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Children’s upbringing - do you have regrets?

(118 Posts)
grannyactivist Thu 03-Jun-21 01:31:29

I love my parents-in-law very much; they are kind, compassionate and exceedingly modest and self-effacing about their own achievements. Tonight at dinner they mentioned the recent programme on Keir Starmer and said they were disturbed to learn how his father rarely praised him and the negative impact it had on him, and said it had started a train of thought that led them to recognise that perhaps they had done the same. They then asked my husband outright if they had praised him enough when he was a child as they’d spent a couple of nights worrying about it. They also told him they love him very much and they’re very proud of him. It was a very poignant moment and in some ways rather sad as their distress was quite apparent.

Our own children say they had a lovely childhood, and they are certainly re-creating something similar with their own children. They know, absolutely, that they’re loved - and they’ve all, individually, had to deal with traumatic life events and know we’re immensely proud of the way they’ve supported each other in those difficult times. And yet... I can’t help wondering what particular regrets we might have when we look back in years to come.

Are such regrets inevitable do you think?

crazyH Thu 03-Jun-21 01:40:48

I do have lots of regrets regarding my role as a mother. I was too harsh, too strict, etc etc.Too late now. Just hope they will remember me with a bit of kindness ...

Biscuitmuncher Thu 03-Jun-21 01:55:46

I regret waiting so long to have my children, I was 32 when I had my first. And it's not like I had a fantastic job that got in the way of motherhood. But on the whole I think I did a good job, I was always there for them, always kind and gentle. And now they are adults they still want to be with me and often say they're glad I'm their mum

CafeAuLait Thu 03-Jun-21 02:31:01

I think every parent has regrets or things they would change by the time their children are grown. That's hindsight though and we all did the best we could with what we knew at the time.

Kim19 Thu 03-Jun-21 02:37:45

I simply look at the result before me and consider it must have been a job well done. Just muddled through and did the very best we could as each obstacle presented itself along the way. The relationship we have now is seriously heartwarming.j

Madgran77 Thu 03-Jun-21 07:05:45

We struggled with the teenage years with a very challenging teenager and certainly made some mistakes. Hindsight is a wonderful thing!!

silverlining48 Thu 03-Jun-21 07:21:10

I think the failure to praise was because belief at the time was that it would make children ‘big headed’ . I have a friend who was brought up that way and continued this with her own children. They have grown up and have a good relationship with her as far as I know, but I remember sometimes wishing she would just say ‘well done’ sometimes. So I did instead, but coming from me just wasn’t the same.
I think regrets are inevitableGA and hope your in laws felt reassured after they talked about theirs.
I think we must all have regrets, I do, though always did my best, but often wonder what my AC really think. I hope they felt loved, because they were.

Iam64 Thu 03-Jun-21 07:31:17

That sounds to have been a special family discussion over a shared meal grannyactivist. One of those occasions when we are reminded how much our parents love us, that even in later life, we reflect on the way we brought up our children.

I agree with silver lining, I expect most of us have some regrets. Some things we would do differently. We learn how to be parents from our own experiences and by learning on the job

NanKate Thu 03-Jun-21 07:46:46

I found motherhood very difficult and would do things differently given my time over again. However as time went on my DS and I have built up a good relationship. I have been a far better grandmother to my 2 DGSs.

Whitewavemark2 Thu 03-Jun-21 07:48:50

Nobody gets it all right or all wrong but if you have done your best then you can’t ask any more of yourself.

Mind you saying that ..........😬.

I still muddle along.

JenniferEccles Thu 03-Jun-21 08:15:07

Oh gosh doesn’t EVERYONE have regrets over certain aspects of their child-rearing?

Wouldn’t it take a particularly arrogant person to claim they got everything right?

I’m sure I made plenty of mistakes along the way, and certainly by today’s standards I was on the strict side.

In any case, isn’t there too much
‘parent blaming’ going on these days? We seem to be inundated with people digging up old grievances and airing them in public.

The petulant Harry of course springs to mind, and now it appears Starmer is at it too!

Mattsmum2 Thu 03-Jun-21 08:28:02

I’ve had several of these conversations with my children over the past few years, primarily because of my behaviour. I’ve had three failed marriages all in their formative years and can’t stop thinking about how this effected them at the time. I’ve always been amazingly proud of my children, I tell them this, my daughter is a nurse with two degrees and my son is just finishing his second year of uni after a troubled late teens.
I’ve never not been there for them, told them I love them all the time and try to give them the wisdom of my experience as a person.
They tell me I’m a great mum and anything I’ve done has they know in their best interests. I try not to be a smothering mother, they know I’m there if they need me.
I think everyone will have regrets, being strong enough to admit and realise before it’s too late is probably the best we can all hope for. Take care and be kind xxx

Lollin Thu 03-Jun-21 08:31:29

jennifereccles you are right. A reality tv star Joey Essex has made a programme, aired on bbc this week I believe, about the death of his mother at a very young age and other programmes about physical abuse from fathers experienced by other rich and famous men has also aired recently. I think discussion can help people in many different ways. Both those who might go down the wrong path and those who will find that they are not alone. So many times on Gransnet people seek the thoughts of others from their experiences and thoughts on various personal subjects and hopefully get a little help from doing pig so.

As for my parenting, I can agree that I have been far too strict and at other times far too easy going. Trying to have the right balance has not been easy but I love the fact my own children return to our family home freq

Lollin Thu 03-Jun-21 08:32:28

Oh dear accidentally posted before completed. It is so long I was going to edit it. Sorry folks!

JackyB Thu 03-Jun-21 08:34:05

My father praised me a lot and it certainly didn't make me big-headed. It made me self-conscious. I didn't want to stand out and I think I missed a lot of opportunities because I was embarrassed or shy and always on the defensive.

It was that aspect of me, however, which has made my boys assertive and self-confident, so something good did come out of it in the end.

LauraNorder Thu 03-Jun-21 08:35:41


Nobody gets it all right or all wrong but if you have done your best then you can’t ask any more of yourself.

Mind you saying that ..........😬.

I still muddle along.


I don’t often, if ever, agree with Whitewave, but on this occasion I think you’re spot on. I too am happily muddling on.

DiscoDancer1975 Thu 03-Jun-21 08:37:55

There’s always things we could have done better, but we did what was right at the time, and with the best intentions.

NotSpaghetti Thu 03-Jun-21 08:40:44

I think we got different things wrong for different children.

In retrospect, for example, we should have visited our oldest child at university more. We didn't visit much as saw this as "her space". I remember being fed up with my parents wanting to visit me at university (even just turning up once or twice) and thought she'd feel like me. She didn't. She felt we had just "let go of her".

She knows why now and we have talked about it in a loving way, more than once and apologised. We all know we got this wrong. I wish we had known at the time. Now it has moved into "family story" when discussing how parents get things wrong and it feels less painful to me. We accept that we all make mistakes. It still hurts me to be honest though - when I think about it.

Marmight Thu 03-Jun-21 08:44:12

Life is full of regrets. The what-iffs. I wish I could have been more openly demonstrative with my children but coming from a home where mid C20 stiff upper lip prevailed it was not easy. Of course I loved and cuddled my kids and wanted the best for them but I always felt there was a bit of a wall between us. Probably my inner inadequacy rearing its ugly head. I must have done reasonably ok as they have all become brilliant, loving Mums to my 8 GC. They’ve all been so caring, patient and attentive since their Dad died so I must have got something right. It would be interesting to turn back the clock and have another crack at it with the benefit of hindsight

GrannySomerset Thu 03-Jun-21 09:07:21

I had no experience of being an adult child so found navigating this stage quite hard - I wanted to be the background support but not intrude on their lives so probably stood back more than I should have done. They both say they were grateful for affectionate but not indulgent childhoods so we probably got most thing right. They are certainly parenting in a similar way.

Shelflife Thu 03-Jun-21 09:11:36

I imagine most parents wonder if they made mistakes - I do. Unless parents make monumental mistakes then I hope adult children can overlook that and know how much they are loved! We do what we can at the time . I imagine that as our children parent our grandchildren that will begin to understand that we don't always get it right.

nanna8 Thu 03-Jun-21 09:16:05

It got better as time went on. I had no clue with my first child but by the time I had my fourth I was a lot more relaxed and had sorted out the important stuff from what didn’t really matter. The first daughter,who was ‘difficult’ anyway, copped all sorts of rubbish and ill tempered remarks on my part. I was young and clueless basically. By the time I had my fourth I was 31 and I had also fostered children so it was all much easier. Still, they grew up alright.

grannyactivist Thu 03-Jun-21 09:40:19

nanna8 your post echoes something of my own experience of parenting. There are 19 years between my eldest (of five) and the youngest and it would be very disappointing if I’d learned nothing during those years.

I know only two parents who say they brought up their children exactly as they wished and they have no regrets; one of them simply raised hers with ‘benign neglect’ (my opinion, but she agrees), but showered him with material things. Now in his 30s his behaviour is incredibly selfish and he has trouble sustaining relationships, which pleases his mum because she ‘doesn’t like competition’. The other parent has three lovely children who are all in stable relationships and are very nice people - so maybe she really did get parenting absolutely right.

Witzend Thu 03-Jun-21 09:40:36

I wish I’d tried to enforce tidiness! But then I’m not a naturally tidy person myself. Their teen bedrooms were like war zones on a bad day. I used to have to tell (tidy) dh to shut the doors and not look. He did once say that if we ever moved house, we could forget wardrobes/chests of drawers for them - the floor was evidently enough.

On the whole no, though, but then I think we were very lucky in having relatively very easy dds. We never had Terrible Twos or Nightmare Teens, either.

grannyactivist Thu 03-Jun-21 09:42:27

As an addendum to my last post I should add that most children have two parents and I mention only the mums because the first parent is a single mum and her son never met his father and in the second I never discussed the situation with the dad so I don’t know his views.