Monday, 11 May 2009

Do we try and improve upon our childhoods when we have children?

Both my parents came from abusive households. One physical, one mental (or so I'm told).

I was never hit or verbally abused. I was spanked by Mum. It was what you did at the time. It was never idly threatened and it never happened in anger or with anything other than an pen hand to my butt or back of legs. Nice fleshy bits that sting but don't hurt.

Other than the Big Fight (tm) when I was 14 or so (Mum had been dead a few years, dad wasn't coping well with having a teenage daughter who wasn't going through puberty pleasantly. I wasn't coping with anything at all. End result was my sister, Nic, moved up from Sydney to look after me for a while, then I lived with other people until I finished school and moved out of Cairns) Dad never spanked or hit me at all.

Anyway, that's kind of the background to the fact that we are not a very demonstrative family. I don't really remember being hugged and kissed a lot when I was growing up. Even now, we aren't a very touchy-feely family. This is not to say that I feel unloved by my family. I'm reasonably certain they wouldn't have put up with half my shit if they didn't love me. Just that there were few physical outpourings of love. I think that it was a byproduct of my parents childhoods.

I still don't hug people often. Never quite sure how they'll take it. There are a few people in my life that I hug and kiss (nothing raunchy, usually top of the head etc) a fair bit. It's nice. It's needed. I'm just aware that not everybody likes physical contact and it's not inbuilt enough in me to do it anyway. This is a byproduct of my childhood

I now have a husband who likes cuddling and hugging and kissing and is very tolerant of my constant demands of 'tell me how much you love me'.

I now have a son who gets hugged and kissed and told that he is loved approximately every 3.7 seconds. Poor child.

In so many ways I had a good childhood (baring mum dying and the big fight (tm) and lead up to it). I was looked after and cared for and educated. I was given a lot of opportunities. I was not denied things as often as I probably should have been. I was given freedom and an idea of self-worth and the ability to host a dinner party for 12people.

The demonstrative love is my way of improving on my childhood in the same way that not abusing their kids is the way that my parents improved on theirs.

I wonder how Torby will improve on his childhood if he has kids?


JD said...

My mum did the same as your parents. Coming from an abusive childhood into an abusive first marriage and her hatred of it all made her go in the completely opposite direction - we were constantly told with kisses, cuddles and words how much she loved us and how beautiful we all are. Even now, I think nothing of going up to my mum when I want a cuddle and just doing it. (That's not to say I do that with everybody. Although I like getting hugs and the like, I am fully aware that others have boundries and may not like me invading their personal space, so I always let them dictate the terms. Just so you know. If you ever need a random hug!)
I think it shows great character to overcome the flaws in your childhood if you go to great pains to make your child's better. I can never understand people who perpetuate uncomfortable or downright nasty aspects of their childhood. If their life was so bad growing up, why would they continue with it?

Katrijn said...

I understand the whole hug thing too. I like hugs - I was given lots of hugs when I was little but not so much as I got older. There are some people I always hug (cause I know they like it) but with people I don't know very well I sort of do that awkward do I hug you or not thing ;-) So just letting you know, if you need a hug, happy to give you one! LOL What is really nice for me now is my teenage boys (16 and 14) as well as my 11 year old will come up and want a hug from me - I like that. The other nice thing is their dad gives them hugs too (that was something that wasn't done in his family - especially by his dad - not a demonstrative family). I don't remember getting hugs as a teenager (not many anyway) and I kind of missed that. I don't want my boys to be embarrassed about getting/giving hugs if they want too. I understand there are people that feel uncomfortable about hugs/hugging but I think they are nice and there should be more ;-)

DV said...

JD, I don't understand perpetuating unhappiness either. I guess if you don't know any better and aren't clever enough to see your way around it, it just happens?

Impish said...

Yay for hugs. Yay for self-perception. Yay for inventing newer, better ways of doing things despite of/in spite of/because of one's past.