Ask Scary Mommy: I Had A Bad Childhood So I’m Constantly Going Over-The-Top For My Kids
Ask Scary Mommy is Scary Mommy's advisory column, where our team of experts answers any questions you have about life, love, body image, friends, parents and anything else that confuses you.
This Week: Should you feel guilty for doing more all the time with your kids to make up for the childhoods you never had? Do you have a question? Email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Dear creepy mom,
I didn't have a great childhood. We never went on family vacations and my siblings and I didn't have much time with our parents. We were verbally and emotionally abused on a daily basis and sometimes the abuse became physical. I haven't had a relationship with my own parents for over a decade. I've always been scared of becoming a parent, afraid I might be just like me, but I'm the exact opposite. That sounds great, except I feel like I'm constantly overdoing it: birthday parties are everything, Christmas magic are a must, I give them presents for no reason, family outings, etc. I find it hard to discipline them and even just " To say no, and I want my children to be humble, grateful, and good people. I am very aware that I always want to make special memories with them and that they should definitely grow up with fond memories of their own childhood, to the point where I have spirals of fear. Help.
Do you know this: there is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to give your children the best childhood you can give them. Every parent worth their salt wants this. I suspect you know this doesn't have to be in the form of material things, since you seem to have solid emotional intelligence here.
Your childhood doesn't define who you are as a parent. It hasn't set a path for your own parenting journey, and your kids will never know what that type of childhood is like. I want you to repeat this as many times as you have to, for as long as you have to.
If your "exaggerated" actions are causing stress (either financially or emotionally) or depriving you of the joy of any of those moments, then I think that is a sign that you may need to recall something. If you really enjoy going beyond that, all you need to worry about is this spiral of fear. "Future thinking" or future-oriented thinking patterns are a real problem. Predictive fear is like most of what fear is about, right?
I can't stop you feeling anxious, but I can tell you that if your children are safe, loved, healthy, and have their needs met - emotionally, physically, etc., you probably don't need to worry about them - suffer long-term childhood trauma. Normal grips over mom and dad? Sure, we all have them. But you clearly love your children, are nothing like your own parents, and are self-aware enough to know the difference between the past that you had no control over and the present that you do.
Find a therapist if you can and you don't already have one. If we work to ground ourselves and validate our feelings, we are just better parents. And you're fine, I promise.
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