The Kids Are Alright

Have you ever found that having children all of a sudden made you very reflective about your own life? Even back at the very beginning when you were first expecting your baby? I think the very prospect of bringing new life into the world, a life that you will be responsible for suddenly helps put things into perspective for all of us.  You begin to ask yourself questions like – Am I happy with where I am in life? Have I achieved everything I wanted to or are there still things that I would like to accomplish?

Then the focus turns to your offspring. You begin to ask yourself – What sort of a life do I want for my child? Am I in a position where I can give them everything that I want them to have? All of a sudden life becomes very serious and contemplative and  I bet these are questions that we have all asked ourselves at some point because let’s be honest – we all want the best for our children.

But I can’t help wondering if it runs a little bit deeper than that. Sometimes I think that when it comes to our own children, as well as wanting to give them the best of everything, what we really want is for them to have a better, more improved version of our own upbringing. We think back to our own childhoods and our own experiences of growing up and use that as a template for how we then raise our kids. All the mistakes that we made and all the times that we think back upon and don’t remember so fondly, we want to make sure that our children do not go through the same. We want their experiences to be better.

Don’t get me wrong, I had a very good upbringing and overall have little to complain about. My parents always did their best to give us everything that we needed and as a result I like to think that I turned out to be a pretty decent human being! However having said that… there were definitely elements that I do remember that had a slightly negative effect on me and as a result will now ensure will be different for my daughters. 

One in particular is my memory of birthday parties. When I was a child my party was always a pretty low-key affair. It mostly consisted of a cake, a plate of rice krispie buns and Country Spring orange and red lemonade that was often poured into mugs because we didn’t have enough glasses. And although my mum probably thought that this was fine all I really wanted was to have a party like some of the ones that I had been to at my friends’ houses. The parties with bunting, balloons, games like Pass The Parcel and a party bag to take home with you. The type of party bag that had a small packet of jellies, a fun size bag of maltesers and a small bottle of Cola or Fanta. But my poor mum’s imagination didn’t stretch that far! And as a result I now have this mild obsession with birthday parties and I love giving my daughters a big splash when it comes to theirs.

Another memory is the haircuts and the matching outfits. Oh dear God the matching outfits! My mother was obsessed with dressing us the same even though my sister and I were five years apart. It was only when I was fourteen that I managed to get my hair down past shoulder length when I finally told my mum that I didn’t want to have a bowl-shaped hair cut anymore (I know my younger sister harbours a particular resentment for this one). Again I know our parents probably didn’t realise it at the time but some of the decisions they made for us when we were growing up have resulted in deeply rooted neuroses that we have now carried into our adult lives!

My sis and I, 5 years apart, in matching outfits

My husband is also slightly neurotic when it comes to his hair because as a teenager his mother used to spray blonde from a can into his hair in an attempt to make his brown hair lighter – I kid you not! She (unlike my mother) didn’t like short hair and always tried to encourage him to grow his hair long. As a result he now gets his hair cut every month and if you go near him with a can of spray he will either break out in a cold sweat or run away screaming…

The thing is though that as much as I might draw from my own experiences in childhood when making decisions for my daughters and how I raise them, I never want to get too obsessed about it. My husband and I have both talked to each other about this (a lot!) and know that we don’t want to fall into the trap of trying to mould them into the sort of people that we want them to be. The truth is all I really want is for them to be themselves, whoever that may be. I also realise that as a parent nobody is perfect and I am bound to get it wrong at times – I just hope for their sakes that I can keep the damage to a minimum!

Have you any memories from childhood that had a similar impact on you? Anything you have vowed to be different for your own children?

25 Comments

  • Mummyofasquarepeg

    I grew up in a council house on a busy road in London and we didn’t have many things (although I did have a Mr Frosty!) and I was envious of some of my friends lovely houses and big bedrooms. I just want my children to grow up in a nice house in a lovely area which is where we are now. I don’t go mad but I like to have most things that they want. I don’t want to push them into doing things but if they want to do certain activities I will encourage them to be the best they can be at it. I wish I was encouraged a bit more to do things.
    Mummyofasquarepeg recently posted…Ways to cope with a square peg in the school holidays.My Profile

    • Enda Sheppard

      I remember things like being embarrassed by the crap car my parents drove … Dad only learned to drive late … and lots of little things that together make for a somewhat dissatisfied kid! We do aspire to do better for our kids when considering where our own parents fell down .. but have long realised we are still doomed to fall down in certain other areas ourselves. Perfect is just not part of the parenting deal, it seems Tracey!!
      Enda Sheppard recently posted…Everyone’s journey is similar – but no-one’s journey is the sameMy Profile

      • admin

        Definitely not Enda, I just hope I don’t fall down too much! I try not to get too pre-occupied by the whole idea, I will be content if I can manage to raise good, decent and well-adjusted human beings!

    • admin

      Same here – I never learned to swim as a child because my mother was so afraid of water. I am determined not to let that happen with my girls. I keep trying to muster up the courage to go for the lessons now but I haven’t quite gotten there yet!

  • Fi Anderson

    Coming from a Mother who kept my hair so short people constantly mistook me for being a little boy up until the age of 15, just because it was “easier” to deal with – I can totally relate to the built up of resentment to decisions parents make that stick with you long into adulthood. The only positive that I personally am able to draw upon the hair situation is I will ALWAYS respect what my little girls want to look like. It’s their body, their hair, they have their own minds! #itsok
    Fi Anderson recently posted…Abbie’s Diagnosis – Retinitis Pigmentosa Awareness MonthMy Profile

    • admin

      I totally agree, especially when it comes to my girls and their hair. Whatever they want, they can have. I am adamant about that. It’s not going to be about the way I want them to look because I have seen firsthand what a long-lasting effect it can have!

  • Patrick Weseman

    This was an interesting read as I grew up in horrible conditions and worked hard to overcome things and give my kids a somewhat better life than I had it,

    Here is the deal though, I had to scratch, claw, steal, beg and borrow my way to where I am at now, What ever it took. I see my son and he doesn’t have the same drive or internal push I had. I was (and still am) motivated by fear- Fear of being homeless, Fear of not having the lights on, fear of not eating…etc. He is motivated by comfort. It is about his comfort level. It is amazing to see. His sister has some of the internal drive had when I was her age but both of them know that Dad is there to help them when they need it.

    Sometimes I wish my kids could experience the way I grew up for a week because it might give them a little kick somewhere.
    Patrick Weseman recently posted…The 52nd California International Antiquarian Book FairMy Profile

    • admin

      You’re right, we want to be able to give them everything, especially the things that we never had. But at the same time we want them to know that many times in life they will have to really work for what they want. It’s a balancing act isn’t it? All we can hope for is that we manage to get it right…

    • admin

      I did the same thing at Christmas. I got my girls Hungry Hippos and we had a blast playing it. We didn’t have too many board games growing up. The only one I really remember having was Cluedo and I loved it! Thanks so much for your comment!

  • Sam

    I think most of us want the best and to try to not have the struggles as we did when we were young. I just want my boys to be happy and to protect them from any harm X #stayclassymama

  • charlotte Stein

    My Mum was never on time to pick me up from school etc, so I’m there without fail before 3pm every school day! It’s funny what sticks with us and what we prefer to change and what traditions we like to keep. That Birthday party looks fab! #stayclassymama

    • admin

      Absolutely, and it will probably have a lot to do with how we raise them and the impact we make on their lives!

  • Maria

    I grew up pretty much having clothes from charity shops and handmade by my very talented sewing machinist mother. Not that they didn’t work they both did but had normal Mortgage etc not council house either . But beside that I remember mostly the positive to growing up beside being bullied and tormented as a kid. And the benefit system was nothing like it is today. I don’t want to rely on it but if it means my kids can have a better life for now I’m all for it especially as I’m solo parenting 6/7 days a week – thanks government #triumphanttales

  • Nicole - Tales from Mamaville

    Lovely post Tracey; it’s so true how our priorities and perspectives change once we become parents. I guess wanting to better and change certain things stems from wanting to give our children the best possible life and opportunities. But it’s a fine line, as we must remember to not just ‘give’ them everything on a platter, but rather teach them how to earn their own rewards. And also not to sub-consciously force our thoughts/ beliefs/ insecurities on them. Fab post, thanks for sharing it with #itsok

    • admin

      Thanks so much Nicole, it’s a topic that rolls around in my head a lot. Having my daughters really made me realise how I want life to be for them. The past really does impact on the future doesn’t it?

  • Mrs Mummy Harris

    I didn’t have a great childhood as I was left to my own devices and as the youngest from a first marriage and a ten year age gap between me and my younger brother, I ended up doing a lot of chores around the house whilst my mum dealt with him. But by chores it includes cleaning the house top to bottom, feeding and tending to the dog, prepping and sometimes cooking dinner too… things a kid doing GCSE’s shouldn’t be doing and revise instead.
    As you can tell it’s not something I agree with and is definitely not how my boys will be raised. yes they will know how to do tasks around the house; but I won’t let them run the house whilst I swan off to another room!!
    Thank you for sharing this with us at #TriumphantTales. I hope to see you back tomorrow.
    Mrs Mummy Harris recently posted…Disney tipsMy Profile

  • loopyloulaura

    We lived with my parents until Matthew was 5 and Anya 2 so they had an almost identical upbringing except they were allowed to get away with more (typical grandparents!) I think we always want the best which is why we end up questioning our choices and decisions. Thanks for linking up with #stayclassymama
    loopyloulaura recently posted…The Castle Mystery, by Faith MartinMy Profile

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