Rae’s Rules to Remember #70: Toxic Parenting

I’m not a parent, nor do I ever want children. However, I’m great with kids and know how to take care of them. I also know that there are just certain things that you shouldn’t say or do to a child.

I lived with my mom for the first three years of my life (my dad was in college at the time in the opposite end of the state). After my dad graduated my parents entered a custody battle. My mom lost and I was forced to start living with my dad and visited my mom on the weekends. Just to be perfectly clear, my dad didn’t fight for custody because he wanted to. He did it because he felt that he had to. Most of childhood was actually spent with my grandparents.

I get that being a new single parent isn’t easy. I understand that fully. But after the first 8 years, it probably shouldn’t take you an hour to remember to pick up your kid from school. If I had a penny for all of the times that I was forgotten, I’d have a nice stack of cash. My dad broke a lot of promises when I was growing up to the point that even now, I never take anything he says at face value.

I love both of my parents, I really do. But when I was in high school, I reached a point where their opinions and expectations no longer meant anything to me.

My dad has pretty much spent the majority of my life telling me how much of a disappointment I am.

Since birth actually……. That’s not an exaggeration.

My dad wanted his first born to be a son and got me instead (strike one). Instead of accepting it, he dressed me in clothes that were mad for little boys and the sizes were always wrong. After a year or so he realized that it wouldn’t change anything and stopped.

My dad was always much harder on me than he was on my brothers. Surely, part of it was because he just didn’t know what the hell he was doing as a parent. But that’s not my fault. His lack of preparation shouldn’t have been taken out on me. And it’s not like I was a bad kid. I loved school, reading, and always got good grades. The second that I slipped up even a little, he would freak out on me. When I was in high school I was the only person my year taking all available AP courses. I was literally ahead of everyone else. I was usually okay at math, I just didn’t always understand it. Still, he forced me to skip the honors course for calculus and go straight to AP. I struggled with the class. I stayed after school with my teacher when I could and eventually ended up with a B…..he complained about it and said that I should’ve done better. Not that he was any help since he knew none of the things that we were studying. It also didn’t matter to him that my junior year I was ranked 3rd in my class overall and would have been valedictorian the following year. When he found out my rank, he couldn’t even hide how surprised he was. And instead of letting me become valedictorian (which is something that he knew I wanted) I was forced to switch schools my senior year. The funny thing is, that was what he wanted right? A kid who was the perfect student? Well there I was on the road to being the top of my class and that wasn’t even good enough. I was always supposed to get As no matter what. No surprise that the rules changed for my brother. He got his report card a few weeks ago (he’s currently in 10th grade) and all he had to say was, “Did you get any D’s? (No) Good. I’m proud of you”

That was all it took for my brother to make him proud. I couldn’t get so much as a B but my brother could get straight Cs and it’s all fine?

There was also a huge lack of support for my career choices. When I was 12 I decided that I wanted to go to culinary school. I was obsessed with Food Network and loved trying out new things. I kept tons of notebooks full of recipes that I wanted to try. My dad (surprise) kept trying to push me in a different direction. Basically any other direction. Becoming a chef wasn’t good enough for him. A few years later, my little brother also started showing an interest in cooking. What did my dad do? He supported him 100%. He would buy him cookbooks, take him grocery shopping with him and then make a huge deal out of the meals he attempted to cook. So the exact opposite of what he did with me. No surprise really but afterwards I dropped the culinary dream.

There is one day that I will never forget for the rest of my life. We (dad, stepmom, and two youngest brothers) were driving home from a lacrosse game. I had played well that day and we won. I had recently gotten a guitar and was teaching myself how to play it. My dad was listening to something on the radio that caused him to ask if I could play by ear and I said no. (Keep in mind that my dad can’t sing, dance and has never played an instrument in his life). Because I said no his response was, “Great. No talent. No athlete. Can’t wait to see what your brothers are not going to do.”

I was crushed.

What pissed me off most about this is that I was actually a really good athlete. I excelled in tennis, I was the top scorer on my basketball team and (again) if I hadn’t switched schools, I would have been lacrosse captain. I was also in both concert choir – which anyone could join, and chorale –  which you had to be chosen for. But none of that mattered. I was just a talentless, non athletic kid. As soon as we got home, I packed a bag and went to stay with my aunt for a week.

It was the year that I turned 16 that I finally learned not to give a fuck anymore. My birthday was in January and my dad’s big idea was to buy me 5 cakes. Each of them with something that represented something that I liked. Ironically, half of those were things that he didn’t even support: A microphone, sheet music, a lacrosse stick, a book, and a chef’s jacket. My aunt cooked dinner for me and that was basically it. It was just my family and my best friend. Since I had nothing better to do, I spent the night at my best friend’s house. According to my dad, we didn’t really do much because he “doesn’t do birthdays.” Those were his words.

That same year, in May, my brother turned 10. My dad drove 7 hours to pick him up just for the weekend and threw him a huge party. He cooked a huge meal, there was a guest list and everything…..but he “didn’t do birthdays” right? That was the day I realized that this was always how it was going to be. I would always be put on the back burner in relation to my siblings – who are all boys. Especially when it came to the oldest of the boys because he’s the first born son.

That’s when I accepted the fact that my dad never wanted a daughter.

Because my dad was in school when I was born he missed the first few years of my life. He and my stepdad have been in my life for the same amount of time. If I ever needed anything, I would go to my stepdad first. He’s more of a father figure to me than my biological dad is.

There’s more to this story but I think you get the point. The bottom line is the things that I’ve listed here are the things that I will remember for the rest of my life no matter what else happens.When I actually needed him in my life he treated me like shit and now that I don’t need him it’s like he’s trying to make up for lost time. Like he’s trying to tear down that wall that’s in between us but I can’t. More importantly, I’m not so sure that I want to.

 

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About Bookmark Chronicles

Hi! I'm Rae. 23. Avid Reader, Book Blogger. Intersectional Feminist. Gryffindor.
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45 Responses to Rae’s Rules to Remember #70: Toxic Parenting

  1. [ Sighs ] Rae, parents usually learn by trial and error; they do not get a handbook along with their newborn babies that would tell them how to raise their children correctly.

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  2. Alyssa says:

    I’m sorry your childhood wasn’t everything you hoped for. While I don’t know what it’s like to have unsupportive parents, I can sympathize with family members not caring about what I do, but when someone else does the exact same thing, they’re all the sudden amazed and fawn over them. The only good thing about getting hurt is being able how to learn how not to treat others. You seem like a very caring and accepting person, and it looks like you’ve definitely learned from others mistakes!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Tiana says:

    What a heartbreakingly honest post. I can understand what it is like to have a parent who shouldn’t be a parent in my life so I completely get why this can be such a hard thing to have gone through. It is so hard to go through life thinking that what you do, never reaches a parent or mentors expectation of you, but in the end you are stronger for it. You learn to roll with the punches and be the best person you can be for yourself and no one else. You learn to appreciate yourself more because every accomplishment you have achieved was done solely by you and by your own merit alone and there is a lot of pride to be taken in that. Thank you for this post.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. What is it with Dads? Especially those who are not with their wives anymore. I guess it explains why they’re not together anymore though.
    A lot of the separated Dads I know are just…Butts, my own included in that. My parents split up two days before High School and my Dad spent pretty much my entire teenage years constantly letting us down. Not showing up, OR showing up really early, like an hour or two early and get angry at us for not being ready to go. Nearly every single weekend he was supposed to have us, he’d ring up at the last minute “sick”. If we weren’t there when he got there early, heaven forbid! It was all just to get at my Mum as well. She learnt pretty quickly to have backup babysitters!
    Now that we’re older he sends us these abusive text messages, about how we should “respect him” and he never did anything to us. Which I guess is true, because you can’t do things to people if you’re never around!
    It used to really upset me, but now it just actually makes me laugh. It’s just so ludicrous.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Marquessa says:

    Heartbreaking. You are strong and those experiences have only made you who and what you are today!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. tlohuis says:

    That is a very heartbreaking story. I have 4 kids. I had 2 girls first, followed by 2 boys. I love them all the same. I don’t claim to be a perfect parent because there is no such thing. You learn as you go along, but there is really no excuse for the way you were treated. Just know it was not your fault. I think you know that. You know you are intelligent a good athlete and everything else you mentioned. You’re a very talented young lady. You didn’t let him take those things away from you. You sound very well rounded and you have a good head on your shoulders. I hope you are enjoying life to the fullest at this time. Be proud of all of your accomplishments. Take care. XX 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Idontwearahat. says:

    Thanks for sharing this. We’re always told to respect our family and you’ll miss them when they’re gone etc. but we aren’t told that we don’t have to put up with their constant bullshit.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. darthtimon says:

    I find this story both heartbreaking and baffling. I hope one day your father realises he’s lucky to have a daughter like you.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Jessie says:

    My mother was also a terrible parent, and my grandmother is the reason I turned out halfway decent. I’m honestly surprised to the “parents don’t get a handbook” comment. You don’t need a handbook to tell you not to be a complete jerk to your children. Your father constantly degrading you is inexcusable and don’t let anyone ever try to tell you differently.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Ariel Lynn says:

    I’m so sorry you went through all this. I hope you know that you’re a fantastic person, regardless of what your father thinks. *Internet hugs*

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I have to ask. Was there any question of him being your Father I ask because my father was the same way with one of my older brother second to the oldest. My brother got his fill one day and asked why and man the answer he got was a shock since his mom was not alive to answer follow up questions he had to ask why my dad looked at him pointed to all of us and said these kids there is not question they are all mine you son your mom was not as faithful as theres is and I don’t know if you are my son or my nefew my brother said why we all wish he had not because my father says to him because I know for a fact your mom slept with 2 of my 5 brothers and that is why. My dad did get a DNA test done afew months later he is his child and my dad treated him better then us at times after that. He is the only child he sent to collage and paid for it the rest of us had to go on grants or find another way. I am sorry to hear that you was treated so wrong no matter the reason. You deserved better then what you got from both of your parents.

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  12. steve93blog says:

    I know humans make mistakes, but this sort of behavior cannot be excused. Then again, there’s a very fine line that separates the good parents from the bad….

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  13. Pingback: January Wrap Up! 2017 | bookmarkchronicles

  14. 1wisewoman1 says:

    Wow! Intense… I grew up in an emotionally abusive household too, but this sounds much more difficult. I’m much older now (almost 50), but still deal with those childhood scars. They are so big and they set us up for a shaky future. I’m glad you are processing your experiences and it sounds like you’re coming to terms with it. You are recognizing your worth and value. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  15. myamazingnonbiofamily says:

    Wow, I recently knew someone who had some of the same aspects of childhood that you did – and it turned them toxic too – not being able to form proper friendships/relationships as they always seemed to be looking for approval that somehow wasn’t enough. As much as I was sad to read how he treated you, as a parent of a child who isn’t biologically mine, it made me smile to read how your Stepdad has influenced your life positively.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! I’m glad to hear that you can treat a child that isn’t your own as if they were. I’ve seen instances where situations like that turn really ugly

      Liked by 1 person

      • myamazingnonbiofamily says:

        My case is slightly different. She was carried by a surrogate and I discovered at three months old that she had slipped up and so my daughter comes from the sperm of the surros partner. So fortunately I found out early, it wasn’t easy to digest but she’s definitely my little girl and has been since the minute I held her when she was born

        Liked by 1 person

      • Oh my goodness, I’m sorry to hear that. I mean, I know that you love your daughter no matter what but that must have been such a shock. You seem to be handling it very well and that’s so awesome. I am happy for you and your family 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • myamazingnonbiofamily says:

        Thank you! It was a huge shock, just spent my head spinning for a while, and we’d become amazing friends with our surrogate as well (we are again now). Just needed a period of adjustment but I still get scared about my daughter running off and living with her bio parents she hits 16. That’s why reading stories like yours about the influence of non-bio parents helps me rationalise it. Although I know every case is different so there’s no guarantees either way. I just have to be the best dad I can 😁

        Liked by 1 person

      • I’m sure you an amazing dad! Even if she does want to get to know her biological dad, you’re still her dad too. My mom and stepdad split up in October and he was so afraid that I wouldn’t want to be around him anymore. Of course I wouldn’t let that happen, I just couldn’t.

        Liked by 1 person

      • myamazingnonbiofamily says:

        Thank you, I try! I probably say “I love you” too much. She will know her bio parents and will know the whole story so that should make her less curious, as she’ll know everything (at the right age). I can totally understand your stepdads dear but it’s so cool you’ve made him confident in your relationship! I’m sure he appreciates it

        Liked by 1 person

      • myamazingnonbiofamily says:

        My case is slightly different. She was carried by a surrogate and I discovered at three months old that she had slipped up and so my daughter comes from the sperm of the surros partner. So fortunately I found out early, it wasn’t easy to digest but she’s definitely my little girl and has been since the minute I held her when she was born

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  16. Skipah says:

    As a father of a daughter that lost in a custody battle this makes me sad to read :(. Sorry you had to endear such a craptastic view of fatherhood growing up. You sound like someone that any father would be proud to call his daughter!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. duckiebat says:

    This was really sad to read and has made me think yes parenting sucks and there are no ‘handbooks’ (as said in first comments) although many so called books believing to be perfect guide. I hope that my kids will look back despite all my mistakes that I only ever wanted the best for them and even when I haven’t always agreed with their choices I have always supported them and give them encouragement needed. You should be proud of everything YOU have and continue to achieve.

    Liked by 1 person

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