Su­per Gran was once a lousy­mum

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Q: I’m a 33-year-old mother of two beau­ti­ful girls and I also have a great hus­band. I thank my lucky stars that things have turned out this well as I was con­stantly in trou­ble grow­ing up. As a teen I used drugs and al­co­hol heav­ily but in my20s I turned things around.

As I’ve grown older it’s be­come clear that I never got the par­ent­ing I needed. My mother was very dis­tracted and dis­in­ter­ested in us kids. She drank heav­ily and had af­fairs and then left Dad when I was 11. Al­though we left with Mum, I moved back with Dad six months later be­cause life with­out him was chaos. So it was poor Dad who copped the rough years with me, though he did his best.

My­mother has now mor­phed into Su­per Gran. She loves mykids and spoils them rot­ten and they love her too. Now that she’s been sober for years I’m happy for her to babysit.

What bugs me is that­mum has never apol­o­gised to me for those years. She will some­times talk about what a ‘‘night­mare’’ I was and the other day made the com­ment that I won’t have the same trou­bles withmy girls, im­ply­ing that they’re too bright and won­der­ful to be­come teen night­mares like I did. She takes no re­spon­si­bil­ity at all. My­hus­band thinks I should say some­thing, but Dad says give it up, she has never ad­mit­ted to any wrong­do­ing in her en­tire life.

It took me a long time to get my self-es­teem to­gether and watch­ing my­mumtreatmy kids as if they’re su­pe­rior be­ings to me, brings back all the anger and self-loathing. A: How much do you want this apol­ogy? Your let­ter shows how en­trenched your mother’s de­nial is, so any ac­knowl­edge­ment of blame could be messy to ex­tract. You may need out­side help to reach some sort of sat­is­fac­tory con­clu­sion.

If your mother has never ad­mit­ted to any wrong­do­ing in her en­tire life, (ac­cord­ing to your fa­ther), then I doubt she will put her hand up now, just be­cause you con­front her. It’s clear your mother has her own per­spec­tive re­gard­ing your teenage years and she’s likely to tell it as she re­mem­bers it. You need to be sure you want all this if you de­cide to con­tinue.

You’re the par­ent now and by the sounds of it, you and your hus­band are do­ing a good job. But there’s no guar­an­tees that your girls will stay bright and won­der­ful so you need to try to main­tain their har­mo­nious en­vi­ron­ment.

You’ll in­evitably take your eye off the par­ent­ing ball if you be­gin to tackle your mother. If dis­trac­tion and a sense of chaos were the fac­tors that pushed you off the rails then by pur­su­ing a con­fronta­tion, you could be invit­ing those same fac­tors back into your daugh­ters’ lives. You might in­tend your dis­cus­sion to be pri­vate and con­fined to the adults in­volved, but chil­dren have acute an­ten­nae when it comes to ten­sion and dishar­mony. The rip­ples that spread as you try to ex­tract this apol­ogy may not be worth it.

Your mother has had her turn and in your opin­ion, she stuffed up. No mat­ter what she says about the past, you can be sure she’ll be watch­ing you and pri­vately com­par­ing your ef­forts with her own. For var­i­ous rea­sons, some peo­ple are in­ca­pable of apol­o­gis­ing. Maybe be­ing Su­per Gran to the girls who adore her, is the best apol­ogy she’s ca­pa­ble of.

She loves her grand­kids but her own chil­dren were her last pri­or­ity. 123RF

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