I recently began a new series about how upbringing influences parenting. It remains to be seen whether it has as great an impact as I imagine, but that’s why I find these interviews so fascinating! I hope you will too.
(If there are any guys reading, please don’t be put off by the title – you’re more than welcome to get involved! I apologise for the un-PC title, but quite simply, I love alliteration. If you have any less sexist suggestions I’d love to hear them!)
This week, we have an anonymous guest, who has an unusual relationship with her mother. They are in contact, but sadly it’s an almost superficial set-up. This lady has chosen to remain unidentified in order that she can be open and frank without causing waves.
1. Can you describe your relationship with your mother today?
I have great difficulty in my relationship with my mother but think that she is totally oblivious to the fact. Some years ago I was given some excellent advice and I no longer try to have a mother/daughter relationship with her but rather treat her as an equal. However, I am always her first port of call when she wants anything, rather than any of my siblings. I feel that she takes advantage of my helpful nature but often appears jealous of the things I do for my children.
2. How does this differ/is this similar to the relationship you had growing up?
Actually, not really very different even though my mother didn’t seem to like me as a child and treated me quite differently to my siblings, she seemed to rely upon me and put responsibilities on me even when I was quite young.
3. In what ways has your relationship with your mother influenced your character and outlook on life?
It makes me determined to express my love for my children and to help them in any way I can. I am fiercely independent and capable, rarely asking anyone for anything for fear of being refused.
I do not have any great expectations or requirements.
4. What’s the biggest lesson you’ve taken from your relationship with your mother?
Hopefully, how not to be a mother. I’m not sure I’ve said that right but I think you will know what I mean!
5. In what ways has that affected your parenting style?
I am fiercely protective and have always tried to demonstrate my unconditional love towards my children. I have also attempted to treat them in as fair a way as possible. That does not always equate to identical treatment though as every child has individual needs and I have tried to fill those as best I can.
6. What’s the best/worst piece of advice your mother ever gave you?
That’s really weird; I really can’t remember her ever having given me any advice. She generally comes to me for help.
7. How do you hope to influence your own children as they grow up and become adults, and does this reflect your relationship with your own mother?
My biggest rule has always been honesty as it covers so many things but kindness and fairness are also very high on my agenda, probably because I don’t feel that I experienced these things in my own childhood.
8. Based on your relationship with your mother, what has been your biggest surprise/revelation/epiphany when you became a mum yourself?
That it’s even possible for a mum not to love her child. I adore my children and feel that I get so much love back from them, so I have found it incredibly hard to understand how my mother could have behaved in the fashion she did towards me.
9. Has your mother’s relationship with your children followed a similar pattern to your own relationship with her, or is their relationship very different? How do you feel about that?
Initially it was very apparent that my mother favoured her other grandchildren and that her lack of care towards me carried through to my children. This does seem to have altered with time and although I think that it is still the case, it is nowhere near as evident. I am thankful that my children do not seem to have been particularly disturbed by her behaviour.
10. Can you share a memory about you and your mother which illustrates your relationship?
I think that there have been just two occasions when I have been in desperate situations and asked for her help. One was financial, the other was with childcare and although she was in a position to assist in both instances, she refused each time even though these are areas where she has assisted my siblings on numerous occasions.
With many thanks to our anonymous guest for sharing her difficult story.
If you’d like to take part in the series about how upbringing influences parenting, please email me.