that you are basically conceding defeat, that you are stuck.

Posted by: Catherine | December 8, 2006 10:31 AM

scr- These kids always have and always will be in the system, but so many more are raised to be civilized, kind, responsible people. Their parents will be your peers. Am I the only one lucky enough to be going through pregnancy with my already tried and true friends? I'm not afraid of momzillas because I've known my mom friends for years and years, and they haven't freaked out and become demons with parenthood.

Posted by: atb | December 8, 2006 10:33 AM

KLB, they should be held accountable for their actions, that does not mean you curl up in a fetal position for the rest of your life. It DOES help to hold them accountable because many people grow up holding THEMSELVES accountable for their parents actions when in fact the parent was probably nuts.

Posted by: pATRICK | December 8, 2006 10:35 AM

To TC @ 8:49 --

Not a contrarian view at all. Just sensible, reasonable, and responsible.

For many people, it's very hard to examine their childhood. There's too much risk to their worldview; shifting foundations can be terrifying.

While it may be true that Americans blame their parents for a good deal of their unhappiness, it's also true that many, many children suffer intensely as a result of their upbringing. And I'm not talking about abuse or neglect here.

Minimizing the effect that bad parenting (note, I didn't say bad "parents") can have on adult lives is a tragic dismissal of deeply buried -- and often inaccessible -- hurt that, in adulthood, can result in depression, extremely low self-worth, and desperate efforts at self-soothing (substance abuse and addiction and a range of other compulsive, destructive behaviors).

To then marginalize the problems of people suffering in this way reinforces the idea that our society thinks mental illness is a scam employed by malingerers.

I hope that we as a society can develop some compassion for people who suffer and need help coping with the effects of poor parenting.

Let me throw out this question:

To all of you who feel so strongly that nurturing is critical to healthy child development in the early years, doesn't it follow that an absence of such nurturing could have negative consequences? If love, validation, encouragement, warmth, stimulation, respect, and security are all as important to growing happy, healthy adults as you say they are (every day on this blog), then how can you attack people who didn't receive these gifts as ungrateful whiners?

Please think about this.

Posted by: pittypat | December 8, 2006 10:36 AM

Thanks, moxiemom! That was a really reasonable post. I'm choosing not to have kids and there are a lot of reasons that go into this decision. Sometimes, I give the short, funny answer to intrusive questions at inappropriate times. Among my friends, I might delve into the nuance of it all. Just saying that you don't know all the reasons why people do things. YOu don't know if the model mother type got accidentally pregnant after planning to not have kids, you don't know if the person who is remaining childfree really wants kids, but can't and is trying to put a good spin on the choices life gave her.

Posted by: secondthoughts | December 8, 2006 10:36 AM


I really like the books _How to Talk so Kids will Listen_ and _Siblings Without Rivalry_, both by Faber and Mazlisch, for sensitizing you to some of the destructive things parents and kids can say and do, not out of malice so much as out of habit. It's a good place to look to establish constructive habits and to build a nondysfunctional family without the little resentments that smolder. A little sensitizing and having a new model in mind for common day-to-day interactions goes a long way toward being a better parent.

I think the point is not to set blame, but to pull ourselves out of any ruts and inadvertently hurtful patterns we fell into as kids.

Though parents certainly can take our styles of parenting diferently as a casting of blame. My parents seem very hung up on dinnertable issues. Once when my mom was helping with my dd she started urging her to finish her plate, let's try one more bite of this, one more of that, and I told her to please stop, we don't do that. The kids eat what they need, we provide good choices and try to insure they get overall balance, but it's up to them when they stop eating. (With this dd I was especially keen to not put lots of emotional freight onto eating as she was having growth issues and having her start feeling pressured and resistant to feeling pressured about eating was something I didn't want to start, guided partially by medical advice). My mom looked hurt and asked "Do you think the way we did it was wrong?" (We were a clean your plate, you'll get nothing else but your saved cold plate from dinner til it's gone kind of family; though one sib learned to throw up at will on his plate so he was exempted.) I don't know that the policy is so much wrong as not what we're doing now (and actually, it took me a long time as an adult to break the clean your plate mantra, so that I'd stuff down huge restaurant plates even when full and even when the extra calories were definitely unhelpful to me, til my dh pointed out how stupid it was, so yes I think that policy's not the greatest but no, it's not a direct 'ha ha you're wrong about this' blaming, just doing it differently now.)

A larger blaming issue has to do with limiting your children's exposure to your own verbally abusive parent; this is something a sib and I both do, with strict limits but not full exclusion. (Abusive not only in the past, but flaring at the current kids) The abusive parent seethes about it but tough, our kids will not be subject to nasty and hurtful behavior; the nonabusive parent feels rather bewildered and second-guessed about it and pleads for us to include the abusive parent more, it's so hurtful to exclude him, it's just his way, how can we feel so strongly, etc. That's sad to catch her in the middle, but our kids have precedence on our parenting now. It's not always so much about blame as resolve.

Posted by: KB | December 8, 2006 10:36 AM

"I am terribly worried that the lessons and values I teach my kids will make them hate me the second Susie gets a brand-new BMW for her 16th birthday, or Brent doen't understand why my son can't go to the movies because he already used up his allowance. . . . How do you raise your kids to be responsible adults in the mdist of so much indulgence and in a society where blaming others is encouraged?"

Well, first, I tend not to fear that my kids will hate me -- I just presume they will, because that means I'm doing my job!

Seriously, though, I'm my kids' mom first, not their friend. Don't get me wrong; I'm not exactly a hard-ass. But if it comes down to a choice between safety, values, rules, behavior, etc., vs. being "nice," being a "fun" parent, making them happy, etc. -- well, its my job to be the bad guy when necessary. So I don't worry or feel guilty about it, because it's going to happen, and when it does, I know that I am doing what's best long-term. I might go to bed crying that night, but I still know it's the right thing.

Look at it this way: we expect our kids to learn to value long-term rewards over immediate gratification, right? Well, that applies to us parents, too. It's definitely fun to give my kids what they want. But when what they want isn't good for them, my own desire for that immediate gratification has to take a back seat to the long-term reward of watching my kids grow into productive adults who understand limits and consequences and values.

Posted by: Laura | December 8, 2006 10:38 AM

OFF-TOPIC POST

I apologize for this off-topic post, but it's one that my husband and I include in our "things to think/work out before having babies" list. He's Italian and I'm Dominican-American, therefore we both speak different languages, and we would love for our kids to speak both Italian and Spanish. How do parents that speak different languages teach their children those languages? Do you have a set of rules (i.e. one parent speaks only on language) or have you forgone your native language(s) and speak only English to your children?

I have relatives that speak Spanglish, and I'm really trying to avoid having a kid that speaks some mix of Italian and Spanish.

Posted by: montgomery village | December 8, 2006 10:38 AM

We cannot escape the fact that what happens in our childhood will largely shape who we become as adults, for good or ill. I have a unique perspective as I have had two sets of parents, my biological ones and my adoptive parents. For years, particularly as a teen, I hated my bio-parents (excuse me, HEROES) and for good reason. They abandoned me and my sister, we lived in an orphanage, I was shunted off to several foster famlies and suffered abuse in at least two of them. Then I was adopted and my adoptive parents, while not perfect, showed me how to be a responsible person and how to be a positive contributor to family and society. As others have said, becoming a parent really opened my eyes to how much both sets of parents struggled to to do the right thing. I now realize that my bio-mom suffered from an extreme case of PPD. I only remember she was so damaged that she could do nothing but lay in bed sobbing. I now realize that my bio-dad was too poor, too overwhelmed with two small childen one of which as so small and sickly, that he could not take care of his wife, his sick child (my sister) and me and still survive emotionally and financially. As I have learned more about the fates of poor girls in Asia, I am more and more appreciative, dare I say, grateful, that my sister and I had the opportunity to be adopted by a loving couple and given a second chance. I know I would not have a happy marriage, a good job, and two wonderful children today if not for the hard choices my bio-parents made. As for the suffering I had to endure in my early years, much as I would never wish such experiences on anyone, for me, the old addage, "What doesn't kill you, makes you stronger," has certainly proven true for me, thanks in no small part, to my adoptive parents.

Posted by: LM in WI | December 8, 2006 10:40 AM

I'm not sure our current problem is that people blame their parents - I think a bigger problem is that parents refuse to let their kids take responsibility for anything. Doing badly in school? It's got to be: 1) the teacher's fault, 2) a chemical imbalance, 3) curriculum is not rigorous enough/too rigorous/not focused on the right thing. Kid picking on other kids? He's not a bully, he's got "low self esteem." Kid is fat? She's got: 1) Bad genes/thyroid problem, 2) It's too "hard" for her parents to fight "popular culture" - and healthy food is expensive!
I'm a parent, I get how hard these things are, but each of these has been a topic on this board and every time there is a mountain of responses of "how could you know what's best for my kid, they truly do have: a chemical imbalance/jerk for a teacher/parents who can't fight "popular culture" and get rid of Doritos. I'm not worried about my generation blaming our parents, I'm worried about the next generation never having to take responsibility for themselves.

Posted by: Ellen F | December 8, 2006 10:40 AM

To Tinkywinky ---

The food allergy parent group used to be the yahoo group POFAK. They've now moved to

http://kidswithfoodallergies.org

It's a wonderful group with deep expertise and many databases on medical issues, hidden ingredients, allergy-safe foods and recipes, etc. Parents of babies, bf and not, and parents of older kids are all well-represented, as are lots of different specific food allergens.

Posted by: KB | December 8, 2006 10:43 AM

Hey secondthoughts - as they said in the 70's - keep on keepin' on. You've gotta do what's true for you and you don't owe anyone an explanation for your situation any more than I should have to explain why I chose to have these two little monkeys that show up in my bed each morning.
I've found that the most judgemental

I agree with you on any given day you don't know what the people you run into are carrying. Someone on the subway may be just returning to work after losing a spouse. Someone might not be able to get pregnant or someone who doesn't want to be might be pregnant. We all carry a lot of stuff that's invisible. I try to remember that mean people are usually unhappy people. I give 'em a pass and move on.

Posted by: moxiemom | December 8, 2006 10:43 AM

Ellen F and Laura - you have hit the nail on the head. Personal responsibility and limitations and boundaries are an important part of society. When people don't take responsibility and don't have boundaries they become Ken Lay.

Posted by: KLB Silver Spring | December 8, 2006 10:47 AM

I agree: American culture has come so much to expect perfection that one can't make any mistakes with childrearing out of the fear that one's kids will be taken away. Therefore, any departure from perfection in one's own life must be an unforgivable error on the part of one's parents!

We have studies to show that formula feeding is "dangerous", that carseats must be used until puberty, that babies must be put on their backs to sleep even when they are crawling and can clearly turn themselves into any position they want, that playing tag will kill you, and that you must tell your child "don't smoke" every day otherwise they will become drug dealers. One feels that perhaps there has been a loss of perspective (and common sense) on the part of the "establishment", and that because the "establishment" can sue/imprison/take away your parental rights, that this loss of perspective has permeated to the core of the culture.

Posted by: m | December 8, 2006 10:47 AM

OH. MY. STARS!!!!

If there's another post taking the first poster to task for her breastfeeding/allergy joke, I swear I will write you all off forever. Did I miss the sign at the entrance to this board that says "no sense of humor allowed. Common sense strictly prohibited."?

Posted by: WDC | December 8, 2006 10:52 AM

"If you still dress for your job and still talk to your parents but they keep nagging you to adopt the camping look for the commute, what can you say without being a whiner?"

"Thanks for caring, Mom and Dad. I'll think about what you say."

If you are old enough to have a job, you really can decide appropriate wear for yourself. Follow the policies of your work place, and don't get defensive with your parents. Just do what you know is right for you.

Posted by: Grimm | December 8, 2006 10:55 AM

Thank you to the child of the compulsive hoarder - my parents were that way when I was a child too. I married another compulsive hoarder (although a cleaner one - this one hoards books and office supplies, not cats like my parents, which means the house is clean but crammed the rafters instead of coated in cat hair and stinking). Mom and dad still aren't any better - rather than dealing with the cats, they have become asetics in other aspects of their lives and moved into one room of the house which is empty except for the minimum things one needs to live, and the cats have the rest of the house to themselves. I can't say I blame them for my life - I am grateful to them in lots of ways. But it definately has influenced my life and made me who I am today.

Blaming for most of us is an act of self indulgence. It's rare that it's truly useful.

Posted by: Rebecca in AR | December 8, 2006 11:02 AM

Maybe part of the blame game is the flip side of the praise game ("the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world")? If an adult's parents deserve a lot of credit when he or she does well, how much blame do they deserve when he or she does poorly?

"What happened to Mary's baby in 1973?"

More cheap labor for Mary's in-laws' farm? I've heard of some refugees keeping up that teen pregnancy tradition even for a while after they lost their farms and came to America.

"Kid is fat? She's got: 1) Bad genes/thyroid problem, 2) It's too "hard" for her parents to fight "popular culture" - and healthy food is expensive!"

3) Puberty. My mom has called my hips fat ever since they became wider than my waist.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 8, 2006 11:07 AM

While I think many posters here rightly recognize that many who blame their parents are self-indulgent and unwilling to accept personal responsibility, there are also many adults who, because of bad parenting, were never equipped with the personal skills of responsibility and good decision making. I have met rich people, poor peope, white, black, all of whom had awful parents and as a result, are awful people. It is easy to say that these poeple need to grow up and accept responsibility and the consequences of their actions. It is harder to accept that maybe they are incapable because their parents failed to give them the tools to be responsible adults. Remember, children are not born "knowing" how to interact socially. They must be taught and if parents, because of a lack of skills, time, or caring don't teach their children, we can hardly blame the children for not knowing better when they were never taught in the first place.

Posted by: LM in WI | December 8, 2006 11:13 AM

KB - how nice for you to be so perfect. What are you teaching your children by limiting their contact with grandparents? What happened to unconditional love? Your kids are learning to love grandpa as long as he isn't "hurtful" to them. God forbid they should learn how to accept that grandpa can be a real asshat, but we love him anyway.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 8, 2006 11:14 AM

To SCR,
I whole heartidly agree with you. I am 24 and am scared stiff about bring children into this world where people feel so entiled to things. I have seen first hand what the my-child-can-do-no-wrong mentality can do to children and adults. A few of my friends are lacking in what some consider "normal" social skills because they aren't used to not getting thier way or they don't know how to act when someone says no or has a different opinon. It's sad. I think the best you can do with children is try your best. Make an effort to mold them into well rounded adults and give them the tools to deal with life's crisis. When I was growing up my dad had this saying he would say to my siblings and I when we would complain about things out of our control. Life is tough. To some people that may seem harsh, but my dad instilled in all of us that life is not perfect and some times it's hard and you have to work your way through it, but you can do it.

Posted by: Melissa | December 8, 2006 11:18 AM

I really appreciate TC and Random Guy's points of view - I think there is a real difference between acknowledging that something in your past affected you, and trying to shirk responsibility. I guess it's in how you deal with that knowledge -take it as something to help you change yourself or your situation, or take it as a reason not to do that.

I also think it's important at this stage to be able to deal with our parents as adults and be honest. When I was in college, my dad left my mom for a woman who was awful - racist, self-righteous, rude, serious eating issues, the list goes on. Spending time with her was terrible, so I chose to limit my time with her and refused to spend holidays with her, and I was very honest with my dad about why. My feeling was that he made the choice to do what he did and these were the consequences; I still loved him and had a relationship with him but I wasn't going to act as if what he did was hunky dory, and I wasn't going to put myself and, later, my family through the ordeal of spending time with her at special times like the holidays.

My brother could not confront my dad about the situation and never felt comfortable drawing his own boundaries and had a lot harder time dealing with his anger as a result - the situation just went on and on for him because he couldn't find a way to limit it. I think this made him more prone to just being angry and blaming my dad for other things, rather than being able to acknowledge the problem and make his own decisions about how to deal with it.

Thankfully, my dad finally divorced this woman and we now have a great time being together. But I think to this day I have a healthier relationship with my dad than my brother does and I think a lot of that has to do with how we coped with the situation in the first place.

Posted by: name witheld | December 8, 2006 11:27 AM

You should hear my stepchildren. Two are in their twenties. Anything that goes right in there life, they did all by themselves. Anything wrong, mom and dad's fault. As the stepmom, I am not allowed to tell them it's time to grow up but I wish they would.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 8, 2006 11:28 AM

I blame my parents for my allergies and upper respiratory problems because they both smoked heavily in my presence, from the time I was a baby. My grandmother told me I had a bad case of pneumonia when I was three months old, and she had to ban my parents from smoking in the room when I was sick. I know that back then, people knew less about the dangers of smoking than they do now, but geez, it does not take a genius to figure out that it is a bad idea to smoke around a baby with pneumonia. Other than that, I have no major complaints.

Posted by: Emily | December 8, 2006 11:31 AM

I have been reading posts here for a few months, and this is one topic that I couldn't pass by....I find it scary that people actually blame their parents for petty things such as "being neurotic" or "not being normal."
As someone who endured years of physical and sexual abuse at the hands of my parents, I am perfectly functional adult with a knowledge that I am able to move past their mistakes and make my own life decisions. I don't understand why people can't take control of their own destiny--who else do you think will do it for you if you don't?

Posted by: Anonymous | December 8, 2006 11:32 AM

My SD, whom I love dearly, grew up with a mom who wants to be her best friend and so didn't impose any rules, tried to protect her from any "unpleasantness", etc. Her mom did not feel she should hear the word "no" because it would impose boundaries. (HELLO??) The result is a child so entitled that she is having serious problems coming to terms with the results of several very bad decisions. Even when forced to deal with the consequences of her actions, she plays the blame game. This is what trying to be a friend to your kids and shelter them from having to fight their own battles in life will do.

As parents, you need to decide whether you're going to try to enforce rules starting at birth, or when the child is 20 and a major screw up. Guess which is easier? Guess which is better for the child (and ultimately for you)?

Posted by: ThoughtToday | December 8, 2006 11:33 AM


To anonymous at 11:14

"Limiting" means that when we visit, we don't stay in their house, we stay in a hotel and limit home visits to a few hours so grandpa doesn't hit his detonation point. It means creating a safe zone, our family only, for the kids to retreat to. It means leaving when grandpa is out of control. It means never leaving them alone with him, where he might snap at or harm them.

It also means teaching the kids that when someone yells at you, frightens you, bullies you, belittles you, calls you names, and puts you down snidely at every opportunity, you don't have to come back for unlimited helpings, because you deserve better. In our family we don't do or say hurtful things; that is our rule; and it's as simple and neutral as that.

I don't want them to learn that we stay friends with or marry those you call "asshats"; I never want them to accept being abused. If that's not unconditional love, so be it.

KB

>KB - how nice for you to be so perfect. What >are you teaching your children by limiting >their contact with grandparents? What >happened to unconditional love? Your kids >are learning to love grandpa as long as he >isn't "hurtful" to them. God forbid they >should learn how to accept that grandpa can >be a real asshat, but we love him anyway.

Posted by: KB | December 8, 2006 11:35 AM

I blame my mom for the size of my butt....she made the best cookies and pastries in the world. The care packages I got at college were legendary.....

Posted by: Anonymous | December 8, 2006 11:36 AM

"I think that there is something to be said for understanding how your childhood affected who you are today. That, in itself is NOT blaming your parents in some vindictive way, but it may be saying "My mom had a weakness in X area, and she did not know how to teach me to be better at it, so I also have a weakness in X area.""

Exactly. I'm the way I am because I am like my mother, and I have a lot of flaws. Her fault? Maybe. Her responsibility to fix it? No. I am my own person, and just because I wasn't taught money skills or academic responsibility doesn't mean I can't learn on my own.

I do blame my parents, and yes, it is shameful of me. I blame them for making poor money decisions that brought us a new car but no food to eat. I blame them for giving us toys but no health insurance. I still blame my mother for buying me decorations for my house when what I really need is help with student loan payments. It is cruel, it's wrong, and it's extremely childish. It's something that needs to stop, because I am an adult responsible for her own lifestyle. Maybe things were different when I was younger. Maybe I could blame them then for not helping me with homework or college applications. Maybe I could preach about how they should have gotten an education before they had kids. But what difference would it make? What's done is done, the past is over, and I am in charge of my future.

In short, we do blame our parents, but as noted by "Accept responsibility," once we are adults, we have the right to guide our own lives. That's what's great about growing up, if we can manage to actually do it.

Posted by: Mona | December 8, 2006 11:37 AM

"Your kids are learning to love grandpa as long as he isn't "hurtful" to them"

I think what KB's kids are learning is that they don't have to expose themselves to abuse, no matter where it comes from. I can't think of a better lesson to teach your children. Kudos to you, KB, for finding a healthy way to deal with your situation.

Posted by: Megan | December 8, 2006 11:40 AM

The Good Ole Days - 1973

Nixon Watergate Scandal

Spiro T. Agnew resigns in disgrace

Arab Oil Embargo/Energy Crisis

OPEC doubles the price of crude oil

U.S. "secret bombing" of Cambodia

Yom Kippur War (very scary)

Nov 19, New York stock market took its sharpest drop in 19 years.

Soldiers come home: estimated 34 percent of American soldiers in Vietnam had commonly used heroin.

Iraq launches a biological weapons program

You had to be there....

Posted by: Anonymous | December 8, 2006 11:42 AM

The "blame game" is not only an American phenomenon, but a modern human occurence. Whether it's parents, or teachers, or government, people love to blame someone else for their woes (not to say that some of these cases are unjustified). Much of it comes from the prevalent entitlement/instant gratification attitude so common among generations following the World War II era. It is a lot easier to point the finger at someone else than to look inside ourselves to discover if perhaps the source of the problem isn't external, but internal.

Posted by: 215 | December 8, 2006 11:42 AM

KB- thanks for your thoughtful post. I will look for those books.

I can completely relate to the struggles you mention- both the grand-parenting food issues, and the pressure over limiting your kid's exposure to a family member who has damaging behavior.

In our family, the "blame game" is deeply mixed up with current wrongs and the hope of preventing future problems- and even though I don't think any of us are wallowing in a "poor me victim" mentality, it is often a good deal more complicated than "just get over it."

Posted by: Silver Spring | December 8, 2006 11:42 AM

To the 11:14 poster -- what the ???? KB limits -- not forbids, limits -- her kids' involvement with a relative who blows up at them for no reason, and that's somehow a bad thing? I call that doing your job as a parent.

What's she teaching her children? Maybe that she values them enough to protect them no matter what. Maybe that you don't have to take that kind of treatment from anyone, even someone you love. Maybe that big ol' tantrums get precisely what they deserve -- even when thrown by a very powerful authority figure. HE's the grownup; if he can't learn to act like one, her children shouldn't suffer the consequences.

Posted by: Laura | December 8, 2006 11:43 AM

it's a parent's job to teach their children to be contributing members of society, even if that means the parent doesn't win a popularity contest! Children have to be taught to follow the rules and not overindulge. If taught lovingly, children will understand (most of the time).
My favorite tactic is teaching natural consequences. (You made a decision, these are your consequences to deal with.) My children try to blame me (Mommy forgot to remind me to take my homework) but I don't accept it.
My kids see spoiled, entitled teenagers driving mercedes and bmws at the high school. My kids are not impressed, because some of these rich kids are obnoxious brats.

Posted by: experienced mom | December 8, 2006 11:43 AM

The blame game started waaay back with the first human beings: Adam blamed Eve, and Eve blamed the serpent.

Posted by: Mr.Honda | December 8, 2006 11:48 AM

KB wrote "In our family we don't do or say hurtful things; that is our rule; and it's as simple and neutral as that."

Were that it was so simple. Do you really believe this? Wow! We've found perfect human beings!

I'm going to guess that you, your spouse, and your children have all said or done things that have hurt another family member.

Your claims of perfection reduce your credibility. Perhaps if you turned your finely tuned judgement on yourself, you might find your not so perfect.

I grew up with a father that could be verbally abusive too. Snide, belittling, cruel. But he could also be loving, kind, and generous. Guess what, he has flaws and isn't perfect. Neither am I but I try to emulate his better qualities in my relationship with my children. I certainly haven't cut him out of my children's life. Had I done so they would have missed many a wonderful intergenerational experience.

Posted by: An Dliodoir | December 8, 2006 11:50 AM

KB is right. There are some toxic people out there. Just because they are relatives does not entitle them to have contact with my children.

You can forgive and love someone without having physical contact with them; you can choose to stay away from their poison.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 8, 2006 11:50 AM

KB - "how nice for you to be so perfect. What are you teaching your children by limiting their contact with grandparents? What happened to unconditional love? Your kids are learning to love grandpa as long as he isn't "hurtful" to them. God forbid they should learn how to accept that grandpa can be a real asshat, but we love him anyway. "

To anon at 11:14: and here I thought KB had articulated an almost perfect balance of setting limits and otherwise dealing with having one's kids around one's still-verbally abusive parents.

KB is teaching her children that "love" does not equal "there are no limits to how badly you can treat me". KB is teaching her children to respect themselves and to limit relationships with people who say they love you but do not act in a manner consistent with "love." This is a mighty fine lesson to take out into the world and may save her children from much heartache. She hasn't taken the easy way out and cut off all relations with her parents. She has controlled it.

KB is stopping the cycle of verbal abuse before it touches the next generation. That's what folks from dysfunctional families who learn to "get past it" do.

Rule 1 if you get any counseling on how to avoid the blame game is to learn what sorts of behavior are harmful and limit your exposure to persons who engage in that sort of behavior. Person A treats Person B disrespectfully and/or says insulting things about Person B's intelligence? Person B tells Person A that the comment was disrespectful and if it doesn't stop, Person B will exit. Person A is on notice that Person A's behavior is unacceptable and Person A has a choice to cease or continue, but there are clear consequences to continuing. The solution to the blame game is to stop being the victim and start taking charge of the extent to which you expose yourself to crapweasals (I so like this new word) who treat you and your children badly.

I applaud KB's thoughtful, non-judgmental, limit-setting. She couldn't give her children a better lesson.

Posted by: NC lawyer | December 8, 2006 11:53 AM

experienced mom: "My favorite tactic is teaching natural consequences"

Right on! You've read the book on reality-based discipline? One of the worst things parents can do is to shield the child from failure/bad outcomes. They must learn to fail.

Kids are entrusted to us to be raised in the right way and become independent productive citizens. They aren't our projects or trophies, nor to be indulged or coddled. Our work is to prepare them to leave the nest, to face a tough world.

Posted by: Mr.Honda | December 8, 2006 11:55 AM

An Dliliodor, I think you're reading way too much into KB's rule. Saying that that is the rule isn't the same as saying they all comply and are perfect all the time - it's simply a statement that it is not ok in their family to be intentionally hurtful. It sounds to me like the basic limit-setting that everyone complains parents don't do anymore: teaching your children that it is not ok for them to be mean or disrespectful to other people. The flip side is that it is also not ok for others to be mean to them. Isn't this pretty much the Golden Rule?

Posted by: Megan | December 8, 2006 11:55 AM

I often hear the term "unconditional love" touted about, as if it were a lofty goal to achieve, but I don't think "unconditional love" is always appropriate. I think parents should love their children unconditionally because they brought them into this world and as such are responsible for their well-being. That may be the only instance where I believe in unconditional love. I don't think anyone needs to unconditionally love someone to the extent that it means tolerating disrespect, neglect, or abuse. I think it is fine to step away from people who dish out this kind of treatment, even if they are your parents, grandparents, siblings, or even adult children. Holding people accountable for their actions and the way they treat you is important. I don't think it is healthy to use the concept of "unconditional love" as a reason to put up with people with toxic behaviors.

Posted by: Emily | December 8, 2006 12:00 PM

KB is setting boundaries for behavior. Is there a fuss because the boundaries are with relatives? Don't you have boundaries for the behavior or strangers? Do relatives get some sort of pass to cross boundaries?

Posted by: Anonymous | December 8, 2006 12:01 PM

No one, including KB, is claiming they do it perfectly. To attack her as such seems silly.

Posted by: Product of a Working Mother | December 8, 2006 12:04 PM

I really have a problem with people who make choices that impact others and then refuse to take any responsibility for those choices or consequences. It doesn't matter wheter you like it or not, your kids will someday judge the quaility of your parenting.

I had a brief period in my life when I blamed my mother for being a bad parent and for the struggles I had becoming a confident and functioning person. When I got over that I just pretty much wrote her and my (somewhat abusive) father out of my life. Not completely, but as much as I can.

Now she wonders why her sisters' kids are so much more caring and involved with their parents than my brother and I are. Her sisters were deeply involved with their young kids and very loving. My mother was the one who was always telling me how much more important her career was to her than raising her kids. And that was, in essence, her philosophy of motherhood.

Now her career is past and she doesn't have the love of her children. Does she take responsibility for that? No, but what do I care. Could this someday be you?

ps: my son is almost grown and he tells me all the time how much he loves me and what a great mom I've been. I haven't been that great but he knows I love him and he can always turn to me.

Posted by: Believe in responsibility for our own choices | December 8, 2006 12:04 PM

Emily, love is by definition unconditional. See 1 Corinthians 13 in the good book.

Loving someone does not mean putting up with the toxic behavior. For example, if I love my child, I will not let him verbally abuse me or disrespect authority. Love comes with training and discipline. It does not mean rolling over and letting someone walk over you.

Posted by: Mr.Honda | December 8, 2006 12:05 PM

I get that, Mr. Honda. Yes, I do think it is possible to love someone even if they wronged or continue to wrong you. But I was referring to another poster who clained that KB was not teaching her children to love their grandfather unconditionally, because she would remove them from situations where he became abusive. I think that sometimes, we think that in loving someone, we have to tolerate whatever they dish out. Sometimes, I think that separating ourselves from such people is the only way of dealing with them. And no, I do not find the biblical quote particularly relevant. I have no trouble personally ceasing to love people who are toxic to me or my family. I don't become hateful or vengeful or bitter. I simply remove myself from them so that they become irrelevant.

Posted by: Emily | December 8, 2006 12:12 PM

An Dliodoir, with all due respect, your judgmental statements toward KB indicate that you don't truly appreciate the distinction between "my dad was rude every now and again" and day-in, day-out verbal abuse. If you understood the efforts that go into creating yourself as a whole, functioning, non-blaming person despite being raised in an entirely dysfunctional family, you might have an ounce or two of empathy for how challenging it is to navigate the grandparent/grandchild relationship so that your kids get the good without the power of the bad.

One small example that might open your eyes (or it might not, but c'est la vie), my parents talk relentleslly about how they wish they were dead -- in front of my sister's kids (she lives down the street) -- on every occasion they are together. Are they physically ill or in pain? no. are they mentally ill? no. are they thoughtlessly self-absorbed? Yup. Going on Year 83 of "it's all about me". Now how do you think it strikes a 5 year old and a 13 year old when someone they love constantly wishes for death? does it put a great deal of pressure on them to find something to say to change their grandparents' minds? you betcha. I am not going to go into the level of minute detail that would make this make sense to you. What I do hope is that you might acknowledge if only to yourself, that healthy grandparent/grandchild relationships come in varieties of grey and not only black and white.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 8, 2006 12:12 PM

Montgomery Village- current research suggests it is best for each parent to "choose" a language and stick to communicating in that language to children. You do Spanish, hubby does Italian, both do English...name everything for kids in both languages. Interpret constantly. Kids will be fine.
for "reality based consequences" highly recommend Parenting With Love and Logic. Takes the blame off parents!!! Very good book.

Posted by: awburger | December 8, 2006 12:17 PM

My father used to often tell us kids that he wished he was dead and then we would be sorry for all the things we had put him through. One day, he even told us that when he died, he did not want a nice funeral. He said he wanted to be treated in death just as he had been treated in life, and that he wanted to be cremated and have his ashes flushed down the toilet. We kids were all aghast at the idea, and begged him not to ask us to do this, but he insisted. Then my stepsister spoke up. She told him not to worry and assured him that she would make sure his wishes were carried out. He could count on her to do his will. He never mentioned death again.

Posted by: anon for now | December 8, 2006 12:19 PM

An Dliodoir,

I think we're talking past each other; we have different notions of what is a family rule. If our rule's "in our family we wash our hands before supper" does that mean that no child has ever appeared at the table without washing their hands? No, it means it's our standard to wash hands, and if you forget, go back and wash your hands now before supper. If our rule is we don't hit people, does that mean that automatically no blow has ever been struck within our walls? No, but if an angry child lashes out and hits a sibling, they *know* they've broken the rules, they're put in time out or otherwise punished, they apologize, and they know that we and they expect them to learn better control of themselves, over time. A rule is an ideal, an expectation to work toward, it doesn't mean that no-one ever falls short.

However, having rules and goals helps a surprising amount. There are certain types of hurtful comments I have just made ironclad rules to myself not to say. I explain to my kids that you can say really mean things when you're angry, and you can feel sorry about it soon after, but you've already hurt someone's feelings and you can never really unsay what you said; it's better to learn to hold your tongue til you're calm. It helps to have a few nonhurtful things you *can* yell when angry --- like "I'm angry at you right now!" and to remove yourself from the situation to calm down. Personally, I try to keep my pledge to myself that if I can't stop myself from yelling in a frustrated moment, I will only yell my child's full name. I've fallen down on that a few times, and regretted it and apologized for it, but having something in reserve that I can yell has helped me get past moments where I might reflexively have done much worse . . .

I'm not saying it's simple to achieve, but that it's simple to set it as a standard, to recognize that it's not ok to hurt people. People lapse and try to do better. One difference with an abuser (in my subjective opinion) is that deep down they do believe it's ok; that they do not genuinely regret or strive to extinguish hurtful behaviors; that instead it's their pattern of establishing dominance or getting what they want. I think it takes a lot of upholding a standard of "it's not ok to hurt people" to raise kids to treat others well, when their inborn self-interest agitates against learning to treat others' feelings and wants as important like their own.

>KB wrote "In our family we don't do or say >hurtful things; that is our rule; and it's >as simple and neutral as that."
>
>Were that it was so simple. Do you really >believe this? Wow! We've found perfect >human beings!
>
>I'm going to guess that you, your spouse, >and your children have all said or done >things that have hurt another family >member.
>
>Your claims of perfection reduce your >credibility. Perhaps if you turned your >finely tuned judgement on yourself, you >might find your not so perfect.

Posted by: KB | December 8, 2006 12:23 PM

Thanks awburger!

Posted by: montgomery village | December 8, 2006 12:23 PM

"No one, including KB, is claiming they do it perfectly. To attack her as such seems silly."

Not so. KB wrote "In our family we don't do or say hurtful things." She didn't say try or that's what we teach. She said "we don't." That's pretty definitive.

Read the words people. If she meant something different, she should have chosen different words.

To KB's defenders, don't we all set boundries for our children and teach them right from wrong and to be respectful, etc, etc, etc? We certainly try. The point of today's article (well one of them anyway) was that people continue to blame their parents into adulthood for failing to do all those things. Perhaps we, as parents, aren't perfect and don't shape perfect children with no baggage, but that doesn't mean we, the parents, are to blame for all our children's problems and their inability to accept responsiblity for their shortcomings.

Of course it's healthy to understand what shaped us and how that influences our adult decision making. But understanding is only half the battle. We must then accept that we are in charge now and that we can change unproductive/destructive behaviours. And THAT has nothing to do with our parents.

Posted by: An Dliodoir | December 8, 2006 12:25 PM

I think that people who had non-abusive parents have NO IDEA what it means to live with abusive parents. PERIOD. When my father went through an mentally and verbally abusive period it was a living hell. I'm talking about being criticized every 2 minutes that I wasn't locked in my room. You know, "wash your hands." I wash my hands. "Why did you leave the sink a mess?!" I clean up the sink. "Can you even hang the washcloth back straight so it's not all crooked? No wonder you're getting Cs in school!" I throw the washcloth across the kitchen and go back to my room. We're not talking once in a while, we're talking him following me from room to room complaining about me and that example was hardly the worst. For a few years it was an all-out attack on everyone in our family until he stopped drinking. There is absolutely nothing wrong in talking about these issues and how I recovered from them and SHAME SHAME SHAME on "On Balance" for running such an anti-human article. AA and Alateen has made it very clear that On Balance's questioning attitude results in people's deaths. On Balance shows an anti-mental health bias that is cruel and unusual. If it never happened to you, congratulations! but it happened to me and it took me some level of therapy to get out of a negative mindset.

Posted by: Bethesdan | December 8, 2006 12:26 PM

Just like how my son's father blames his father for him not being a good dad and working and supporting our son...*sigh*

He (my sons father) lives with his father now....no job, no motivation to get a job (his dad feeds and houses him for free) yet complains he is living there. *double sigh*

Worse part is....he thinks he can move in with our son and I with no job and not contributing to the household and he askes me for money from time to time when he owes me over 6 grand in back support! HAHAHAHHAHAHAH

Posted by: single mom | December 8, 2006 12:28 PM

"Not so. KB wrote "In our family we don't do or say hurtful things." She didn't say try or that's what we teach. She said "we don't." That's pretty definitive.

Read the words people."


NO, actually she wrote, "In our family we don't do or say hurtful things; THAT IS OUR RULE." (emphasis added) Follow your own advice (ie, read the words), admit that you are wrong and apparently intentionally misconstruing her words, and move on.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 8, 2006 12:28 PM

12:12 raises a great point - how do you motivate to care for an aging parent who was a jerk to you and your mom growing up (i.e. - hit your mom, kindof ignored you as a kid, etc).

Posted by: Anonymous | December 8, 2006 12:28 PM

I blame my parents for all my ills because I had absolutely no say in being born; I'd be happier had it never happened. And I'd check out completely if my parents hadn't had other kids that would be significantly damaged should I do so.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 8, 2006 12:29 PM

I had great parents who have a stable, loving marriage and I'd love to have kids of my own but I haven't found the person with whom to have them! And no, the 'rents weren't perfect and still aren't - my dad is as conservative as they get and not shy about sharing those opinions regardless of his audience and my mom is the original "travel agent for guilt trips." But I certainly credit them with giving me the tools I've needed to succeed in a world filled with self-important whiners who think that everything is someone else's fault. Sometimes it really IS someone else's fault - but an adult sucks it up, moves on, and does whatever he/she can do to improve the situation!

Posted by: dcgirl1899 | December 8, 2006 12:29 PM

An Dliodoir

Are you backward? KB is not talking about blaming parents; she's talking about keeping children away from people who can't or won't treat them decently after ample notice. Why is that so hard to understand?

Posted by: Anonymous | December 8, 2006 12:30 PM

As a society, we see the bad before we see the good. Ever since I started college, I have looked back and seen what my parents didn't give me. No, I don't mean material things, I had plenty. But some things really stuck with me as I met more people in school. My parents never forced me to go to church, or take part in any religion - because they were forced to do so as children. While that sounds plausible, they never bothered to explain this reasoning to me, or encourage me to explore my options. When you are a child, you look to the people who run your life, your parents. If it's not important to them, it's not important to you, because you are not old enough to know what the difference is. When you're 5 years old and getting no stimulation in this or any other way, you have to accept that as the norm. It's not until it's almost, or is too late that you realize what shortcomings you experienced growing up. In the ways that my parents were lazy in teaching me things, encouraging me, or interacting with me, they always fed me, make sure I had nice things in life, and kept me safe. I guess you really can't complain if as an adult you gain the intelligence to reflect on your past in this way and analyze it's impact.

Posted by: college kid | December 8, 2006 12:34 PM

The only value in questioning someone's complaints about their family is reframing the question from "I can't do this because of what happened to me" into "How do I lead the most successful life I can regardless of how my mind used to process what happened?" Anyone questioning the complaints needs to keep it to themselves, because your devil's advocacy is someone's life here and I'll say this, my life is not up for you to discuss.

Posted by: Bethesdan | December 8, 2006 12:36 PM

KB Silver Spring -- love the concept of a "survivor gene." Think you are right -- I see it in some very happy, optimistic people (no matter what their childhoods were like). Others continue to blame their parents, their siblings, their bosses, the world -- and seem pretty miserable.

Posted by: Leslie | December 8, 2006 12:41 PM

American and 20th century alone?

Please. Anyone here read Anthony Trollope? He certainly rips into his father. Ditto for Dickens, he is not kind to parental figures, overall.

Posted by: guest | December 8, 2006 12:42 PM

To the poster at 12:28 asking about how to care for parents who were abusive, etc:
I can't speak for anyone else but I help my mother as much as I can. She left our family when I was 16 (I wrote above). The way I look at is that when she is gone I don't want to have any regrets that I didn't do the best I could for her. I don't always like her but she is my mother and I feel I have to respect that. It is a totally different situation from those who were abused for sure. I am not sure how I would handle that. She was, and still is, very self centered. I don't know all the details of her and my father's relationship but I do know that there was no physical abuse. I also know that when she left I was glad that maybe there would be some peace in the house and that we could all find some happiness. The happiness wasn't to be found for many years as my father was an alcoholic. It wasn't until two of his three children left home that he stopped drinking.

Posted by: KLB Silver Spring | December 8, 2006 12:43 PM

One recurring theme I see here is the inability for people who had loving parents who stuck together and had a successful marriage to recognize the living hell it can be for kids when their parents are abusive, when they feel worthless, when they see other kids who have less money getting more encouragement (that's the weirdest feeling from my childhood- when I realized that money doesn't mean anything to your ego), drunk all the time, or simply uninterested. I think those people who had good upbringings really need to show some compassion and understand that going through a rough time is REAL and is not something that one shakes off without months or years of self-reflection. I'll put it this way, for those of you who had a favorite band or book in high school. What would it take you to say, That song or book is terrible and I hate it. That's the realization that many of us were forced to go through as young adults- recognizing that I can't live my life the way I saw people I loved very much live their lives. It's much harder to overcome than you accept and your ignorance and apathy toward the situation reflects very badly on you as badly as it reflects on Leslie Steiner, who comes off like a really horrible, self-centered human for even running this thing today. She's going to have to answer for today's column, not me.

Posted by: Bethesdan | December 8, 2006 12:45 PM

Thanks from me too, awburger! I'm the multilingual one in my relationship...my boyfriend's of Japanese descent, wants them to have the culture and all that, but he's fourth-generation and has lost the language. I'm the language nut so it'll be up to me to teach the kids (I want them to be multilingual from birth so I'm learning the languages now).

So far, I've decided on English, Spanish, Japanese, French, and at least one other. I can't decide what. But let me work on my French and Japanese before I take on another one...and I know a lot of people are thinking I'm going to overwhelm my kids with confusing languages...but trust me, many children are multilingual and handle it much, much better than adults.

Posted by: Mona | December 8, 2006 12:49 PM

Ditto TC. A dose of criticism goes a long way -- very different than mindless blaming.

Why is everyone after KB? Points seem valid and thoughtful. And those books are good ones.

Posted by: Leslie | December 8, 2006 12:49 PM

"NO, actually she wrote, "In our family we don't do or say hurtful things; THAT IS OUR RULE." (emphasis added)"

Please show me where she qualifies her definitive statement "we don't say or do hurtful thing?" She didn't say we don't always succeed. She didn't say that's a goal they work towards. She said we don't. I didn't write, she did. Yes she wrote "that is our rule." And your point? Your emphasis doesn't change the fact that it was an unqualified definitive statement.

I do understand that KB has since backed off her previous claim of perfection. And yes, I understood it was hyperbole when I first read it. Guess what, I bet KB will be more careful about making extraordinary claims without qualification again.

Posted by: An Dliodoir | December 8, 2006 12:51 PM

"Believe in responsibility for our own choices" makes a good point about relationships between parents and grown children.

I tend to believe that if parents and their grown children do not have a good relationship, that they have a bad relationship that has been going on for years, that it is probably the parents' fault. I'm not talking about a passing squall here but something that has been established for years.

My adult brother has horrible relationships with my mother (who is very controlling) and does not speak to my father (who my mom told me never wanted him). Now my mother bemoans the selfishness and lack of contact from my brother. My dad, I can tell, holds deep and painful regret. And granted, my brother is kinda screwed up. I think my brother needs to grow up, but all of this came about because of how my parents treated him from infancy to young adulthood. He didn't spring out of nowhere.

Posted by: Rebecca | December 8, 2006 12:53 PM

Bethesdan,

Leslie's original post includes the words "UNLESS YOU WERE ABUSED".

Your pain is heartbreaking, but your anger at the thread might be misplaced.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 8, 2006 12:54 PM

Americans always blame someone else. They look everywhere and especially at corporations to place the blame. Now they are starting to sue McDonalds for making them fat. This culture perpetuated by ambulance chasing lawyers.

----------

How ridiculous! The corporations are blaming the consumers for enjoying their unhealthy products! If the owners of the corporations took ANY personal responsibility for their work and didn't pass the buck to consumers then this wouldn't be an issue. How far do you have to bend to twist this issue exactly backwards?

Posted by: Bethesdan | December 8, 2006 12:54 PM

It's curious as to why Leslie ran this topic. Leslie's first husband (not the father of her children) beat her. Would she let her children have any contact with this guy? If this guy had beat her kids, would she tell her kids to "accept the past"?

Posted by: Anonymous | December 8, 2006 12:55 PM

Just because someone is family doesn't buy them a pass to unconditional love. If we as children aren't supposed to blame our parents (and I agree with that sentiment completely), then we as parents also have the responsibility to make choices about the people our children spend time with. If someone in our family has really screwed up, then they have to suffer the consequences. It goes both ways.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 8, 2006 12:58 PM

Bethesdan,

Leslie's original post includes the words "UNLESS YOU WERE ABUSED".

Your pain is heartbreaking, but your anger at the thread might be misplaced.
---------

Don't worry, I got through everything by the time I was 27, so the pain is gone. Did the obligatory 5 years of therapy and took responsibility for my own feelings. Negotiated with my Dad until we have a good, functioning relationship and when he starts picking on my son I tell him straight away.

But do people tell me to my face that I was never abused? Absolutely! People still say that. Did he hit you? No. Did he have enough money to pay for college? yes. Did he ever wreck the car drunk? No, he'd drink and then refuse to drive us anywhere. Then what are you complaining about Bethesdan? you got through therapy and you're fine now.

I'm saying that this entire thread is fuel for the fire of the "quit whining" brigade and I'm sick of having to justify why it took me so long to get over my childhood.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 8, 2006 1:00 PM

This inability of the pollyanna crowd to understand truly dysfunctional families often, in my experience, results in adults from dysfunctional families marrying and having to rise above two problematic parenting backgrounds rather than zero or one.

here's the one thing that's easier for adult children of dysfunctional families: we do not automatically raise our kids the way we were raised because most of us know the way we were raised was lousy. That knowledge is freeing because it means we can seek out new, good, healthy approaches to parenting challenges rather than repeating the old, unhealthy ones we learned first-hand. When I hear someone say, "That's the way we did it when I was growing up . . . ", that someone inevitably turns out to be one of these June Cleaver products who resists all alternatives and is insistent that the approach with which she's most familiar is THE WAY to raise children. See OnBalance blog for examples.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 8, 2006 1:02 PM

"Please show me where she qualifies her definitive statement "we don't say or do hurtful thing?" "

It was qualified with the statement that that is a rule. Do you really, sincerely think that everyone who says they have a rule also says that they are perfect? She hasn't backed down, she's given more information, and if anyone needs to be more careful in the future it is you.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 8, 2006 1:06 PM

Bethesdan,

Ok, I think you are justified in emphasizing the point that abuse comes in many forms, and that we should all be careful when we talk about "getting over the past" to be sensitive to individual situations where various types of abuse might have occurred. That reminder is well received.

I don't however think it invalidates the topic as proposed by Leslie, exploring why some of us dwell on faults or behaviors passed on to us by our parents that don't stem from abusive parenting, and if we do, how we can best deal with it.

Posted by: Stevo | December 8, 2006 1:12 PM

When we have emotional problems, I think it is healing to go back and see where they originated, which is often with Mom and/or Dad or some other family member. That is not the same as blaming. Blame is a complete waste of time, but analyzing the origin of a problem can be useful in overcoming it.
I am the daughter of two verbally abusive parents. When I left home I had virtually no self esteem. I got therapy, realized that the problem had originated at home and moved on to work on a solution. I have improved my self esteem and have refused to tolerate verbal abuse from anyone,including my parents ever sense.
I don't blame them. They got it from their parents. They were miserable in their old age because they felt everyone should worship them and that didn't happen. They claim I made them miserable, but I did not. They made themselves miserable by their refusal to stop the abuse.
I did not abuse my children and they were aghast when they became aware of my parents behavior. I have a good relationship with my kids. My parents don't.
By the way, I have never told them that I think they are abusive. I just leave or hang up when it starts.

Posted by: Southern Girl | December 8, 2006 1:14 PM

An Dliodoir,

Guess what, you'd lose the bet.

You are misreading my initial post, and my subsequent post was not "backing off" a "claim" that few but you perceived. It was explaining the mismatch between your reading of the post and its intended meaning.

I'm guessing your family does not use this formulation to state its rules: "In our family, we don't xxxx". But this is the way we state our rules and many who have parented 2yos understand this kind of clear rule phrasing (even though it doesn't mean xxx doesn't happen, we'll never forgive you if you xxx, only a truly rotten person would ever xxx, we're so superior because we never xxx, etc)

I think I've done all the clearing up possible, I'll just note that your attribution of my meaning is explicitly counter to my own . . . so beware continuing in this vein may mean you're playing with your own straw men.

>I do understand that KB has since backed off >her previous claim of perfection. And yes, I >understood it was hyperbole when I first >read it. Guess what, I bet KB will be more >careful about making extraordinary claims >without qualification again.

Posted by: KB | December 8, 2006 1:22 PM

To montgomery village:

I don't have kids myself, but I'm good friends with an Indian woman who married a Serbian man. Each speaks mostly their native tongue around their two-year-old, and they hired a nanny who speaks English. Their daughter has picked it all up really well! She can speak (well, as two-year-olds "speak") all three languages, and she even knows that Hindi==Mom and Serbian==Dad. It's pretty cool.

From the other perspective, my dad is fluent in Spanish and Italian but never taught my brother and me a word of either. It's not something I blame him for (I think he didn't want my mom to feel left out, since she doesn't speak either one), but, man, it sure would be nice to be bi- or tri-lingual (especially now that I live in a Latin neighborhood in San Francisco)! Oh well---guess I'll have to get some language tapes!

Posted by: sfBay | December 8, 2006 1:23 PM

"It was qualified with the statement that that is a rule."

No it wasn't. She said they didn't do a certain thing and that was the rule. You're making assumptions and interpreting. "That is are rule" is just another definintive statement. If anything it reinforces the apparent claim to perfection in so far as KB's children always follow rules. She never indicated they didn't.

You're attacking me because my analysis was pointed and personal. Yes it was. But that doesn't make me wrong.

Posted by: An Dliodoir | December 8, 2006 1:25 PM

No, we're attacking you because you are a pompous windbag. and you make it so incredibly easy.


of all the postings for you to get worked up into a lather over, KB's is one that was not only crystal clear and balanced, but eminently sensible. At least choose a worthier target for your venom. Perhaps you're mcewen under another sock.

Posted by: to An Adliodoir | December 8, 2006 1:29 PM

man, talk about losing credibility, An Dliodor... not only can you not understand basic english syntax, you're arrogant to boot! Good grief.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 8, 2006 1:32 PM

"You're attacking me because my analysis was pointed and personal"

No, your "analysis" was wrong. Stating a rule does not equal stating perfection or perfect compliance. You came up with that idea all by yourself, it was not written or implied by KB's post. And yes, your statements were also pointed and personal, to the point of being obnoxious and rude.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 8, 2006 1:36 PM

I'm afraid I can't add much more to the discussion aside from anecdotes. I don't have quite the skill with words and getting my point across many of the regular posters do.

There is proof to a certain extent of the affect of nature and nurture with twin studies. Some of how you are has to do with your genetic make up and some of it has to do with having the same examples or lack of examples for you to emulate.

Yes, to a degree, you have a responsibility for your decision, but as pittypat said above "If love, validation, encouragement, warmth, stimulation, respect, and security are all as important to growing happy, healthy adults as you say they are (every day on this blog), then how can you attack people who didn't receive these gifts as ungrateful whiners?"

I had no contact with my father from the time I was 4 until I was 14. When I went to live with him for a few years, I realized how much alike we were in temperament. My mother divorced him because of his temperament. I ended up having alot of similar anger control issues even without his influence and she couldn't deal being faced with the "same person" again. She stayed married to my abusive step-father much longer than she should have because of the guilt she felt from divorcing my father and leaving me without a dad. She did the best she could. But I wish, rather than sending me to live with someone she knew to be emotionally abusive, she had maybe become more involved with me.

She still overly indulges my little brother and sister with material things to make up for her lack of emotional involvement. She forgets to feed them lunch, doesn't set boundaries, then gets angry when they don't listen to her. I wonder why, after having such difficulty engaging with my sisters and me, she had a reverse tubal ligation and had two more.

I am not a perfect mom. Like many others, I try not to blame, but to learn from the example or lack of examples. Sometimes, however, I am human and I hurt and some of that six year old I used to be, doesn't understand why.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 8, 2006 1:38 PM

Having only read the original blog and a few of the comments I am not too sure how this will be received. However, here goes:

If I am ever charged with a crime I will pull out the "It's my parent's fault" excuse added to the deprived childhood line.

I wanted a pony when I was 8 years old and they said no way. Gave me some lame excuse about living in San Diego on a postage stamp lot, plus the pool might have got in the way.

At any rate, it is Mom and Dad's fault!!! ;-)

I will post this and go back and read a few more comments now ...

Posted by: 2 cents worth | December 8, 2006 1:41 PM

"I don't have quite the skill with words and getting my point across many of the regular posters do. . . .
I am not a perfect mom. Like many others, I try not to blame, but to learn from the example or lack of examples. Sometimes, however, I am human and I hurt and some of that six year old I used to be, doesn't understand why."

That's a powerful statement of what many of us, as well, live with. You know what? I disagree with your initial statement that you may lack the skill with words possessed of some other posters. Based on your last paragraph, that six year old has a gift for communicating her thoughts quite powerfully.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 8, 2006 1:44 PM

I am terribly worried that the lessons and values I teach my kids will make them hate me the second Susie gets a brand-new BMW for her 16th birthday, or Brent doen't understand why my son can't go to the movies because he already used up his allowance. . . . How do you raise your kids to be responsible adults in the mdist of so much indulgence and in a society where blaming others is encouraged?"

Maybe Susie's parents worked hard and she has to get a job to pay for the insurance on the car. Maybe Brent isn't irresponsible with money like your son, so he has some left to go to the movies.

Really, I wish people would stop hating on people who worked hard and have money.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 8, 2006 1:51 PM

"Really, I wish people would stop hating on people who worked hard and have money."

It's the parents that worked hard, not the kid. In conversations with my parents and PILs, whenever leaving money to us comes up, I always tell them it's THEIR money that THEY earned, and they are entitled to spend how they please, even if we don't get anything in the end. We're adults, we know how to work, and we aren't entitled to anything. We know that because that's how they raised us. I can think of no miracle I could have pulled off at 16 that would have earned me a BMW, and no job that would have paid me enough to afford the insurance on it! I think a well off person serves their child best by showing a little restraint. It's OK to make your kid pay for 1/2 of a used car. It's OK to give them a modest allowance and have them learn how to make it last.

Posted by: atb | December 8, 2006 2:00 PM

The term 'blame' suggests to me that some negative has occured and that someone beyond ourselves is guilty. And, if guilty, should be castigated. In my view, this is a lot of il-defined and directed energy. Every moment we look into 'the mirror', we choose what we see, decide what it means, and then we act and feel accordingly. Do we see the scars of our past or do we see our value as a thougtful contributor to mankind? We are taught to judge good-bad, right-wrong, and to see much of life in black and white terms. We are a product of everything and everybody of our past and have the freedom to decide and and act on that basis; but what quality of 'humaning' will we experience and deliver as we chart our course through life? What we decide about our past effects everyone and everything that we touch(like the ripples formed by a stone thrown into a pond). So, we can look back in harsh judgement of our genetics, upbring and societal impositions and then 'let'em have it'. Or, we can decide that every experience is mearly an ingredient in the creation of a life well lived and a parsel of 'opportunity'which we pass on to others along our path. That is the freedom of choice we have always had. Choose Well....Forget the blame game!

Posted by: JR | December 8, 2006 2:01 PM

I used to blame my parents a lot in the teens/young adult because for me they were the direct cause of my unhappiness. And today as an adult I understand where I was coming from. They were my one source of livelihood and in the same sense that was power they held over me. But, today they are not so I can not blame them. I can not blame them for my current situation in life because I am the one holding the purse strings and the power over my life. And at the same time I do not hold this against them because they nor I can change the past, but I also do not forget, because this is how I will remember and do things differently.

However, I must say that because I felt such a lack of control of my happiness as a child I am fervently strong willed today to make sure I do things that make me happy, no matter what others say or think. So, maybe I lose a component of learning to compromise more.

Posted by: Snorko | December 8, 2006 2:03 PM

"I grew up in the 50's and 60's. I was taught to never criticize my elders and never speak ill of the dead. This philosophy fostered a societal cover-up for the adults who abused, neglected, beat and raped children and wives."

I completely agree. Though it is ugly and upsetting to everyone in the family, it is time we end the ugly practices of earlier generations which means we must discuss the origins and consequences of bad upbringing. It is possible to do so with firmness and love, but the only way we can improve our childrearing techniques is to continue to shine light on the ugliness that was previously secret.
John Dickerson highlights the difficulty of having a career news pioneer such as his mother as well as the terrible impact of the traditional absence of the father from the home, an issue we have only starting to deal with in recent years. Perhaps his book seems self-indulgent, and perhaps it is. Still, whether Mr. Dickerson likes it or not, our society has become one where women work. His revelation of his painful youth can help other families avoid some of the pitfalls his own family fell prey to.

On another related subject:
As for people who are too selfish to have children of their own, we should all give a brief thanks that they did not. Raising children is not for the weak and self-indulgent. And it isn't as if the world is short of human beings.

Posted by: Southern Girl | December 8, 2006 2:04 PM

As for wealth - some of my friends also received brand new cars, European vacations, ski trips, condos, lavish weddings, and cushy jobs. My parents couldn't provide these things. I wasn't angry or jealous. I knew that if I went out and got a good education in a certain field (the way my friends' parents had), I could also have the same things. And today, my children and I do have some of those things. I didn't expect things my parents couldn't or wouldn't provide.

By the way, these same friends are some of the nicest people I have ever met and have become lifelong friends. Material things alone don't determine character.

What do you think I should do with my disposable income? What do you do with yours?

Posted by: Anonymous | December 8, 2006 2:04 PM

It's the parents that worked hard, not the kid. In conversations with my parents and PILs, whenever leaving money to us comes up, I always tell them it's THEIR money that THEY earned, and they are entitled to spend how they please, even if we don't get anything in the end

Exactly, so if they want to buy their kid a BMW more power to them.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 8, 2006 2:04 PM

To Southern Girl: "As for people who are too selfish to have children of their own, we should all give a brief thanks that they did not. Raising children is not for the weak and self-indulgent. And it isn't as if the world is short of human beings."
Not everyone who doesn't have children is that way by choice. Some of us didn't find the right person to share our life with until it was too late. It doesn't make me or them selfish.

Posted by: KLB Silver Spring | December 8, 2006 2:08 PM

"How do you raise your kids to be responsible adults in the mdist of so much indulgence and in a society where blaming others is encouraged?"


First, what's your basis for your statement that "blaming others is encouraged" in our society? I'm curious. You seem to be taking Leslie's initial question as a fact.

Second, raising kids to be responsible takes a spine. Find yours. Strengthen it. Sheesh, talk about taking responsiblity. It's not society's fault, Stupid!

Third, if you look around at the cultural influences and value that are prevalent WHERE YOU LIVE, and if those influences and values are inconsistent with your own, have you considered moving to a community that more closely mirrors the values you say you hold dear? I doubt you'd find a culture of "blaming others" being encouraged in, oh, say Wyoming or small town almost anywhere. Same for "so much indulgence". At the risk of offering a simplistic solution to your concern, if you want small-town values, head to the small-town. Moving away from random affluence won't entirely solve the problem, but your neighbors might assist you with that pesky Spine Growth project.

If what you want, instead, is to raise your child in the heart of an affluent, somewhat materialistic city, where their schoolmates run a higher than average chance of having an excess of material goods, and all your friends and family compete for who's purchased the latest Benz, then the problem's at home not in "society" writ large.

Responsible, thoughtful and mature kids can result from any environment and with exposure to any culture, but you might consider making some changes to ratchet up the chances that the kids for whom you are responsible will earn those descriptive adjectives.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 8, 2006 2:08 PM

And if I have enough money to buy my kid a BMW and choose not to so they have some sense of how regular people live, more power to ME because I'm thinking of both my child AND other people.
Ellen F was right - I'm more worried about how parents now treat their kids.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 8, 2006 2:13 PM

"I am terribly worried that the lessons and values I teach my kids will make them hate me ..."

If you teach your kids properly, they will share your values. Since you are "terribly
worried", you are the one with the problem, not me.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 8, 2006 2:16 PM

"There is absolutely nothing wrong in talking about these issues and how I recovered from them and SHAME SHAME SHAME on "On Balance" for running such an anti-human article. AA and Alateen has made it very clear that On Balance's questioning attitude results in people's deaths. On Balance shows an anti-mental health bias that is cruel and unusual. If it never happened to you, congratulations! but it happened to me and it took me some level of therapy to get out of a negative mindset."

I have to say that Bethesdan is quite right about "On Balance." Both the articles and a majority of posts show an incredible lack of compassion for people whose pasts (childhoods) have left them suffering as adults. Seems like having mental health problems is taboo with this crowd.

I wonder if that might be because the parents on this blog feel threatened by the specter of "bad parenting." Easier to be defensive then sympathetic? Safer?

If you're really interested in looking at life balance, you don't just examine the parameters you're comfortable discussing -- e.g., work vs stay-at-home; breast vs bottle; etc. People's lives are made up of a lot more than just timely issues.

Posted by: pittypat | December 8, 2006 2:19 PM

"And if I have enough money to buy my kid a BMW and choose not to so they have some sense of how regular people live, more power to ME because I'm thinking of both my child AND other people."

I sense this was not intended, but the use of the phrase, "regular people", seems more than a tad condescending. How 'bout: I choose not to because 16 year olds routinely total their first car and I'd like to teach my son the value of a dollar OR I choose not to because, consistent with our families values, we'd rather buy an $8500 car and donate the extra $40,000 to St. Jude's this holiday season, OR I choose not to because it's just danged ostentatious. As one of the "regular people", I enjoy the company of wealthy families who use (and pass on to their kids) good common sense about saving and spending money. They're a lot more fun than the nouveau riche ones.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 8, 2006 2:21 PM

Yes, "regular people" is condescending. I meant most people (instead of regular) - I was trying to shorthand for the knuckleheads. By the way - we often buy cheap stuff and pass on the difference to orgs. like St. Jude - great to hear others do, too!

Posted by: Anonymous | December 8, 2006 2:23 PM

atb

Your best option is to be a big fish in a little pond. Move someplace where you will be the richest family on the block. Then your neighbors' kids will be jealous of your kids. This seems to be your goal in life.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 8, 2006 2:24 PM

I've read most of the comments, and I agree with those who say that some of these commenters obviously didn't live with an abusive parent growing up.

My mother was physically abusive to me when I was younger (I'm not talking about spanking, I'm talking about hitting). My first memory of her was her tripping over a toy I had left on the floor and raising her hand to hit me across the face when I had to have been younger than 5 (based on the room that it was in, I had a different bedroom after age 5).

The hitting never happened in front of my father (or even when he was home), and he would usually take my "side" when my mother's horrible temper flared. Unfortunately, my father was diagnosed with cancer my senior year of high school. He spent weeks in the hospital. On the day of his return from a long period in the hospital, I came home from school and found that he needed to go back to the hospital. My mother was nowhere to be found (our next-door neighbor later found her out with her business parter at a restaurant) so I took my father to the hospital and got him re-admitted through the ER. My mother showed up hours later and told me to go home. I went home, and when she came home later that night, I told her that I was tired of "being the mom" in the family. (I had taken care of my very sick father A LOT that spring). Her response was to slap me across the face. And I simply went to my room.

My father died a few weeks later, and (ten years later), I am still in some ways mourning his death. My mother and I have a very different relationship now. She is usually borderline depressed, but would never admit it. She eschews psychology and doctors in general, and we've never talked about her abuse of me in my childhood. Our conversations are very superficial (as in, a what did you do today kind of a thing). She, to her credit, has been a big supporter of me through graduate school.

But I would never leave my toddler alone with her for babysitting. (She has encouraged me to use spanking on her, beginning from the age of 1). And I have taken all of the past, the lessons learned, and applied them to how I want to (and am) raising my child. With morals and boundaries, but ALWAYS with love.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 8, 2006 2:27 PM

An Dliodoir,
I can see that you are intentionally making a literal interpretation when anyone with an ounce of brain power would understand what KB went without having to have it explained in such ridiculous detail. Yes, you can stick to your literal interpretation. It does not make you any smarter than all the other folks who got KB's point. It just makes you more boneheaded.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 8, 2006 2:31 PM

And if I have enough money to buy my kid a BMW and choose not to so they have some sense of how regular people live, more power to ME because I'm thinking of both my child AND other people.
Ellen F was right - I'm more worried about how parents now treat their kids.

No one is judging you if you do this. However, people who choose to buy the BMW should not be judged either. Maybe they make three times what you do and give two times of that away.

It is ridicules to say that because parents buy their children nice things that the parents or the child does not care or help other people. Get off your moral high horse all people with money are not bad.

Posted by: $$$ | December 8, 2006 2:34 PM

BMW for 16 old

Both of my kids have spotless driving records and haven't totalled any cars. Maybe you or your friends did at 16, but please don't judge my children by your experiences.

An $8500 car is way out of reach for millions of people. It is too much to spend on your 16 old son whom you expect to total it anyway. You must buy a $1500 clunker and give the difference to Hare Krishna!

Posted by: Anonymous | December 8, 2006 2:35 PM

My main complaint about over-indulging kids (ie buying them a new beemer) is that I think it's incredibly important for kids to feel like they've EARNED something, and I have a hard time understanding what a 16 year old could have done to have earned something so huge.

What should you do with your disposable income? (It's hard to imagine having disposable income!) I'll assume you give some to charity. (Even if you hate poor people, there's always NPR.) You can always put it away for legacy money, to pay for your nieces', nephews', grandkids' college, eg. It doesn't -have- to be spent on "stuff." It's your money, how do you want to spend it? Personally, I'd buy a lake house big enough for the entire family so even the poorest ones could come and enjoy family vacations with us.

Posted by: atb | December 8, 2006 2:38 PM

Hey pittypat,
I'm not sure people hear are scared of the spector of bad parenting, but rather, are scared of people judging their behavior. Particularly those judging with a something to gain by the judgement or those without all the facts. I'm coming in late to all this, but it is all to easy to judge and blame instead of getting the facts.

Carolina blue skies here, but no warmth until Sunday..harumph.

Posted by: dotted | December 8, 2006 2:41 PM

"I agree with those who say that some of these commenters obviously didn't live with an abusive parent growing up."

Without discounting your thoughts or experience, that was the whole premise of the entry...Leslie's/foamgnome's comments on parental blame was explicitly exlusive of those who were abused in any form.

It would be impossible for those who hadn't experienced abuse to imagine what it is/was like for those who have - most comments regarding "get over it" are aimed at blaming petty personal faults on parents who were not necessarily emotionally abusive.

Posted by: Stevo | December 8, 2006 2:41 PM

I was terribly abused when I was a child. In fact, the last time my mother beat me to the point of bloodshed (for adding fabric softener at the wrong point in the washing cycle) was the FIRST TIME my little sister remembers seeing me being struck.

Hell, I can remember picking discarded food out of the trash that my friends had tossed away. I know what it is to be hungry and hypersensitive.

But, she is not the same woman today as she was then, and even then I knew she wanted to be a very different person.

How did I know?

Because she was in therapy and worked VERY VERY HARD AT IT. We're talking 30 years (3-5x week the first 5 years) of hard work.

It's easier to forgive someone their failings when you have concrete evidence that they are DOING something about it. Not to mention that despite her lacks, she ALWAYS ALWAYS told me that I had the brains to go far, and that she loved me and that she was sorry--she didn't know what else to do.

She has borderline personality disorder (there wasn't a term for it in 1973), and is one of the 0.00001% who can actually say they are mostly cured.

And yes, she was physically and mentally abused when she was growing up herself.

She has walked the talk, and she is someone I enjoy spending time with, and my kids are safe with her and around her.

I'm not perfect, but as I know I have pre-dispositions for this sort of behaviour myself, I address them.

KD is one smart cookie, and she's doing right by her kids and her community at-large.

AD sounds as though he is of the, "Thank you sir! May I have another?!" ilk.

Posted by: guest | December 8, 2006 2:41 PM

here instead of hear in first line...my bad.

Posted by: dotted | December 8, 2006 2:41 PM

(Even if you hate poor people, there's always NPR.)

Another assumption about people with money, sad.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 8, 2006 2:42 PM

"It is ridicules to say that because parents buy their children nice things that the parents or the child does not care or help other people. Get off your moral high horse all people with money are not bad."

No one said that all people with money are bad. No one said that parents who shower their children with material possessions do not care or help other people. For all your misspellings, you are quite defensive. Many of us on the board struggle with how to raise responsible kids with good values. If you don't at least question whether it's prudent to give a teenager (presumably you don't really mean "child") a $50K asset that depreciates the moment it's driven off the lot, I am sorry for the lack of thoughtfulness you apply to your parenting. The question isn't Whether or not you have more money than God, it's whether you are raising kids to value the money you've presumably worked hard to earn and use their financial resources wisely. A sweater's a "nice thing". A $50K car? will your "child's" graduation gift be a 3 month trip to Tanzania? will his/her wedding require a $200,000 reception?

Posted by: Anonymous | December 8, 2006 2:44 PM

to guest at 2:41

I bought a bottle of neidermayr wine at the grocery story this week simply because the line 'thank you sir, may I have another?' came into my mind. No, I don't know how it tastes...yet. humour on a friday afternoon.

Posted by: dotted | December 8, 2006 2:45 PM

I was raised by a father who was a "walking alcholic" who would beat on me. I have many memories of being kicked while I was in a corner in the fetal position, praying it would stop. I was put on Ritalin at an early age but not told why. For years, I thought I was borderline retarded because of this.

I got over it. All of it. I am not trying in any way, shape, or form to demean people who had a horrible childhood like mine, but I see only good that can come from letting go of the past and moving on. I've met up with many, many people in my life who encouraged me to "give in to my feelings and feel the pain" or to prattle on and on about my sadness, let my inner child speak, etc. I don't feel that I've repressed anything (as I've been accused of doing). I have simply made the choice to have a better life and to not let the sadness of my childhood rule my existence. What good does that do anyone? I could spend the rest of my days blaming my dad for everything that goes wrong in my life, but I'd rather be happy.

Posted by: Anon For Today | December 8, 2006 2:46 PM

"It doesn't -have- to be spent on "stuff."...Personally, I'd buy a lake house big enough"

abt
A lake house is stuff! Ad all the furniture and things inside it are stuff!Did somebody drop you on the head when you were little?

Posted by: Anonymous | December 8, 2006 2:47 PM

"And if I have enough money to buy my kid a BMW and choose not to so they have some sense of how regular people live, more power to ME because I'm thinking of both my child AND other people.
Ellen F was right - I'm more worried about how parents now treat their kids"

Sorry, but this post implies that you are a good person who thinks about their children and other people, but the parent who buys their kid a BMW does not.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 8, 2006 2:51 PM

"Your best option is to be a big fish in a little pond. Move someplace where you will be the richest family on the block. Then your neighbors' kids will be jealous of your kids. This seems to be your goal in life."

HAHAHAHA! So, not wanting my kid to have a BMW = wanting to be richest person on the block! That's good. How do you know I'm not already the richest person on the block? Ever read "The Millionaire Next Door"? Being the richest and looking the richest don't necessarily go hand-in-hand. Keep in mind, the average American was in the hole 6% last year. Some of them drive BMWs. I don't dislike rich people at all. Most busted their butts for the money.

Posted by: atb | December 8, 2006 2:51 PM

I had a mom that was basically nuts and a dad that was gone working for months at a time mainly to get away from her and his 5 kids. We knew they loved us even though their techniques would land them in jail and us in foster care in todays world. Most of us turned out pretty good. We had role models of what not to be.

Posted by: RL Omaha Nebraska | December 8, 2006 2:52 PM

For all your misspellings, you are quite defensive.


You are one to talk about spelling. The above sentence is a fragment. What does one have to do with the other?

Posted by: Anonymous | December 8, 2006 2:53 PM

Sorry, I forgot to mention that my father was around too. He laid into me as well (with a 2" wide leather belt on my bare butt mostly), but not nearly as severely as my mother (she is the one who is borderline).

He too has grown up a lot over the years. And mellowed. AND apologized.

Neither of them were stupid enough to try and "make up for" the things they did. However, they both have tried to do behave better and they have.

I wanted to clarify the situation.

And for AD, "spare the rod, spoil the child" is simply bad advice and abuse, tarted up with a millennia of apologisms. As in, "Well, I turned out okay!" Which ignores that maybe if people hadn't been abused they likely could have been BETTER.

I'm not talking about a consequence-free existence, or rule-free, but one where fear for your life and safety isn't hanging over your head.

Posted by: guest | December 8, 2006 3:00 PM

"I don't dislike rich people at all. Most busted their butts for the money."

abt


Boy, are you obtuse. What does it matter how one acquires (legal) wealth?

Posted by: Anonymous | December 8, 2006 3:02 PM

2:53, if you want to criticize someone's grammar, at least know the rules. That sentence is not a fragment.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 8, 2006 3:06 PM

post lost...

recap...

NPR thing = joke.

Lake house. He acted as if he could only think of "stuff" to spend money on. I gave alternatives to "stuff," then stated a preference for my "stuff" of choice. I have no problem with a little luxury. I get paid to work.

Posted by: atb | December 8, 2006 3:06 PM

Ok, that's funny. I wrote "that sentence is not a fragment" (which is not a fragment) but it posted as "that that sentence is not a fragment" (which is). Ahh, irony.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 8, 2006 3:08 PM

"Both of my kids have spotless driving records and haven't totalled any cars. Maybe you or your friends did at 16, but please don't judge my children by your experiences."

to anon at 2:35, I am glad for your kids sakes that they have done so well. The only thing anyone is judging is your unpleasant commitment to anecdotal experience as a support for your opinions.

You might consider reviewing the myriad of statistics and trends, available on the web or at your local library, that support the statement that teen drivers (particularly young men), often total their first cars.

Smart motorist is not a bad place to start if one wants to obtain a bit of wisdom about teen drivers. In general, the conventional wisdom is that safety should be the primary concern in purchasing your teen's car. But, of course, you know it all.

http://www.smartmotorist.com/tee/tee.htm

Posted by: Anonymous | December 8, 2006 3:08 PM

Will you at least use some sort of handle to identify yourself.

"Boy, are you obtuse. What does it matter how one acquires (legal) wealth?"

Heh? Why am I obtuse? Because I particularly respect people who earned money as opposed to won it in the lottery or inherited it? This is obtuse, how?

Posted by: atb | December 8, 2006 3:12 PM

My parents did the best job that they could. However my father came form a long line of alcoholics and my mother from a cold religious family. I take responsibility for my life but after years of therapy I have issues with self-esteem and depression, which has a big negative impact on my life. My complaint is that even if it was illegal in the 50's my mother should have had an abortion rather than raising me in the family situation that she did. My parents already had 2 children so they knew what the household was like. I hope today women have more sense and have abortions rather than raising children in "hell".

Posted by: Anonymous | December 8, 2006 3:16 PM

I am amazed at how many people experienced corporeal punishment as kids. I thought the belt was just my family's dirty little secret, although I don't know that we thought of it as abuse at the time. It was just regular punishment. In hindsight, I am shocked at the prevalence of this kind of punishment. And I also notice that abuse can be defined differently, according to your culture and what the norm happens to be.

Having children now, I am amazed that my otherwise loving parents had it in them to apply the belt to their little children. I would never have the heart to do it. The thought of it makes me nauseaous. Plus, in hindsight, I find that the belt was no more effective than time outs or groundings or suspension of certain privileges. And even today, I don't consider my parents as abusive, although they might have been so considered under modern standards.

Posted by: also anon for now | December 8, 2006 3:17 PM

2:53, if you want to criticize someone's grammar, at least know the rules. That sentence is not a fragment.

Okay, can you explain why not being able to spell has anything to do with being defensive?

Posted by: Anonymous | December 8, 2006 3:17 PM

"I hope today women have more sense and have abortions rather than raising children in "hell"."

we - ell. That should get the conversation ramped up.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 8, 2006 3:18 PM

"In general, the conventional wisdom is that safety should be the primary concern in purchasing your teen's car. But, of course, you know it all."

1. You're not in high school anymore; you can't tell other people what to do.

2. You don't even know how old my kids are, so why are you assuming that they are teen drivers?

Posted by: Anonymous | December 8, 2006 3:20 PM

I LOVE IT! Someone critics someone else's lifestyle and when they reply back they are defensive.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 8, 2006 3:21 PM

"In general, the conventional wisdom is that safety should be the primary concern in purchasing your teen's car. But, of course, you know it all."

If that's true, then you shouldn't buy them a cheap beater so you can use your extra money to save the world.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 8, 2006 3:24 PM

1. on a blog, we all get to have opinions. If expressing those opinions constitutes, "telling other people what to do", then -- let's make this palatable for you -- we highly recommend that, at your discretion and option, you might perhaps consider either developing a thicker skin or hanging out somewhere where every single person agrees with your every single thought. Good luck with that.


2. I made no assumptions. The "you" was directed towards "you", as in any thoughtful grown-up -- baHAHAHAHA, certainly, not YOU.

Posted by: to anon at 3:20 | December 8, 2006 3:25 PM

Ok, I'm confused about this whole thread (as in why it got started and what exactly you all arguing about) but this line in particular:

"1. You're not in high school anymore; you can't tell other people what to do."

What?? How is that highschoolers get to tell everyone what to do but nobody else? What is going on today?

Posted by: Megan | December 8, 2006 3:27 PM

The correct spelling that reflects the meaning of the word is "pastime." The word means an activity used to "pass time" agreeably. It is not "passed time" or "past time," retrospectively.

Posted by: grammar guru | December 8, 2006 3:37 PM

"If that's true, then you shouldn't buy them a cheap beater so you can use your extra money to save the world."

So, the entitlemoos and entitleduhs raise their entitlesprogs to be just like them, thus, continuing the cycle.

No wonder our society is full of high maintenance witches and the dumb men that cater to their every whim!

Oh, but it's not their faults! Blame their parents!!

Posted by: please | December 8, 2006 3:38 PM

Megan,

I think somewhere we went astray on the topic of whether it's righteous or not -- and just how righteous -- to purchase a beemer for one's 16 year old. Some hold stronger opinions than others. oh and someone thinks atb is obtuse and I, like him/her, can't quite figure that one out, as online insults go. it's about time for Jokester, in other words.

Posted by: NC lawyer | December 8, 2006 3:38 PM

So, maybe some/most/all of the people blaming their parents for their problems are REALLY products of abuse. It seems like this is STILL a dirty little secret.

Posted by: atb | December 8, 2006 3:39 PM

Maybe it's getting close to quitting time on Friday and some folks would rather spar about wealth rather than think about thick leather belts whistling in the air and landing on childrens' bodies.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 8, 2006 3:40 PM

Maybe it's getting close to quitting time on Friday and some folks would rather spar about wealth than think about thick leather belts whistling in the air and landing on childrens' bodies.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 8, 2006 3:40 PM

Maybe it's getting close to quitting time on Friday and some folks would rather spar about wealth rather than think about thick leather belts whistling in the air and landing on childrens' bodies.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 8, 2006 3:40 PM

Blaming parents does seem to be a national pastime. I'm sure a lot of shrinks are making tons of cash on patients lying on the couch blaming their mother for their intimacy issues.

My take is that I am an adult now and I have some perspective. Nobody is a perfect parent. My parents make mistakes, but I am not going to waste time and energy being mad at them. Life is too short to hold onto hate and resentment for years and years.

Posted by: catmommy | December 8, 2006 3:41 PM

This topic is counterproductive to its theme -- balance. It seems like parent-blaming just adds another thing to balance. Instead of work/life, now it is work/life/anger/resentment/psychologist appointments/projecting insecurities onto children/trying not to make the same mistakes my parents made, etc., ad nauseum.

Posted by: catmommy | December 8, 2006 3:45 PM

The correct spelling that reflects the meaning of the word is "pastime." The word means an activity used to "pass time" agreeably. It is not "passed time" or "past time," retrospectively.

Who cares?

Posted by: Anonymous | December 8, 2006 3:47 PM

NC Lawyer, thanks for clearing that up. Personally, I don't understand the appeal of beemers. If I had the money and inclination to buy a luxury car I'd get a Jaguar for sure.

On the topic of blaming parents - I've never felt like my parents did me any wrongs - I know a lot of my weaknesses are shared by my mother, but I don't feel like that's due to anything she did to me. We've always been very close and I love them both. Now that I'm a parent and I see those weaknesses shining through in my parenting (augh!) I often try to console myself by thinking that I'm so much like my mom, and surely she did some of these same things, and I always loved her and knew she loved me, so hopefully that will be true with me and my son too. Not that I don't also try really hard to change and improve my behavior, but when I do something I wish I hadn't I find myself falling back on that hope a lot. I don't know if that made sense, but hey, it is friday afternoon.

Posted by: Megan | December 8, 2006 3:48 PM

Ages ago, I saw Jodi Foster interviewed after she had her child. She was being questioned on whether she worried about parenting the child, making the right decisions, and the effects that these decisions would have on the child's life. She said her advice to parents was to do the best they could, and if possible, to save a little money for the kids to get therapy if needed. It was kind of cute, but very wise also. It is silly to expect perfection from ourselves or from our parents. And if therapy helps us get from blaming to healing and overcoming the past, it must be a good thing.

Posted by: Emily | December 8, 2006 3:56 PM

Parents help to make children what they are, no getting around that. And while we are all responsible for our own actions and our own lives, you cannot discount what happened or didn't happen in your childhood. Parents are powerful people, but that doesn't mean you have to blame them or credit them. In helps in the parenting of your own kids if you will look at your childhood.

Posted by: Suzy | December 8, 2006 4:02 PM

"Parents help to make children what they are, no getting around that"

Must be what those SAHMs have in mind.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 8, 2006 4:04 PM

I normally try not to be judgmental about decisions other parents make. But after reading some of the posts today, I realized I am judgmental about at least one thing - parents who buy their 16 year olds a brand new BMW. Not because I think they're "bad parents," or "don't care about other people." Besides all the practical reasons other posters have already mentioned, I just think it's incredibly tacky, ostentatious, over indulgent, and showing off.

Maybe it's because I grew up in the midwest, where excessive displays of wealth are often frowned upon. In the relatively wealthy suburb I grew up in, lots of parents could have afforded to buy their teenagers brand new luxury cars. But I can't think of one who did. Used cars, a parent's hand-me-down, new "sensible, safe" cars, maybe. But it would have been considered in very poor taste to buy a teenager such an expensive luxury item, and believe me, there would have been a lot of "talk" in the neighborhood about it, and not in a good way!

I'd honestly be surprised to find myself in the minority now - but maybe things have changed, or differences in regional cultures are that great. I haven't had to deal with this yet (my kids are toddlers), but are there really many parents out there who see nothing wrong with buying new luxury cars for teenagers?

Posted by: Just lurking | December 8, 2006 4:07 PM

even the SAHM who abuse their children

Posted by: Anonymous | December 8, 2006 4:09 PM

OFF-TOPIC ALERT

Does anyone have advice to offer on how dual-employed parents can best make time for counseling, either individual or couples -- I'm talking nuts and bolts, how have you handled it? What worked, what didn't work. We all know it's the best approach sometimes, but the practical reality of getting to those appointments after work, finding a babysitter for a regular mid-week appointment, explaining to older children where you're going . . .

Thoughts from the peanuts?

Posted by: Anonymous | December 8, 2006 4:10 PM

"are there really many parents out there who see nothing wrong with buying new luxury cars for teenagers?"

Don't know, but there are a lot of people who don't like other people telling them how to spend their money.

Do you want people to tell you how to spend your money?

"believe me, there would have been a lot of "talk" in the neighborhood about it, and not in a good way!"

Some people are not concerned about talk in the neighborhood. Are you?

Posted by: Anonymous | December 8, 2006 4:12 PM

I dont think there's anything wrong with buying an expensive car for your teenager if you have the money to do it. As long as the car is safe, and as long as you have money in the college fund, retirement fund, etc. As long as the decision is not financially irresponsible, why would it be wrong?

Posted by: Ida | December 8, 2006 4:13 PM

Does anyone have advice to offer on how dual-employed parents can best make time for counseling,

We just made our first appointment for joint counseling and decided to try to do it during the day, when our children are at school. We are lucky to be able to have the flexibility at work to do this, and not to have to worry about commute issues, so I know this won't work for everyone. But we decided it was better to deal with arranging work schedules than to have to deal with arranging and explaining family schedules. Good luck!

Posted by: Anonymous | December 8, 2006 4:15 PM

Who cares what the neighbors think? Really!! I don't.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 8, 2006 4:15 PM

I think "people who are not concerned about talk in the neighborhood" are also probably the least likely to buy their teenagers BMWs. Frankly, I don't see a reason to buy a teenager a BMW unless you DO care what others thank of you, your wealth, and/or how you spend your wealth on your children.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 8, 2006 4:16 PM

Time for counseling

Check with the emploeyers' EAP programs. One or both spouses may be able to get release time for at least some of the appointments and not need to use Leave.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 8, 2006 4:18 PM

I do tend to roll my eyes when I see a teenager with a brand-new luxury car. That's because most of the kids I knew who received them were also spoiled, entitled and clueless about how the rest of the world lives (their parents, not surprisingly, were the same way). Not all of them, but most. So I suppose it's not the act of buying the car in itself, as much as that in my experience it tends to go hand in hand with attitudes and choices that I do find objectionable.

Posted by: Megan | December 8, 2006 4:19 PM

I think the whole BMW conversation is blown out of proportion. It's not the car that is making people touchy; it is the idea of telling people what to with their money, or implying that if you do buy something expensive you care less about other people in the world.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 8, 2006 4:20 PM

again, how is expressing disagreement with the values indicated by an expenditure, or pointing out the result on the teenaged recipient of that expenditure: "telling other people how to spend their money"?

You spend it any way you darn well please, and we are free to comment that your expenditure is in poor taste and has no positive benefit for the teenaged recipient of your largesse (other than making it quite a bit easier for a male recipient to get hot dates).

You appear to be far more committed to the principle that each adult can do as he pleases -- well, duh -- than the principle that good parenting considers what is in the best interest of the teenager rather than what will best allow his parent/s to either relive their teenage years or show all the neighbors that they've "done good". Get over yourself.

Posted by: to anon at 4:12 | December 8, 2006 4:22 PM

good afternoon all,
about beemers, I believe they should be earned not given. As a beemer owner for multiple years, it was a worthy gift to my husband....being both engineers and all. Teenagers just see bling, not glorious engineering.

Posted by: dotted | December 8, 2006 4:25 PM

I just don't think that it's anybody else's business whether I buy my kid a BMW or a bicycle or make her take the bus. Why would anyone else feel the need to opine about something that does not concern them at all?

Posted by: Anonymous | December 8, 2006 4:26 PM

"Why would anyone else feel the need to opine about something that does not concern them at all?"

Oh my gosh, do you read this blog at all? That could be the official slogan!

Posted by: TS | December 8, 2006 4:28 PM

"Why would anyone else feel the need to opine about something that does not concern them at all?"

Aw, come on now, judging each other's parenting styles and children is as much a national pastime (did I get that word right?) as blaming our own parents for our problems! You just need to get into the spirit of the day, that's all!

Posted by: Megan | December 8, 2006 4:30 PM

Don't buy a beemer.
Buy a Honda instead. It is much better value for money, more reliable, and costs less to operate.
Note: I am biased. :)

Posted by: Mr.Honda | December 8, 2006 4:32 PM

just don't think that it's anybody else's business whether I buy my kid a BMW or a bicycle or make her take the bus. Why would anyone else feel the need to opine about something that does not concern them at all?

Posted by: | December 8, 2006 04:26 PM

Dude, don't worry about it. There are bunch of hippies on this blog, who probably go home to their mansion at night, but spend their days messing with people like you about what to, or not to, buy your kid.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 8, 2006 4:32 PM

My parents made me ride the bus when I was a teenager. I hated it, but I have to say, it taught me to fend for myself.

Posted by: Emily | December 8, 2006 4:34 PM

ooops, we just spent 60$ on a Christmas tree. What will the neighbors think?

sorry, I'm getting into the mood as Megan suggests. It was humour, okay? Reducto ad absurdum (if I can remember my latin).

Posted by: dotted | December 8, 2006 4:35 PM

hippies with mansions...I'm not sure that's even possible. That's like a hippie with a Hummer.

Posted by: atb | December 8, 2006 4:35 PM

Nothing's wrong with the purchase of the beemer, guys. To take this stream of comments back a bit, it was a response to someone who asked, ""How do you raise your kids to be responsible adults in the mdist of so much indulgence and in a society where blaming others is encouraged?"

so the issue of "indulgence" was on the table, and there we went. For some perspective, my parents think it's an indulgence if we buy our kids a small popcorn at a bargain matinee show. Each person's standard of indulgence is different.

and can't we argue with ideas and skip the namecalling? I'm sure I've been guilty of it as well, but geez, everyone's not a "hippie" just because they might take issue with the high-end auto purchase. or maybe they are, but dyaknowhatImean?

Posted by: NC lawyer | December 8, 2006 4:37 PM

Regarding abusive childhoods, I think it is appropriate to "blame" the parent, in essence to hold them responsible for their actions and the effects their actions had on others, including their children.

However, everyone I know who has moved on from an abusive situation has had to let go of their anger and find a way to understand and forgive the person who abused them.

The topic for today, as many people has pointed out, was meant to focus on situations that were not mentally or physically abusive. None of our parents were perfect and none of us is perfect, regardless of how deluded we are on some days. What's interesting is how and why we blame ourselves and our parents for run-of-the-mill parenting errors. Will our children blame us too? I wonder this almost every day, and hope my kids will take my good with my bad, as I learned to do with my own parents a little later in life than I wish I had!

Posted by: Leslie | December 8, 2006 4:43 PM

I didn't know hippie was a bad word.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 8, 2006 4:44 PM

Don't get me started on Hummers! That just speaks volumes with what's wrong with society! People who buy those are brainless, selfish, and greedy. And they certainly don't give a damn how that vehicle contributes to the detriment of our environment--or the one that will be left for their children!

Posted by: please | December 8, 2006 4:47 PM

hippie is a bad word, but Hummer is worse...BRAHAHAHA

It would have been more fun if all day we had used a Hummer instead of a beemer for our example. Dang it!

Posted by: atb | December 8, 2006 4:50 PM

As one of the resident hippies (but oddly lacking a mansion, how did that happen?), I will say again it's the attitude, not the purchase, that makes me roll my eyes. I think we all splurge and indulge sometimes at whatever level of income we can, whether it's a movie, candy at the movie, new clothes, a vacation, a car, and so on. If those indulgences are treated as special items to be grateful for, great. If they are treated as entitlements and then become requirements, not so great.

Posted by: Megan | December 8, 2006 4:54 PM

yes, because then most people would have agreed.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 8, 2006 4:54 PM

and dotted, the $60 tree is just fine as long as you buy it from a non-profit, but you're not permitted to buy it from a father and son who live in Boone, truck the trees in every day, work 14 hour days, and support their families.

but if you spend more on your external house decorations (or the electricity to keep 'em running) than would support a small village in Ecuador for 4 months, you're frowned upon.

(all, TIC).

Posted by: NC lawyer | December 8, 2006 4:55 PM

Wonder how much environmental damage the ship used to transport the Prius from Japan to the west coast of the U.S. does?

Posted by: Anonymous | December 8, 2006 5:01 PM

But to a person who is very wealthy, a beemer or mercedes or whatever may not be a luxury item. I may be just a run of the mill car. Just like for me, Gap jeans are not luxury items. But for some people they might be. One person's luxury item might be anothers run of the mill item.

Posted by: Ida | December 8, 2006 5:06 PM

NC lawyer,
I love your comments! Our decorations aren't up yet. I'm getting sick of the all white schemes seemingly omniprescent the last few years.
And my husband was a hippie. I'm, alas, too young to be called a hippie. only 12 years old in 1970. No hummer though. We did have a suburban when we had all 4 kids at home. yikes!

Posted by: dotted | December 8, 2006 5:10 PM

Hippiness is all about attitude and has nothing to do with age. I suspect Megan is younger than Dotted, but she considers herself a hippie.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 8, 2006 5:15 PM

"Hippiness is all about attitude and has nothing to do with age."

Hee hee, too true. I called myself a hippie partly in jest - I don't really think of myself one but I have definitely been called one many times and was guessing that whoever brought it up would think of me as one. And I am only 31! But hey, I have no problem being one.

NC Lawyer, that was funny too.

Posted by: Megan | December 8, 2006 5:23 PM

Pittypat is definitely the other resident hippie, as well as all other vegan tree huggers (and I mean that in the most positive way) who populate this blog.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 8, 2006 5:26 PM

Ida: Just like for me, Gap jeans are not luxury items. But for some people they might be

That's the critical understanding that kids with bmws don't have, along with a sense that they are lucky to be in the position they are in and may someday not be and have to - horror - not have the best of everything in their lives or - horror of horrors - have to work for something

Posted by: Anonymous | December 8, 2006 5:30 PM

I've got no dog in this fight, for the most part, but . . .

I don't think anyone suggested that the issue is whether or not an item is a "luxury item" or whether one's family can (or can't) easily afford to buy a big-ticket car for their teenager.

The issue is whether it's a good, or not so good, idea to purchase what are commonly regarded as high-end vehicles for new, teenaged drivers. Those who think it's a good, or at least neutral, idea see no moral or other downside. Those who question whether it's a good idea have suggested that, perhaps, such purchases either are in poor taste, e.g., offend the rabble, or might send a message of entitlement to the teenager/s. We can agree to disagree, but the disagreement, as I understand it, isn't predicated on a sliding scale of affordability or luxury.

Posted by: NC lawyer | December 8, 2006 5:31 PM

What if someone wore sandals and tie-died clothes and called themself a hippie but drove a Hummer and lived in a mcmansion?

Posted by: What if? | December 8, 2006 5:37 PM

I think it may be short-sighted to buy your 16 year old a new beemer, if you expect him/her to live off their own income when they graduate from college. I knew a few kids whose parents always made sure they had "nice" things in high school, and those kids had a heck of a time adjusting to the kind of life they could provide for themselves. The credit card debt isn't pretty.

I don't know where I stand on the "blame game". I have a relative who, despite being over 50, will still go on and on about his childhood, and none of it seems all that bad. But, you know, I wasn't there, it may have been awful.

I read once that even kids with awful home lives are helped enormously by having an adult someplace who believes in them and is kind to them. Perhaps instead of trying to figure out whether to "blame" parents or kids, we can reach out to people who are struggling? Heck, I know I have days I would appreciate a little help.

I don't know if my kids will blame or thank me later for how their lives turn out. One of my parenting goals is to empower my kids, so that hopefully, they'll see their achievements as their own.

Posted by: YetAnotherSAHM | December 8, 2006 5:39 PM

does the Hummer have the aroma of a Dead concert?

Posted by: to what if? | December 8, 2006 5:39 PM

Hummer smells like Corinthian leather on the way home from a Jimmy Buffet concert.

Posted by: What if? | December 8, 2006 5:41 PM

"What if someone wore sandals and tie-died clothes and called themself a hippie but drove a Hummer and lived in a mcmansion?"

I think they might spontaneously combust! Unless of course their clothes and sandals were made of organically-grown, bird-friendly, dolphin-safe hemp, which is a miracle fabric that prevents all manners of ills and can save the world (along with increased rates of breastfeeding)!

Have a great weekend, hippies and hummer drivers all!

Posted by: Megan | December 8, 2006 5:42 PM

Apologize - should have been tye-dyed. On my third glass of champagne.

Posted by: What if? | December 8, 2006 5:44 PM

if you're on your third glass you can think of something better to do than hang out here:>)

Posted by: to What if? | December 8, 2006 5:45 PM

But I can't drive anywhere since I have been drinking so I just sit here and watch the news and read and decide what to make for dinner. Tough life I know. It's Friday night.

Posted by: What if? | December 8, 2006 5:48 PM

I know it's very late and the anonymous poster from 7:58AM this morning may never read this, but...

=====


To dadwannabe from yesterday:

Does your wife's Fed office have a Leave Donation program? I have donated to a number of folks for various reasons, including narcolepsy and ADD. One woman in my office received a year's worth of donated Leave for something like your wife's situation.

Posted by: | December 8, 2006 07:58 AM

=====

My wife does not qualify for Leave Donation. To qualify, you have to have completed expended your leave. Since our combined income is high enough, we ration her leave so that she still keeps some in the bank and she takes leave without pay under FMLA for some of her surgeries, recoveries, etc. My wife is paranoid about not having any leave in the bank in case something comes up that is not covered by FMLA and she would have to take time off. So since we can afford it, she uses unpaid FMLA leave for covered applications such as personal medical care.

Posted by: DadWannaBe | December 8, 2006 6:05 PM

"I blame my mom for the size of my butt....she made the best cookies and pastries in the world. The care packages I got at college were legendary....."

Some people would credit, not blame, their moms for acting like that. ;)

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/magazine/4478760.stm

"KB is teaching her children that 'love' does not equal 'there are no limits to how badly you can treat me"."

...and also teaching her children that "you love me" and "we are relatives" do not equal "there are no limits to how badly I can treat you." She's not just protecting her kids from a jerk, she's protecting them from becoming jerks. :)

"In general, the conventional wisdom is that safety should be the primary concern in purchasing your teen's car. But, of course, you know it all."

Shouldn't that be the conventional wisdom in purchasing any other car too? I'm happy that my parents bought Volvos for themselves. :)

Posted by: Anonymous | December 8, 2006 7:39 PM

"I seem to recall the opening of "Anna Karenina"including the phrase "unhappy families are each unhappy in their own way"- so, no, i don't think it's modern or uniquely American."

Check out Quick Fiction this month for a good riff on A-K...www.quickfiction.org.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 8, 2006 7:54 PM

I had a mixed childhood experience. Some aspects were abusive and some were not.

What I find hasn't been made explicit in this conversation is compassion. I think once we have compassion for our parents, that's when we can often let go of blame for not-abusive-but-hurtful wrongs(which is different from assigning responsibility). Some people just don't do it - is that nature or nuture or some mixture? Who knows.

But I do believe, as a daughter and as a mother, that the only way to try to guide my son towards compassion is to exhibit it - to care for those less fortunate, to be generous and to be able to accept things that "aren't fair" sometimes (and sometimes not, when the issue is large enough that I think equality is important).

Why I think as Americans (or Westerners) I think we sometimes fall down on this is that sometimes we expect to rely on money where other societies learn to rely on each other.

Posted by: Shandra | December 8, 2006 8:52 PM

Man, I get quoted and I am not even here to write in and comment. I was actually away for the weekend (visiting my parents of all things). But I just wanted to say, it does seem different here in the US compared to other Asian countries regarding blaming their parents. It just seems like it goes beyond self reflection and familial analysis. It seems like for some it becomes the answer to all their problems. Like the 20 and 30 somethings who still live at home are because their parents failed to motivate them. The drug users, criminals and antisocial psychopaths are because they had a poor upbringing. The depressed and insecure are because their parents failed to give them self confidence. The list goes on and on. At some point, it seems silly and an absolute waste of everyones time. But it could be just some cultural differences going on too. Maybe I just don't understand that facet of American culture.

Posted by: foamgnome | December 10, 2006 7:59 PM

"if you want small-town values, head to the small-town."

That's a laugh! I come from a very small town and affluent people live there, too. Some more affluent than about 95% of the people in the DC Metro area. Some of these wealthy people exhibited healthy moral values and others gave their kids expensive cars (one girl in our high school drove a Rolls Royce) and lots of material things. Some of the kids grew up and became productive members of society, others went on to drug and alcohol problems and never seemed to find a career or life path. The size of the town has almost nothing to do with it. Basically, it's the values that are modeled for the child, and then the people/friends the child associates with.

Posted by: Helen | December 11, 2006 11:46 AM

Maybe the "blame your parents" mentality should be blamed on psycologists..(sp?) - my husband and I went to marraige counseling and instead of focusing on our problems, she kept wanting to talk about my childhood etc. Whatever! In my opinion that was not anything to talk about as it was over and done with and couldn't be redone. I say deal with the here and now, forget about things you can't change. Lets deal with our current problems, no, she kept going back to the past.

Posted by: GS | December 11, 2006 12:42 PM

Mary was told her baby was stilborn. Her baby, very much alive, was given to an older (i.e. late 20s), rich couple who raised the baby as their own. The adopted mom spent time in and out of mental institutions, beating Mary's daughter when she was home. The father tried to keep everything together, but eventually left. The mom acussed the father of horrible things so that he would lose his job if he divorced or tried to take the kid. The kid was convinced she was horrible and the reason everything went wrong in the world. Not knowing Mary thought she was dead, the kid thought everyone in her life hated her and unless she kept everyone happy, they would leave her.

The child is now 33 years old, has a masters degree, a great husband, and a great job. She doesn't speak to her adopted mother, and she has never met Mary. She wonders if Mary knows what happened. She wonders if Mary thinks about her. She doesn't really blame her parents for anything and is now very close to her father. But, she doesn't want children. Maybe she does blame her mother a little for that. Oh, thats right, its because she is so selfish...

Posted by: A 1973 adoptee | December 11, 2006 12:58 PM

as a non American, do feel that parent and family blame is a bit of a national pastime. While i don't advocate repressing terrible things happening to you, I do feel a lot of my American friends who are well educated, upper middle class and doing pretty well in life (it doesn't seem like their parents screwed up that badly) are pretty ungrateful to their parents: complaining about your parents with friends and even acquaintances, especially about your mom, who can never get anything right, seems all too common.

it doesn't stop them from taking the free car, the down payment on the first house, the college fund contributions for junior etc of course: it just means they will make a huge fuss about hosting a parent or an in-law for 2 days during thanksgiving and visiting for 2 days during christmas. i do worry about my releationship with my own (American) kids in twenty years.

Posted by: rockville mom of 2 | December 11, 2006 2:45 PM

"Like the 20 and 30 somethings who still live at home are because their parents failed to motivate them."

Interestingly, there is a bizarre, but increasingly common, phenomenon that's developed in Japan in the past several years. NYT did a story on it about a year ago.

Apparently, there are a good many twenty-somethings in middle-class families who live with their parents and retreat to their bedrooms for weeks, months, even years at a time. They refuse to work or interact, spend all their time on their computers or listening to music, and don't ever come out except occasionally when no one is home.

Stranger still, this "syndrome" is pervasive enough that it has Japanese society hugely concerned. The parents are beside themselves, and the concept of mental illness is so repellant to them that these "kids" aren't getting any real help.

Interesting, no?

Posted by: pittypat | December 11, 2006 2:50 PM

GS --

When I started therapy, the first thing I told my shrink was that I wasn't there to talk about my family. I'd had a wonderful childhood, and my parents were great.

Then, I spent the next five years talking about my family. Can't begin to tell you the stuff that came up for me -- and not because the shrink guided me in a particular direction. He was one of those who sits and listens and makes the patients do all the work. (Which was exactly what I needed at the time.)

We all have stuff from our pasts that we've tried to push out of the way, ignore, "put behind us." What I've learned is that you can't put the bad stuff behind you until you identify it, recognize and acknowledge it, and respond to it in some way.

Stuffing your childhood just restricts your development as an adult.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 11, 2006 2:56 PM

It's simple, take what you didn't like in your childhood and make sure you turn that around for your own children. No blame here.

Posted by: Vicky | December 11, 2006 5:41 PM

Pittypat: The difference is that the Japanese kids who live at home do not say it is because their parents failed to motivate them. There general excuse is one of two things: the enormous pressure to succeed in all of Japanese society, and simply the economy makes it so much more difficult to live independently. Their cost of living is way more then the US. Also for young women, the Japanese women basically gives up her career and her life once she marries. She is still expected to work at her husband's company for free or concentrate solely on raising her kids. So by hanging out at home, the young Japanese women maintains her own life. Even if the life is pathetic. The whole Japanese culture is about women sacrificing themselves for the good of the group. In Vietnamese culture it is about the collective whole (both male and female). But Japan has a high suicide rate and high depression rate. My guess it has a lot to do with the enormous expectations of Japanese people and their lack of understanding about mental illness. But unlike your theory, I don't think all these Japanese kids would be depressed given they were being raised in a different situation. I think if the Japanese could put more healthy expectations on their young people, you would see an increase in mental health.

Posted by: foamgnome | December 12, 2006 7:38 AM

wow i was having fun reading this thread until folks got WAY off track from the topic at hand/point of the post somehow it got to beamers and hummers and more...it was nice while it lasted

Posted by: DM | December 12, 2006 4:33 PM

It's really very simple, if everybody were willing to take responsibility for their mistakes there would be no blame. I grew up recenting my Mother and brooding over all the traumatic things that affected me during my childhood. To date, my Mother will not acknowledge ANY wrong doing or poor judgements in bringing me up. She has said, "When she finds something she did wrong, she will let me know!" Well I'm 40 years old now, and she still hasn't found anything despite all the evidence and pain. I really don't see the harm in telling some one you're sorry! Some people are so proud it's very ugly on them. Which is why I decided to let go of the past and move forward. In order to do that, I had to forgive her even though she won't ask for it(because she doesn't need it of course). I found that I am happier and at peace with myself and her now. It's important to understand that blaming others(whether they be guilty or not)keeps us from healing and growing. Let them be stuck with it.YOU deal with it ONCE AND FOR ALL, and BE DONE WITH IT.Blaming is usually just as bad an excuse for being miserable as denying you're guilty.

Posted by: De layna B | December 14, 2006 9:09 AM

Interesting. My wife and I are 50, and neither of us ever really blamed our parents for anything major. Mostly, we both think, they did pretty good jobs with what they had to work with. However, my wife has two cousins (sons of different aunts and uncles) also about our age who to this day loudly and constantly blame their parents for everything under the sun. It amazes us that neither of them can just get over it. I mean, after about age 21, even if your parents messed up (which I don't believe theirs did to any great degree), aren't you supposed to be grown-up enough to work out your own issues? But these cousins absolutely seem incapable of this. I find this pathetic on one hand, but it also makes for some lively family get-togethers!

Posted by: Four Points | December 18, 2006 12:58 PM

In answer to an earlier question, yes there is an AllergyMoms group online.
You can google for the website.

Free online support, newsletter, latest research, news etc.

Posted by: Darlene | December 19, 2006 11:44 PM

re: Southern Girl's comment on 12/8

I could have written that myself which is why, of course, I read blogs like this.

Thanks for this forum.

Posted by: Magnolia | December 22, 2006 3:22 PM

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