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wildpotato's avatar

Did your parents give you enough?

Asked by wildpotato (13665 points ) April 28th, 2012 from iPhone

I was impressed by janbb’s question because I have wanted to ask my parents this for years. So I started thinking about the other side of the coin.

Do you feel like your parents have been there for you? If you have trouble making your way in the world, or suffer from low self-esteem or depression, do you think that your state of being is related to whether your parents gave you enough? If you have problems with relationships, do you think this is related to whether your parents modeled a loving relationship? Do you think they think they gave you enough? If they think they fell short, how do they try to make up for it? Do you think you fell short in your efforts to have a good relationship with your parents? How much responsibility do you think children have for the success of the parent-child relationship?

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19 Answers

digitalimpression's avatar

My parents gave me a lot. I didn’t realize it until I became a parent myself, but now I know that they gave me more than enough. Now, that’s an overall answer. Onto the details.

Do you feel like your parents have been there for you?
Not really. The last few years they have distanced themselves.

If you have trouble making your way in the world, or suffer from low self-esteem or depression, do you think that your state of being is related to whether your parents gave you enough?
N/A I guess.

If you have problems with relationships, do you think this is related to whether your parents modeled a loving relationship?
I suppose it could have something to do with it, but ultimately I’m an adult and I make my own decisions. I couldn’t blame them for anything.

Do you think they think they gave you enough?
I got to water ski, kayak, snow ski, mountain climb, build forts, go woodcutting, go caving, camping, swimming, etc… That’s what I remember most. They gave me that so I consider myself very lucky.

If they think they fell short, how do they try to make up for it?
It’s a thing of the past. I wouldn’t expect them to “owe” me anything.

Do you think you fell short in your efforts to have a good relationship with your parents?
I have fallen short lately.

How much responsibility do you think children have for the success of the parent-child relationship?
Well I think that as the child gets older, his/her responsibility toward that relationship should increase proportionately.

YARNLADY's avatar

They did the best they knew how.

janbb's avatar

I now think my parents succeeded and failed in equal measure. It has taken me a long time to give them credit for the positives because they were certainly whackjobs. I have had to work hard to get to the place of wholeness I am now in. But – there was love and there was fun.

gailcalled's avatar

What @janbb just said.

creative1's avatar

I think my parents gave all they could to their children and hope that I am as good as a mother as they were. When I think of where they could have been better, I look at it as a learning experience and try to be better to my daughters in that area.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

Did your parents give you enough? Yes, I feel that my parents gave me enough. It wasn’t as much as friends who owned cars, had horse-riding lessons, the latest clothes styles, a later curfew, and pierced ears before a certain age, but none of these vetoes resulted in a lower quality of life.

Do you feel like your parents have been there for you? The parents were always there for me, but they also seemed to know when to let me deal with certain problems on my own. They were wonderful teachers about how to be financially independent. They were role models for morality, as well as what was important for maintaining a successful relationship.

If you have trouble making your way in the world, or suffer from low self-esteem or depression, do you think that your state of being is related to whether your patents gave you enough? If you have problems with relationships, do you think this is related to whether your parents modeled a loving relationship? I’m pretty sure that I have never suffered from either of these. Losing Dad, and years later a sister, were emotional blows that took a long time to get over. At one point, Mom suggested that I see a therapist. She may have been right, but I worked though it on my own.

If they think they fell short, how do they try to make up for it? On several occasions, my mother has expressed concerns for how she handled child-rearing. Personally, I give her a free pass on this and tell her so. The circumstances she refers to are things that were outside of her influence. They are solely reliant on our individual personalities.

Do you think you fell short in your efforts to have a good relationship with your parents? No. We have a good relationship. She is disappointed by certain things that I do, as I am with some of her actions. We talk about them. It doesn’t lessen our love for each other.

How much responsibility do you think children have for the success of the parent-child relationship? This is the toughest question to answer. On one hand, the child isn’t asked to be brought into this world. Their chosen path does not need to coincide with the beliefs or preferences of the parents. On the other hand, if a child desires to enhance a relationship with their parents, it requires understanding of their viewpoint, whether the child believes in it or not.

SuperMouse's avatar

I give my mother lots of credit for being an awesome parent for the those all important first five years. When I look back on the rest of my years growing up, I am sure that I have the security she provided early on to thank for my current sanity. I believe my father did the best he could under the circumstances of his life. He has always let my siblings and I fall flat on our faces to let us learn from our mistakes, but at the same time has been there for the big stuff.

I have a decent, if somewhat distant relationship with my father. The situation would have to be pretty dire – I’m talking life and death type of stuff – for me to reach out and ask for his help. I think though that if I did he would be there for me. Maintaining a good parent-child relationship, just like maintaining any relationship requires work from both sides.

tinyfaery's avatar

Pssh. My mom has died and my father is a crazy, miserable human being whose only purpose in life seems to be to worry the fuck out of me AND piss me off like no other human in history.

serenade's avatar

This question makes me think of The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch who attributes his success in life in part to “winning the parent lottery,” meaning he got the best parents he could ask for, ones who allowed him to dream as a kid. It also makes me think of an anecdote about Jane Goodall who went missing for the better part of a day as a child, because she was staking out the family chickens and despite her parents’ worries was praised for her curiosity rather than scolded for her disappearance.

Unfortunately, I can’t claim similar feelings as one might imagine the above experiences engendering despite being on the receiving end of an upringing totaling well into the six-figure range. I never lacked in material care or comfort nor in reasonable (or more) means to afford many opportunities. But, I would say I lacked a degree of mentorship and the subtextual permissiveness to discover my bliss and follow it—to trust that there’s room in this world for whatever my dreams might have been. Instead, I think, I was taught to be a good conformer, or to strive to be the best conformer—not the worst lesson to learn, but less than useful when your epiphany is that you are something of an outlier in your thinking and aesthetics. In that regard, mentorship, support, and/or permission have been practically non-existent, but mainly because that’s not who my parents are as people—that’s not who my amalgamated “everyone” is in my psyche. So, it has definitely been an arduous process of recovery/discovery to claim that permission, support and mentorship. Luckily, I’ve found some of that—enough to call a foothold or better. My little successes have engendered a decent chunk of respect from my parents, but overall it’s still their world I’m living in most of the time, and that world is stifling in large doses.

serenade's avatar

oddly enough, my mom sucked the wind out of my sails yesterday with “I love you, but you’re a weirdo.”

muppetish's avatar

My parents gave everything they could and I am incredibly grateful for it. When I was growing up, my parents hid the severity of our financial situation incredibly well. We ate fast food more often than the contemporary health-conscious family would ever approve of and the entirety of our wardrobes were secondhand clothing and our toy boxes were brimming with thrift shop finds and discounts. We were loved children and never robbed of our dreams because reality might reflect that that such goals wouldn’t be easy.

It was incredibly important to my father in particular to give us everything he could. He did not have a good relationship with his father (that’s an understatement) and his mother was left to raise five children on her own. My dad did what he could as the eldest son, but he swore above everything else that he would give everything within his reach to his children—and he has.

Children do have a responsibility in the relationship. Since I know the context of what my parents had to give, I would never scoff and say “I deserved more” or “They could have tried harder”. My parents never complain about what they have to do for my education and I never complain that I wish they could do more.

Now it’s my goal to keep in contact once I move out. I owe that to them.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

Do you feel like your parents have been there for you?
Not much. As a child I felt insecure and inconvenient. It did impact my way in the world but not always in bad ways. I’m not very trustful so it takes a more than average person to impress me or win my confidence; that’s ok with me. My depressive years were my teens and because I wanted to be away from home and take care of myself better than my folks did. I knew if I struggled then at least it wasn’t for lack of self love or effort.

Did your folks make it up?
In a way they have. We have been with each other so many more years than the first difficult 15. I feel I tried harder to do “the right things” but in the end, it’s all worked out. I can’t change that I want things to be smooth enough to push/pull a heavier load. I like the rewards of my efforts.

How relationships were affected
It’s been hard for me to not always be the driver, to give up control and try trust. It’s happened with the right people though so I guess that’s what counts. I have had periods of time where I felt needy, as if a normal amount of love and deeds weren’t enough to put me in “everything’s ok” mode. Eventually I just accepted why I felt the way I did and why it was that way. People either accepted my explanations and had patience or they passed me up.

I liked to think being a bit sharp around the edges wasn’t too much for a careful, observant, patient and smart person- a right person. I wasn’t wrong.

rooeytoo's avatar

They instilled in me a sense of living by the Golden Rule, they did this by word and deed.

They instilled in me a work ethic which has served me well my entire life.

They gave me love, security and freedom to explore.

They allowed me to follow my dad around and learn all about engines and electricity and carpentry and didn’t insist I learn how to cook or sew. Although later in my life, my mom taught me both but only when I asked.

They allowed me to walk to school through deep snow and heavy rain, jump in mud puddles and run from bullies without interference.

They didn’t say much when I came home with ripped clothes and bloody nose from a playground fight.

They were good parents. There were some difficulties because of another sibling but they did the best they could with him in that time and place.

augustlan's avatar

No. My bio-father wasn’t in the picture. I know my mother loved me, in her way, but she did not protect me. Her lack of protection allowed her brother to sexually abuse me for the first 13 years of my life. When I was an adult, she could never really admit her part in this situation or understand my feelings about it. She has borderline personality disorder, so the world basically revolves around her, and she can’t empathize with the pain of others. It had a huge effect on me, and hindered me in making my way in life for many years. It took a lot of effort on my part (and finally cutting off my relationship with her) to overcome it.

We were poor, but I don’t hold that against her.

gondwanalon's avatar

Yes my parents did enough for me. I was raised by my Mom and two older Sisters (Dad died of Leukemia when I was 4). We were a sad group always fighting each other and I’m so sorry for that. Especially how I made my Mom’s life miserable up until I was about 8 years old when I finally could see how I was hurting people with my bad behavior. The basic neglect that I experience when very young taught me to be self reliant and eager to try to work hard and succeed in part as an effort to try to make up for all the bad things that I did. All through Jr. High and High School I hardly missed a day. I made varsity letters in Track, X-Country, Water Polo and Wrestling (Also in Band). I was team captain of a championship winning wrestling team one year. Through it all Mom was never able to be at any sports event or go to any of the awards ceremonies nor did she attend my High School or College graduations. At the end of my senior in high school I basically dragged my Mom to our school concert where I played 4 solos out in front of the band and was awarded “outstanding senior musician” with a huge trophy and a small scholarship. After the concert my Mom said nothing to me. It was dead silence in the car going home. I felt crushed inside like how James Dean’s character felt in the last seen of “East of Eden”. At first I felt like all my hard work to please her was for nothing. Now I’m thinking that it was all good tough love. Mom prepared me adequately to succeed in a brutally tough world.

Bent's avatar

Do you feel like your parents have been there for you?
Yes, especially my mum. Without her I would have been a very different person from who I am today, and not for the better either. I do have problems with relationships and sometimes with self-esteem but I don’t believe that these things are related to the way my parents raised me. Both my parents were strong, resilient people and taught me to be the same.

MollyMcGuire's avatar

No, not as a child and not as an adult. I hate to say it, and I think I’ve never said it before. But, it’s the truth.

tranquilsea's avatar

My mother tried to be there for us but got caught up in how much frustration she had for my father (who very probably has severe Asperger’s). That frustration was multiplied by that fact that there were 6 children who needed her and didn’t have my father. She melted down regularly and beat the tar out of us for stupid things. That caused me to shut down parts of myself. I also instinctively knew that I could not turn to her for support if I needed it. I then ran into situations where I desperately needed a parent that I knew I didn’t have. That caused me to bury any trauma I sustained which later cause a breakdown.

I’m still surprised when I get actual support from someone.

wallabies's avatar

I love this question. From time to time, I think about how your parents and upbringing influence the trajectory of your life and who you become, so very interesting.

My father provided literally nothing. My mother gave me what she could. She has very little money; I haven’t asked her for any of that since mid-high school, really. She never pushed me to do anything, provided any guidance, or provided any opportunities. Instead, she was verbally and emotionally abusive. Everything I have accomplished after 6th grade is a result of my own motivation. I figured out how to shave my legs and use tampons on my own, so certainly no one was there to explain to me the more important details of how the world works. She taught me how to read and write, but the parenting really ended there.

I know people whose parents took an active role in their upbringing and I think they are better off for it. I think it is taking me a lot longer to find my way in the world because I don’t have a mentor in either of my parents. Sometimes it is tough emotionally knowing you don’t have family you can talk to about personal life issues (e.g. job, relationship, etc). Friends have always filled this role for me, but it would be great to have a parent that is there for you unconditionally like many of my friends do. It can be extremely lonely at times, and now that I think about it, this might explain why I am such an independent person.

I think my lacking relationship with my parents has had a huge effect on the type of person I end up dating. I always gravitate towards someone I think I can learn from and grow with, and tire of them when I feel like I have gained everything I can from them. It is like I seek a partner that can provide the mentoring that my parents never could. I also think that I have a hard time trusting people, opening up, and getting close to them. I keep people at a distance.

I think in the first ~20 years of your life, your parents are 100% responsible for the parent-child relationship. Maybe in the next 5–10 years, they are responsible for 75%, having set the tone over the last 20 years. After that, it is 50–50. It has taken me more than 10 years to get to the point where I accept my parents for who they are and forgive them for their past mistakes. When I realized how much of an impact their decisions have affected the trajectory of my life, I wanted to blame them but I’ve accepted that for what it is and am focusing on what I can do to help myself instead. At the end of the day, this is my life, and I finally have full control (politics aside) over its direction.

I do what I can to improve the relationship with my parents, they do what they can, and it is what it is. I’ve learned that if you have no expectations, you can never be disappointed!

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