General Question

dxs's avatar

Is this my fault?

Asked by dxs (9456 points ) January 28th, 2013

This is question may be a bit emotional, and I’m not big on drama in general either, so just a forewarning. I have been wanting to ask this for a while now, but did not know how to word it, so here is my best job:

I realized not too long ago that my mother may not have really done much for me to support me, and I am not quite sure if it is my fault or if it is hers. Since I was young, I remember my doctor saying that I should eat more and am very underweight. I used to always think that it was my fault, and even my mother said that I was a picky eater. But now when I look back on it, I do recall not wanting to eat many things made, but then I also remember there consistently not being an actual meal to come home to. I can remember various days where the only food that I would eat was Ramen Noodles or a frozen meal or something similar.

Though these memories are a bit vague and there for possibly inaccurate, I feel that I can justify them by observing how my mother only cooks once or never during a week nowadays, which made me question whether or not I was truly the problem. Her dinners consist of Cheetos and similar chip things or a potato or canned soup or something similar. I asked her why she doesn’t cook for me and she said that she “gave up on me” because I was so picky and had an “eating disorder” (her words).
Ever since about two years ago, I have been responsible for myself mostly, especially when it comes to food, which I have focused most on in this thread. I don’t pay taxes, but I drive myself everywhere, buy my own groceries (with my own money) and cook my own food. It has lead to me having a terrible relationship with my mother.

I will say again that I do recall being a picky eater and that my dad cooks for me occasionally when he is home, but I look at my brother who is in his mid-early 20s and weighs 133lbs (he is about 5’10”) and it again makes me question if I really was the problem. I have gained a little bit of weight since I started depending on myself, but it took me a while to actually realize the amount of food and calories that I should eat in one day (and took me time to gain a bigger appetite).
In the end, am I to blame or is she? Is she responsible for me? Should she have really “given up” on me?

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22 Answers

Jeruba's avatar

How old are you? Your expectation of having a parent cook for you sounds a little different depending on whether you are, say, 13 or 33.

HolographicUniverse's avatar

Is what, exactly, your fault?

That you could be underweight from being malnourished? If so then that is the parent’s fault for not assuring that you consumed the right amount of food (regardless of your objection) To say “I gave up on you” is appalling and just because you are/were “picky” it does not indicate eating disorder… So it is not your fault

Actually a child’s development is not their “fault” it is the parent’s… But that is done, it is now your responsibility to care for yourself, without holding grudge

glacial's avatar

“In the end, am I to blame or is she? Is she responsible for me? Should she have really “given up” on me?”

These are the kinds of “what if” questions that can never truly be answered. I guess the way I would approach the issue is to ask if there is anything that could justify the way that your parents deal with your meals (this is not solely your mother’s responsibility). As @Jeruba said, this partly depends on your age. If you are 16, then they do have a responsibility to provide for you. If you are 22, you should not expect as much.

I think much depends on how difficult a time your parents had feeding you when you were younger. Some children just won’t agree to eat anything. Perhaps she worried about it constantly, but hid this concern from you – it’s impossible for us to know how much effort she put into dealing with the problem before, as you put it, “giving up”. Or perhaps she didn’t put any effort in, and just bought the Cheetos. So, I can’t tell you whether that was an acceptable choice or not – because I don’t think it can be assessed objectively.

All that being said, it is very good that you have learned to feed yourself responsibly. Many people don’t learn this until they leave their parents’ homes, and some don’t ever learn. You will be able to use those skills for the rest of your life, and you should be glad to be honing them.

In any case, what will you gain if you do actually find an answer to this question? Will it change the way you are being taken care of? Will it make you better able to care for yourself? It might give you a reason to hold a grudge over your parents, but do you need that? It sounds as if you are doing exactly what I would advise: find your own way to cope under the situation, without making life more awkward while you are at home. Soon, you’ll be under your own roof, and none of this will matter at all.

dxs's avatar

Oops. I should say that I am 17.
You’ve only really hard my side of the story, but I was just curious as to if this was my problem or not and whether I was justified in my claim, as I am a bit bent out of shape on it and am not sure what point a person (example: me) should become responsible for themselves.

Yeahright's avatar

From what you are saying, it sounds like she doesn’t like cooking at all and rather than acknowledge the fact, it was easier for her to say (to herself and others) that you were a picky eater and so the blame of the consequences was not placed upon her. If you were in fact a picky eater, it is the parent responsibility to work around that and make sure the children are getting the proper nutrition they require. If things are the way you are describing, then she could have done better and spare you the physical and psychological consequences of her issues with cooking for the family. That said, she probably didn’t see the situation clearly and didn’t know what to do about it. Parents make mistakes because they are not perfect and sometimes don’t know better.

It s fair to say that now that you are on your own, you can take care of your own nutrition and try to make up for the “malnutrition” you were subjected too. (I’m using nutrition here because your problem is beyond just eating but really planning what you eat if you want to make up for lost time.)

The fact that you are bringing this problem here is because deep in your mind you see it as some sort of child abuse and you can’t believe this actually happened to you. I think you did right in discussing this here, not because there is anything you can do about the past, but because you need to figure out what really happened and you are too much into your own interpretation of the situation that you need other people’s insight to clarify your thoughts aiming to finally give closure to this and move on and continue with your life with that awful thing out of your mind. I hope you do. There isn’t much you can do about it if in fact she did fail to give you the proper nutrition that you needed and it is better to leave all this behind and start traveling light. If I’m not mistaken you are soon going to college and I’m sure you will need all the energy and peace of mind you can get to devote to your studies. {{Hugs}} :)

cheebdragon's avatar

You don’t get along because you have to feed yourself?

You’re still alive, she did her job well enough, you should thank her, instead of blaming her for petty issues. Sorry if that’s harsh, but seriously…..

blueiiznh's avatar

A parents roll is to care for their child. It does not matter how difficult or how tough it is.
I am sorry to hear what those circumstances have led to.
I do not agree with a hands off approach when it comes to patenting. It doesn’t mean that parents know all the answers, but nutrition is pretty basic. Even if there was difficulty, asking your pediatrician for guidance would have been the next approach to try to solve it.
That being said, it sounds like you are now aware of the considerations of what proper nutrition should look like and what improper nutrition can create.
All that aside, focus on what you need to do to help yourself. Use the energy on you and not on blame.

burntbonez's avatar

I don’t see what is to be gained from figuring this out. What seems important is that now that you are independent, you learn to eat healthily, and you prepare healthy foods in proper amounts for yourself. Frankly, I would not worry about being underweight unless you are significantly underweight. From what I know, the research shows it is better to be slightly starved throughout your life. You’ll live longer.

I think that you should be responsible for yourself as soon as you possibly can be. Clearly your parents are not feeding you properly. So you need to do it.

Bellatrix's avatar

Obviously parents have a responsibility to make sure their children are provided with sufficient nutritious food for the children to develop physically and mentally. If you have been given noodles and snack food instead of real meals it sounds as though your mother has not met this requirement. Is this your fault? Not when you were a young child but as you have aged and become more self-sufficient you are undoubtedly capable of preparing some food for yourself (if the ingredients are there in the house) or of shopping or of asking your parents for money to buy food. So there does come a point where you can start to take responsibility for your own care. I do realise if you have no good role modelling to show you how to eat well that makes it difficult but you haven’t lived in isolation. Surely you have seen your friends eating and the food their families prepare?

The question ‘is your mother responsible’ also makes me ponder about her own health and parenting skills. Does she suffer from poor mental health? If she is a long term sufferer of some form of mental illness perhaps she didn’t have the emotional capacity to do more than she did. If she has herself had no good role models to demonstrate parenting, perhaps she doesn’t know how to cook or prepare nutritious food. Not a good excuse for allowing your children to remain under nourished but either option might explain why she has fallen down on her duty. In addition, where is your father? He is just as responsible for your care as your mother.

dxs's avatar

@Yeahright @burntbonez I suppose you’re right, maybe I’m not getting anywhere with this and I should just sort of forget about it. In fact, I sort of have in the sense that the only thing that bogs me down is my physical appearance, but it still bothers me, as in I wish I could have been more aware of this earlier. I never really talked about this with anyone in my personal life, so I thought it would be good to tell someone I guess, so maybe you’re just subjects of ventilation. which was totally unplanned, sorry @cheebdragon Obviously I’m still living and obviously this is not even close to a big problem, but my perspective is that she decided to create me and because i am (was) hers, she should be responsible for my upbringing. I am thankful for her creating me and sustaining me, but I don’t see why I should be thankful for everything that she had done for me or the lack thereof. I have thought of just estranging myself because I don’t see too much of a positive side between us at all. I don’t even live with my mother when I’m not in school (meaning the summer), so I am used to the independence, and I am planning on going away for higher level school (I got some amazing scholarships into universities). She gets in the way of my daily life as well. But, I care about everyone else in my family, so I may need time to think about it. And as I said, I have been responsible for myself mostly, especially when it comes to food, which I have focused most on in this thread. I really don’t want to go into the other things that and I’m sure you would not want to hear it, although it may clear the millions of ambiguities that I am presenting, so that, again, could be justification to my plans.
@Bellatrix If she is a long term sufferer of some form of mental illness perhaps she didn’t have the emotional capacity to do more than she did. I’d say so myself, but she has no mental or physical disorders at all. She cooks if there’s an occasion, and is pretty good at it, she just doesn’t do it enough in my opinion. My dad, on the other hand, has a pretty demanding job. He usually gets home pretty late (he does a lot of other stuff as well) so he gets fed by work a lot because he goes to a lot of meetings and functions or what not. I have tried to track his dinner record when he does have time to come home at a normal hour, and I have realized that he has picked up on my mother’s terrible eating habits. He was home tonight, and tonight’s dinner for the two of them was a bowl of chicken noodle soup and salad. Along with having some of their soup, I ate out tonight since I did my shopping today and was too tired/busy prepping my lunches for the week and doing this to cook (I cook in bulk). But, getting back to my dad, I think that maybe he is responsible, but then again, someone needs to have income in the family and I value is determination and busyness. @blueiiznh Use the energy on you and not on blame. That is a good way of wording “get over it”, which, as I said, I should. I am glad that it has presented me with a good understanding (and possibly an obsession) with healthy eating, and given me a sense of independence, which I have realized that I am glad to have. I have been meaning to schedule an appointment with my doctor because my mother hasn’t. I have not met with my doctor in well over two years, so I haven’t had time to talk to him about my new dieting and exercising yet.
Obviously I appreciate all the answers. You probably all understand that, but I thought I’d say it anyway. On that note, I have to go to bed! I’ll repsond to anything else tomorrow.

Ela's avatar

Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t believe a parent should ever tell their child they are giving up on them no matter how exasperated they become. Words like have an extremely negative, long lasting effect on a child, imo.

The way I see it, it’s not you fault in the least. Sounds to me like she’s just a lazy parent. The world is full of them, unfortunately.

We all do the best we can with the hand we’re dealt. I think it’s okay for you to be upset with your mother. I believe she could have taken much better care of you when you were younger but try not to dwell on it and let it poison you. Focus on the positive. You have a head start on the road to becoming an independent, self-sufficient young adult. : )

Shippy's avatar

Some parents take the time to understand nourishment, understand what is important for the body, others don’t have a clue. My parents were a bit like your mom, but in a different way. I wanted to be vegetarian as meat disgusted me. But I was told eat or starve. Plus all meals were catered around what my father liked and ate which was two things. Mince and mash.

To me that is lacking as a parent. My mom also gave up on feeding me. She even voiced it. As she called me picky.

What can I say? You are going to have to arm yourself with knowledge about food. Understand the daily required balance of food, and ask her to stock these. You could even make the food yourself. In the end good will come of it. As you will have a good sound knowledge of nutrition.

Try to see something in your mom she does well. I just feel like getting into the blame game and anger cycle as not very helpful to you. In life we need heroes. You are your own hero with food. She might be a hero with something else. She will have something that you really need or want or are happy to get from her. If you think hard enough.

burntbonez's avatar

There’s what a good parent should do, and then there’s what you do if your parent isn’t good. This difference is important for managing your feelings and coping with your life.

Yes, your parents should provide healthy meals for you. But what if they don’t? How should you respond? Should you guilt trip them? Should you suffer and try to make them notice so they will take on their responsibilities? Should you beg them or threaten them or try to force them do be good parents?

I think that is a dead end. Yes, your parents should feed you properly, but the most pragmatic response if they don’t is to do what you have done: learn to feel yourself in a healthy way.

The next question is what do you do about the emotions you have that they haven’t treated you properly? Should you be bitter and vindictive? Should you hold a grudge? Should you let it eat you up inside about how unfair it is?

It seems like you are using this as a way to vent about it, and if it is venting and this is a way of letting it go, then I’m all for it. But if this “venting” is a way of building up your resentment to a higher and higher level, then I think you are only hurting yourself. Your goal should be to let go of the resentment because it hurts you. You want to learn from the experience and move on to be a better parent when it is your turn. So the venting should be aimed at learning to do a better job, not at beating up your parents.

Your parents are who they are. You can’t change them. All you can do is accept them, protect yourself from their harms, and try to avoid their mistakes. They are like mountains. You can’t move them. You can only find ways around or through them. It’s hard climbing. Complaining about it won’t change the fact you have to climb. What you need is to find the most efficient way to climb.

Complaining has a way of keeping you from finding an efficient way to climb. Your focus is on how steep the path is or was. It’s not on how to climb more efficiently. So I am not sure venting is that helpful. To the extent that it keeps you from finding a more efficient way to climb, it hurts you.

cheebdragon's avatar

The sad thing is that if your mother had been making sure you were eating nutritious meals daily, you would see her as being controlling and overbearing, especially if you were in fact a picky eater.

dxs's avatar

@burntbonez I didn’t want to come off as complaining, and didn’t think that I did. As minimal of a problem this may be, I initially was only wondering if I was the problem or not. If I was SO concerned, then I would talk about it with someone in my personal life (no offense, I hope, but it is evident that I can relate more to people I know more about).
@cheebdragon How can you make that assumption? I don’t know why you’d think that and you failed to provide any other reason to your motive of saying that, so I am not sure of where you are coming from. I will assure you that as of now I am the opposite of picky (I said in my description that I was a picky eater); I eat nearly everything, quantity not quality, et cetera, and have been like this for more years than I have been providing for myself. Also, in all fairness to me, if you read the description, you’d see that I had made efforts to ask her to cook for me: “I asked her why she doesn’t cook for me” But, after enough asking “What’s for dinner?”, I thought it’d be a better use of my time to just take the problem into my own hands. (I even made efforts to assist her in the food-making). Mothers, in my opinion, should be controlling when their sons/daughters are young. Isn’t that their biggest trait? And supposedly there may be others ways of approaching it, as many others have mentioned, such as seeing a doctor/professional. I am still a bit baffled about your approach, and to be honest, I’m just a bit offended.

Yeahright's avatar

@dxs I think it is a very important concern of yours. It would be for me anyway. I don’t think you have to apologize or justify the fact that it is or has been an issue for you.

I can’t speak for @cheebdragon, but I didn’t interpret her comment as insulting or anything of the sort. I think she was referring to the fact that no matter what parents do, children will find fault one way or the other. I don’t think you have to take offence of anyone’s words here. They are just different opinions which is actually what will help you to make your own conclusions. I was a bit saddened when my words were misinterpreted in another Q here. I was actually trying to be objective and helpful but the OP took offence to it :(

dxs's avatar

@Yeahright I’m just a little bit offended, meaning the amount of such minimal offense that a person would take from an icon on a screen. To summarize, approximately two seconds max of offense. It is because I felt that @cheebdragon put off any efforts that I had made to try to get my mother to do something, and that she thought that I would always have a problem with her either way. Why would you think that I’m always going to have a problem with someone? Is this such a whiny subject that you get the feeling that I, in fact, do or would have a problem with everyone? I don’t have any major problems with my dad, to name one.

cheebdragon's avatar

@dxs my original point was that kids will blame their parents one way or another. People want what they dont have and while you may think it would have been a great thing for her to monitor your daily food intake, its unlikely that you would appreciate it. When you have kids of your own you will understand exactly what I mean.

That being said, I will say that after reading your responses I’m starting to think you are in fact prone to overreacting. I’m willing to bet that most of the people in your life would think you are being a little petty about this issue. If I offended you, shit happens, you’ll get over it. I’m just giving you my honest 3rd party opinion.

dxs's avatar

@cheebdragon There are things that I have looked back at that I thought were absurd when I was younger that I realize the importance of today, and this is not one of them. You seem to think that it never should be a mother’s fault, and I can’t fully agree with that. I’m not saying that she is the worst but I just think that more effort should be given. Your article presents situations of broken families, and my family is not broken, so she doesn’t even have to worry about time or finances. I am seventeen years old and feel that I can make logical judgments by now. Right now she is sitting on the couch and munching on “Popped potato crisps” while I am currently cooking a burger. I just think that it’s odd since it happens daily.

cheebdragon's avatar

@dxs you are 17 and have only started cooking for yourself in the last 2 years? My 6 year old can make his own sandwiches, oatmeal, cereal and he knows where we keep all of the fruit, he even knows how to put any dishes he has used, in the dishwasher. He washes his own clothes (with the exception of adding detergent and hanging them in his closet). I grew up the same way. I have no sympathy for you. You’re not fat, you haven’t been starved your entire life, she hasn’t abused you, correct? You resent her for not giving you what you want, not what you need, because fast food was a lot less healthy than soup & salad, and a burger isn’t exactly healthy for you either.
Blaming your parents is all part of being a teenager, but as a parent i can say that if this is the most serious issue you have to blame her for, she’s doing a damn good job as a mother.

burntbonez's avatar

@dxs I have sympathy for you. Your mother acts like she doesn’t really care. @cheebdragon may have no sympathy, but I suspect she actually cares about her kids and that’s why she makes sure they know how to do things for themselves. There is a huge difference between having to teach yourself to care for yourself and being taught by a caring parent.

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