Hi Cathy. I was badly abused as a child and went off the rails but have finally sorted myself out. I have a loving partner and two small children who are two years and four months. My problem is I’m worried I won’t be able to protect them. I trust very few people, and I also let my two year old get away with a lot of things. I don’t like anyone telling him off and I tend to give into him very easily .He isn’t a bad child but when he is naughty I find myself making excuses for him. I even argue with his dad if I think he has been too hard on him. I’m sure it’s because of the abuse I suffered which involved physical violence. Even though I know no one will ever do that to my children I still resent them telling him off. My other problem is I try and give my children everything I can. At Christmas I spent a lot on them even though my daughter was only about a month old. I have already started buying for their birthdays and Christmas as I want them to have all they can. I don’t like being away from them although my two year old does go to nursery twice a week but I really miss him. I guess what I want is some tips on how to find a balance. How can I show my son some of his behaviour is unacceptable without thinking of the past? And how can I stop myself from believing that material objects are what they need? Sincerely
Gemma x
CG: Dear Gemma. Thank you for sharing this with us. You already realise why you sometimes spoil your children and possibly over-compensate because of your suffering as a child. You also recognise it is about getting the right balance, but how difficult it is sometimes – for all us bringing up children. If you are too lenient it is because you want to keep your children well away from the abuse you suffered as a child. But please believe me when I say that setting boundaries for children is a world away from an abusive childhood. Boundaries are necessary to raise socially acceptable children, and they also show the child you care; that you love them enough to go to the trouble of making sure they stay safe and do the right thing. I would never condone smacking a child, and indeed foster carers are not allowed to smack. If a child is behaving badly, I first ask them to stop the unacceptable behaviour, and explain why. If they continue, I ask them again to stop, adding what will happen if they don’t. Sanctions should follow as soon as possible so don’t stop pocket money at the end of the week; it is better to stop television or play station time that evening. There is nothing wrong with missing your two year old when he goes to nursery; it shows you care. When my youngest started nursery aged 3, I cried every morning after I’d said goodbye. If you were saying you never let your child out of your sight I would say you are being-overprotective and need to seek advice. But that isn’t what you are saying and from your letter you come across as a very caring and loving mother who wants only what is best for her children. I think you have done incredibly well to come to terms with your past and I know your children will appreciate your care and sensitivity, even when you have to tell them off! I hope this is of some help. You really are doing a very good job of parenting. Cathy x