Saturday, July 05, 2008

Can Of Worms

It occurred to me this morning that I haven't done a serious post topic in awhile. As I enjoy stirring things up, I felt the need to dig around in your collective psyche and force you to examine perhaps long-buried memories in the quest for the truth. Also in my own selfish quest for parenting advise. So without further ado, here is my Deep, Thought-Provoking Question for the day:

What do you think is the biggest mistake your parents made while raising you, and do you think you've avoided making that same mistake with your own kids? Or, if you don't have kids yet or don't plan to, ever, have you made/avoided making that mistake with other people in your life?

Conversely, what was the BEST thing your parents did for you along the way? And what do you think is your own greatest strength in parenting (or life in general)?

*Feel free to answer anonymously, if you want to.

25 comments:

Fiona Picklebottom said...

Interesting. I'm not sure this can be attributed to a PARTICULAR mistake my parents made, but in general, I was never comfortable enough to discuss anything of importance with my parents. That discomfort remains to this day. I think I have avoided this with my kids (so far), though it's hard to say since three of them are still so young. My teenager, though, does feel comfortable talking to me for the most part. I think this is because I have allowed her to see me as a regular human being, with just as many faults and foibles as anyone else.

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K in the Mirror said...

I really think that overall my parents did a good job raising me- there's not a topic that I look back and think WOW they sucked at that. I do wish they had done a little more financial planning stuff with me and explained the evils of credit cards and really showed me how to live on a budget. I don't blame them for my current finances, but there is a possibility I wouldn't be so bad off if I'd gotten early training.

I love that they instilled a love of reading and learning in me and that they gave me a solid religious foundation. I'm also glad they told me no sometimes. My mom always was the mean mom who didn't let me go see the rated R movie when all the other 10 year olds were, and that was good for me.

clueless but hopeful mama said...

Biggest mistake made by my parents: That my dad took so long to get into therapy and figure out how to control his temper. Things got so much better after that but it was a little too late to save ME from years of therapy.

Best thing they did: they loved me unconditionally, they supported and encouraged me, they made sure I had a number of peer groups (my ballet company, my church youth group as well as school friends) so that when I was having an issue in one peer group, the others were a solace.

My own greatest strength: I honestly believe that my research skills and my love of experts has really been both the best and the worst parts of my parenting. I KNOW that much of our enjoyment of parenting is due to the success and relative ease that many parenting books gave me. They also kept me up at night with their crazy theories/concerns and made me doubt myself and my own instincts, often to my detriment.

Sarah said...

I can tell you in an instant what the things my parents did wrong was. They squelched my dream, told me it was impossible and to pursue "real" ambitions. I subsequently dropped out of the one thing that meant the most to me in the world while still in high school, and followed it by failing out of my first semester of college with a 0.0 Yes, a 0.0. Turns out, when I went after my dreams I got a 3.8 Go figure. (And my dream is forever lost to me now that I'm a momma and a wife. But for a few brief years I succeeded in the local venue for it)

What they did right? Ummm...They accepted my friends, no matter how weird and strange they were at first sight. Gave me no indication of their fears or worries...I never really rebelled because of the relationship we shared.

SLynnRo said...

My mom was totally effed up about food. It affected both my sister and I, though my sister more severely. She has had various eating disorders for 10 or so years.

Good? I'm thankful for growing up in a small town. I think it's a great environment for children.

Anonymous said...

The worst thing my parents did is something they considered a "best": they brought me up in a rigid religious environment (they of course don't see it as rigid, but as "freeing" to live within God's laws). Coming out of it was a huge, huge "smacking down into cold water" shock. And now I am trying to find my footing, raising my own kids: the only thing you can learn from experience is your OWN upbringing, and it's hard to figure out how to do it differently.

The best thing they did was to teach me that, in general, people get some good and some bad---but that we tend to disproportionately notice other people's good fortune and our own bad fortune.

andi said...

Worst thing? Hmm, not sure. But I do know that it bugged the crap out of me (still does) that my mom let people (including my dad) walk all over her for the sake of avoiding confrontation. I do stand up for myself now, probably because of here behavior, so I guess it's not such a bad thing.

Best thing? They trusted me and gave me a lot of freedom. We also laughed a lot. I think that's my strength now - having a sense of humor and having fun with my kids. I think that's what they'll remember.

d e v a n said...

I think my parents were just too strict and harsh with us in general. Physical punishment, yelling, not allowing things that were perfectly allowable. ALL of us have low self esteem and I think that they could have done something to encourage us more in our childhood.
Best - instilling morals and values. We're all moral, functioning members of society so that should count for something.

Kelsey said...

The most difficult thing was that my mom was so particular, I grew up in a house where there was a wrong way to do just about everything, which made me very insecure. And I always over apologize for things.

BUT I always knew my parents loved me. And there were fairly strict, which I didn't always like at the time, but appreciate now. It was nice, when I didn't want to do something to be able to blame it on my parents! They were also good about not giving in to everything we wanted, even if they could have afforded much of it. We had to work for things we really desired.

Jana said...

My parents were fairly strict as well (not a lot of yelling or any hitting, but strict) and had no problem saying "no" or not buying me things I wanted. While my friends got paid for their grades, I got, "Good job." I didn't get an allowance, but if there was something I wanted, I could do extra chores and earn the money to buy it myself. By example, they taught me to save my money and to not place importance on material things. But they knew when to be lenient, too. Once I was allowed to date at 16, I didn't have a curfew; I was just told to be home at a reasonable time. It made it easier to tell guys I didn't like that I had to be home early. :)

The biggest mistake was not talking to me AT ALL about periods or sex. Nada. My mom simply bought me a package of pads and said, "I'm putting these in the bathroom closet for when you need them. Tell me when you need more." The rest was left up to the school sex ed program (which in TX is very bare-boned). I don't know exactly how to approach it with my kids, but I do know I'll do more than they did.

Fine For Now said...

The worst thing my mom did was to ignore all the good things about me and only ever highlight the bad things. She knew how to find fault, but didn't know how to give support and encourage. She didn't hug us enough or say I love you either.

The best thing she ever did was to help fine tune my common sense, help me see the importance of being tactful, and to think about how my behavior affects other people.

Anonymous said...

I'm with slynnro about the food. My mom had the worst body image, which resulted in serious eating disorders for my older sister and myself.

My father, I think he had serious anger issues. Looking back as an adult, he crossed the line several times. I don't know if I would call it abuse, but he got physical with me one several occasions - slamming my heat into a door and one time throwing me into the television area, where I hit my head on the VCR. He only did this with me, and not with any of my other siblings. I just knew how to push his buttons.

One thing my parents did for me that I see as positive was providing me with a lot of opportunity. I got to travel a lot, go to any college of my choice (paid for), and they gave me basically anything I wanted. I guess I was borderline spoiled.

I honestly don't think there are a lot of things that my parents did that I will do with my children. I think overall they were very inconsistent. They took us to church, but then yelled cuss words at us in the parking lot. They would tell us to behave a certain way in public, and then do a complete 180 at home. It was confusing.

I love my parents and I think they did the best they could (with my dad being gone a lot for work and them being so young when they started to have kids), but I learned a lot looking back that I will nto repeat.

LoriD said...

Worst - they shielded us from many normal family problems, like money issues, marital problems, etc. It makes it hard to talk to them about any of our own problems and makes us feel like our lives are less perfect than theirs seemed to be.

Best - they made us work for almost everything we got. It sounds mean, but it wasn't done in a mean way and it really did instill in us an excellent work ethic. Also, we were all very secure in the knowledge that they not only loved us, but genuinely like us as people.

Jess said...

Hm. In terms of the worst things, I would say focusing heavily on weight, and also not controlling anger. For the best, instilling in me a strong sense of independence and self-worth. Hm, that sounds somewhat contradictory, huh? But it's true.

artemisia said...

Oh, wow.

Worst thing: I think my parents should have divorced when they wanted to, instead of staying together "for the kids." All staying together did was teach me how to not be good in a relationship. I have some serious intimacy/maturity issues in relationships. ALL relationships.

Best thing: This is a tough one because I think they did an awful lot of good, good things while raising me. They taught me to think of other people and to stand up for those who can't stand up for themselves. They taught me I can do anything I set my mind to, and they really did (do) love me unconditionally.

I am not planning on having kids, but I am trying to be closer to my nieces and nephews.

pookahs said...

Very interesting!

I think the best thing my parents "gave" me was a high self-esteem. I don't think they had everything to do with it, but they were consistent in believing in me for whatever I wanted to do when I grew up, and letting me know that they believed in me. I could have gone on to become a "pink bunny ballet dancer" if I wanted to acheive my age 4 dreams, and they wouldn't have criticized me for it.
They offered a lot of "learning opportunities" outside of school. travel, museums,zoos, parks for public art, library trips every week, educational outings, and a lot of stuff that didn't include just watching tv. (Not that tv is bad, I watch plenty as an adult, but they showed me a lot of other things out there in the world.) And they did it on a tight budget. It takes more creativity to do it cheap for sure but I never noticed that it was done as such.

I would agree that I wished my parents would have offered more guidence in regards to money before I left the house for college. Some of this stuff parents just can't get through to teens, but at least having more resources for it would have been great. Like Young, Fabulous and Broke, or the documentaries "In Debt We Trust," or "Maxed Out."

Funny, since my parents had very little credit card debt and knew what they were doing finacially. I guess the right time didn't come to share it with me or I just didn't listen enough....

Bird said...

he he--my parents were horrible at keeping to whatever punishment they decided. You could SO talk them out of it if tried hard enough.

Funny, though, my brother and i turned out OK, so I guess it wasn't a big deal.

Musings of a Mom said...

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bananafana said...

Biggest mistake - no real individual time and attention. There were 5 of us and we rarely got time alone with my mom and my dad always traveled. To this day I think that my parents didn't really KNOW each of us. I was supposed to be the smart one and their expectations and decisions were made based on that but not on actually observing me and what I liked. I think we're doing well at avoiding that with our kids but it was certainly easier when there was only one . . .
What they did well - my mom was ridiculously creative and would come up with games and activities for us all the time. I use a lot of them with my kids now

jennifer, playgroups are no place for children said...

My parents weren't strict enough! I was allowed to have boys in my bedroom with the door closed...um? Hello??? STUPID.

I'm shocked that I didn't end up a pregnant teen.

Susiewearsthepants said...

My mother had absolutely NO BACKBONE.There were never any real consequences for any misdeed. Which led me to a world of trouble in my teenage years. I make sure to give the girls equal amounts of love and discipline. The worst mistake I made was having my oldest daughter live with her dad for a time. I thought I was making the right choice for her, but I was wrong. Thankfully she is back with me and we are closer than ever.

Mommy Daisy said...

I'm late to the party, and I know it will be good to go back and read all the comments when I'm done with this.

I honestly can't name mistakes my parents made with me as a young child, but I see them make mistakes with my youngest sister in her adulthood. And I tell them that I don't approve, in a nice way of course. She started getting away with a lot more than they would have let either me or my other sister about the time she started high school.

The best thing...well, I think there's a lot since I don't have much negative to say about how they raised me. The best thing they could do was raise me with love and respect in a wonderful Christian home. My parents are still my biggest role models. Even if there are things that I don't like that they do, there still are so many good things that they do from day to day. My parents ROCK!

Firegirl said...

The big mistake my mom made was enlightened to me by a Dr Phil moment. I realized that "Parents shouldn't make kids deal with adult issues." My mom was terrible about that. Weight: check. Alcoholism: check. Poor: check. Relationship issues: check.

Best thing was also one of the worst things: too much freedom. I was "lucky" as a teenager, the dumbest thing I did was get married at 19.

EMama said...

Worst - no talk about birds & bees

Best - just about everything else. Loving, supportive, rules that made sense even to my teenage mind, everything. They are fabulous.

I'll tell my son what's what sex-wise just as soon as he can process language a bit better. Maybe after toddlerhood.