How were YOUR parents?

Avatar for elc11
Community Leader
Registered: 06-16-1998
How were YOUR parents?
Tue, 08-07-2012 - 5:21pm

The thread about nostalgia got me wondering why I'm not so nostalgic these days, at least in regard to my kids. It occured to me that it may have to do with how my parents were when I was in my 20s, that I may have taken some parenting cues from them. I should add a disclaimer (lol) that when ds left for college I was certainly sad and weepy, I do miss my kids even now, and I still can be very sentimental about things like family heirlooms. And I miss that grandcat like crazy!

How did your parents "parent" you when you were a young adult? Do you think that had a strong influence on the way that you parent your kids now--in what you do or what you don't do?

My parents were pretty hands-off even when I was in my teens, sometimes TOO hands off I felt when I became a parent (which I think made me more involved with my kids). I am the youngest of 3, when I was 21 and had been out of the family home for about a year my parents sold the house and downsized significantly. They rented a 2 bedroom apt and bought a sailboat---that they would eventually live aboard. When I was 25 they left San Francisco on what was intended to be a sail around the world. For a few reasons they altered the plan and instead went through the Panama Canal and arrived in Florida about 6 months after leaving CA. I think that the plan was to someday sail around the world after exploring the Caribbean, but it never happened. But they decided to stay in Florida while the rest of the family was on the West Coast. In those years I joked that my parents had "run away from home" but we were in touch regularly via letters and phone calls, and infrequent visits. Two years after my father died my mom moved back to CA to be near her kids, I was then 44 and she was 69yo.

Dh's parents OTOH remained quite involved in their adult kids' lives, especially the daughters that lived closer. At least one of my SIL felt that they were too involved but part of that was her own doing. My ILs are still "all about the family". Since we're about 2 hours away from them, and dh established boundaries many years ago, we're not affected in any negative way.

By the way my parents jumped into the next phase of their lives as soon as their kids were independent, I guess the behavior I saw modelled was that parents can have a full life that's not about the kids or family, after they've "done their job". I do think that my mom regretted not seeing the grandchildren more when they were little because they didn't really know her then, but I don't think either parent felt any need to be more involved in their adult kids' lives. I never felt compelled to do anything as "drastic" as what my parents did but I think they did show me a different way to be a parent to adult kids.


iVillage Member
Registered: 08-22-2009
Tue, 08-07-2012 - 6:07pm

  I joined the Air Force when I was 20 and since then have never lived 'home' so my parents did not get much experience parenting me as an adult.

  I think one reason that enjoy the empty nest stage so much is because my mother did not get much of a chance to.  She got married in 1955, had her first child in 1956 her last child in 1970 and that child did not move out until 1997 so she had 41 years of having a child in the house.  She died in 2000 so her empty nest stage was less than 3 years.  Also because of the age difference of my sisters my nephew is only 7.5 years younger than my younger sister.  So she never got to enjoy the stage where I am now,  all adults in the family, no children.

  DH's dad and step-mother have always been pretty independent.  They have kids spread out though out the U.S.  We are the closest having lived about 45 minutes away from them since we moved here when DH retired in 1998.  Even living that close there were times when we did not see them that often.   Maybe three or four  times a year.  But in the last couple of years DH's dad has been complaining that he does not see us enough so we have made the effort to invite them  to more family events.  This year they came down for all of the kids plus DH's birthday.  Prior to this the only time they attended any of the birthdays was if it was just a coincidence and they happened to be visiting at the time of the birthday. 

Avatar for sabrtooth
iVillage Member
Registered: 12-03-1999
Tue, 08-07-2012 - 8:11pm

I was always close to my Mom, especially as my Dad died when I was 11, and she never remarried.  I met my husband-to-be when I was 19, but did not marry (or move out) till I was 25.  Dh's dad had died when he was 16, so we both had widowed moms with little money and poor health.  We were close to both moms, visited often, helped around their houses, took them shopping, to the dr, etc.  Dh's mom had passed by the time we had kids, but my mom watched my oldest dd from the time she was 5 months old till she went into pre-school, and sat both kids at least once a week till she moved in with my sister.  We had actually designed our house to accommodate her in a related living situation, but she felt too isolated in our far-flung 'burb, and chose to live with my sister instead.  So then we took her out, or brought her back to our house to visit, a couple times a month till she died.  After my mom died, my sister took in her MIL till SHE died, and my sister's kids didn't move out till they were 27 & 24.  And THEY moved out together.  

We stay close to extended family-- I see & talk to my sister and Dh's family regularly.   We still hang out with friends we've known since grade school.  I have a group of girlfriends from college that I still get together with once a month.  The girls moved out when they were 21 and 26.  We talked daily when they lived far away, saw them at least once a week when they moved back closer, see YDD and granddaughter daily now, ODD about once a week, and dds see each other once a week or so also.

So maybe the reason I don't get nostalgic, is that we've never really been apart. 

Avatar for suzyk2118
iVillage Member
Registered: 07-30-1997
Tue, 08-07-2012 - 8:58pm
I stayed at home for college, and just was another adult in the house. My mom never drove so I took her everywhere. My dad was a traveling salesman (custom fasteners for industry) and was gone every other week, so my mom and I were buds. I then went away for grad school, and called home 2x/week, and kept that up when I then permanently moved away after grad school. We were always all very close (I'm an only, not by their choice).

I took my furniture with me when I moved to St Louis, but then they just got some second hand furniture and a twin bed/frame for me to visit. When I then married 4 years later, they just got a 2nd twin and put them together.

When ds got to be about 15 and was driving and more 'independent' (gone with friends a lot), I talked to my dad apologizing for not understanding what it must've felt like to be gone when we'd all been so close. He told me that was ok; that's the way it was supposed to be. He died a few months later - that discussion was on one of his 'good' days (dementia). (I only knew one grandparent; my mom's mom died when I was a few months old, and my dad's parents died when he was a young teen)

DH is 3rd of 8 ('55 to '64, then '72 - oops) - his dad died when he was 26 (I never met him) and after that all the sibs got very close. We always do tons of stuff with dh's family, year round (24 in the immediate family; 21 are local). DS doesn't thrill to a lot of them, but as he's getting older he's at least appreciating 'family' more (he was very close to my parents).

Avatar for nora_mcl
iVillage Member
Registered: 10-30-2011
Tue, 08-07-2012 - 10:00pm

As I've said before-I am the oldest of 6 kids, my youngest brother is only 10yrs younger than me. So my parents were very busy-I was expected to babysit from the time I was 10, I found out much later that they knew my brother used to beat me up when he didn't like the rules they'd set when they were out-but "what could we do?" And so that meant I never EVER expected our oldest to babysit her siblings unless she wanted to-& she was much older. My mother was quite young when she had me(just turned 20)-& went from her parental home to marriage with nothing between. Dad was older by 6 years & had survived WW2, so was more mature. But he was rigid-by the time the younger ones got there-he was much more relaxed & easier on them. Quite literally-I did not feel he even liked me until I was looking into nursing schools & chose one far from their current posting-but close to my grandparents. I was surprised that he tried everything to make me change my mind, & when he got posted at the end of my high school-he tried to get me to go to one in their new city.

So I learned from Mom's inexperience that I needed to have something I could do-more education. (but there was never any hope of going to college or university-no money & no student loans in those days). So nursing was my choice. My father was horrified that I'd marry someone not in the military-was convinced we'd be on the street begging-never mind that Mike had the education he did not have.

I was much more a touchy-feely parent with mine, I loved to cuddle & just sit with them. Living on base meant that I did have lots of lessons-dance, swimming, skating-not that I excelled in any of them-but I got the chance to try them plus I did manage to go up in Girl Guides to my Gold Cord, I used that experience to become a Guider when I was still in training & then again when my girls were the age. Mike & I both tried to make the kids feel loved & wanted-I know now that Dad did love me-he just didn't know how to show it then.(he had a rough childhood-mother was epileptic & in & out of hospitals until she died when he was 12)

I worked when my kids were beyond babyhood-though I was lucky to be able to do a lot of shifts when Mike was home. (Hard on a marriage-but better for everyone because he HAD to be a hands-on father). My mother really did not work until Dad was forced to retire at 59 with heart disease. I think the biggest difference between Mom & me is that I do not believe that being male automatically makes you smarter-we still battle that one. She will ask my opinion-especially over medical issues-but if my brother disagrees (he who barely made it through high school)-then she will listen to him & disregard what I have said. A product of her age & of her upbringing-but frustrating to say the least. And  now he does not bully me-he bullies Mom, she knows this, has admitted this-but he is male...!

Unfortunately, I'm like "emptynester's" parents-my oldest dd is now almost 42, I am still parenting with Adam (for the record-they all had a say in the adoption process-it wasn't a surprise pregnancy. And to be honest-at the time, we all were told he'd die before he got out of puberty. No regrets, though sometimes I'm surprised that I am still a full-time mother-still nursing but for free!)

I think the biggest difference is that I have more self-confidence than Mom had. She did what her father told her, then what Dad told her & now what my brothers tell her. Hopefully I have instilled that in my kids. We all married & lived independently-something she did do-& something my kids have done. I wish they lived closer-but hopefully they might in the future-we moved closer to Mom when I was 35, right after Dad died.


Avatar for shirley_v
iVillage Member
Registered: 04-29-2000
Wed, 08-08-2012 - 10:24pm

Like you, Elspeth, I am the youngest in the family, and there is 7 years between my sister and I, so a bit of a gap between me and the sibling closest in age to me!  My sister left home pretty early, having graduated high school and got a job (her first being in New York city where an aunt and uncle lived).  She eventually came back to Montreal and in time married.  Anyway here I was in university after high school - so not out of the house at that point.  In the meantime, my father was nearing his retirement and I suppose had I graduated on time, when I was supposed to, I would have assumedly been out of the house then...or well, I don't know!  But my parents had made their plans to move to Nova Scotia when my father retired..which coincided with the year I should have graduated.  Only thing was I had a couple of classes that I had dropped, to make up. 

Anyway, my parents had built a home in Nova Scotia and well, they were going and well, what was I to do?  So my friend and I decided to move into an apartment together and we both got clerical jobs!  I worked for a year and a bit and then I quit and took a couple of summer months to make up my two courses.  In the meantime, Ray and I had made our plans to get married by September of that year (1975).  So I finished up my courses to attain my degree, married Ray and we returned to live in Schefferville where he had already been employed at his first job after university. 

So, in a way, I was expected to move out after university - and my parents had already made those plans to move that was that!  I did enjoy that year of renting an apartment with my good friend and having a job.  But I knew in time I was to be married anyway...

Rays parents had a different way of doing things.  I don't know if it is their Italian heritage, but they didn't expect their children to move out UNTIL they were married!  Well, maybe the girls more than Ray?(he's the oldest and has two sisters).  He moved out because his job took him to northern Quebec.  End of story.  But Ray's parents seemed to feel that it was improper for their daughters to move out unless they were married.  Both of them did marry - the younger one in a marriage we all felt was destined to eventually fail...and it did! 

What surprised both Ray and myself was how quickly our children were so eager to move out!  Michael did complete his degree in university and so moved out sometime not so long after.  But our other children who did not go on to university (or any other after high school education) were also eager to move out as soon as possible.  It seemed a bit premature to Ray and myself that the three younger ones wanted to be so independant so soon.  We weren't so sure it was the wisest thing to do with their lack of higher education and their work which we didn't think paid enough.  They managed, and they did at times share their housing with other friends (still are in some cases) - and sometimes I think Ray and I feel we wished we had stressed more so that they get some more education toward a trade of some sort, but well... long story to that why they didn't pursue that, so I won't go into that.

So I don't think that our parents' manner of doing things had a great deal to do with how things turned out for our children.  In a way, our children just chose their own path in that manner...if it had anything to do with us...well, we never knew! 




Avatar for deenow17
iVillage Member
Registered: 10-12-2004
Thu, 08-09-2012 - 11:47am
I'm an only child & both my parents worked to get by at low paying jobs. My Gram lived with us 2/3 of the year once she gave up her own home when I was 6. For 1/3 of the year in the summer mths she lived with my aunt on their farm & I went when I wasn't in school. I had 4 cousins & my Gram felt I needed to learn to live with siblings. My Nana lived in the closest town & so I also spent time with her when I wasn't in school. It was a nice break from 4 noisy cousins. I won't discuss my Mom's parenting style but let's just say she should never have had a child. My Dad was wrapped around my little finger when he was around but that wasn't often as he was a workahololic. Dad died just after I turned 18 & my family life ended then. My Gram said she didn't think she could return in the fall without Dad there (he was her SIL but they were close) & my Mom started dating shortly after Dad died. I lived at home to finish high school, screwed up my grades as I was so lost & confused so had to rethink my university plans. Ian & I moved our wedding date up from 5 yrs to 1 yr & were married 2 wks before I started university when I was 19. Mom remarried 4 mths later. My stepdad didn't want any reminder of my Mom's life pre-him & so I saw/talked to Mom maybe once every couple of mths. She moved about 8 yrs later & lived 6 mths in Az then 6 mths outside of Kingston here in Ontario which was about 3 1/2 hrs away from us. My parents had left me alone growing up to raise myself & so there was no real support emotionally. They had no money to support me over a roof & food so I started working every school holiday just after I turned 12. Mom did teach me how to be an accounts receivable clerk & a receptionist which helped me get summer jobs so young.

Ian is the middle one of 5 (5 in 10 yrs) & his Mom always said that he was the independent one that they never needed to help. Eldest dd pregnant at 15, married at 16 & divorced at 17, similar stories for the rest of the kids. His parents were older when I married Ian & I was the only girlfriend they had ever met of his. They were happy to see us but never went out of their way to intrude in our lives. They would invite us for dinner but there was no pressure. They were in their 60s & 70s when I came along & were happy that 2 of their kids were married & settled so they could relax. They married later in life after living through WW2.

I'm very different from my Mom & Dad. I was a workaholic like Dad but did my work during the reg working hrs then after the kids were in bed. There were my priority in life & I was there for everything I could possibility do for them. Every extra cent I had went towards my kids because I wanted them to have the classes, lessons, etc. that my parents couldn't afford for me. However, they did have to get part time jobs babysitting & as umpires once they turned 12. The first summer Sandy went away to model I was a mess. I missed her so much but my the time 3 yrs later she went off to university, I was fine & happy to say goodbye there. It was only an hr away unlike Japan or Taiwan. lol I wasn't happy when James left for an exchange program at 19 but the night before he left, I remembered that I was 19 when I married & how I felt I was more than old enough to leave home. I think that was a turning point for me in accepting my empty nest. Our home is always open to the kids, the eldest 2 came home a few times & Andrew stayed until he was 25. We only moved last year with everyone's agreement.

I love having them visit like they did this week but I wont lie. I have learned to enjoy our alone time & will be sad when James leaves on the 20th but also happy to be alone. We communicate by text a lot since we aren't phone people & they still discuss their major discussions with us.