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Breaking the cycle as a parent

Posted: Sun May 29, 2016 6:29 am
by Ahave
I am not a parent yet but I hope to eventually have children. Currently, I feel very uncomfortable talking about emotional topics and when someone displays sadness or love/affection towards me - except my partner. I don't know how to deal with these things because I never learned how as a child. I have urges to be affectionate to close friends at times but quickly convince myself it's a bad idea (I am talking about hugs or expressing how grateful I am for them, etc).

My concern is that I will continue the cycle of emotional neglect when I am a parent because I never got that love or affection. I believe this is what happened with my own mother. For anyone here that is a parent, has this been an issue for you? Do you find it hard to be loving or affectionate to your children? I never want my children to question if I love them or to feel like I am unsafe to speak to.

Re: Breaking the cycle as a parent

Posted: Sun May 29, 2016 7:00 am
by Fleur
Hello Ahave

I am Mum to young adult male
I've asked my son a few times if he knows I love him, and how he knows
He gets a bit bothered and says that he knows I love him
But he's never told me what I do, say that tells him that

Being swift to apologise and address my wrongdoing differs from my FOO, family of origin
I am sensitive to both FOO expectations and my son's needs, as well as what is higher than FOO goals for myself

As you are aware of limited emotional stuff, maybe try an acting class or some other safe place such as a therapist or trusted friend to role play or otherwise assist your understanding

Good old Web has emoticons sites
I still cannot accurately label what the faces mean
But might be useful for your quest

Get physical touch being avoided as in hugs
Perhaps simply thanking a person for service, compliments, might be helpful?

May you have fun as you investigate emotions

Re: Breaking the cycle as a parent

Posted: Sun May 29, 2016 6:51 pm
by Jonesy
Hi Ahave

Great point for discussion.

I have 2 teenagers - one of each flavour - and I love them to pieces, never was a time I didn't. I worked hard to not 'be like my mum' and, as is Fleur, am always quick to apologise when I need to. We don't get a practise run at parenting (which is why I reckon many grandparents are so amazing).

We all make our own mistakes. I have made plenty. The mid-teenage years with my son were, quite frankly, horrendous at times. We argued and bashed horns on a daily basis. Wish I could turn back the clock on that.

I tell them I love them every chance I get and remind them how proud I am of all that they are.

Don't forget there are parenting classes out there and many books on the subject... I think I read them all!
Be kind to you and take each step slowly. Things will work out just as they are supposed to ;)

Re: Breaking the cycle as a parent

Posted: Tue May 31, 2016 3:51 am
by Ahave
Hi Fleur,

Thank you for the ideas. I have not thought of role playing to help... certainly will talk to my T about it when I find one that fits me!

As for compliments, my job is requires engaging with customers and I believe this has actually helped me quite a bit. Hugs are a different story. At this point, even hugging the children in my family makes me feel uncomfortable. But I will get there. I just need to work through my emotions and step outside of my comfort zone more often. :)

Re: Breaking the cycle as a parent

Posted: Tue May 31, 2016 3:59 am
by Ahave
Hi Jonesy,

Thank you for your response. It is comforting knowing that loving your children was not difficult. The apologizing will be very important for me too, never received that either.

The moment I find out I am having a baby I will absolutely read every parenting book I stumble upon haha. I have a few examples of good parents in my life as well and I'm sure that will be helpful down the line.

Re: Breaking the cycle as a parent

Posted: Tue May 31, 2016 6:45 am
by Fleur
Hello Ahave

Think that stretching your comfort zone is a good idea with safe people
Not all children I consider as being safe
They are rude and obnoxious, have a couple in family
One actually pinches or bites as he hugs, and people wonder why I won't do more than nod at him
His handshakes hurt too

When you have a baby, please accept the child is not a machine
Being relaxed about timing of meals, sleeping, housework was my saving grace
As long as my son was healthy and his needs met, the rest could slide
An automatic washing machine was very helpful, against my husband's thinking but I spent my money, so he couldn't really complain
Fitting in tasks creatively was useful as well
I took son in his pusher into garden whilst I tended plants, washing or car maintenance
Learnt hard lesson to not have him top close when he got splattered
But I turned cleaning him into a game instead of expressing my horror at being an awful parent

Even if you don't think you can sing, please find a nice song you enjoy to sing to your unborn child
When you sing that tune, your baby will remember hearing it inside and settle faster
Until he was about 8 or 9, my son thought I had a lovely singing voice"best in the world"

Memorise stories so you can spin them as required to entertain, distract
Much later son told me the best tales featured himself
Had I known, picked up on that, there would have been many more with son as hero
Or reflecting day's activities

You could tell youngsters in your family a story to quiet them for resting or (if applicable) to break the monotony of travel
Set the scene then ask the child what happens next -- aids imagination word usage and social interaction
Memory games, guessing games are good too
And none of these involves touching except a verbal caress as they get your attention

May you have fun exploring your creativity

Re: Breaking the cycle as a parent

Posted: Sat Dec 15, 2018 8:52 pm
by Unbroken
I had a lot of fears over ending up like my parents. They were emotionally, verbally, and physically abusive. I almost stayed child-free, because of my childhood. I'm sure I could have had a full life that way (I know beautiful, amazing people who are child-free), but I'm glad I didn't. Becoming a mom has been an amazing challenge that has been so rewarding on many levels—including feeling like I'm unwinding the mess of our family history by learning healthy parenting.

I never realized how checked out my mom was at times (I think she often dissociated and was narcissistic), but as I've been raising my daughter I started to realize it as I started catching myself doing similar things. It wasn't so bad when she was tiny. I was actually very available then (and so was Mom). We both breastfed so hormones may have been a factor (plus babies are so darn cute).

It's been harder as she's been getting into her tweens...or maybe I'm just more aware of myself. The hardest times for me to be checked in is holidays (especially Mother's Day and my birthday) and weekends. I tend to be at higher risk of dissociating at these times (and sometimes I get depressed, too). Add in perimenopause (sometimes I have natural bouts of not wanting to be touched, and I get tired easily), and it can be a challenge.

Having an understanding spouse/partner really makes a big difference. I am very open with my guy about what's going on. When we realized I was getting triggered on the holidays, we started doing more things out of the house together. It really helped! On weekends, he takes over parenting more (this works well for both of us as he wants to spend more quality time with our kid since he's out of the house 10 hours a day on weekdays). But at the same time I focus more and more to try to do more things with them together. Sometimes I plan little activities...even just a game of Uno. Regular sit-down dinners together have been good, too.

Including her in my weird hobbies has also helped. Kids don't always like everything their parents do, but the cool thing is a lot of times people can find a lot of different things they like, and kids will usually like one or more of those. :) For me it's art, animals, and running. My daughter seems to enjoy them with me. She also loves some activities I wasn't interested in as much as a kid, but it is fun to see her take joy in them. I let her take the lead in those versus doing the stage parent thing (IMO, that is as harmful as being neglectful). That has helped me break the cycle of neglect.

Small rules have been useful, too. I *never* deny a hug, and unless I have something planned where I'm not home, I read bedtime stories upon request. But I also make sure to make time for myself. I go out with friends every so often. I think it's something parents of all genders can neglect. Having a social life outside of work and home is so very important—even if it's just once or twice a month. That helps my cup stay full, and I feel a lot more available.

I also found individual therapy and parenting books can do wonders.

Figuring out a healthy balance for you and the child is key, but know that no one is a perfect parent. Parenting takes time, patience, and practice—and it always changes as kids go through different stages. But the cool thing to remember is since you are already asking these questions it shows you are caring and self-aware. That gives you a major leg up on your parents and starts you on the journey to be a good parent.