Sunday, August 26, 2012

Words Hurt

I have mellowed a LOT over the past 7 years.  I used to be pretty judgmental when it came to other peoples' parenting.  Then I had kids of my own and friends with kids and I learned that there are a lot of paths to good parenting, and that we don't all need to make the same choices to raise equally happy, healthy, successful kids.

However....  When someone speaks of their own children with contempt?  I judge.

Everyone gets annoyed with their family.  Everyone.  I get that.  And we all need to bitch sometimes.  I bitch, too.

But there's a difference between some healthy venting and speaking with contempt about the people you're supposed to love the most.

Twice in the last year or two I've met people for the first time, and they've spoken about their small children with such animosity that I've been uncomfortable.  And honestly, I can't figure out what they're trying to communicate when they call their kids names (yes, really, and not pet names or nicknames - hurtful names!), or when they complain about their kids' personalities.

When it gets to the point where I feel like I ought to be defending their kids to them, what I'm thinking is, "This person and I are never going to be friends."

I just don't understand.  Is this some way that moms bond that I just really suck at?  It's one thing to complain that your kids are horrible sleepers (2/3 of mine are!) or that they're in a difficult phase, but it's another to speak as though you really don't like your own child.

I try not to say anything about someone that I wouldn't say to them.  The operative word is try.  I don't always succeed.  I'm a work in progress.  And if I do complain about somebody behind their back, I hope it's with a mind toward finding a solution instead of just complaining (for example, if another mom at school and I have a conflict, I might speak of the situation with other people who know us both to try to figure out what's going on).

When it comes to my family, I hope that the love I feel for them is evident, even when I might be complaining that I haven't had a good night's sleep in almost 8 years or that all four of them are sock droppers.

Women can just be so mean sometimes, but when they're mean about their own kids?  That's not someone I want to be around.

Has someone ever spoken hatefully about their kids to you?  What do you do?  What do you say?


Cassondra said...

My mother is one of those, to this day. Growing up, she called my sister and me nearly every name in the book. Needless to say, we do not get along. She also has called my kids, her grandchildren, very nasty names. We do not speak to her any more.

Kim said...

I've dealt with this all my life. My mother is like this. I don't remember her ever speaking a kind word about or to any of her children. I think a lot of it has to do with her own feelings of insecurity, negative self worth and selfishness. She likes to keep the focus on herself, not her kids or their accomplishments, and she also feels so bad about herself that I think she concludes that if she runs everyone else down, she won't look so bad in comparison.

I would suggest that you stay away from these people, and don't be "friends" with them. Not only because they are uncomfortable to be around, but you can bet that if they speak badly about their children - they won't speak any better about the adults in their life - including you. They hae a twisted need to make everyone around them a target of their nastiness.

And I feel for these people's kids. I know firsthand the pain and hurt this can cause to a child. It took me years to realize that not everyone should be a mother, and that sometimes people have kids who shouldn't, and that just because you have a bad mother, that doesn't make the kids bad, it just makes them more aware of how NOT to be a parent. Sometimes knowing that can be just as useful as knowing HOW to be a parent.

And BTW, if you ever have a chance to be with those kids - if they ever become friends of the girls, or if you can get them around for a playdate or something, take them aside and try to explain to them that they are smart, beautiful and that they have worth. I had a couple of those people in my life. And it made a HUGE difference to me.

Amy Austin said...

I'm so sorry you two lived with mothers like this. :( If I get a chance, I'll reach out to their kids.

Unknown said...

Our next door neighbors growing up should not ever have been parents. The mom used to routinely call especially the older one (my age) a jerk, and I'm sure other names, and I think the younger one got his fair share too. The dad was just checked out, and when he was around, he was emotionally abusive and expected way too much from them (we are thinking now that he was/is bipolar). Today, those parents are divorced, and both boys have dealt with drug and alcohol addictions, and had run-ins with the law. My sister and I, on the other hand, have successful careers and stable relationships (she has been married to her HS sweetheart of 12 years for 3 years, and I have been with my boyfriend for 5.5 years). Just goes to show... -Maggie