Do you remember your childhood differently than your parents remember it?

Discussion in 'Community Board' started by princesspumpkin, Mar 8, 2006.

  1. princesspiglet

    princesspiglet DIS Veteran

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    We mostly remember it the same, except for some particular memories. I have very vivid memories of certain things happening-not necessarily bad, but they don't remember them at all. My dad freely admits now that he was a crappy father and tries to make up for it every day by loving my daughter to death. It wasn't all sunshine and roses, but it was great 90% of the time...and we would both agree to that.
     
  2. Forevermarypoppins

    Forevermarypoppins Mouseketeer

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    Me too!! I would describe my childhood as happy and most of that would not include memories of my mother. Simple as that!
     
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  4. galaxygirl76

    galaxygirl76 DIS Veteran

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    Mine are pretty much in line with my parents but my husband's are a different story. The things I hear from him and from his mother, it's like she lived on a different planet or just sticking her head in the sand regarding some of the things her kids went through because of her and her ex-husband(and the boyfriend that followed wasn't a walk in the park either). His sister also has different memories about their childhood than my husband and his brother do.
     
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  5. Magpie

    Magpie DIS Veteran

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    My mother frequently rewrites history - both hers and mine.

    One of the more hilarious examples was when she swore I'd "never" cried as a baby. I dug into a stack of old photos and came up with several pictures of my infant self crying. "Oh," says my mum, "Well, that was your father's fault."

    I'm sure I was a perfectly normal infant, who cried as much as any infant cries (which is to say - a lot).

    Less amusing was when she concocted a completely false "tough-love" story about how she'd kicked me out of the house as a teenager. And told it to her university class. And then told me! When I told her in detail what I remembered about that day, she got very upset and refused to continue the conversation any further. She said it was, "too painful."

    For the record, I walked out after an argument. I wasn't thrown out. And yes, it was a very painful and frightening day for her. But, even knowing her tendency to reinvent things, I was still surprised at how thoroughly she got it wrong.

    When I was a kid, I used to wonder quite seriously if I was insane, because my version of events often didn't match my mother's at all. However, as I got older, my friends - and sometimes even my mother's friends! - would confirm my observations and assure me that things really had happened the way I thought they did. Thanks to them, I'm a lot more confident now.

    The interesting thing is, my mother really believes the stories she tells. She's terribly earnest and honest. Just... wrong, a lot of the time.

    To answer the original question: My mother thinks my childhood was much worse than I remember it being. I wish I could talk to her about it some time, but every time I try to bring it up, she dissolves into a puddle of guilt and anger. It's unfortunate.
     
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  6. DisneyOma

    DisneyOma DIS Veteran

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    My mother tries to get me to dissolve into the puddle of guilt. She's Queen of Passive/Aggressive Land. I'd love for her to dissolve a bit herself.
     
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  7. TexasCruisers

    TexasCruisers Earning My Ears

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    I feel very much the same way. And, my mother is quite the 'victim' now. I haven't brought it up to her, it would just upset her and make things unbearable.
     
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  8. pryncess527

    pryncess527 DIS Veteran

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    I frequently have memories from childhood my mother has no recollection of. They are usually happy memories though, so she's content to let me believe they happened :)
     
  9. Magpie

    Magpie DIS Veteran

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    See, I just feel bad for my mother and angry at my grandparents. She was pretty clearly raised by wolves (the doctor has found old injuries she can't recall getting, such as a broken nose which would happened when she was a child). All things considered, she's done very well and I know she tried her hardest to be a good parent to me.

    I will say, I rarely feel guilt over anything, and almost never where my mum's concerned (or not for long, anyway). I love her, I appreciate her, and I am not responsible for her feelings.
     
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  10. lovin'fl

    lovin'fl DIS Veteran

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    Not only does my mom remember my childhood very differently than I but she also doesn't see some character flaws she has. I have developed many of the same flaws and she she will call me out on them and I say "wonder where I got that from" and she will, dead serious, say "not me" in a insulted tone. Um, yes you, dear mom. Yes indeedy.
     
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  11. marcyleecorgan

    marcyleecorgan DIS Veteran

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    It was usually pretty accurate and if there were differences, I've worked out how it could be different.

    But.... this memory "issue" seems to be a new thing for my mom... This past week, over the phone, I tried asking my mom a random, innocuous question about my childhood that was also linked to the fact that we moved a lot - my parents rented houses until I was 8.

    And she starts off on this crazy story that I have NEVER heard before now, "we did not move a bunch of times! we didn't move until you were 8! where else did we live????"

    And I just look over at my scrapbook, which is filled with pictures of my various bedrooms, BFF's on Class Parade Day, Halloween, bday parties in our backyards, etc. Sorry Mom but I have pictorial evidence that we lived in multiple locations. Just accept that we moved a lot and stop trying to apply any thought process to this Over and Done With, Historical Fact!

    Granted she was feeling a little defensive as the conversation was about childhood brain development, and I did point out that my personal experiences would classify as ACE's in the new modern definition. (Adverse Childhood Experience, more than 5 ACE's and one can qualify as experiencing toxic stress that leads to long-term problems if not managed)

    So I don't know if it's an aging thing or a desire to re-write the past now that she's old enough to have senility issues, which may or may not lead to complete convincing herself of this New Fact she made up! What I do know is that I cannot rely on her account or perspective as not always accurate anymore and I'm losing faith that her answer is usually the Right one.

    Which is very sad and frustrating when you've had a pretty good relationship with your mother, despite growing up in poverty!
     
  12. Magpie

    Magpie DIS Veteran

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    I have a friend who was repeatedly told, emphatically, that she was the only child her mother had ever had. There were no others. She was the one-and-only. She never had any reason to doubt her mother's word (on this, at least), until she was an adult and a relative tracked her down and invited her to a family reunion. To meet her FIVE half-siblings!

    Now she wonders about all the times her mother told her - apropos of nothing - that she never spent any time in foster care. There was that nice German couple, that she vaguely remembers living with for a time... :laughing:

    The ACE concept is interesting. It reminds me of the Childhood Trauma Checklist, that Matt Groening (Simpsons creator) wrote up for his comic book "Childhood is Hell" (part of the Life is Hell series). I had a therapist friend actually borrow it for her patients.
     
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  13. DaisyJ

    DaisyJ Registered

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    The age old art of gaslighting. Us Americans have become quite familiar with the term.
     
  14. MamaBelle4

    MamaBelle4 DIS Veteran

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    I do remember my childhood differently.

    I remember playing in the creek, flashlight tag, delicious meals, board games and my front door being a revolving door for whichever of my or my siblings' friends wanted to visit. I remember feeling safe nd loved.

    Sure, I remember some bad things, being homeless, the terrible fights between my parents, not being able to do cheerleading because my parents simply could not afford it.

    All of that is overshadowed by the love and security they gave me. We would kneel as a family, every night, and say our prayers together, then my siblings and I would line up and kiss each of our parents good night when they would tell us they loved us and to have good dreams.

    I'm sure my parents remember the struggles and the fears and the feelings they couldn't provide enough for us. All I really remember from my childhood is feeling so lucky and so happy to be loved so much.
     
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  15. lifesavacation

    lifesavacation Mouseketeer

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    This is an interesting topic.

    My mother is mentally ill and was very abusive. Thankfully, I was removed from her care when I was young. When I turned 18, I confronted her about the abuse. She told me she remembered nothing from those years due to her mental illness. I guess that's better than flat out denying it, but I don't necessarily believe her.
     
  16. Magpie

    Magpie DIS Veteran

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    I know the term, but isn't gaslighting usually more deliberate and malevolent?

    The sense I get from my mum is that when she reinvents the past, it's because she finds the reality of it intolerable. She doesn't accuse me of anything nefarious when I correct her. She doesn't even say I'm wrong. She just gets panicky. Then, often, she'll later incorporate what I've said and make it part of a new story.

    I've sometimes wondered if it's fallout from growing up in a family with alcoholism, physical abuse, and a very strong emphasis on keeping up "appearances".
     
  17. Klayfish

    Klayfish DIS Veteran

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    I'll be very curious to see what my kids say about this 10 or 20 years from now.

    My mother passed away a long time ago and I have no contact with my father, so I have no idea how they remember my childhood. Probably not very fondly, I was quite the rebel. I don't remember much of my childhood at all. There's no sob story, I simply have a very, very bad memory. I don't remember things well at all, so my memories of childhood are more like random snapshots in time or tiny snippets of video, not a movie. Heck, I really don't even remember much of my wedding.

    I'll be curious to see what my kids say about their memories when they get older...but sadly I probably won't remember them much so I'll have to rely on DW to tell me if they're telling fish stories.
     
  18. prprincess

    prprincess DIS Veteran

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    I believe we definitely had different perceptions of it. My father died when I was 6, which of course, left my mom to be a single parent. It motivated her to go back to college while working FT AND my sister was a sickly child, and in and out of the hospital due to epileptic seizures. Because my mom needed the help, we moved in with my grandmother, who at the time was still raising three teenage boys (my uncle's/mom's brothers). Because of all of that my mom wasn't around to see how one of them emotionally abused me, and I never told her about it because even that young, I felt guilty about making her worry about more things. To this day I really don't bring it up much because I know she was doing the best that she could with what she had, but my childhood wasn't as good as she may think.
     
  19. Grmnshplvr

    Grmnshplvr DIS Veteran

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    My brother and I remember a very different childhood than my mom does. I remember utilities being shut off, bill collectors calling or knocking on the door and having to tell them my mom wasn't home. I remember having very little to no food. never had clothes that fit or looked nice, laundry and dishes were never done. My room was clean because i kept it that way (even as a child) I wasn't really raised, just felt like I existed. I remember 1 camping trip my entire childhood and that was it. I also have memories of going to my grandmas for showers or dinner because we didn't have any food. Anyways my mom talks about how she spent thousands on Christmas for us, even though its clear from the pictures that never happened. I remember begging for clothes and not toys because I really needed them, and still not getting any. We try to not talk about it much because she truly doesn't remember it that way and there is no point in trying to convince her otherwise now.
     
  20. bookgirl

    bookgirl DIS Veteran

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    My parent's, my brother, and I all have different versions of those years. I'm sure the truth lies somewhere in the middle of all that.

    There are lots of things that I didn't share with my sibling or parents and I'm sure my brother did the same so I don't expect my parents to remember my childhood the same as me.

    Personally I think we had a decent childhood. It wasn't perfect by any means and some of it was downright unhappy (divorce, abusive stepparent, some teen angst, etc) but when push comes to shove we also had some pretty good experiences and my mom, brother and I have some really happy memories.
     

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