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I’m sure the struggle is real, but I can’t relate

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#1 BornToLove

Posted 19 June 2019 - 11:21 AM

Some background: I grew up in a ‘working poor’ single parent household. The single parent was what is considered a functioning alcoholic. Needless to say, my childhood wasn’t carefree or fun much of the time. I have dealt with this on a personal level with councillors over the years.

Where I am asking for advice is relating to the ‘struggles’ my DD has. Her childhood is polar opposite to what I experienced. We are a two parent household with very well adjusted adults, we are firmly middle class. I honestly can’t relate and get a little resentful towards her attitude about her life sometimes.

For example, this morning she had a huge tantrum getting ready for school. DH is away (he does the morning school run) so DD had to be ready to go about 90 minutes early and attend before school care. It was a complete melt down that DD had to be up early and couldn’t ‘ease into her day’ like she preferred. Then the ‘right’ uniform wasn’t clean so had to wear a different style than she wanted. I was the worse mum ever.

However, all I could see was that she didn’t have to get up early to do chores and ensure her hungover mother made it to work before getting ready for the day herself. How horrible I am for providing a comfortable life so her biggest issue is having to wear a different polo than the one she wanted.

I’m sure what she’s experiencing is typical tween against, but the kid seriously doesn’t see how good she’s got it and it’s really affecting my perspective in these situations. 😔 Does anyone else struggle with this? I’d really appreciate any advice.

#2 mayahlb

Posted 19 June 2019 - 11:29 AM

Yes. I have had similar conversation with both my children before. Mostly when they act like entitled little brats. (I grew up very poor, at one point we were homeless and I know my mother went without food so we could eat at times. Also when she did work, I was the one getting up and ready and getting my sister ready, doing chores, before going to school because mum has started work at 5am).

But they are children, unless they are actually going through your life experiences they don't understand how good they have it. Children as children are mostly developmentally self absorbed. I have seriously thought about making them do some volunteer work, or do what a friend did and take the kids to help out in an orphanage in overseas for a period of time...

I guess what I'm saying is that I try to acknowledge their feelings and then frame their behaviour in a way they understand why I am not happy with how they have behaved.

Edited by mayahlb, 19 June 2019 - 11:30 AM.

#3 Riotproof

Posted 19 June 2019 - 01:11 PM

Really, she doesn’t have the ability to care what your childhood was like. There are many adults who wouldn’t have the capacity to understand what your childhood was like.

I think it’s probably appropriate to pull her up on attitude, but also understand that she’s a creature of habit, and when routines are disrupted it can be hard for many people (adults too). If you are feeling really frustrated, it is okay to step back and take a breath before responding.
It might be helpful to think about how you wish someone would have responded to you as a child in the same circumstances.

#4 Melbs2010

Posted 19 June 2019 - 01:11 PM

I think a lot of tween or teenage issues will look trivial when viewed through adult eyes.  Especially, if your own childhood experience has been an especially difficult one.  But they can still feel like a huge deal to the child and if you don't handle them well (for the most part) can cause a rift in the relationship.

In that scenario if the change in routine caused so much angst that you were late for work or if the push back was completely out of proportion then I'd say getting the child to understand that it's a small request in the scheme of things would be best.

But if their complaint with getting up early etc. was a brief objection or tantrum then I'd say it's typical child behaviour.  Kids are always going to object somewhat when presented with new tasks.

I don't know.  I came from a household where we were constantly reminded "how good we had things" while having every single feeling invalidated in the process.  Nothing was deemed a significant enough problem.  Even very distressing things.  I probably go too far the other way as a result

#5 Kreme

Posted 19 June 2019 - 01:14 PM

Oh yeah this is my life all over!

I try to remind myself that this is what I wanted for my kids. Safety, security, love. So all they have to whinge about is petty stuff. How great is it that they don’t really understand how good they’ve got it because it’s all they’ve ever known?

But you still need to rein in the entitlement. I talk to my kids about the lives that other children lead in developing countries, and how fortunate and safe they are in comparison. I also talk to my kids about the very different financial situation that I grew up in, I just leave out the other stuff that I don’t want to burden them with.

I think earning money is good grounding for life. Pay them to do “extra” jobs at home and encourage them to get a part time job when they’re old enough.

Others will probably suggest volunteering. I have worked for a few charities and if you want to do something regularly then that would be great, but a once off isn’t going to make that much of a difference to your kids, and it’s kind of annoying to have middle class mums bringing their kids in for learning experiences. Especially if they instagram it. Making a regular donation is much more helpful. Or get them to arrange something like a cake stall or lemonade stand or 2nd hand toy stall and donate the money to a cause they feel strongly about.

It’s very hard, sometimes you just want to scream at them. (Sometimes I do!)

#6 wallofdodo

Posted 19 June 2019 - 01:15 PM


You need to frame it differently.

When she whinges about the seemingly petty stuff. Pat yourself on the back, you broke the circle, she doesn't have the same struggles as you.

You did it! Well done.

#7 MarigoldMadge

Posted 19 June 2019 - 01:19 PM

My dad tried a few times to tell us how good we had it; he grew up in rural poverty and had to work the farm before and after school.

Whereas we grew up in middle class suburbia, and didn't work until we were 15.

I never ever understood it - it never made any relatable sense until a few years before he died.

I took him for a drive to his old childhood haunts - all the stories he told about hunting rabbits for dinner, and how he walked from the home to a particular hill to shoot. When I saw how far that hill was from home, suddenly I understood.

She knows only what she's used to, and has been exposed to.

#8 SplashingRainbows

Posted 19 June 2019 - 01:22 PM

Is she anxious? Was she feeling out of control?

It kind of sounds like it.

Whilst your struggles are not her struggles it sounds like she did have something that was difficult for her. It’s super super hard to leave our own baggage at the door but I think if the outcome is that the behaviour doesn’t recur, then the solution is to find the problem not to compare your life with hers.

#9 seayork2002

Posted 19 June 2019 - 01:36 PM

Everyone one of us can say (to an adult or child) stop complaining we had it worse, but is that fair?

sure my son has tantrums/preferences/is a pain in the butt over sometimes things I don't remember bothering me in my childhood but I am not him!!!

I feel like having a tantrum some days and probable do, I don't see a child any less entitled to having a bad day or moment.

Life is not perfect for anyone and would be worried if someone was not entitled to less than perfect behaviour 'oh you are rich why would you have depression?' (generally speaking)

#10 Prancer is coming

Posted 19 June 2019 - 01:53 PM

She has not experienced what you have, which is why she does not get it.

I actually do think it is a big ask to get the kids up 90 minutes early and go to before school care when they do not normally.  Waking them 90 minutes earlier can be tough on them, don’t this age need like 10-12 hours sleep a night?  And then a full day at school with before school care (after school care too) is pretty tiring.  

By saying this I am not saying don’t do what you did.  There are times I need to do similar things too.  But I do find it helps to see if through their eyes and acknowledge it is tough and we need to pull together whilst dad is away (which probably also means I am more grumpy as more I have to do and juggle) and I appreciate them putting themselves out  to accommodate it.

We often talk about how hard others may have it, lots of examples to discuss from her public school!  When she is not in the throws of a tantrum or attitude, she actually can see that now and has been thankful.

#11 rainne

Posted 19 June 2019 - 02:08 PM

OP, a lot of people find that parenting brings up issues from their own traumatic childhoods, which might be happening for you. Have you/are you seeing someone to work through some of your own history?

Nothing you've described makes me think 'OMG you need help', or anything. But, and I know this is going to sound super corny, maybe being the loving parent you are to your child also gives you the opportunity to be a loving parent to your own (blech, sorry) inner child? It sounds like you had to be very strong, very young, and maybe that part of you needs kindness right now.

#12 ipsee

Posted 19 June 2019 - 02:10 PM

I struggle with this sort of feeling too. I had to do a lot around the house as a child, and look after my much younger siblings. Money was scarce, and everything I ever owned was second hand.

DH tells me off for getting frustrated with my oldest for expecting to be waited on hand and foot and wanting new nikes etc.

I don't know the answer, but I totally get it!

#13 CallMeFeral

Posted 19 June 2019 - 02:13 PM

PP's have offered excellent advice. She is getting the childhood you didn't have. She gets to be a kid, and worry about petty things that kids can worry about, instead of having to be an adult before her time. That's a credit to you.

And then validate your own feelings in this. It's ok for it to feel unfair. To feel like she is so lucky, and yet is not grateful for it. That she's entitled. That she has what you never did, and wish you did. Because all those things are true - she IS lucky, she ISN'T grateful, because she takes it for granted, and she IS entitled, because she's grown up with an easy life. That's ok. She has her whole life ahead of her to learn how hard things can be. And it'll happen. Life is never 100% kind to any of us, although the extent obviously varies. But what you want for her is for that unkindness to hold off as long as possible - and that has happened. Acknowledge that you wish it had for you too, and mourn that.

Gratitude usually comes from either empathy (with others, when you realise how bad it can be) or from comparison with past terribleness (so you can appreciate times when they are not). Empathy will increase with age and more abstract thinking. You don't want her to have the gratitude that comes from the past terribleness, because it would mean at some point she went through something terrible. Kids who internalise that they must feel grateful because their parents had a terrible time and they haven't, end up feeling guilty about it. You don't want her to ignore her own emotions out of guilt. Just hang about a bit till the gratitude that comes from empathy and self knowledge kicks in.

Edited by CallMeFeral, 19 June 2019 - 02:15 PM.

#14 halcyondays

Posted 19 June 2019 - 02:27 PM

I marvel at how loved my kids are. How they just take it as their birthright to be loved and supported for who they are.
I am happy for them, but also feel a sense of loss for myself.

The older child bends over backwards to please me and make my life easier, and my younger child has a whinge if he has to do something like wake up early. The whingeing child is more secure and connected. I worry more about the older child - he is anxious and has trouble adapting to change, without being able to express what is upsetting him.

#15 mayahlb

Posted 19 June 2019 - 03:21 PM

I just want to say to she is at an age where “big feelings” are coming through and will feel very valid for her. It might seem like an overreaction to you, but emotionally it can be hard to cope with. Acknowledging how they are feeling and then working out how to cope with them is part of growing up.

Says the Mum of the 10yr old who spent 20mins crying because he knocked over the cats water bowl... we talked about why he was upset, and then looked at his reaction. And how maybe it was a bit of a big reaction for a little thing. And maybe next time we should frame it, as oh well let’s clean it up and it’s all ok. No ones hurt, and 20mins of crying is making to big a thing of it. But year I swear he cry’s more over things at 10 then he did as a toddler.

#16 WannabeMasterchef

Posted 19 June 2019 - 03:40 PM

I get it OP. My childhood wasn't terrible, I was well loved, but I grew up quite poor and with stresses about my parents health. I knew not to ask for things they couldn't afford or couldn't do and so I feel frustrated sometimes with what seems 'spoiled' behaviour in my kids.

I think WallofDodo's post is spot on really. I bet your DD has lots of wonderful moments too.

#17 IamtheMumma

Posted 19 June 2019 - 04:01 PM

I struggle with this too OP. My kids have had a little bit of an uneasy life in that we've moved umpteen times (renting) and money has been very, very tight but really, they've had it a lot easier than I did. So when it frustrates me, and it does, I practice the compassion that I hope they one day learn. They don't know what they don't know and sometimes people aren't able to get it, until they experience it. Until then, I try to validate their feelings even though every instinct in me wants to tell them to harden the eff up.

#18 Mollycoddle

Posted 19 June 2019 - 04:35 PM

OP not so much with my own kids but I struggle so much with this in my work as a youth worker.  Kids in late teens/early 20s who can't study or work due to 'stress'.  I currently have the stress of my sister having cancer and I have my son hardly even being able to stay at school an hour a day and yet I still have to go to work.  I try to keep it in perspective that it's an age and maturity thing but it's hard!

#19 But seriously

Posted 19 June 2019 - 04:55 PM

View PostMollycoddle, on 19 June 2019 - 04:35 PM, said:

OP not so much with my own kids but I struggle so much with this in my work as a youth worker.  Kids in late teens/early 20s who can't study or work due to 'stress'.  I currently have the stress of my sister having cancer and I have my son hardly even being able to stay at school an hour a day and yet I still have to go to work.  I try to keep it in perspective that it's an age and maturity thing but it's hard!


#20 TheGreenSheep

Posted 19 June 2019 - 05:02 PM

I too had a crappy childhood. Alcoholic parents, working class poor etc etc. DHs was terrible as well.

Whilst I know my children will never have the same experiences DH and I had growing up, and I also know they’ll never ‘get it’ I also don’t want them to ever really know what we went through. It was awful.

All you can do OP is deal with the situation at hand at the time. Asking an emotional tween to relate to your experiences from 30 years ago won’t make your feelings validated or her behaviour different.

#21 born.a.girl

Posted 19 June 2019 - 05:04 PM

I can identify OP. I grew up very working class, fifth of six in the fifties, with a father who was an abusive alcoholic (no doubt WW2 PTSD related given he went away to war a non-drinker). We all left home the moment we could and I've been totally independent since I went to work with my first week's board paid for me, and that was that.

My daughter, on the other hand (only child, not from choice) grew up in a leafy eastern suburb and we sent her to a $$$ private school).   I used to have to bite my tongue.  She still also lives at home, mid twenties, and really has no idea what it's like for others her age who are struggling both with casual work (as she is) AND without a soft place to land in terms of their parents.  I have to remember that we have chosen to give her the lifestyle she had and I can hardly blame her for not knowing what it's like for others who don't have that.  Walk a mile in someone's shoes etc.

That said, she had untreated anxiety for ten years, and I wouldn't wish that  on anybody.  If that had been recognised, many of the issues she now has would not exist.

She is also deeply empathetic with friends who are doing it tough, and our house is often a meeting point for friends who don't have the luxury of their own space.

Edited by born.a.girl, 19 June 2019 - 05:06 PM.

#22 FloralArrangement

Posted 19 June 2019 - 05:13 PM

I reframe this for myself as my upbringing was bad. I am so proud that my  kids have the opportunity to not experience what I have and that their behaviours are typically “normal” for their age. They certainly get pulled up on stuff but I feel very happy they’ve never had the worries I’ve had. From our 3 birth children through to our 2 younger children who came to us very young through foster care (legal guardian of one permanent carer of other). Just grateful that we haven’t continued the cycle of awful for them. Even if they aren’t angels all of the time.

I also agree with born a girl, one of our children has diagnosed anxiety and it’s helped me get diagnosed finally for mine. Also, we are a hub for their friends and we support and have supported kids who are experiencing tough times. I think because I identify and am non judgemental. Plus dh is a flipping awesome partner and dad.

Edited by FloralArrangement, 19 June 2019 - 05:18 PM.

#23 Mishu

Posted 19 June 2019 - 06:23 PM

My son was a little like this at your daughter’s age. I also had a challenging childhood at times (abusive then fortunately absent father, a single mum who didn’t work or drive so we lived with my grandparents,  she went without a lot for us kids, as did we on occasion etc). What I found was that my son’s attitude and understanding changed as he got older. He is a very empathetic kid anyway, but I shared some selective stories of what it was like for me growing up (eg he plays sport & enjoys it, I explained I didn’t because we didn’t have the money or transport for it) and then we talked about the impact things like that. My husband and I also tend to verbalise gratitude about a lot of things at home (I’m consciously  aware of how much better my life is now) and my son is now picking up this habit.

It’s not perfect -he can still be a bratty teen-but he is becoming more grateful for what he has. He actually thanks us a lot for being great parents (I’m sure that will reduce as he hits the middle teens :laugh:).

So I think it is a maturity thing as they grow older. And being careful is how we frame it.

I’m so, so glad he doesn’t have to experience what I did. That is what I remind myself of when he does take things for granted.

#24 null

Posted 20 June 2019 - 05:42 AM

I still think it's worth telling our children our stories from childhood. My mother was a master story teller. I think back to her telling us stories about what it was like growing up and later escaping a communist country. Even though I rolled my eyes at the time, I now think about her stories and it helps keep me grounded.

#25 Sancti-claws

Posted 20 June 2019 - 07:04 AM

I agree with all the others - but it really doesn't help when you are already changing your own routine and then having to fight tooth and nail to get out the door, to BSC and then to work.

What can she own in this new routine - its an adventure, its only for a short time (isn't it?), how about the two of you work out how it will best play out.

Can she have her uniform chosen and laid out (by her) the night before so she doesn't have to wake too much to be dressed?  A friend who had early starts and was a sole mum actually used to have her son IN his uniform as pyjamas, but the uniform apparently didn't need ironing (her story, not going to question)

Can you wake her 5 minutes earlier with music of her choosing to get her into the right frame of mind?

Get her on board with working out how this new regime will work best for both of you?

She is old enough to do that now.

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