Do You View Your Parents Differently After Having Kids?

Parenthood usually marks a tectonic plate shift in our relationship with our own parents -- although usually everyone is too ecstatic and overwhelmed to notice at first.

Then, a few weeks, months or years into parenthood, most people note with surprise how differently they view their own parents and their childhoods. For me, I became profoundly grateful for everything my mother and father sacrificed for me, the emphasis they placed on my getting a good education, the love of sports, animals and books they passed along. I gained new understanding of what good parents they were. My mother never lost her temper, not once, despite the frustrations I know she faced as an at-home mom to four rambunctious kids. I'm still amazed that my father, a busy Washington lawyer, came to visit me at every summer camp, every school, every place I lived as a teenager and young adult.

I also became less understanding of some of their shortcomings. For instance, I was anorexic as a teenager, and my parents never commented on my frightening 30-pound weight loss in the months before I left for Harvard. (Fortunately, I sought help on my own when I went to college.) But I look at my own children and scratch my head over how my parents could have let such a serious problem develop without intervention.

So the topic today is: Has parenthood changed how you see your own parents and your own childhood? Has your relationship with your parents changed in any significant way? Do you appreciate your "formative years" more or less now, and how does this perspective make you a different parent to your own children?

By Leslie Morgan Steiner |  March 23, 2007; 7:20 AM ET  | Category:  Free-for-All
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Yes.

Posted by: experienced mom | March 23, 2007 7:31 AM

I have similar feelings about my parents. I understand now why they were so "strict" and protective. On the other hand, I think they did not take my feelings into account about what I wanted to do with my life. They said "no" too much--about what classes I wanted to take, what I wanted to major in in college, etc. I may be protective with my children like my parents, but I allow my children more freedom in deciding their life (e.g. what classes my son would like to take in high school).

I am also greatful that they emphasized education as being important. They paid for our college educations as well. I plan to do the same.

But I did learn from their "mistakes" and hope that I am an even better parent.

Posted by: working mother | March 23, 2007 7:40 AM

is this on balance or on parenting?

Posted by: Anonymous | March 23, 2007 7:44 AM

I also understand now why my parents were the way they were, but it has nothing to do with me being a parent.

As an adult, I now know that people make choices and are responsible for their choices, good or bad.

Their are no second acts, no make-up work, no extra credit, and no extensions when it comes to raising children.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 23, 2007 7:52 AM

Having kids of my own definitely made me look at my parents differently. I respect them more, even though they certainly had (and still have) faults as parents, as a couple and as individuals, but it hit me one day that they were entitled to be their own people, faults and talents withstanding, and not just my parents.

It's so easy to look at your parents in a one-dimensional sort of way and forget that they are just regular people who happened to have children. And then did the best they could. I am grateful to them for fostering many things in me and my sisters: an interest in learning/education, travel, a strong sense of independence. . . I could certainly have done a lot worse.

Posted by: chausti | March 23, 2007 7:55 AM

I think this conversation IS about balance, in the sense that maybe we can learn something from our parents' own balancing acts (or lack of balance)make sense in retrospect.

I know that when I look back on my childhood from an adult perspective one thing that always strikes me is how YOUNG my parents were and how much they had to contend with. I had my last child when I was 35 and my parents had all their kids in their twenties, and I remember a period when we had two aging grandparents in nursing homes, job stress, financial problems -- and then I realize that my parents were in their twenties and it just boggles the mind. I remember feeling that my parents were disengaged and unhappy -- and now I'm more willing to concede that they were simply overwhelmed. My mom in particular was always overcomitted, trying to be all things to all people -- I wish someone had taught her to say no to volunteer commitments. It IS something I remember when I feel similarly pulled . .

Posted by: Armchair Mom | March 23, 2007 7:59 AM

Yes, I've definitely thought about this. Why did mom stay in an abusive situation? why did she have not one, not two, but THREE kids in this way (due to stories from relatives, I do know that it came out at least as early as after number 1).
This is exactly the way my sister is, by the way - oh, let's marry an abusive guy (cause he has money ) and have three kids and all will be okay.

Why did we stay in a house we clearly could not afford, when we could have stayed in the town but moved to a less expensive area?

So I wonder - and since mom passed away well before I started dating DH, I can't speak with her. Dad has never been someone to talk with - whatcha gonna do. My sisters are repeating my parent's pattern, so that's the way it is.

And I know it's not right to blame mom when she can't defend herself, but I see things SO much more clearly now. And I know that when I was growing up, the conventional wisdom was to stay together for the kids , what I think is a horrible idea at the moment.

Much more perspective than when I was growing up, no question about it.

Posted by: atlmom | March 23, 2007 7:59 AM

I think your perceptions of your parents change over the years.

When my kids were babies it was wonderful to have an interested ear, and helping hands. I loved seeing them with my kids just as I loved my Grandparents.

As my children grew and my parents offered up their opinions, no doubt tempered by raising me, I had mixed feelings. Sometimes they were right, and sometimes not so.

Then as my parents aged, and became more themselves, and I age a whole new set of good and bad things pop out. When you look at a set of people and know your own biology is likely to follow theirs sometimes you decide to do things differently. When you see how they cope with their own aging you have a reference to guide your own progress.

So I guess the answer is that I both admire my parents greatly, but also have chosen to do things differently. What's important for my children is that I had a relationship and it reflects the ups and downs that all relationships have. I hope they will enter into their own relationships with realistic views.

Posted by: RoseG | March 23, 2007 8:02 AM

Leslie writes:

". . . my parents never commented on my frightening 30-pound weight loss in the months before I left for Harvard. (Fortunately, I sought help on my own when I went to college.)"

Did you save the letters your father wrote to you while you were at Harvard? Or did you go to college at a time ('83-'87) when parents no longer wrote letters?

Posted by: Matt in Aberdeen | March 23, 2007 8:06 AM

We view our parents through the lens of parenting today. How I view my parents is influenced by current, popular parenting philosophies.

This means much of what I abhor about how I was raised, was thought appropriate then - a day of less information. On the other hand, they did the best they could under the circumstances and with the knowledge they had. I'm not sure I would have done a better job- but I do have the opportunity to do so...if I can only get through all of the reading required to do it:-)

Posted by: Not Quite Crunchy Parent | March 23, 2007 8:10 AM

Secrets and Lies

Everything in my house was all about keeping up with the Joneses. Lots of illusion and very little substance. Vain, shallow people with narrow little minds.

Not much to try to understand there.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 23, 2007 8:19 AM

My feelings about my own parents (admittedly my mother more so than my father) have changed pretty drastically as I've, hmm, what's the right word - matured? aged? as a parent - when my son was an infant, I felt like I knew absolutely nothing about babies and parenting, and I pretty much did whatever I remembered seeing my own mother do, or whatever she told me to do. As he's gotten older and I've gotten more comfortable in the role of mom, I can see and evaluate better what works for me, and find that it usually doesn't matter any more what my mom thinks about it! I've definitely come to appreciate how much individual personalities play into the way we parent, and I can look back and see my parents trying to adapt to that in their five children the same way I try to adapt to that with my son. So I guess the things I've done differently have less to do with reflections on my own childhood than they do with my current situation. Truth is, the environment my son is growing up in is so completely different from the one I grew up in that it is hard to compare. I appreciate more the things my mom was able to do well that are difficult for me, but don't necessarily feel bad about the things she didn't do as well.

Posted by: TakomaMom | March 23, 2007 8:30 AM

My mother always says "We did the best we could AT THE TIME" when commenting on their parenting. I think looking back they would have done some things differently, but overall they were really good parents and I seek out their advise frequently.

Except in extreme cases (abuse, neglect, etc) it is hard to judge the decisions people make as parents. It is all relative.

Sadly I just spoke with a friend that is still, after 30 years, trying to form a relationship with her father who basically abandoned their family when she was 10. The effect his abandonment has had on her is for life.

Posted by: CMAC | March 23, 2007 8:31 AM

Yes, after my daughter was born, I understood what my mother felt for us. Difference in generational perspectives aside, the feelings I am sure were the same. I have this undefinable, but undeniable feeling towards my child, that I am sure my mother felt when she first held me. My parents are not without faults, as I am not, but what the hey! I love them. I am grateful to all they have given me and I hope I can do as well with my child as they did with theirs.

Posted by: AnotherRockvilleMom | March 23, 2007 8:32 AM

CMAC,
Here we go again - "We did the best we could" is what I still hear from my mother. At what point is that no longer an explanation but an excuse? She refuses to take responsibility for abandoning three children. I sure learned a lot from her - NOT!

Posted by: KLB SS MD | March 23, 2007 8:36 AM

Motherhood has absolutely changed how I view both my parents. I am so fortunate to have both still living and enjoying their lives. The things that bothered me so much as a kid -- I felt my parents were so cheap (couldn't get those designer jeans I wanted) and too strict (was not allowed to go to R-rated movies until I was 17 -- that they knew of) and totally unrealistic if not blind ("oh, honey, you're so pretty that you don't need any makeup") and completely unfair ("You don't have a high fever and you're not vomiting so off you go to school"). I understand why they had those rules now, and they have definitely shaped the person I am, I hope for the better.

As a parent now looking back on my childhood, I can see that one of the biggest problems arose from the lack of consistency regarding what could get you (depending on which child you were) in trouble on any given day. There were more scenes than were necessary and misunderstandings abounded. I have tried very, very hard to be consistent with my children. I want them to not be surprised when they get in trouble for something they didn't even realize was a rule.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | March 23, 2007 8:37 AM

Having a child has given me a more sympathetic view of my parents. Hey, this is always tough work and sometimes with little reward.

This has also given me a dim view of my FIL who barely acknowledges his grandchild.

Posted by: the original anon | March 23, 2007 8:39 AM

As a parent, I am profoundly more aware of hoping to replicate the numerous things my parents did well with me and my siblings while at the same time remembering where they fell short to try to avoid the same pitfalls with my own kids. In doing so, I fully expect to create my own set of triumphs and failures with my children and will do the best I can with that. Of course, my children are young (3 and 7) so this grand theory hasn't really been fundamentally tested.

For me, however, the more real and inspiring lesson about learning from one's parents comes from my husband who is the best man and father I know. His upbringing was not great, and both of his parents failed to be parents repeatedly in the most basic and fundamental ways. Nonetheless, my husband has largely forgiven his parents (we are cordial but not close to either of them) and has chosen to focus his efforts on creating a great life (love, stability, respect, joy, responsibility, hard work) for himself and family of his own. I can't explain HOW he did and does it. All my husband ever says about the matter is that he and those around him are worthy of a good life.

Posted by: rosie04 | March 23, 2007 8:41 AM

Wow. Where to start with this one. On the one hand, my parents were great, wonderful people and i love them dearly. Considering they had two of three children with disabilities, they did a good job.

My mom taught me how to laugh and survive through tough times. All of her strict rules now make sense. Well, most of them.

But there were times when I was lost in the shuffle and I was forced into becoming a pseudo-parent at young age. By forced I mean I was a child that wanted to help mommy and I did when she let me since I am sure she needed it and I was the sibling with nothing wrong.

On the other hand, my parents were not always the best. They stunk, and still do, at money management. To the point that I get an almost-anxiety attack when I think about the future and how we will all survive without the needed funds to take care of my siblings. Who needs the instant gratification of a big house or fancy car when there are more pressing needs?

So, I try to focus on the good things I have learned and not the bad. The bad are filed away for future reference if I ever run into a similar situation with my child so I don't repeat their mistakes with her. That being said, I am sure I will screw her up somehow, someway:)

Posted by: Formerly Soon to be Mom | March 23, 2007 8:53 AM

Does it really take parenthood for yourself to see your parents as people/human beings? I'm sure my perspective will change more when I do have my own kids. But so far everything that people have mentioned are things that I have come to recognize about my parents as a non-parent adult. Maybe this is partially because of my much younger siblings, and seeing my parents interact with them, and understand the why's, unlike when I was a kid or teenager myself. Or because my parents started treating me as an adult soon after I graduated? Maybe some parents do not treat their grown children as adults until the children become parents themselves?

Posted by: notamomyet | March 23, 2007 8:57 AM

A lot of what my parents did was right, but there were definitely some things I am doing differently. I was an only child of "older" parents for the time - my mother was always the oldest parent of my friends. She grew up in a fairly strict household, and she was a "helicopter parent" before that word was invented.

I have sworn to be less protective of my own dd, and I think I am fairly successful. Also, she is much more social than I was and also is more of a daredevil anyway. But I think I was borderline Aspergers, but back then they didn't know anything about that.

Also, I think I could have been pushed a little more than I was in school. While I did make good grades, their philosophy was as long as I was trying my best. However, I probably could have done even better with more incentive. Our dd does very well in school without even trying too hard but I've let her know that I think she is capable of doing very well if she puts her mind to it. But bad grades would never be punished if she is trying her best.

Posted by: librarianmom | March 23, 2007 8:58 AM

KLB - Definetly an excuse in your case, nothing excuses abandonment. The pain my friend is still experiencing from abandonment is sad, but her life - like yours - is full and wonderful. She has surrounded herself with good friends, found a wonderful career and married a nice man. Meanwhile her father is miserable - serves him right the creep!

KLB - you remind me of her - funny and full of life. I just told her how proud I was of her and that extends to you too.

Posted by: CMAC | March 23, 2007 8:59 AM

CMAC,
Thanks. I will again quote the great philosopher, Jimmy Buffet and say "If we didn't laugh we would all go insane."

Posted by: KLB SS MD | March 23, 2007 9:05 AM

I love my parents, but I'm actually more angry with them now than I was before I had children. I realized that the little bit more they could have done to do a better job could have made all the difference in my childhood. I understand that they were young parents, and we were not very well off at all. But we went nowhere, had no vacations, did nothing enriching or fun -- even for free. I was not allowed to pursue any of the interests I had, whether it was taking art lessons or horseback riding. I look back on a childhood of extreme boredom and loneliness (we lived in an isolated part of town, bordered by highways and truck stops). To top it all off, my sister, who had problems, was the focus of all of their energy and attention in our house, which hasn't paid off for either of us unfortunately.

I hope this doesn't sound too bitter because I do actually have a decent relationship with my parents. And I have discussed these issues with them. These facts have changed me because my husband and I are making sure that our children have better lives. We take them to fun events, go on vacation with them, allow them to pursue their interests, and have friends over when they want. All with our support.

Posted by: Esmith86 | March 23, 2007 9:06 AM

On a more serious note, I agree that you don't necessarily need to be a parent to be able to take a critical look at your parent's parenting skills (or lack thereof). There are some things that we were forbidden to do with no explanation other than "because I say so" like making your bed, doing the dishes, etc. Now I do appreciate that we had to do them but it didn't at the time.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | March 23, 2007 9:08 AM

Yeah, my dad doesn't have any idea about money mgmt and it is a wonder he can pay his rent. He did say that he would rather live in a box than move in with mye sister-but he isn't moving in with me either. Do he better figure out how to live on what he has (he has stolen money from me and lied to me about it so don't think I'm horrible and cold hearted).

My mom never wanted to get a job, even though all conversations growing up were about how we couldn't afford this or thhat. So a small contribution from her would have been huge. Especially after dad's depression and his not working for years. But she didn't want to.

Heck, many of us don't *want* to get a job- but we do it anyway.

Posted by: atlmom | March 23, 2007 9:10 AM

I agree with the previous poster about some of these realizations coming before having kids. Even though I don't have kids yet, as I've gotten more distance, I've seen lots of good and bad in how my parents raised my sister and me. My first realization like this came at the age of 21, when casually chatting about one of my ex-boyfriends from a couple years back, my father said, "Yeah, I always though that relationship seemed a little bit abusive." WHAT! Abusive, yet no involvement or even a comment from the parents who, two years later, were still involved in every aspect of my life and were trying to convince me to break up with my current boyfriend because he was too boring. (I eventually realized they were right about that.)
I also remembering my husband telling me about the way his parents were involved in school when we were first getting to know each other and became so thankful that my parents did what they did.
So, while I am sure that I willunderstand my parents and be able to cooly evaluate some of their decision better when I'm a parent, I feel like I can do so pretty well with age. Also, who's to say that I might be less non-judgemental when I do have kids? After all, at that point I'll have my own experience as a parents, which might make me view things more emotionally.

Posted by: M&M | March 23, 2007 9:10 AM

My mother died suddenly 30 years ago when I was 16. She was always the comforting, compassionate parent; my father was always the strict, disciplinarian. After she died my father tried to change his style of parenting, but it was very difficult for him to do so with me and my younger brother.

Now he's the only parent left for either me or my wife; her mother died suddenly last year and her dad died in a nursing home 10 years ago.

A question just struck me. My dad does not know my wife and I have decided to start a family. I suppose after so long he's figured we aren't interested in doing so. Should I tell him or wait until we know my wife is pregnant?

Posted by: John L | March 23, 2007 9:12 AM

It doesn't always have to be about becoming a parent to appreciate your parents as adults and individuals.

I am sure if I have a child my respect for my parents will deepen. But I have spent a lot of time around kids and other parents to know that my parents kicked-butt. They weren't perfect, and there were some things I wished they had done differently when it really mattered, but overall, REALLY great parents (something friends outside my family have noted as well).

I'm sure if I have a child my respect will only deepen for the overall job that they did. And I hope to learn from their mistakes (mine had a bit of a blind spot on mental health issues as well - I think it's just the generation). But isn't it more about becoming an adult and seeing them with adult eyes than specifically parental eyes?

Posted by: Chasmosaur | March 23, 2007 9:16 AM

My mother was very cold and distant. I didn't think much about that fact until I had my own kids, who I just adore. Raising them, it makes me incredibly sad that I never had the cuddling, affection, and attention that I am giving my kids - and I'm completely at a loss as to HOW someone could be so distant and unaffectionate towards their kids. I wasn't particularly bitter about my lack of warmth and affection before, and I am now. My eyes have been opened to what I missed out on, and how it affected the person I grew up to be.

Posted by: Virginia | March 23, 2007 9:17 AM

I hate to hijak this conversation, but I was hoping to get some advice and I thought this crowd might be able to help me out. I just found out I'm pregnant (yay!). I know I am going to continue working, so I will need to find a good day care place. I remember friends complaining about finding good daycare, waiting lists, etc. I haven't told anyone I'm pregnant yet, so I don't know where to go to ask this question -- in DC, when should I start looking for someplace for my child?

Posted by: Silver Spring | March 23, 2007 9:18 AM

KLB SS MD, why is making your bed on the "have to do" list. I think it's a waste of time. Heck, just throw the blankets, pillows, and stuffed animals on top, it takes a few seconds and then your done.

Posted by: Father of 4 | March 23, 2007 9:19 AM

Father of 4,
While I personally agree with you, my not-so-sainted mother never did. I can tell you that once she left (I was 16) I probably didn't make my bed again except when I changed the sheets until I joined the Army at 20.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | March 23, 2007 9:26 AM

I never figured out why making the bed was such a compulsion for many women either. You're just going to mess it all up again in 18 hours anyway, so leave it alone!

Congratulations, Silver Spring!

Posted by: John L | March 23, 2007 9:28 AM

Leslie,

Your mother never once lost her temper? I find that very hard to believe.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 23, 2007 9:35 AM

back in the day, women had two choices of employment, teaching and nursing. The half of the 70+ female population that used to be nurses were indoctrinated that making beds and making them properly is key. They raised the next generation of bed-makers.

Requiring your kids to make their own beds is merely another way to shift a housekeeping chore from mom's list to kids' list, and to begin making kids responsible for straightening up and maintaining their living space - a worthy goal IMHO.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 23, 2007 9:39 AM

0939,
I agree with you now. I think the reason I didn't do it then was pure anger and rebellion.
Plus, that is what comforters are made for - much easier than bedspreads.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | March 23, 2007 9:42 AM

Silver Spring - congrats - get on lists NOW. www.dcurbanmom.com is a good place to ask a lot of DC specific parenting questions

Posted by: single mom | March 23, 2007 9:45 AM

congrats to silver spring. to find good day care - ask if moco has a list of day care providers. i used something called infant, family, and toddlers of fairfax. i think that was the name. it was something like that. they provided me with a list of daycare providers within a certain area i provided. those providers are screened & checked. i also used a provider recommended to me by a co-worker.

i think that becoming a parent does give you a deeper appreciation of your own parents just as becoming a grandparent can give your own parents a chance to do-over.

Posted by: quark | March 23, 2007 9:46 AM

Silverspring - start looking for child care now. The sooner you start in the DC area the more options you will have.

John L. - Go ahead and tell your dad if you feel you have a good relationship with him. Even if things don't work out it's nice to have family yo share the disappointment with.

Posted by: Bookworm Mom | March 23, 2007 9:46 AM

John L -- I would tell your dad. Especially if he's the strong/silent/stoic type, he may be wondering but not want to intrude.

SilverSpring -- When we lived in Baltimore, there was a publication called "Baltimore's Child" that was a great resource for parents. There simply must be one for the DC area. The "Baltimore's Child" magazine had an annual issue with all childcare in the area.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | March 23, 2007 9:50 AM

Wow, do I ever see my parents differently now. I've always basically thought my parents were good parents, and I have always been close to both of them (minus a short period where I was pretty mad at my dad for divorcing my mom). But having a child now has given me a much more profound understanding of what that means.

KLB, I totally agree with CMAC about what happened in your family and how remarkable it is that you have created your own full life. In some cases, the best they could excuse will never be anything more than excuse.

For me however, "they did the best they could" rings full of truth now more than ever. I know that my mom was suffering from severe depression when I was the age my son is now, and although I have known that for quite some time, I think I am only beginning to grasp what that really meant for her. I know more about what my dad was like when I was a kid, and am at once disappointed to realize his faults (I never really saw them as a child) and astounded to see how many of them are my own faults as well. I have always known how much like my mother I am, but I never realized until I had a child how much like my father I am too.

Parenthood has for me given me a much deeper understanding of who my parents really are, and what their lives have really been like, and that I think has given me a much more real love of them.

Posted by: Megan | March 23, 2007 9:52 AM

Thankfully, we were for the most part not required to make our beds. One of those fights I think my mom didn't think was worthwhile-as in the world isn't going to collapse, it doesn't make you less safe, etc. Our rooms were our space for the most part. And the maid made the bed once a week when she was there :)

Posted by: atlmom | March 23, 2007 9:53 AM

Virginia said, "Raising them, it makes me incredibly sad that I never had the cuddling, affection, and attention that I am giving my kids - and I'm completely at a loss as to HOW someone could be so distant and unaffectionate towards their kids. I wasn't particularly bitter about my lack of warmth and affection before, and I am now. My eyes have been opened to what I missed out on, and how it affected the person I grew up to be."

If your parents were crappy parents, you don't need to have children to first identify your parents as crappy parents.

Playing obvious favorites.

Ignoring medical needs.

Being to self-involved to have a clue what was going on with alcoholic or drug-addicted teenagers.

Forcing kids to side with one parent against another in every argument.

Constantly threatening divorce but never following through.

Virginia is right. Having children intensified my disdain for my parents' distance, coldness, and obliviousness. Man, did they miss out. We get the chance to do it right with the next generation.

Posted by: Megan's Neighbor | March 23, 2007 9:57 AM

atlmom,
My mother pretty much left our rooms alone until it got to the point where she threatened to bring in the big trash can. Anything that wasn't put away went into the trash can. The worst day was when we found a dead bird under my bed (the cat brought it in).

Posted by: KLB SS MD | March 23, 2007 9:58 AM

Chasmosaur wrote "But isn't it more about becoming an adult and seeing them with adult eyes than specifically parental eyes?
"

The way I saw my parents changed really dramatically when I moved out at 18 & became self-supporting. All of a sudden I understood why they'd been trying so hard to keep a lid on me for the years of high school--people around me were going right off the rails. My transition was pretty smooth--partly because I really was more mature than my parents had given me credit for, and partly because they continued to emotionally support me. The support meant a lot more to me when I felt it was freely given, adult to adult, than it had when I felt they were required to give it to me as their child. I don't think I really understood how much they loved me until I was no longer their responsibility and they chose to stick with me anyway.


Posted by: worker bee | March 23, 2007 10:00 AM

One thng that really created a rift between me and my sister (a year younger) and brother (5 years younger) was the inconsistency is what we were allowed to do. It would go like this: I would ask, be denied, do it anyhow, get in trouble. Fast forward a year later. My sister would ask and be allowed. I would be mad at her rather than at the parents. Their comment was "well, you did it and it was ok". Part of me says that you should be consistent but in a way I understand their philosophy. Which is right?

Posted by: KLB SS MD | March 23, 2007 10:04 AM

KLB, I am the oldest in my family, and my parents definitely said "no" to things for me that they later allowed my siblings to do, much along the same lines. While it was irritating at the time, it didn't play out in the long run to make their lives any better, more enjoyable or easier than mine. So while I don't necessarily think it is "okay", I think it is natural - parents have a tighter grip on the oldest child simply because they don't know how much their kids can take/handle/whatever. At least, that was always my take on it.

Posted by: TakomaMom | March 23, 2007 10:09 AM

TO KLB SS MD:

Sounds like you got to be the "practice" child. I've noticed that we are sometimes better with our second due to what we learned with our first.

And I was the youngest of 3. I didn't have to fight as many battles to get to do things because the trail had already been blazed.

Posted by: Rockville Mom | March 23, 2007 10:11 AM

"Plus, that is what comforters are made for - much easier than bedspreads."

KLB, amen to that! Buying a comforter circumvented the whole make your bed issue in our household.

Posted by: Megan | March 23, 2007 10:11 AM

Now it doesn't bother me but you can imagine how irritated a 13 year old would be!

Posted by: KLB SS MD | March 23, 2007 10:13 AM

Megan, I don't remember comforters being an option as a kid. We had the lovely chenille bedspreads.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | March 23, 2007 10:14 AM

KLB SS MD: This drove me crazy too! As the oldest, and the only girl, my parents' rules for me were strict. They would waffle between letting my brothers do things because they were male, and letting them do things because the rules had relaxed by the time my brothers reached that age.

The sexist part of it still drives me nuts and my parents still haven't admitted they were wrong. The age part, though, makes sense to me now. After all, if the rules were too strict for me (and they were), then my parents were just learning from their mistakes, and letting my brothers benefit from their new understanding.

Posted by: worker bee | March 23, 2007 10:15 AM

Actually, I made my bed nearly every day as a child. Then in college, I had a roommate who NEVER made her bed - I decided she had the right idea and I haven't made mine since :)
And I don't make my son make his either, though I do make him pick up his room.

Posted by: TakomaMom | March 23, 2007 10:15 AM

KLB
Actually, for the most part, we were quite neat. I had a very large bedroom-there were two masters in the house and I was the youngest, so I got the room closest to mom and dad. So there was always somewhere to put stuff. Of course that made me a *huge* pack rat. So I have a need to keep things that I definitely don't need, and that has, in part, I think, to do with always being told we have no money. I'm getting over these things now as an adult-it is tough, and my DH needs everything in order and hates clutter-altho *i* don't think it is so bad....

Posted by: atlmom | March 23, 2007 10:17 AM

KLB -- I was the practice child, too. The fight I remember the most was pierced ears. First it was not until you're 21, then 18, then 16, and I finally got them at 13. The next MONTH, my 12-year old sister got them, and two years later, my 8 year old sister got them. Totally infuriating. But as the oldest, I got a lot of good stuff, too. No hand-me-downs except from cousins (and even then they felt new and I got to wear them first).

Posted by: WorkingMomX | March 23, 2007 10:18 AM

To the childless posters- you will view your parents in a different way once you have kids. I viewed my parents differently when I went off to school and then differently again as I grew older, graduated, got a job, but NOTHING connected me to them and changed my views than when I had my first child. People say you just "don't get it" until you have a kid(s) yourself- it's true!

Posted by: Anonymous | March 23, 2007 10:18 AM

Being the oldest is tough, as the first I always had to blaze the trail and would get so frustrated when my younger siblings could just get the OK on things I had to fight so hard for... very frustrated.

When I became a parent I instantly became appreciative of my parents and how difficult parenting is. They made their mistakes and so will I.

One thing that I will probably never forgive is their smoking, we hated it when we were kids and begged them to stop, they still smoke and will probably not live as long as they could... I know, very selfish, but they chose an addiction over us. At least it was not drugs, but it was very important to us

Posted by: single mom | March 23, 2007 10:19 AM

KLB, I think we got a comforter for me when I was around 12 or 13, it was a big deal. My mom sewed a cover for it so I didn't even need a top sheet, all I had to do was spread it out and I was done.

TakomaMom, I had a slightly different experience - my mom and I fought for years over the cleaniness or lack thereof of my room. My sophomore year in college, out of the blue one night my mom called me up and to tell me that she was sorry she ever tried to make me clean my room, that it really didn't matter and that she had decided to stop worrying about housekeeping. This was one of the weird fallouts of my parents' divorce. Now her house is always a mess.

My son is only two and seems to have a fairly natural sense of order, so I'm trying to encourage that and teach him to clean up his toys when he's done with them, but when he's older his room will be his room and he can leave it messy (within reason) if he wants to. We'll just close the door when there's company.

Posted by: Megan | March 23, 2007 10:21 AM

"back in the day, women had two choices of employment, teaching and nursing."

Maybe true for those who were able to go to college back in the day. You are forgetting secretary, bookkeeper, maid, waitress, school cafeteria worker, sales clerk.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 23, 2007 10:24 AM

I don't have kids, but definitely viewed my parents in a different light when I "grew up", bought a house, etc., etc.
We never had comforters either....my grandmother made us patchwork quilts.

Posted by: MIssicat | March 23, 2007 10:25 AM

"in the months before I left for Harvard."

Yet again you had to throw in the Harvard reference. Can't you ever just say "when I went to college"?

Posted by: to Leslie | March 23, 2007 10:25 AM

We had really cheap comforters and momwould buy sheets and make a duvet. I never knew what that flat sheet was for til I was much older.

I was the third of three, but mom and dad were hardly strict with them, so there was nothing much to rebel against-but boy did I try. Of course, mom anfd dad were tied up in figuring their marrailges and lives and didn't have time much to worry about me. But in the long run this was good since I learned how to be a responsible adult early on.

My DH is the oldest of 3 and has 2 sisters. My mil and fil treat the sisters (even married w kids) as children (negotiating with dealer to buy car) and don't do anything for dh. Fil said: oh, it isn't so hard, I just did some internet research-so dh said: ok, next time *we* buy a car, you can do the research for *us*. And I think that finally made him stop to think.

Of course it works out better for dh in the long run, dsince he can take care of himself and sis in law- even with an ivy league degree- has never held a job or paid her own rent.

Posted by: atlmom | March 23, 2007 10:28 AM

"back in the day, women had two choices of employment, teaching and nursing."

Maybe true for those who were able to go to college back in the day. You are forgetting secretary, bookkeeper, maid, waitress, school cafeteria worker, sales clerk.

Posted by: | March 23, 2007 10:24 AM

Touche! My bad.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 23, 2007 10:30 AM

On the whole bed-making issue. We don't really make the bed that often because the morning is rushed enough as it is but I do like to pull up the sheets and comforter. Mostly because we have cats and I don't want to be lying in cat hair. I don't know that making the bed was a result of my mother being a nurse, though. I mostly remember my father making us do it. Of course, I suppose it could still have been her influence even though she wasn't the enforcer. I am (occasionally) teaching my 4-year-old to make her bed, though. You have to learn to be responsible for yourself at some point.

Posted by: Rockville Mom | March 23, 2007 10:31 AM

To the childless posters- you will view your parents in a different way once you have kids. I viewed my parents differently when I went off to school and then differently again as I grew older, graduated, got a job, but NOTHING connected me to them and changed my views than when I had my first child. People say you just "don't get it" until you have a kid(s) yourself- it's true!

Posted by: | March 23, 2007 10:18 AM

pu - lease! That was your experience. It's not true for everyone.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 23, 2007 10:32 AM

My mother became a single mother of 3 ages 2, 10, and 12 when deadbeat dad took off. For years, I had her on a pedestal for being both mom and dad.

Once I had children, she wasn't quite as high on the pedestal in my mind. Not that I didn't appreciate everything she did or how hard it was. Somehow, I just felt that any loving mother in the same situation would do it. What I had seen as extraordinary became ordinary when I realized that I and all of my female friends would have also put our children first even though it was so hard. Of course, this excludes the rotten mothers who would be rotten whether they were raising their kids alone or with a dad present.

Having my children showed me that putting children first is normal.

Posted by: anon | March 23, 2007 10:32 AM

IMO, you don't really appreciate your parents until your children are teenagers. I want to apologize to my mothe every day.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 23, 2007 10:34 AM

I've struggled with this for years, long before I became a parent. I have two perspectives, that of an abandoned child and that of a loved and cared for child. My adoptive parents and I have always been close and my relationship only deepened when I became a parent. My biggest struggle has been coming to terms with my biological parents. After the birth of my first child, one of the great mysteries of my childhood became clear. My bio-mom suffered from PPD. My parents were poor and my new little sister sickly. I don't remember my bio-mom demonstrating any love towards us. I do know that our father did love us. What I cannot reconcile is that when push came to shove, he chose his wife, our mother, over his children. I would not have made a similar choice and I know that my DH would choose to protect our children before me. Then again, I cannot hope to fully understand the desperation he must have experienced. While I can certainly appreciate the good that has come from his decision, he still committed the greatest betrayal a parent can commit. I also believe that much as I have suffered, I am sure he did as well, and may still to this day. While I don't know that my life would have been better (and it probably would not have been better) had he chosen to leave her and raise us on his own, I recognize that life would have been vastly different. My consolation is that in doing the unthinkable, he gave my sister and I the opportunity to know and have the kind of family every child should have. In the end, I can only forgive him and despite all the suffering, I hope that he knows that everything did turn out all right for us and that his sacrifice did count for something. As for my bio-mom, I hope she got help. I hope that they healed as a couple. Maybe they even had other children after my sister and I. Maybe they are a happy, if not entirely whole, family. Despite it all, that harsh lesson is one that I carry and one that helps me be a better parent.

Posted by: LM in WI | March 23, 2007 10:35 AM

Looking back on my childhood, as an adult with a child, is a very complex process for me. In some ways, my childhood was very hard. My parents divorced when I was very young, and my father's family (not so much him as the rest of the extended family) spent the next 20 years trashing my mom to me. My mother is not very confrontational, and she never really fought back (to spare me, I think), but my stepfather felt very protective of her and did his share of bashing my father's family to me. I sometimes felt like a ping pong ball, bouncing between two warring families. But even in the midst of this, I felt loved. I had a wonderful paternal grandmother who was a great mentor and role model, as well as source of support and encouragement. I have wonderful younger siblings that I have always been close to. Even my once tenuous relationship with my stepfather has resolved myself, and the healing force was the birth of my son. When I was a kid, our relationship was not so great. I think we both competed for my mother's attention, and although I was a good kid by a lot of standards, I also had a mouth on me, and my stepfather was often it's target. And looking back, he was not very mature in how he handled these conflicts either. No matter what he did, he could not contain me in that respect. When I was a teenager and young adult, we were literally at each other's throats for a few years. I knew exactly how to push his buttons, and he knew that the best way to hurt me was to show me that I was not one of his children, and that he did not love me as such. By my mid 20s, we had called a truce and pretty much kept the peace by being civil to each other, but the relationship was distant. When my son was born, something changed. My stepfather was there at the hospital for the birth, and he immediately fell in love with the baby. It was obvious from looking at him. Maybe he did not love me the way he love his bio kids, but he loved my son. Their relationship has always been close, and my son knows no other grandpa, nor does he need one. Watching this take place caused something within me to shift. All the stupid resentments that I had been keeping melted away, and I realized that they don't matter. The past is the past. We are all human and make mistakes. Some of them huge. But I don't think that there is a mistake in the world that cannot be forgiven, if people have willing hearts. These days, my mother and stepfather are not only my parents, but also my closest friends and sources of encouragement and support. I love and appreciate them dearly. We have all comes so far, and I am very thankful for the experience.

Posted by: Emily | March 23, 2007 10:36 AM


"in the months before I left for Harvard." (Leslie '87)

"Yet again you had to throw in the Harvard reference. Can't you ever just say 'when I went to college'?" (Anon. to Leslie)

Here we are in the middle of an unprecedented 28-year stretch of Yalie rule (Geo. H. W. Bush, Yale College; Bill Clinton, Yale Law; Geo. W. Bush, Yale College; Hillary Clinton, Yale Law) -- and someone takes Leslie to task for giving the name of the college she attended!

Posted by: Matt in Aberdeen | March 23, 2007 10:38 AM

Working momx:

My mom just didn't want to *see* my sister get her ears pierced, so my sister maybe had to wait til 16 cause my momcouldnt say no anymore. My mom left the jewelry store and just about got sick.
For me, my sister took me at like 13 as long as my mom didn't have to go she could not have cared less.

Posted by: atlmom | March 23, 2007 10:39 AM

to anonymous 10:34 - HA! what a great post! I definitely feel that way, and I haven't even had to deal w/ teenage years yet!

Posted by: TakomaMom | March 23, 2007 10:39 AM

On the smoking issue, my parents were both heavy smokers, and smoked in the house, and did all manner of irresponsible smoker things (like falling asleep on the couch and burning holes in the upholstery etc.) - I didn't like their smoking, but never saw it as them choosing an addiction OVER their children and don't really understand that attitude. They smoked, they didn't know about the consequences of secondhand smoke, end of story (for me at least).

Posted by: TakomaMom | March 23, 2007 10:43 AM

to LM in WI,

"I do know that our father did love us. What I cannot reconcile is that when push came to shove, he chose his wife, our mother, over his children."

Maybe he didn't choose his wife over you. Could he have felt incapable of raising you on his own? Could he have been trying to give you a better life? Could he have taken his vows so seriously "in sickness and in health" that he couldn't abandon his wife?

I'm not you, and I don't know how I would feel in your shoes. You obviously believe that he loved you. Maybe it would help you if you could also believe that his decision was based on his love for you and not a matter of choosing wife over children.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 23, 2007 10:44 AM

Virginia,

I too had a Mother who couldn't show affection to the kids or husband. I can't remember a hug or a kiss from her during my childhood and young adulthood and never, ever the words "I love you".

I wondered if I would be affectionate with my children, and like you it came naturally. However, one day I left my first-born with my mother for a few hours and came back early to find her singing and rocking and cuddling him. BIg EYEOPENER. I think deep down I knew she must have shown me that same love when I was little or else I couldn't have responded to my kids so easily. I have tried to be different from my mother and keep giving them physical signs of affection them even though they are teens now. Interestingly, I sometimes have to remind myself to get physical with the hugs and kisses..old habits from my mother are there, but it is easy to just have little reminders to myself. Even weirder is my mother can now manage an awkward hug after a visit after 30 years without touching me.
I don't hold my breath waiting for "I love you" however.

Posted by: newtoblog | March 23, 2007 10:45 AM

My parents both smoked. Everybody smoked back in the 60s - all their friends did too. That was the era of fancy ashtrays and lighters.
My dad died of emphysema related disease. My mother, brother, sister and brother-in-law all still smoke. I quit 4 mos after my dad died as I didn't want to spend my last years as ill as he was.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | March 23, 2007 10:48 AM

For the "practice" or oldest children, I have noticed that people who are the oldest tend to have a very different persective on their parents then their younger siblings. I am the youngest and sometimes when I talk to my oldest brother it is like we were raised with different parents altogether. My parents had different rules for the boys and me the only girl. My curfew was much earlier then theirs - ticked me off to no end! My parents left them alone for the weekend when they were teenagers but I was always got dragged along. Irritating at the time, but I am sure I would have had a huge party and gotten in deep doo-doo. My brothers were no Angels either, but somehow being a hellion (sp?) as a boy is more acceptable then being one as a girl.

Making the bed - UGH! I do it most of the time. Kids just pull up comforters and throw pillows on like Fo4 suggested.

Posted by: CMAC | March 23, 2007 10:57 AM

Notamomyet asks: Does it really take parenthood for yourself to see your parents as people/human beings?

She's right - I always saw them as hunman beings. However, I began to be angry for the things they did not do for me as parents, when I was growing up. I wished they had pushed me more into team sports and made me socialize more and not spoil me as much. But my view changed when I recently had my first child. I see now they did there best and they loved me very much, something I can rely on today. That in the end is worth more than any lessons, sporting activities or schooling. I feel very fortunate.

Posted by: Bob | March 23, 2007 10:57 AM

"in the months before I left for Harvard."

Yet again you had to throw in the Harvard reference. Can't you ever just say "when I went to college"? "

Not to worry.

Someday I will strangle my husband as he refers to Princeton for the zillionth time!

Drop Leslie's ass as a newborn into the worst part of DC and see if she ever made it to Harvard.

Talk about hubris!!!!

Posted by: Anonymous | March 23, 2007 10:59 AM

Yes, I am a much better parent. Not that my parents were bad or abusive but just somewhat oblivious. The funny thing is my Mom even told me that one day. We are much more affectionate and close, my dad was shocked that I washed and blew dry my little girls hair. I can't remember him ever doing anything like that, but it just seems natural too me.

Posted by: pATRICK | March 23, 2007 10:59 AM

KLB - About smoking - my dads parents both smoked - both died of cancer too - and my dad hated it. He remembers at Christmas all the relatives (they had huge families) would tie packs of cigarettes together with ribbon and put them on tree branches with tags "To Joe, Love sister Susy". Apparently the whole tree was cigarette packs. This was in the 40's and 50's.

Posted by: cmac | March 23, 2007 11:00 AM

That Leslie went to Harvard is a fact. Why should she hide it to mollify a few insecure twits who are offended by the name of the university? If she had said when I went to "Maryland" or "NC State", or "UCLA" OR "UGA", no one would bat an eye. Get over it, people.

Posted by: Emily | March 23, 2007 11:04 AM

To anon at 10:44

I agree that ultimately, he did what he did because he felt is was the best decision he could make. Many more young girls end up in far worse situations. And part of the "gift" of adoption is that I was raised by a family who would never give up on their kids. That has been the great irony. As I said, if I had to choose between my children and my husband, it would be difficult and heartbreaking but knowing how damaged I had been and how innocent my children are, I would at this time, choose my kids. And I think it is fair to say that my husband would come to a similar conclusion. If my kids are adults, that would be different. We are fortunate that we don't live lives as desperate as my bio-parents and are thankful for that.

Posted by: LM in WI | March 23, 2007 11:05 AM

I would only be obnoxious is she said "while at school in Cambridge, MA" I hate it when people allude to harvard without stating it. It is a name of a college - get over it (for all of those that it annoys I assume that you did not get in).

Posted by: single mom | March 23, 2007 11:06 AM

Re: Smoking

Parents did/permitted other stuff because they didn't know better

No seat belts or car seats

Left kids in cars while parents shopped and went out for dinner

No sunscreen

Lead paint in houses and lead pipes

Teflon in cooking pans

Homes built near toxic zones

Posted by: Anonymous | March 23, 2007 11:06 AM

"back in the day, women had two choices of employment, teaching and nursing."

Which "day" was this?

My dad will be 80 next year; mom would be, too, if she were still alive.

They were both teachers, but their circle of friends and acquaintances included female doctors, lawyers, businesswomen, college profs, and artists.

You're so wrong to perpetuate such stereotypes.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 23, 2007 11:07 AM

It may seem unfair to those here but I plan on being stricter somewhat with my daughter than my son for a couple of reasons. One is safety, girls are infinitely more likely to be raped than boys and need to be watched a little more and women cannot defend themselves as well. I am sure this will open the floodgates, but what the hell.

Posted by: pATRICK | March 23, 2007 11:11 AM

pATRICK,
I would never slam someone for wanting to take care of their daughter. In addition to perhaps being stricter, give her some skills to take care of herself too.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | March 23, 2007 11:14 AM

"pATRICK,
I would never slam someone for wanting to take care of their daughter. In addition to perhaps being stricter, give her some skills to take care of herself too."


This is an excellent point I missed. I plan on giving her the skills to identify knucklehead losers and their ways of preying on unsuspecting girls. Knowledge is the ultimate defense.

Posted by: pATRICK | March 23, 2007 11:16 AM

pATRICK,
Not to mention a swift kick you know where or knuckles to the throat or eyes!

Posted by: KLB SS MD | March 23, 2007 11:18 AM

I figure that parent's mistakes kinda skip a generation. Any mistakes that you noticed your parents make you would be more likly to be sure to try and not repeat.

My pet peeve for my 'rents was that they didnt do much with us. They took vacations and we were left behind. They wreent involved in our day to day until our teens, and guess what? In our teens I resented the interference.

So - with my kids I am trying to be engaged and involved - as a parent: not a friend - so that can I try to be consistent. On the vaca front I regress well - and missed out on the Disney, Sea World circuit so am enjoying it this time around.

Sadly research on the issues of cycles of abuse and alcoholism suggest otherwise... right?

I would hope that such cycles could be broken.

Posted by: Fo3 | March 23, 2007 11:21 AM

"back in the day, women had two choices of employment, teaching and nursing."

Which "day" was this?

My dad will be 80 next year; mom would be, too, if she were still alive.

They were both teachers, but their circle of friends and acquaintances included female doctors, lawyers, businesswomen, college profs, and artists.

You're so wrong to perpetuate such stereotypes.

Posted by: | March 23, 2007 11:07 AM

Just because your parents knew some of the exceptions does not mean many women weren't often "guided" into the standard female careers. Just means your parents' friends were trailblazers and more power to them.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 23, 2007 11:22 AM

"back in the day, women had two choices of employment, teaching and nursing."

Which "day" was this?

My dad will be 80 next year; mom would be, too, if she were still alive.

They were both teachers, but their circle of friends and acquaintances included female doctors, lawyers, businesswomen, college profs, and artists.

You're so wrong to perpetuate such stereotypes.

Posted by: | March 23, 2007 11:07 AM

well, lucky you. This isn't about anecdotal experience or stereotypes, LOL. I am not sure what rock you were under during the 60s, but the women's liberation movement was first and foremost about expanding employment opportunities for women into non-traditional, and career-oriented occupations.

If you are in too much denial to peruse the plethora of books written about the female experience in the first half of this century, you might at acknowledge Sandra Day O'Connor's description of the lack of opportunities for female law school graduates - and the lone firm that offered her a job after she obtained her j.d. from Stanford Law, in 1952 or so, with flying colors - the job was secretary, not lawyer.

Your high horse has left you behind.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 23, 2007 11:23 AM

pATRICK, have you thought about investing in self defense for your daughter? I understand your fears but as a woman boxer, I've found I am pretty well equipped to defend myself in a hand-to-hand situation. Your daughter will find it easier to learn these skills the earlier she starts. And they'll serve her well as an adult out of your protective reach.

Posted by: worker bee | March 23, 2007 11:23 AM

Patrick,
Rather than just protecting your daughter by being stricter, teach her how to protect herself, both physically, as KLB SSMD mentioned, and in other ways as well. Allow her to voice her opinions and empower her to make decisions. Of course you will have to guide her at first to make sure the decisions are sound, but litle by little, give her the independence to call some of the shots. Teach her to be assertive, so that she can tell a knucklehead where to go when the time comes. Make sure she gets a great education so that she never has to put up with a knucklehead. Help build her confidence so that she knows that when the time comes, she will be smart enough, strong enough, skilled enough and confident enough to take great care of herself. And she will thank you for it.

Posted by: Emily | March 23, 2007 11:23 AM

"Just means your parents' friends were trailblazers and more power to them."

Nah, they were pretty ordinary people. We lived just outside of a large metropolitan area, and there were lots just like them.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 23, 2007 11:25 AM

pATRICK, how about being stricter with your sons so they don't turn out to be the one raping or attacking girls? Somebody is raising those boys who do those things, right? So instead of focusing on helping girls defend themselves, why don't we focus on creating boys who know how to take no for an answer?

Posted by: Washington, DC | March 23, 2007 11:25 AM

"Just means your parents' friends were trailblazers and more power to them."

Nah, they were pretty ordinary people. We lived just outside of a large metropolitan area, and there were lots just like them.

Posted by: | March 23, 2007 11:25 AM

Maybe ordinary now, not necessarily ordinary then.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 23, 2007 11:29 AM

pATRICK, how about being stricter with your sons so they don't turn out to be the one raping or attacking girls? Somebody is raising those boys who do those things, right? So instead of focusing on helping girls defend themselves, why don't we focus on creating boys who know how to take no for an answer?"

UMM, I plan on doing both they are not mutually exclusive. I am not comfortable trying to turn my daughter into someone who is going to try to go toe to toe with boys in a fight. I think that avoiding those situations and knowledge is a better defense, especially now that confrontations can turn deadly quickly, same advice for my son too. People are too willing to shoot these days IMO.


Posted by: pATRICK | March 23, 2007 11:32 AM

Other "bad" stuff parents did 'cause they didn't know any better

In utero - mothers smoke, drank, took drugs, poor nutrition

Posted by: Anonymous | March 23, 2007 11:33 AM

pATRICK, since you were already expecting to get slammed ... I would encourage you to strongly resist the urge to protect your daughter more than your sons, at least in concrete, visible ways, i.e. giving her an earlier curfew or not allowing her to go out alone even though her brothers can. If you don't think the situation is safe enough for her, then it shouldn't be safe enough for your boys either. One of the things I am most grateful to my dad for is the fact that he was/is genuinely the least sexist dad I have ever seen - the boys and girls really were treated equally - and I think it benefits both. It's not just that girls should be set up to know they can rely on themselves and they shouldn't have to live in fear of being weaker and more vulnerable, it's also that men should be set up to know that they are not any more powerful or privileged than women. I think it's fine to teach daughters to be more careful and vigilant, and self defense classes are a great idea - I just think that boys and girls should have equal expectations and equal privileges.

Posted by: TakomaMom | March 23, 2007 11:38 AM

My aunt who just passed and was over 80 got her masters in chemistry in the 40s or 50s and was offered jobs as a secretary. She had to have been good or she would never have even gotten the chance to go to school int the first place.

So she was never allowed to even use her degree at all.

Posted by: atlmom | March 23, 2007 11:40 AM

"I plan on giving her the skills to identify knucklehead losers and their ways of preying on unsuspecting girls."

the gift that keeps on giving, LOL.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 23, 2007 11:41 AM

"Maybe ordinary now, not necessarily ordinary then."

My point is, we were surrounded by people like my parents. So, it WAS ordinary then for women to work at careers other than teaching and nursing.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 23, 2007 11:42 AM

Single Mom writes:

"I would only be obnoxious is she said 'while at school in Cambridge, MA' I hate it when people allude to harvard without stating it."

Hmm. If Leslie were an Engineer, would you still interpret "at school in Cambridge, MA" as an allusion to the playboy school at the other end of Massachusetts Avenue from MIT?

"It is a name of a college - get over it (for all of those that it annoys I assume that you did not get in)."

Get in? None of my sons even *applied* to "the William and Mary of the North". But Single Mom is right about "Harvard envy."

Posted by: Matt in Aberdeen | March 23, 2007 11:43 AM

i don't think it's insulting to say that having children helps you to understand your parents. how many of us with children have had to change our tune about what kind of parent we would be when faced with the reality of an actual child? how many of us swore that we would "never do that when we have kids" and we find ourselves doing exactly the same thing? i'm not talking about abuse but about stupid things like "i'll never give my child insert name of junk food here". that sort of thing. i have 1 child & i find myself amazed at my parents who at 1 time had 3 children under the age of 4.

Posted by: quark | March 23, 2007 11:46 AM

Well said takoma mom. I always have thought this way. I don't think my parents wouldhave done differently for a boy(we were 3 girls).

Posted by: atlmom | March 23, 2007 11:48 AM

Matt in Aberdeen - I find the MIT people to be more honest and upfront about their college, rather than the "my college is so impressive that it cannot be named" to meer mortals.

I thought that UVA was the Harvard of the south?

Posted by: single mom | March 23, 2007 11:55 AM

Emily,
I ditto your comments about college references. Who cares? Only insecure people care really. I'm happy Leslie went to Harvard because it seems like it was the right university for her. It wouldn't have been right for me to go there. Way too cold. I'm happy when people make decisions that work for them: whatever they are.

Posted by: dotted | March 23, 2007 11:56 AM

Duke is the Harvard of the South, people.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 23, 2007 11:56 AM

My mom has never raised her voice to me. She has 1) thrown a high heeled shoe at me 2) hung up the phone on me 3) burned rubber in front of my house. But she's never yelled at me or gotten verbally or physically violent around me. She has incredible self-restraint (which I unfortunately did not inherit).

I think it is true that as you get older, whether or not you have kids, you become more understanding and appreciate of your parents. But I see becoming a parent yourself as a clear marker in the parent/child relationship.

Tip on making beds: we have gone Swiss and only use comforters (no top sheet). So we just pull up the comforter, fluff it a bit, and DONE. A nice little time saver. Easier for kids to do by themselves, too.

And hey, I think this was the first time I admitted I went to Harvard! It is usually Wharton that I write about...I thought I was keeping the Harvard bit on the down low, actually. And no, I haven't saved any letters that my dad sent me at college b/c I don't think he sent any, or at least any that were worth keeping. But he did come visit a lot, which was absolutely wonderful.

Posted by: Leslie | March 23, 2007 11:57 AM

I am childfree, and yet I still manage to appreciate all that my parents did for me.

I'm insulted that Leslie thinks that it takes having children for a person to suddenly re-evalute their parents. I thought it was my maturation into adulthood that did it.

Posted by: Phillyfilly | March 23, 2007 11:57 AM

UVA? hahhaahahahaha...no.

Posted by: grad from TJ's first school | March 23, 2007 11:58 AM

Go be insulted/seek life elsewhere. Like on a childless blog.

Posted by: to PhillyFilly | March 23, 2007 12:01 PM

My mother so badly botched her first marriage (to a gay man, my father who was then barred from ever seeing me due to the "mental illness" of being gay) and her second marriage (to a tyrant who terrified the household, which included a half-brother & half-sister, but singling me out for the worst), that I REFUSE TO PASS HER GENES ON. I'm neutral to the prospect of adoption one day, but since my husband is unenthusiastic about it & at any rate we're too poor to adopt, we'll probably always remain childless. THANKS, MOM! Love ya. H

Posted by: Still Angry in Arlington | March 23, 2007 12:02 PM

Montgomery college is often called Harvard on the Pike, Yale on the rail. :)

Posted by: Emily | March 23, 2007 12:02 PM

I will say that I TOTALLY understand now why my dad got that look on his face. I see it on my face too occasionally now that I am a parent. LOL

Posted by: pATRICK | March 23, 2007 12:03 PM

Phillyfilly-
while I agree with you, it wasn't until I caught myself facing the same situation as did my mother with respect to children (instead of working, job, whatever), that I appreciated her parenting style/choices and how that affected her and my father's selection on the balance continuum.

Posted by: dotted | March 23, 2007 12:04 PM

ooopsss....left out a word..

while I agree with you about maturation...

Posted by: dotted | March 23, 2007 12:06 PM

My father was overprotective and constantly told me to keep away from things both dangerous (a sensible idea) and not really dangerous (which created many phobias for me). I'm very very self-conscious about limiting my son's exuberance when there is no real danger. I resent my father for his pressure on me as a child and on my son now.

Posted by: DCer | March 23, 2007 12:06 PM

"My mom has never raised her voice to me. She has 1) thrown a high heeled shoe at me 2) hung up the phone on me 3) burned rubber in front of my house. But she's never yelled at me or gotten verbally or physically violent around me."

Leslie,

Not to be perverse here, but wouldn't you call having a shoe thrown at you to be physically violent? Under some circumstances, "burning rubber" could also be construed as such.

I'm betting that, if a husband threw a shoe at his wife, you'd be among the first to cry "domestic violence!" And, of course, it would be. But so is a parent throwing a shoe at a kid.

Posted by: pittypat | March 23, 2007 12:08 PM

Absolutely my thoughts about my parents have changed. I had my daughter at 35, and for the first tim understood how exhausting and tiring it was. And then I realized that my mom had dealt with that at 19, when I was still figuring out what I wanted my major to be.

When my daughter turned 2 1/2, I realized that that's about when their marriage broke up. I saw how my daughter doted on her dad, and it made me tremendously angry at my own father, thinking, how could you just leave such an innocent little creature who thought you were God? But then I also realized that he was barely 23 years old, married only because it had been the "right thing to do," and was just doing the best he could given what he knew at the time. And when I saw how he doted on his granddaughter, I also realized that it had hurt him just as much to not be around me -- but he was the "adult" and the "man" and so had to be "strong" and not show that. I think for the first time I had a real sense of how incredibly hard the situation and choices had been for all three of us, regardless of whether he left or stayed.

Posted by: Laura | March 23, 2007 12:08 PM

I am childfree, and yet I still manage to appreciate all that my parents did for me.
-----

Wow! does your neck hurt from trying to twist this article to fit your worldview so strangely?

Posted by: DCer | March 23, 2007 12:09 PM

UVA is the Ive League of the south, not the "harvard" of the south, Harvard isn't that cool.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 23, 2007 12:12 PM

To John L: Tell your dad now! Involve him...older people want to know that life is moving ahead and even if you have to try for a while, it's nice to include him in your personal life!

Best wishes to you and your wife.

Posted by: Kate | March 23, 2007 12:14 PM

DCer --

What the heck is wrong with what Phillyfilly said?

She's just saying that adulthood can give you the same perspective on your parents that parenthood can.

How is she twisting to fit to the topic?

Posted by: pittypat | March 23, 2007 12:16 PM

I think throwing anything, much less a hard object with a sharp point, at someone is being physically violent.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 23, 2007 12:18 PM

"since my husband is unenthusiastic about it & at any rate we're too poor to adopt, we'll probably always remain childless. THANKS, MOM! Love ya. H"

Although I am sympathetic to difficult childhoods and how they impact a person's life, there comes a time when you are an adult, and therefore are responsible for making and owning your decisions. If you don't want to pass on your mother's behaviors, but want badly to have a bio child, then get some therapy to deal with the emotional issues so that you can feel confident that you will be a good parent, despite your mother's failings. If you don't want to adopt, then don't, but don't blame it on your mother. You are an adult now. Your childhood may have sucked, but now that you are all grown up, you do have some power to control your life.

Posted by: Emily | March 23, 2007 12:20 PM

Yawn. Can we talk about something else? How's everyone's sex life these days? Where are you going for summer vacay? Heck, let's even debate who else we think is fake besides Chrissy!

Posted by: bored today | March 23, 2007 12:22 PM

"And no, I haven't saved any letters that my dad sent me at college b/c I don't think he sent any, or at least any that were worth keeping. But he did come visit a lot, which was absolutely wonderful."

Posted by: Leslie | March 23, 2007 11:57 AM

I saved all of my father's letters, which became especially precious after he died while I was an undergraduate. And I still remember one time he came to visit when they let him -- as a National Guard JAG officer -- teach a class on military law.

Posted by: Matt in Aberdeen | March 23, 2007 12:23 PM

John

Aren't there risks to the fetus when starting a family at your age?

Posted by: Anonymous | March 23, 2007 12:24 PM

I do look at my parents much more as people than as parents now that I'm a parent - but I think some of that comes down to the fact that for the 'parenting' I had four parents - my mom and dad and my paternal grandparents. Mom and dad did the nurturing, mostly, and my grandparents did the important stuff - discipline, medical, school emphasis, nutrition, made sure we had clothes and lunches for school, etc. Mom and dad are to this day very much less parental than my grandparents - they're more like friends. Of course, they are also bohemian (dad's a professional musician, mom's a freelance photographer) so grandparents are more traditional. I see my parents numerous flaws and shortcomings and hope to not repeat them.

And pATRICK, find your daughter a judo program post-haste! My daughter is in judo classes, and unlike most of the martial arts, it's VERY practical. Less emphasis on pretty chops and kicks, more on grabbing your opponent by their shirt and flinging them over your shoulder to the ground. She's 135 pounds and can carry her teacher across the dojo, or fling him around like a rag doll, and he's got three inches and 75 pounds on her. Makes me feel much better about her going to movies and the mall with friends!

Posted by: Rebecca in AR | March 23, 2007 12:26 PM

UVA is the ivey of the South & GA Tech is the MIT of the South

Posted by: Anonymous | March 23, 2007 12:34 PM

"Mom and dad did the nurturing, mostly, and my grandparents did the important stuff"

You've got it backwards - the nurturing IS the important stuff!!!

Posted by: Anonymous | March 23, 2007 12:35 PM

"If you don't want to pass on your mother's behaviors, but want badly to have a bio child, then get some therapy to deal with the emotional issues so that you can feel confident that you will be a good parent, despite your mother's failings. If you don't want to adopt, then don't, but don't blame it on your mother. You are an adult now. Your childhood may have sucked, but now that you are all grown up, you do have some power to control your life."

Emily,

You're being a little unfair here.

This woman said that she didn't want to pass on her mother's genetic material, not just her "behaviors." That's a little different than deciding not to have a child because her mother was a lousy parent.

Yes, she sounds bitter about it. But she has every right to make a decision based on the hereditary factors she seems to be taking into consideration.

Neither my husband nor I ever wanted to have kids, but we've both thought more than once that this was the right choice for us because there are some genetic issues (of mental illness) on both sides. Had we ever wanted to have children, we'd have had to think about these issues very seriously before making a decision.

Also, this poster doesn't sound like she's looking for advice.

Posted by: anontoday | March 23, 2007 12:37 PM

bored today --

We're not here to keep you entertained.

Go find a roller coaster somewhere.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 23, 2007 12:39 PM

pATRICK: "I am not comfortable trying to turn my daughter into someone who is going to try to go toe to toe with boys in a fight."

But if someone attacks her, she should be able to defend herself. I've been attacked twice and neither time was I doing anything stupid. If I hadn't been willing to go toe to toe with my attackers they would have had me completely at their mercy.

I know it's hard to hear that, as a dad. My dad was pretty horrified. He wished he could have been there to protect me. I told him that he was--that his encouragement of my training was one of the things that helped me to become a person who can protect myself.

Posted by: worker bee | March 23, 2007 12:42 PM

pATRICK: "I am not comfortable trying to turn my daughter into someone who is going to try to go toe to toe with boys in a fight."


If you treat your daughter differently than your son, you are teaching then ALL that women are victims. Is that your intention?

Posted by: Anonymous | March 23, 2007 12:46 PM

pATRICK: "I am not comfortable trying to turn my daughter into someone who is going to try to go toe to toe with boys in a fight."


If you treat your daughter differently than your son, you are teaching then ALL that women are victims. Is that your intention?


Posted by: | March 23, 2007 12:46 PM

Geez, Louise. Get off his back.

He is not teaching his daughter that all women are victims. He just isn't interested in encouraging her to fight in alleys with boys. If he succeeds in teaching her basic self-defense, parking under streetlamps, not to go jogging in the dark by herself at 2 a.m., and how to identify losers and knuckleheads, she'll turn out better than most of us.

Posted by: Megan's Neighbor | March 23, 2007 12:55 PM

To clarify (I guess to Emily, really): I do NOT want to have a child that is genetically mine, if that's what you mean by "bio child", although there is no way of knowing how I'd feel on the subject if mine had been a more pleasant upbringinging.

Rather, it is the lack of a chance to even HAVE that nostalgic perspective - and the fact that the woman refuses TO THIS DAY to apologize for subjecting me to her poor choices in husband (she even denies there was any abuse) & for leaving me essentially FATHERLESS - that I so deeply, DEEPLY resent.

The worst part? She got her precious grandkiddies anyway, from my brother & sister. Walk a mile in my shoes, babe. You'd be bitter too. Peace out & whatEVER.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 23, 2007 12:57 PM

Just discussed this with my mom today.. My oldest son, 19 years old, won't talk to me and hasn't since before New Years - surrounding many issues such as recent divorce and family breakdown; and my house rules which included no underage drinking in the house that he violated; so he moved in with dad and I am "the bad mom".

My mom told me today (#8 of 9 kids) that she knows we were mad at her many times and thought she was mean. And that is true.. but I have the utmost respect for her even to this day knowing all the hardships and sacrifices she went thru for her family. And yes, you don't really realize it until you have your own family. She is my motivation. My hero. She is 77 years old and still going strong.

I hope and pray that one day my son will see my actions, although not perfect, were intended for nothing but for his best interests and concern. I failed him by not working harder to save the marriage and hence the family; but I love him and want nothing but the best for him.

Posted by: C.W. | March 23, 2007 12:58 PM

I remember hearing "this is for your own good" more times than I can count. Do I remember what the circumstances were? Not really. I think it would have been better to have an explanation than just plain "no". Then I might remember.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | March 23, 2007 1:01 PM

pATRICK: "I am not comfortable trying to turn my daughter into someone who is going to try to go toe to toe with boys in a fight."


If you treat your daughter differently than your son, you are teaching then ALL that women are victims. Is that your intention?


Posted by: | March 23, 2007 12:46 PM

Geez, Louise. Get off his back.

He is not teaching his daughter that all women are victims. He just isn't interested in encouraging her to fight in alleys with boys. If he succeeds in teaching her basic self-defense, parking under streetlamps, not to go jogging in the dark by herself at 2 a.m., and how to identify losers and knuckleheads, she'll turn out better than most of us."

Thanks, i'm not much for ultimate fighting cage matches for women. I wonder besides WORKERBEE, how many of you women have been punched in the face by a man 75-80 pounds heavier than you. Any of you see that off duty cop pound that poor women bartender? I doubt she was debating the nuances of victimhood at that time.

Posted by: pATRICK | March 23, 2007 1:01 PM

to "Peace out & whatEVER"

I hope you learned from your mother's mistakes and married a wonderful man who loves you. He can't fix your past, but I hope he can work with you to have a happy now and peaceful future. I hope it's all getting better for you! Good luck!

Posted by: Arlington Dad | March 23, 2007 1:03 PM

to patrick - if your daughter is being taught to look for fights rather than avoid them then she's in the wrong dojo. while there are martial arts teachers who are really into "i'm the meanest bad a$$ in the room" mentality most of them are not. different teachers have different philiosophies & if you're not comfortable with what you see your daughter being taught try another dojo.

Posted by: quark | March 23, 2007 1:04 PM

To Still Angry in Arlington

Not to discount anything in your childhood; but in my case. I did look out for the best interests of my children. Even to the point of standing up to my husband telling him I didn't respect him because I didn't feel he put the family first. Fast forward.. now divorced.. he (ex) stands on a pedestal with the kids and I feel like chop liver. My actions destroyed their family in their minds; they do not know the whole story. My oldest son won't even talk to me. But what about when I disgreed with his father about the amount of time he spent with his children; or discipline issues; or putting money away for the kids college.

There are multiple sides to a story. I am sorry your childhood wasn't good; mine wasn't perfect. But I can stand back as (1) and adult, and (2) an imperfect parent, and I UNDERSTAND a lot now of why sometimes my parents acted the way they did. It wasn't always right.. but I've learned the hard way - no one is perfect. Not even ourselves.

Please work to forgive your mother.. forgiveness will set you free. Angry will bound you. It might sound crazy - but it is TRUE. Trust me on that one.

Posted by: C.W. | March 23, 2007 1:06 PM

I always thought my parents were clueless, and then after having children of my own, I've confirmed it.

As a teenager, I didn't feel loved, I felt hated. Thank God for my friends back then. They were the ones that actually taught me that I was a likeable guy, and all I had to do was share my drugs or buy and drink beer with them. (I could buy alcohol illegally back then because I looked old enough.) There is one good thing the druggie crowd does, and that is to help their suffering peers to escape the misery of a disfunctional, abusive family.

My mother joined this group called Tough Love, which I seriously think provided her tactics to destroy me, if not any other reason than to prove to me that I was a loser. Once, she call the school administration to have them search my locker for my bag of dubage. It ended up backfiring though, because the counselors knew that I was a good student, and they felt sorry for me from that day on.

No matter, I survived. But not without an extremely poor self image though. I can try to cover it up, hide it, pretend it's not so, but I can't escape the feeling that I'm not a very good person.

So parents, please, it's the most important thing about raising kids, let them know that you love them, want them, and care about them no matter how much they screw up.

Or your child may end up... just like Father of 4.

Posted by: Father of 4 | March 23, 2007 1:08 PM

C.W.
It takes a really big person to forgive. I am not sure I have gotten there yet. What has helped is acceptance. Kind of like the Serenity Prayer. Accept the things you cannot change. I can't change the way I was raised but I can accept it and move on.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | March 23, 2007 1:09 PM

All should have the goal to be (somewhat) like you now. You have a wife and kids that love you. You have a job that takes care of your family and helps others and you bring a lot of humor to this place. All could learn from that.

Sad about your mom, home should be a safe place.

Posted by: To FO4 from Robin | March 23, 2007 1:13 PM

After we announced the birth of our second childf 2 1/2 years after the first, my mother's first reaction was "With such rate you'll have ten before you are done." Oh shuckcs, thanks, Mom!

Ironically, now my parents are so envious that our (grown up by now)two kids are so helpful, respectful, hard-working, etc. My father thinks that's because they, as parents, loved me so much (read: tried to have drunken sentimental conversations, but did not fund the college), they spoiled me, but me and my husband did not care much about the kids (read: give them more freedom and choices), and kids love us.

Parents don't change, our opinions about them don't change. If you could see the truth at 14, there is nothing to re-inspect at 40.

Posted by: Golden | March 23, 2007 1:18 PM

"There is one good thing the druggie crowd does, and that is to help their suffering peers to escape the misery of a disfunctional, abusive family."

For once, I do not object!

The drug crowd, the gangs, the bad element, the riff-raff, what ever you want to call them-all have the same appeal - they provide a family to a person who doesn't feel loved.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 23, 2007 1:19 PM

My family lived in the same town for three generations. So did the families of a lot of my schoolmates, so our parents had gone to school together too. When I was a teenagaer sometimes my mom would get irrationally upset over my making friends with certain classmates, perfectly nice kids, but she'd never explain why when I asked. After she died and I was cleaning out the house, underneath newspaper lining a drawer I found these really old letters between her parents unmistakably indicating that they'd had what nowadays is called an open marriage, in other words serial adultery. As I look back, I now wonder if the parents of the classmates my mother didn't want me to be friends with knew about my grandparents loose morals, or maybe even my grandparents had affairs with their parents, or they'd been mean to my mother in school. And it might explain why my mother was opposed to abortion (inconsistent with her other political views), because maybe my grandmother had a series of illegal ones when my mother was a girl. And my mother was always preaching about the importance of marital fidelity, not that there's anything wrong with fidelity, just that she seemed obsessed. Now I understand why. Her parents must have embarrassed her to death at times in our community. Thank goodness they moved away when my grandfather retired.

Posted by: regular but anon for today | March 23, 2007 1:19 PM

Regular but anon today,
Do you think there is a chance that the kids you wanted to be friends with might have been related? Not trying to be mean but your parents could have been really afraid that you would find something out.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | March 23, 2007 1:29 PM

"So parents, please, it's the most important thing about raising kids, let them know that you love them, want them, and care about them no matter how much they screw up."

So true, but not the warning that followed this comment. Father of 4, we can only hope our kids end up loving, and being loved as you are, by the wife you were smart enough to choose and hold on to, and the children you are raising.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 23, 2007 1:32 PM

All this talk about unloving and emotionally abusive parents makes me wonder how the heck we turned out so well when others can't overcome. Is there a survivor gene that we have that they don't?

Posted by: KLB SS MD | March 23, 2007 1:34 PM

KLB, That one boy had red hair like my grandfather, and similar build. OMG.

Posted by: regular but anon for today | March 23, 2007 1:38 PM

"Is there a survivor gene that we have that they don't? "

Dunno, maybe Darwin was right after all.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 23, 2007 1:39 PM

All this talk about unloving and emotionally abusive parents makes me wonder how the heck we turned out so well when others can't overcome. Is there a survivor gene that we have that they don't?

Posted by: KLB SS MD | March 23, 2007 01:34 PM

Not sure if that question will ever be answered. I have a good friend who grew up in an abusive home. She is smart, successful and level headed. Her sister, on the other hand, is a mess. Same family, two different outcomes. Who knows why...

Posted by: Missicat | March 23, 2007 1:40 PM

Every new parent tells themselves that they will not make whatever mistakes they perceive their own parents made. That can be a good thing, assuming they are right - it can mean progress.

But I would bet anything that the new parents will make a whole different set of "mistakes", some they recogonize and some their kids will identify later.

That's because we are all human, no one is perfect, and most of us do try to do whatever is right considering our resources and state of mind at the moment. Only hindsight is 20-20, after all. And YOUR kids are not YOU - they might require different approaches to thrive.

Learn from your parents'/your mistakes.

When we become adults we can take charge of our own lives and choose our own way. If your parents were poor, uneducated, depressed, mean, petty, pompous, boring, inattentive, hovering, unimaginative, too strict, too lenient, fed you only junk food, spoiled you with material things, whatever - make it up to yourself. And then do the best job you can with your own kids.

"Living well is the best revenge." I don't remember who first said that!

Posted by: boomerette | March 23, 2007 1:40 PM

You know... parents are just people too! I realized they were not these perfect beings on a pedestal with all of the right answers when I went to college and my parents had just divorced after 30+ years of marriage. I have many siblings and most were already married and doing their thing, but I needed my parents then and they were busy trying to sort out their own lives. At first I was really bitter and feeling abandoned, and I was on academic probation and nearly kicked out of school after winter quarter. I don't know how I managed to pull it together but somehow I found an inner strength and I managed to get through. I didn't finish college, but went for 5 years and worked full time to pay for it. I managed to get academic scholarships and financial aid on my own (in my second year). My parents were not a big part of my life during this time, but I realized they did give me a great foundation and because of this I made it. Some of my siblings still don't understand or forgive my parents for how they were, but I think that's a bit short sided. They did do the BEST they could with the information and support they had at the time. Our generation has so much more access. People also have so many more outlets to share their stories, learn from others, etc... My mom was confused the other day when I told her my sister was trying to let her kids develop their own identities and she is interested in celebrating their individuality. Mom didn't understand this, but that's just her generation. I think many people have kids for ALL of the WRONG reasons. I don't have any yet, but would love to. My parents had A LOT of kids and I am sure it wasn't because they wanted a lot of kids. They were Catholic and it was the way back then. They worked hard. They were strict and punished us when they needed to. They gave us everything we needed physically. Emotionally, we were a bit starved, and that was hard; but I truly believe they didn't know how to do more or how to do better. I seriously doubt this was their intention. My father wasn't involved in the day to day so much, but he provided and that was his role. Mom managed the family not much different than many CEO's manage their companies. We had a lot of good times, and some really terrible times. I have learned from both the good and bad. I think even more so from the hard times. I KNOW my parents LOVE each and every one of us. They are still hard on us. Dad is super close these days and calls his kids often; he wants to be a part of our lives now more than ever. He has a deep love for us. He also has the time now like he never had before when he was busy providing for us. Mom is still harder to please, but her LOVE is undeniable. She would give her own life for us without a second thought. She's a tough love, but a deep love. She taught us to be close and appreciate one another. Nearly 20 years post divorce my family is closer than ever. My siblings have large families and their kids are all close too. I hope the understanding and forgiveness will come soon for my siblings. My parents weren't perfect and they still aren't, but how many of us could pass that test? If they did their best, that needs to be enough. They are just people trying to get through life as well as they can just like the rest of us. They are learning and growing every day. As am I.

Posted by: daughter | March 23, 2007 1:43 PM

"The worst part? She got her precious grandkiddies anyway, from my brother & sister."

You do sound very bitter, and perhaps you see it as your right. But all I'm saying is that your bitterness and anger right now are hurting you more than anyone else. You sound like you want to punish your mother for her wrongdoings, for leaving fatherless and subjecting you to an abusive stepfather. God only knows what she went through herself. Have you tried to walk a mile in her shoes?

In any case, hang on to your bitterness if you must. But learning to forgive or accept, as someone else said, would be a gift that you give to yourself. It must be hard hauling all that anger around all the time.

My husband was abandoned by his father after his mother died. He was 7 years old. I cannot imagine how hard it must have been for that sweet little boy to lose one parent right after the other. And I don't know how he forgave his father either. But he did. He does not have a shred of bitterness in his body. He says that letting go of the anger changed his life for the better, and that he feels free now.

Posted by: Emily | March 23, 2007 1:46 PM

" And I don't know how he forgave his father either. But he did."

Maybe he found the love of a good woman..

Posted by: pATRICK | March 23, 2007 1:51 PM

"The drug crowd, the gangs, the bad element, the riff-raff, what ever you want to call them-all have the same appeal - they provide a family to a person who doesn't feel loved."

But only as long as you're giving them something they want. If you don't have drugs to share, forget it.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 23, 2007 1:52 PM

pATRICK,
You old softie you.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | March 23, 2007 1:53 PM

(Side topic - This blog would be a lot more readable if there was a "reply" function so comments directed to another person's comments could be all together. The "comments" feature of the WTOP site does this. But not everyone knows how to use it.)

Posted by: boomerette | March 23, 2007 1:56 PM

"She is smart, successful and level headed. Her sister, on the other hand, is a mess. Same family, two different outcomes. Who knows why..."

Missicat,

Sometimes different siblings have different "roles" in the family, and one can suffer much more than others.

It's not uncommon, after a parent dies, for sibs to find that they have totally different recollections of the same events.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 23, 2007 1:57 PM

Maybe true for those who were able to go to college back in the day. You are forgetting secretary, bookkeeper, maid, waitress, school cafeteria worker, sales clerk.

Posted by: | March 23, 2007 10:24 AM

and "fun" girls

Posted by: Anonymous | March 23, 2007 1:58 PM

01:57,
You are so right about sibs having different recollections. Since my sister and I were older than our brother we all remember things very differently. She and I were angry at mother for leaving, brother was confused as he was only 11. He remembers going to grandmother's for lunch in elementary school. I don't remember what happened to him. It was hard taking over the role of mother at 16 to run the house and try to be a normal teenager (that didn't happen). I think my brother got the short end of the stick as nobody really paid any attention to him at all.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | March 23, 2007 2:03 PM

"But only as long as you're giving them something they want. If you don't have drugs to share, forget it."

Posted by: | March 23, 2007 01:52 PM

Spoken by someone looking on from the outside, I think.

I was always amazed at the level of loyalty and support shown by some of the most messed up kids. Kicked out by their parents, strung out, poor, whatever, but they were truly there for each other. I've seen kids talk down suicidal friends, comfort grieving friends, protect abused friends. They tried hard to fill in the huge gaps left by their parents. Lots of them used or abused drugs in the same effort--to dull the pain of something they were missing.

Seeing these kids grow up, it's really wonderful how the friendships last long after the drug habits are beaten.

Posted by: worker bee | March 23, 2007 2:03 PM

I'm with Emily. As adult, you can choose NOT to be a victim of your past and go on to have a full and happy life. What is the point of blaming your parents or your situation for your crappy childhood? Where does it get you?

Posted by: Chiclet | March 23, 2007 2:04 PM

"pATRICK, You old softie you."

shh, you will kill my street cred. haha

Posted by: pATRICK | March 23, 2007 2:05 PM

"Maybe he found the love of a good woman."

Wish I could take the credit for it. But he seemed to have overcome that hurdle before I met him. He does have a nice adoptive mother though (even if she does ignore our son)(I guess that's my hurdle and that I should forgive too.)

Posted by: Emily | March 23, 2007 2:07 PM

I'm betting that, if a husband threw a shoe at his wife, you'd be among the first to cry "domestic violence!" And, of course, it would be. But so is a parent throwing a shoe at a kid.

Posted by: pittypat | March 23, 2007 12:08 PM

I thought the same thing, raising your voice is not the only way to show violence/loose your temper. I don't throw shoes but have felt like it before, but I have yelled. Must say, I'd rather be yelled at then have something chucked at me, although words can hurt just as much.

Posted by: cmac | March 23, 2007 2:11 PM

I make my bed every day--it takes 30 seconds and makes the room look good, because it keeps you from looking at the laundry that I have yet to put away!

My parents, if you can believe it, were not perfect either! They smoked, drank, had affairs, yelled, threatened, were mean, nice, sacrificing at times, loving, tired, hopeful. My mother worshipped at the altar of Donna Reed--she totally lived in a fantasy world. My father just should not have gotten married. Funny thing is, they are still married, do not get along, love us, help us, and we do the same to them. I know they did things that they shouldn't have done, but I love them anyway. Once I realized that I could not change them, I changed myself. I love them, but do not absorb their dramas or even try to fix them (see 7 habits). Well, actually, that is not exactly true. I have influenced them in these last five years. They are much more impressed by me because of our house and lifestyle--nothing out of the ordinary in the D.C. area.

Posted by: anon | March 23, 2007 2:15 PM

Living well is the best revenge.
George Herbert
English clergyman & metaphysical poet (1593 - 1633)

Posted by: KLB SS MD | March 23, 2007 2:15 PM

Living well is the best revenge.
George Herbert
English clergyman & metaphysical poet (1593 - 1633)


Posted by: KLB SS MD | March 23, 2007 02:15 PM

But, can you say it in Latin? :-)

Posted by: Missicat | March 23, 2007 2:19 PM

Missicat,
Nope!

Posted by: KLB SS MD | March 23, 2007 2:20 PM

Missicat,
Can you? If so, maybe it can be the motto of the blog?

Posted by: KLB SS MD | March 23, 2007 2:22 PM

Thanks, i'm not much for ultimate fighting cage matches for women. I wonder besides WORKERBEE, how many of you women have been punched in the face by a man 75-80 pounds heavier than you. Any of you see that off duty cop pound that poor women bartender? I doubt she was debating the nuances of victimhood at that time.


Posted by: pATRICK | March 23, 2007 01:01 PM


EXACTLY patrick- that's the point!! She'd be kicking his ass- not saying "where's daddy?" I doubt even most men could fight off a nut job like that- but I think all little girls should be in karate. It teaches confidence, control, discipline in tough situations. Sometimes just remaining calm works wonders.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 23, 2007 2:23 PM

KLB - will try! Need to get my trusty old Whitlocks out. That would be a great motto.....

Posted by: Missicat | March 23, 2007 2:25 PM

Missicat,
Maybe Fred will jump in and give you a hand.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | March 23, 2007 2:25 PM

North, south, east or west, there is only ONE HARVARD!!

Posted by: Jessie Spano | March 23, 2007 2:30 PM

"Vivere bene est vindicata optima"

Posted by: catlady | March 23, 2007 2:31 PM

"EXACTLY patrick- that's the point!! She'd be kicking his ass- not saying "where's daddy?" I doubt even most men could fight off a nut job like that- but I think all little girls should be in karate. It teaches confidence, control, discipline in tough situations. Sometimes just remaining calm works wonders. "

I doubt that she would have been "fighting him off" but we can agree to disagree. My fear about all that is a misplaced confidence that could lead to a serious butt kicking.

Posted by: pATRICK | March 23, 2007 2:31 PM

Looks more intimidating in Latin.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | March 23, 2007 2:32 PM

Yes, it sure does....looks like it should be written on a courthouse wall or something like that.

Posted by: Missicat | March 23, 2007 2:33 PM

I had two significant -- and contradictory -- epiphanies about my parents after becoming a mother myself. The first was when I held my day-old firstborn and felt a depth of love for her that I'd never imagined could exist, I realized that my parents had both loved me the same way. The second was when I began to think about their mistakes. I can and do forgive them for things they did out of ignorance, but it's much harder to overlook the mistakes they made that anyone should know better than to do. An example of the first was that my mother smokes and I have chronic bronchitis -- but nobody knew in the 60's that secondhand smoke was harmful, so she gets a pass on that. An example of the second is when I was 11 and woke up delirious with fever from bronchitis at 10 PM. My parents gave me aspirin and went out drinking as planned, leaving me alone with my 9-year-old brother (the 8-year-old brother was in the hospital with pneumonia). That kind of behavior is inexplicable to me.

Posted by: LML | March 23, 2007 2:34 PM

pATRICK,
From the shows I have seen on tv with former cops giving tips on escaping muggers, predators the number one thing they say is to make a lot of noise. Scream, yell whatever. They do not want attention called to them. They also tell you to run. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. If you do nothing they have you. If you scream and run you have a chance.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | March 23, 2007 2:34 PM

I'm with Emily too... at some point you have to decide that your less than perfect childhood shaped your adulthood, strengthened your resolve etc. I have several friends who have overcome manipulative mothers, emotional abuse ... they see their mothers for who they are, interact with them on an as needed basis and go on with life. The more you talk about it (after a certain point), the more you continue to give it space in your life. And really what's the point of that?

Posted by: Product of a Working Mother | March 23, 2007 2:37 PM

to KLB SS MD.

Forgiveness is hard. But it is worth it. Forgiving doesn't mean to forget. But holding grudges does no one good - most of all yourself.

Perhaps your mother was abused herself as a child and her behavior as an adult; while not acceptable, but was the result of her abuse. There could be so many variables to "explain" her behavior; sometimes we need to step inside their shoes and try to understand. And to forgive... and to stand up tall and to move on. Because Forgivness will take that big weight off your shoulders.

I speak from experience. For my parents. For my ex husband. And most of all - for myself. Today is a new day. Move forward.

"Most people are as happy as they make their minds up to be. Concentrate on the present, and the future will take care of itself. The surest way to trip yourself up is to keep looking over your shoulder. Please don't do that, or you'll ruin a good thing".

I agree also - Living Well is the Best Revenge. That is a good motto.. even though "revenge" is not necessarily our goal.

Take care and SMILE!

Posted by: C.W. | March 23, 2007 2:39 PM

Hmmm - After reading quite a few of today's comments, a thought comes to mind: You can't really change anyone else's mind - just your own mind. You may THINK you can change the minds of your parents, kids, spouses, co-workers, friends, constituents, etc. But you really cannot!

I am now remembering that I towed certain lines while in my parents' house while never, ever really believing in those particular lines. But these things seemed important to my parents or my teachers. As soon as I grew up and left home, I started doing things my own way. It felt wonderful and the successes and failures were now entirely my own.

We are each unique. There is this concept in psychology called "self-actualization" and it describes quite well the process of becoming ourselves. I like the concept. I recommend it for study.

(I have come to think everyone should take a few psychology courses before they attempt parenthood. It's good for work, marriage, life in general, too!)

Posted by: boomerette | March 23, 2007 2:42 PM

"I can forgive, but I cannot forget, is only another way of saying, I will not forgive. Forgiveness ought to be like a cancelled note - torn in two, and burned up, so that it never can be shown against one."

Henry Ward Beecher quotes (Liberal US Congregational minister, 1813-1887)

Posted by: KLB SS MD | March 23, 2007 2:44 PM

TO Silver Spring | March 23, 2007 09:18 AM,

Regarding childcare in Maryland, go to the following site http://www.mdchildcare.org/mdcfc/network/network.html. It's run by the MD State Department of Education and it will walk you through how to find LICENSED childcare in your county.

I used it and found something while five months pregnant. So far my little girl is very happy. But beware childcare centers can have two year waiting lists so we went with an inhome set up and couldn't be happier.

Good luck and congrats. Enjoy the pregnancy and every good moment it brings, even the not so good ones, because it flies by so quickly and it is just such a special time in your life.

Posted by: Formerly Soon to be Mom | March 23, 2007 2:44 PM

"All this talk about unloving and emotionally abusive parents makes me wonder how the heck we turned out so well when others can't overcome. Is there a survivor gene that we have that they don't? "


I really don't know- I think this is why we were all so fascinated by the woman on this board who used to do porn. Are you here today?

Posted by: Anonymous | March 23, 2007 2:45 PM

I really don't know- I think this is why we were all so fascinated by the woman on this board who used to do porn. Are you here today?"


Please, Please no, not another porn shout out.


Posted by: pATRICK | March 23, 2007 2:48 PM

"Always forgive your enemies - nothing annoys them so much."
Oscar Wilde quotes (Irish Poet, Novelist, Dramatist and Critic, 1854-1900)

Posted by: KLB SS MD | March 23, 2007 2:51 PM

pATRICK wrote: "My fear about all that is a misplaced confidence that could lead to a serious butt kicking."

I know what you mean. It's entirely possible my confidence is misplaced, too, as I mostly spar with people my own weight or close to it. I guess I don't think it is the misplaced confidence that would cause the butt-kicking... I am obviously not going out picking fights, but fights have once in a while come to me, and I do think my confidence helped me to win them as I was definitely overmatched. I did not kick my assailants' butts but I prevented my own from being kicked.

Posted by: worker bee | March 23, 2007 2:52 PM

Last one, I promise. This is for the Gandi quoter from earlier this week:

"The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong."

Mahatma Gandhi (Indian Philosopher, internationally esteemed for his doctrine of nonviolent protest, 1869-1948)

Posted by: KLB SS MD | March 23, 2007 2:53 PM

Though I understand and appreciate my parents on a whole different level now that I have a child- it brings up a lot of issues, as far as grandparenting goes. I wonder why my dad isn't more involved in my child's life? And why my mother in law isn't too involved? I was just getting to have a good realtionship with my dad when I had my daughter, but I now new feelings of resentment are creeping in because he's not taking the chance to be a better grandpa than he was a father. Does that make sense? Maybe I had some rosy view of what would happen once I had kids.

But, we move on and do the best with what we have and try to be the best parents we can be- I feel it's so much healthier just to live your life in a positive way, rather than living your life CONTRARY to how your parents lived their lives.

Posted by: SAHMbacktowork | March 23, 2007 2:54 PM

To KLB, who quoted Rev. Beecher: "I can forgive, but I cannot forget, is only another way of saying, I will not forgive. Forgiveness ought to be like a cancelled note - torn in two, and burned up, so that it never can be shown against one."

Forgiveness, definitely. But not necessarily forgetting, at least to the extent that one can learn by remembering mistakes, and thus try not to repeat them.

Posted by: catlady | March 23, 2007 2:59 PM

Catlady,
That is exactly why I never believe that particular quotation. I think that if yor forget you are bound to repeat.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | March 23, 2007 3:04 PM

Klb:
Who knows? Being honest with one's self? How does that happen? For me it was runniung away and getting disance, even tho I didn't really know I was running away at the time.
My husband looks at me all the time and wonders how I'm not insane like the rest of the family. And I look back and think the same about him. And we are happy we found each other. At least we know where each other is coming from.

Posted by: atlmom | March 23, 2007 3:05 PM

So it kind of comes around to self; self worth, self respect, self introspection, self love.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | March 23, 2007 3:08 PM

To KLB: How about, not forget, but stop obsessing on? That may be the difference he meant.

Posted by: catlady | March 23, 2007 3:12 PM

catlady: agree with your 2:59 post. DW's little sister was raped and impregnated at 15 by a neighborhood boy. I'm always amazed when my SIL say that she has forgiven the attacker, because it helps her get on with her life.

On the other hand, she has not nor will she ever "forget".

Posted by: Anon Today | March 23, 2007 3:12 PM

C.W.

My son, now 20, went through a really angry time (directed at me) when he was about 18. He was going through a really bad patch (dropped out of college, had lost his dad at 13 and hadn't really dealt with it). It was hard - I had to stick to my guns about rules, and risk even more blowups. It was exhausting. It took about a year, but it did get better - he has really grown up and is actually a joy to be with these days. I think some kids can have a real hard time making that final transition to adulthood. Hope it works out for you and your son.

Posted by: RJ | March 23, 2007 3:13 PM

"He that respects himself is safe from others; He wears a coat of mail that none can pierce"

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Posted by: Missicat | March 23, 2007 3:13 PM

To atlmom: Maybe you rescued yourself?

Posted by: catlady | March 23, 2007 3:14 PM

"Aren't there risks to the fetus when starting a family at your age?"

Yes there are, but they are still very small, just larger than for a woman in their 20's or 30's. We are well aware of them, BTW, but hey, thanks for reminding me about them.

Posted by: John L | March 23, 2007 3:36 PM

To KLB, re forgetting:

One of my father's favorite quotes was by George Santayana: "Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it."

Posted by: catlady | March 23, 2007 3:44 PM

Catlady: yes, moving away from toxic people, building my own separate life, getting some perspective, are all good.
One of the things to growing up is to have your own ideas and opinions for how things are.

Live and let live don't judge others, others may take different paths but that was what works for them. But not being in charge of that path for yourself - blaming others- is in my opinion not the best way to live, but to each his own, really.

Posted by: atlmom | March 23, 2007 3:45 PM

this conversation is WAAAY too boring for a Friday! Where is everyone today?

Posted by: Anonymous | March 23, 2007 3:46 PM

pATRICK,

I don't know how old your daughter is, but you might want to look into a self defense program called Model Mugging (http://www.modelmugging.org/). This was an excellent program for me and it was extremely empowering. Many years later, I decided to take up Tae Kwon Do and have earned my black belt. I can say from experience that a good, reputable dojo will stand your daughter, as well as your son, in good stead. Martial arts isn't just about fighting or making fancy moves. It's also about seeing the whole picture and being able to focus at the same time. It can also provide a person with the means to back up a "NO". Sometimes projection of the physical confidence one has is all it takes to be left alone.

Just my two cents...

Posted by: MAY | March 23, 2007 3:49 PM

atlmom is right when she writes: "One of the things to growing up is to have your own ideas and opinions for how things are."

But I'd add from personal experience that sometimes one must bite one's tongue while keeping those ideas and opinions to one's self, till escaping.

Posted by: catlady | March 23, 2007 3:49 PM

To pATRICK:

My understanding re learning self-defense is that it is supposed to be the recourse of LAST choice -- in other words, the mere fact of your daughter's just knowing that she knows how to do self-defense, even if she never uses it, gives her greater confidence in dicey situations.

And KLB was right when she mentioned re a potential crime victim making a lot of noise and running like mad. A friend of mine once did this when a gang of young men tried to grab her purse. She also cursed like the proverbial sailor, which evidently startled them as well (OK, this was decades ago) -- figuring that if the police ever found out, they wouldn't arrest her for it (LOL!).

Posted by: catlady | March 23, 2007 3:56 PM

Thanks for those encouraging words R.J. I appreciate it. I pray my son will find his way and we'll mend our relationship. My door is open for him and he knows that. He needs to find himself and work thru some of this damage that happened late in his teenage years.

Not to offend anyone, but today's forum reminds me of an article I saved and still have in my desk drawer from 1994 - Woman's Day magazine. Labeled "Still Blaming Mom and Dad". The article quotes a lady saying with tears in her eyes - "All my life I've lacked self-confidence because of her" referring to her mother.. and the author of the article states that the woman in tears was 83 and her mother had been dead more than 40 years. This lady had a successful career and marriage and the author feels she should have revised her view of herself long ago. And if she had forgiven her mother - maybe she wouldn't have carried this weight on her shoulders all her life - especially 40 years after her mother passed on.

That article caught my attention for a reason. Because I can find many flaws in my parents way they raised me - but how I was raised as a child.. well, that made me what I am today. I was determined to get an education, a decent job, and provide a decent life for my kids. My determination to do this was a factor in my divorce as I didn't realize my ex didn't have the same "needs" or ambition as he did in respect to family. So, see how childhood events can have positive and negative effects. But I can't "blame" my parents for anything. Life is a very crazy thing.

Now that I am on the "other side" of parenting... WOW - I wish I could do it all over again as I've learned a lot on this side. But we can't turn back the clock. I can't change the way things happened or turned out.

We start with today using our lessons (good and bad) from yesterday and keep moving forward one day at a time. But life is too short to be bitter or contempt about the wrongs done to us. Let us just not repeat the mistakes and make sure the important people in our lives know we love them.

Posted by: C.W. | March 23, 2007 3:58 PM

I definitely view my parents differently. I have always resented the times that they blew up at me or even attacked me in a fit of rage, and now that I have a child of my own their behavior seems all the more inexcusable, since now I know that there is no way I will ever treat my daughter that way. I think the reason my father blew up at us was that he saw all of us as an imposition, although I doubt I will ever know for sure, since these things are painful to discuss and it seems unlikely that he would give an honest and truly reflective answer. Parents should be grateful for their children.

Posted by: Springfield | March 23, 2007 4:00 PM

Before my daughter was born, I had a strained relationship with my dad and a very close relationship with my mom. That had reversed by the time she was 3. Seeing my dad interact with his granddaughter helped me to both forgive the past and see it in a new light. One of the best things to come of having her is my renewed relationship with my father.

Mom is tougher. She did and said some things when my daughter was young that caused me to rethink both our relationship and past events. My renewed relationship with my dad (my parents are divorced) probably led to some of the souring of our relationship as well, as she had felt comfortable bad-mouthing him to me. That negativity was one reason my relationship with my dad was strained, so looking back, I realized she was really out of line.

It's hard to look back at my parents' parenting. They argued a lot. My mom was the primary parent, both because my dad was more traditional (woman raises child, man brings home bacon) and because his efforts were largely dismissed as "wrong." My life was SO dominated by my mom. I just remember my dad in the proverbial recliner. My husband and I have chosen a completely different path, so their example is harder for me to see somehow.

Posted by: Vegas Mom | March 23, 2007 4:00 PM

"now that I have a child of my own their behavior seems all the more inexcusable, since now I know that there is no way I will ever treat my daughter that way."

Amen. I knew they were screwed up before, but once I had kids, I no longer made any excuses for them. They did NOT do the best they could.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 23, 2007 4:04 PM

Yes catlady, I'm learning that more every day.

Posted by: atlmom | March 23, 2007 4:07 PM

atlmom, I'm still working on it myself, because it's easier said than done, sometimes.

Posted by: catlady | March 23, 2007 4:09 PM

We are all a work in progress - right up to the end. I think I am who I am and what I am in spite of my parents. I know my dad was very proud of all his kids. My mother gives it lip service but in reality only thinks of herself. We all do the best we can for her, providing her with most of the things she needs but it is not done out of love but because she is our mother and we cannot abandon her like she abandoned us.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | March 23, 2007 4:13 PM

KLB, Above all, remember that it's not YOUR fault that she abandoned you -- not yours nor your siblings'.

Posted by: catlady | March 23, 2007 4:16 PM

Catlady,
We do know that - worked that out once we saw her for what she is.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | March 23, 2007 4:17 PM

All these quotes today. The only one I can think of is WC Fields:

"A woman drove me to drink. It is the one thing I'm indebted to her for."

Goodnight Mr. Calabash, where ever you are!

Posted by: CMAC | March 23, 2007 4:21 PM

I think it's "Good night, Mrs. Calabash, wherever you are," by Jimmy Durante, at the end of each show in tribute to his late wife.

Posted by: catlady | March 23, 2007 4:24 PM

Didn't WC Fields also say something along the line of "If I had one day left to live I'd rather be in Philadelphia because it would feel like a lifetime"?

Posted by: KLB SS MD | March 23, 2007 4:26 PM

Maybe, but I thought it was something along the lines of wanting his tombstone to bear the message, "On the whole, I'd rather be in Philadelphia."

Posted by: catlady | March 23, 2007 4:34 PM

And then there's also the punchline to an old joke, "Second prize is TWO weeks in Philadelphia!"

KLB, I'll meet your W.C. Fields and raise you a Groucho Marx ;-)

Posted by: catlady | March 23, 2007 4:36 PM

He had a bunch about Philadelphia:

Last week, I went to Philadelphia, but it was closed.
W. C. Fields, in Richard J. Anobile - "Godfrey Daniels"
I once spent a year in Philadelphia, I think it was on a Sunday.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | March 23, 2007 4:39 PM

I view my parents and especially my dad as a great learning guide. It should be titled "Don't do this". It was a priceless education. I especially like it when my dad gets uncomfortable with how much time I invest with my daughter. He is not too keen on women. I always make it a point to tell her she can do anything a boy can in front of him.

Posted by: pATRICK | March 23, 2007 4:39 PM

If at first you don't succeed, try again. Then quit. There's no use being a damn fool about it.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | March 23, 2007 4:40 PM

I think I've forgiven my parents for the mistakes they made because the anger has, over a period of time, turned into something different. Nowadays, I feel sorry for them. They suffered too.

Of course, there are a lot of great memmories too.

Sometimes I'll tell my mom some of those "terrible, aweful, bad, bad, bad" things I did when I was a teenager

And she just laughs and thanks God I'm still alive. She prays for me a lot!

Posted by: Father of 4 | March 23, 2007 4:40 PM

pATRICK,
You use the 180 rule for parenting - take what you saw your parents do and do the opposite.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | March 23, 2007 4:41 PM

pATRICK wrote: "I especially like it when my dad gets uncomfortable with how much time I invest with my daughter."

Just remember, in all likelihood you'll outlive your father, and your daughter will outlive you both (all the while recalling fondly what a good daddy you were) -- so YOU (and she) win!

Posted by: catlady | March 23, 2007 4:42 PM

pATRICK,
You use the 180 rule for parenting - take what you saw your parents do and do the opposite."

"Yep, I think what would dad do and then generally do the opposite. It's quite easy. But having thrown him under the bus,I must say he still is my dad just flawed.
"

Posted by: pATRICK | March 23, 2007 4:44 PM

pATRICK,
I feel the same way about my mother.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | March 23, 2007 4:48 PM

There's a lot of blaming of our own parents today. What I've learned as a parent is that my parents, like Leslie's, did a pretty good job, and I'm hoping to do a pretty good job also. They were there when I needed them. They had their share of issues, including mental illness, but we loved each other. I yelled at them a lot as a 14 yr old girl, and now my 17 yr old son yells a lot at me. I know not to take it too seriously--it's part of breaking away & is ultimately healthy. Besides, I had it coming to me. We'll laugh at it someday if we're lucky. My mother died before we had a chance to laugh about it.

Posted by: NY mom | March 23, 2007 5:01 PM

WoW! After reading so of these comments I feel lucky. My parents were not perfect but really great. They made so many sacrafices for me and my siblings. I had a wonderful childhood. My relationship with my Mother improved greatly after I had my son. I do somethings the same and some things differently. I think alot of it is personality and perspective differences. Also a sign of the times.

I do not view my choices as better just more suited to my family.

Posted by: Angela | March 23, 2007 5:07 PM

KLB I *love* that quote-about tryinh and being a damn fool. Makes me laugh out loud every time. Thanks for that.

Posted by: atlmom | March 23, 2007 5:28 PM

NC lawyer (alias MN), Meesh, etc.

where are you?

Posted by: dotted | March 23, 2007 5:34 PM

dotted,
Where have you been all day? Don't say you were working.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | March 23, 2007 5:41 PM

Foamgnome, Fred, Scarry . . . .

Where is everyone?

Weather is lovely here today. Hope our absentee bloggers are outside somewhere enjoying the weather and a Friday alcoholic beverage!

Posted by: Vegas Mom | March 23, 2007 5:42 PM

Some of are inside enjoying an adult beverage as it is cooling off and drizzling here.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | March 23, 2007 5:46 PM

dotted, my daughter came back to work with me after a late afternoon appt. and now we're headed out to pick up her brother from soccer. I hope you were outside enjoying this gorgeous day!! Good luck this evening!

Posted by: Megan's Neighbor | March 23, 2007 5:48 PM

Indoors, out of the chilly drizzle, trying to finish updating my website before DH gets home. Cat seems to think I should instead be petting him while he eats.

Posted by: catlady | March 23, 2007 5:52 PM

Catlady,
And you have a problem with that? My dog likes me to be in the kitchen while he is eating. He is social.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | March 23, 2007 5:56 PM

Problems are: 1) I'm trying to finish this last little bit of work before DH arrives home with dinner; and, 2) Cat is already fat.

Posted by: catlady | March 23, 2007 5:59 PM

My husband is allergic to cats, so I haven't had one in years. Miss them.

But I do have a cat question. My mom's cat insists that she get up early every morning to WATCH him eat. She has put the food in the bowl the night before. The issue is not one of being fed. He wants to be watched. My mom has hit an age when she is having trouble sleeping at night, so being awakened at 6 am by the cat is beginning to wear on her.

I suggested putting the food bowl in her bedroom, as maybe her (snoring) presence will be enough. Or, placing a doll or stuffed animal near the bowl, although I think the cat's too smart to fall for that.

Anyone?

Posted by: Vegas Mom | March 23, 2007 6:03 PM

I have a friend with a cat who does the same thing. He will paw at her head to wake her up to go downstairs.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | March 23, 2007 6:04 PM

Vegas Mom, There's a saying: Dogs have owners, cats have staff.

Posted by: catlady | March 23, 2007 6:06 PM

LOL. I've heard that saying before, and it's SO true!

Posted by: Vegas Mom | March 23, 2007 6:13 PM

klb, I was just too busy to really do much blogging. I won't say I was working as I wasn't productive. I will say I was busy....My thoughts are with you. I need to take the time to read all your writings today.

And it is hot and sunny out there. It is time to do a cool beverage out on the front porch and watch the world stroll by. My kind of evening.

MN, thanks for the shout out! we're doing the high school lacrosse game in an hour then all doing the UNC game.

Vegas Mom, I don't think the cat actually wants to be watched eating. Rather, s/he wants attention. I think s/he wants to wake her person up more than anything else. I suggest shutting the cat out of the bedroom first of all.

Posted by: dotted | March 23, 2007 6:36 PM

I still wonder if Fred will come back. I may have to send him an email telling him he is missed by me at the very least!

Posted by: dotted | March 23, 2007 6:39 PM

Go 'Heels, beat the University of Spoiled Children!

Posted by: catlady | March 23, 2007 7:07 PM

catlady, I love it!

Posted by: dotted | March 23, 2007 7:31 PM

I was telling my dad one day about the problems that I was having with my teenager. His reply to me, "Ha! Now you know how I have felt for the last 30 years!"

Posted by: Anonymous | March 23, 2007 9:35 PM

To dotted: It's just that I dislike SC that much!

Posted by: catlady | March 23, 2007 9:37 PM

To dotted:

(heart failure!)

Posted by: catlady | March 24, 2007 12:08 AM

almost heart failure indeed....at least that fight song won't be heard on Sunday

Posted by: dotted | March 24, 2007 9:28 AM

I think it's "Good night, Mrs. Calabash, wherever you are," by Jimmy Durante, at the end of each show in tribute to his late wife.


Posted by: catlady | March 23, 2007 04:24 PM


You're right catlady - meow, meow.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 24, 2007 9:55 AM

Well, there's that old jewish proverb:

May you only have children just like you.

Posted by: atlmom | March 24, 2007 2:34 PM

First of all, SADNESS reigns as the Mighty Jayhawks haven fallen to the Bruins. :(

Now, a quote from yesterday:

On the whole bed-making issue.
... Mostly because we have cats and I don't want to be lying in cat hair.
Posted by: Rockville Mom | March 23, 2007 10:31 AM

Heehee, Rockville Mom, that's my reason too! I'm fastidious about the bedc.

And to Vegas Mom, your cat deserves to be watched while eating because he's a little darling. My cat likes to be watched too. I moved the dish into my bedroom because the sound of his crunchies is peaceful to me at night and in the early mornings.

Posted by: Childless Masha | March 24, 2007 9:23 PM

my view of my parents changed in as much as i decided to do my best to forgive them (no, they never apologized or asked forgiveness - i did it on my own for myself) ... i figured it was a kharmic downpayment on being forgiven one day by my sons ... i know that i am avoiding most of the bad choices that my parents made ... but i'd be pretty surprised if i wasnt making some of my own ...

Posted by: EC dad of 2 | March 26, 2007 9:51 AM

"We did the best we could AT THE TIME" My parents [now just Mom alive] said that all the time. My brother was heavy drinker by age 15 and I spent 5 years shut up in my room but no one thought either of these problems was anything to worry about. The only thing that worries me about this is What will I miss in my children's lives? Will I notice a dramatic 30lb weight loss? Will that funny smell ring a bell in my mind that someone has just smoked a joint? Or will work and paying the bills allow me to gloss over those and say later " "We did the best we could AT THE TIME"

Posted by: hopewell | March 26, 2007 12:14 PM

I realized that I was never really GRATEFUL for the people or things in my life until I had my son. I nearly lost him after he was born premature, but is now a wonderful, loving, thriving four-year-old. There is not a day that goes by that I don't say, "I love you" to him. That is something I wish I had done more with my parents. I miss them desperately now.
But I've gotten a hard-won lesson in being grateful that I didn't understand until after I'd become a parent.

Posted by: MuchToLearn | March 28, 2007 11:16 AM

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