"Aim Lower, You're British"  

Fallic40 53M
3214 posts
2/25/2006 12:26 pm
"Aim Lower, You're British"

I have to admit that I find myself dwelling on my upbringing much more than perhaps I should. I do not do this as a way of disparaging my mum and dad: far from it. It is more an exercise to help show me the way to not just raise my daughters, but to equip them for the future and to excel in what ever they choose to do with their lives. Lofty and pretentious though it may sound, it is important to me as a parent, role model and guide to do the best job of this possible. And self-analysis is a massive part of that job.

First of all, I will state that my mum and dad did the very best they for me that they could. Their parenting skills were a product of the environment in which they were raised: namely World War 2 London (not exactly a healthy, nurturing environment). I am sure that my parenting skills are shaped the same way.

We had a color television, a telephone and two cars. Laugh as you may, but in 1970s Britain, this was fucking bourgeois. (Hell, my granny still had outdoor plumbing in 1975 and my dad, uncle and I built a bathroom addition to her house.
Even then, you never wanted to get up and pee in mid-winter.) Both of my parents worked to allow the family to achieve the anglicized version of the American dream. I can still remember running down to various friends’ houses to get their parents for a phone call that was placed to our house. The few phones in the area were all on a “party line” where you could not make a call if someone else was making a call.

However, my mum especially, and to some extent my dad, were not “interactive” parents. And for the most part, none of my friends’ parents were that way either. What do I mean by interactive? To me, that involves a lot of interaction between parents and children. It means give and take in discussions and allowing the child some degree of control. It is here that my parents did not do very well. It is here that I have made the greatest efforts to work with my girls. My mum and dad confused having things (because they really, truly had nothing growing up) with nurturing.

To this day, I have trouble recalling when my parents hugged me as a child. Discussions were always one sided and discipline was strictly enforced by my mother (rather than my dad). I had no say in such mundane issues as what clothes to wear, how my hair was cut (very short) and bed times. It really created a void that followed me into my teen years, and even into adulthood, where small decisions created a lot of anxiety because I never gained the skills and self-confidence to live my life.

I now have two daughters who I dote upon. It is not an understatement to say that I fell madly in love with each one when they were put into my arms for the first time. I consider my role as a parent to be one of guidance and moderation: not one of discipline and control. I want my children to see the vast panorama of life that is in front of them. They need to see that they are individuals with their own road in life to follow. The two of them need to be raised to relish the challenges ahead. Do not think however, that I am a soft touch. I run a tight ship ‒ but with benevolence. The rules that my daughters and I have created are such that they do not feel any compulsion to test them beyond reason.

Both of them know what they want to be when they grow up: these are realistic goals rather than anything that is “pie in the sky”. My oldest wants to be a sports trainer and she is planning on going to UNLV to gain the necessary skills. She wants to see the world and feels that she can do it by combining her soccer skills and her job as a trainer.

The youngest wants to go to the FBI Academy. She is already tracking her grades in junior high school. Yes, she has been influenced by “CSI” and by “NCIs” on television, but she is fascinated by science and logic and sees this as her career. She also looks at the women in those shows and sees positive role models. The difference between how my parents ran things and how I run things is that I see these dreams as tangible and achievable. My parents saw them as life damning and as a set-up for disappointment and failure. It was the great Eddie Izzard who talked about seeing his school counselor and being told “Aim lower, you are British”.

Apart from self determination, the other area that I am different from my parents is in giving my daughters “things”. The girls need guidance, understanding and love. They do not need cell phones, flashy clothes and cash in abundance. Yes, they get limited quantities of these items, but usually we talk about why they are, or are not, getting the requisite items. (And I do see occasionally giving them something because the other kids have the item as a good reason.) My parents saw giving me, and my sister, things as compensation for the way they worked. We were always subjected to the “do you know how hard we worked for that” lecture. The fact that a lot of what I was given was very unimportant to me was completely lost on them.

I intend to devote a complete post in the near future to the decision my parents made to move to the United States. But what is most important here is that neither parent felt compelled to open the floor to my sister or myself for input.

So how do I feel when I look back on growing up: well, it is what it is. I cannot go back and change it. What I can do is remember how I felt at the time, and how I now feel about my life then and take valuable lessons from it.

What did I learn most of all from all my reflection? Children are people too.


I have to admit that there was an inspiration for this piece, but I cannot remember the author of the post. I wish that I could. I read about a loving single mother who was feeling very down on herself because she had shouted at her children. I would have asked other single parents out there to go on her blog and give her some support and advice.

If you are reading this, know that as a single parent (a loving, involved, single father, no less) I can empathize with your plight.

Tala4u2 54M  
2961 posts
2/25/2006 1:14 pm

We only let the English win the Ashes out of pity LMAO. Even though it this is a great post mate, it's an Australian thing the minute we see the faintest glimmer of Pom we have to react. have fun blogging

Tala, Wizard of The Kingdom of BooBoBia, DEITY,

Fallic40 53M
1858 posts
2/25/2006 2:19 pm

Hi Suzie, I think it is more a product of the british environment: a lot of Victorian thought processes still hanging around. I know so many people my age who were raised in very strict, highly regimented homes and many of them struggled in life. Did you ever get the "we never had that in the war" speech?

And you have one more teenage girl than I, plus you have major health issues. plus I have the advantage of being dad - big points to be made there.

I wrote once in a post that when I was asked in school what I wanted to be when I grow up, it was not to grow up to be a divorced father of two with a heart problem. I would imagine that such possibilities never crossed your mind either?

Fallic40 53M
1858 posts
2/25/2006 2:22 pm

Tala, no worries. Even though I am british by birth, I make fun of myself and my heritage all the time. It's the Irish half of me coming out, I think.

As to the ashes, it was the best set of cricket matches I have followed in years. The series next winter will be equally compelling and should be close again: I do see the home side prevailing though.

Now what is up with the Wallabies right now?

Fallic40 53M
1858 posts
2/25/2006 2:38 pm

I was able to locate the post that inspired me to write about how my parents raised me. It is was written by singleagain53578 and was called [post 247369].

Her sadness struck a chord in me. Raising children is the most difficult thing there is to do - but also the most worthwhile endeavour on the planet. She just needs to be reminded of that in a constructive way.

Fallic40 53M
1858 posts
2/25/2006 2:44 pm

Kat,and the watching is kind of fun too, I bet. It sounds like you spent a lot of time teaching your children to succeed and to make decisions.

moonfire2u 69F
2602 posts
2/25/2006 3:32 pm

I stayed in a loveless marriage because I felt that the kids needed two parents...of course, hindsight...they might have been better off with a mother who was happy and leading a healthier life...oh well, we guess we all try and do the best we can...my kids have grown up to be pretty amazing adults...so, I guess I didn't screw them up too badly

Fallic40 53M
1858 posts
2/25/2006 4:53 pm

moonfire, I decided to get out of my marriage for exactly that reason. I decided that I could be a better parent and person without the malignant influence of my ex-wife. To date, I am very happy with the results.

angelgrrl 48F

2/25/2006 5:59 pm

It's too bad children don't come with instructions. Mine are still quite young; I hope we're raising them to be healthy, happy, and strong individuals. They do know they're loved.

rm_jayR63 59F
1884 posts
2/25/2006 7:47 pm

I think you're doing a fine job as a parent.

Except for the part about material things replacing hugs (we got neither), my upbringing sounds similar.
We were raised to beleive that if you can't pay cash, you can't afford it and you'll appreciate and care for things much more if you work for them. Still good advice, except for houses and cars.

Now stop ruminating and think about yourself for a while.

whats4dessert2 49M

2/26/2006 12:26 am

Fallic my fellow ABBA listener...All I can say is "Amazing post". I'm not a father, nor do I ever plan to be one, but if it ever happened I think if I could be half of the father you are I'd still be doing a pretty good job.

The most amazing thing about what you wrote is that, although you recognize your parents' shortcomings, you also appreciate that they were doing the best with the tools that they had been given. Instead of resenting that and using it as an excuse like so many do, you chose to learn from it, rise above it and try to improve on it.

If your ability to learn from how you were raised does nothing else the one thing that you can be sure of is that, if your daughters do the same, they will grow up to be even better parents than you.

There is hope for the future yet and we have parents like Fallic to thank.

(even if he does put a pic of himself in his blog cooking while he's naked. "Hey what's this short curly hair doing in my salad?")

Fallic40 53M
1858 posts
2/26/2006 8:51 am

whats, the thing that is most amazing to me, is that my parents also seem to have learned from it. My dad, especially, has filled a huge void in the life of my sister's son. My sister had the misfortune to marry someone who treated her badly and then decided to not participate in his son's life. My mother has performed very well as a granny as well. My father and mother are providing a lot more emotional support to my nephew and that makes me very happy.

My parents and I have talked about when I was growing up and things that happened very regularly and not only have they realized how I felt about things, but I have been shown how they felt about things.

Fallic40 53M
1858 posts
2/27/2006 12:21 pm

angelgrrl, I agree that instructions would be nice, but the journey I have gone on with my daughters is much better for being unscripted. The best thing of all, is that they become more and more interesting each year.

Fallic40 53M
1858 posts
2/27/2006 12:25 pm

jay, the paying cash is a big part of my philosophy since I got a divorce, so is strict budgeting. I have always been open on the budgeting with them and they understand it when I tell them that something is not affordable.

And thinking about me would make a great post, wouldn't it.

Fallic40 53M
1858 posts
2/27/2006 12:28 pm

mzhuny, thank you. I just do my best. Isn't that the essence of being a parent?

rm_dudical80 36M

2/27/2006 8:31 pm

I am glad you bring this to people's attention. Being a good parent and loving your children is important then trying to help them acheive their dreams and aspirations. I am also from England in Essex and we do make fun of our heritage. i was actually born there not that 27%english 21%german nonsense.

Fallic40 53M
1858 posts
2/28/2006 8:29 am

dudical, and the other 52% is? (Just kidding, mate.)

From my perspective, my job is to give my girls the confidence to seek out their path in life. My parents did the opposite for me by always telling me what was best for me. Even now, I have a tendency to allow life to choose my path.

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