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Lessons I Learned From My Bad Parents

Updated on November 12, 2013

The best gift you can give your child is a happy childhood but unfortunately not all of us had the joy of experiencing it.

Many people find dysfunctional families on television humorous and enjoyable but for those of us that lived those lives it isn’t funny at all.

I don’t have pity parties or try to get people to feel sorry for me, in fact most wouldn’t even suspect I have bad parents by looking at me. The only time it’s evident is the lack of family on my side at important events like weddings, funerals and graduations.

It’s okay because I look back at the lessons I’ve learned and feel in some ways more fortunate than many. Here is a list of things I’ve learned from having bad parents.


I don’t believe everything I hear.

When you are lied to on a consistent basis you figure everyone is full of hot air and empty promises so you don’t count on anyone. If their story is found to be true and I benefit from their information it’s just a bonus. When things don’t go as planned your much less disappointed than those folks who are used to people being honest and forthright.


I don’t count on anyone.

Not only do I not expect everyone to speak the truth, I don’t get disappointed when they don’t follow through or turn out to be jerks. When your parents are bad you figure everyone else is too so you aren’t frustrated when the rest of the world acts like them, it’s what you see as normal. Those few great individuals that treat everyone right are a pleasant surprise.


Protecting my own children

Because of my past I made sure my kids were never in situations where they could be harmed. I protected my children from abuse. I asked questions before they were allowed to spend the night at someone’s home, met the parents and any adults in the home. If the situation didn’t feel right, they weren’t allowed to stay over. I was overprotective but they were safe.

Statistics show that a large percentage of abuse happens by a woman's boyfriend. If my marriage had not worked out I would have been very particular about who was allowed near my kids. Look at stories of child abuse and deaths on the news, many are by a man a woman trusted alone with her kids.

Most men do not accept another man's offspring. That is the simple truth. There are exceptions and I know great men who have and are raising children who are not biologically theirs but we cannot be too careful where our children are concerned.


Some people get enjoyment from hurting other people.

That can be physically, sexually or emotionally, some individuals are just messed up so you don’t get too close until you know you can trust them.

I know the signs, I’ve seen it often enough so I avoid people like that making sure to not be in vulnerable situations like alone on an elevator with a strange man, in an alley, a stairwell or any place I could be a victim. I check my surroundings, make eye contact and am alert at all times.

People who are abused as children, either grow up and continue to be victims or empower themselves and make sure it never happens again.



I am not a follower

Many people don’t know where they are going or what they are doing so I made my own path and set my own rules. When you have parents who are poor decision makers you learn to watch out for yourself and not depend on others to take care of you. I’m cautious of who I listen to or take advice from.

I've learned that if it sounds like bull crap it probably is. I take no one's word at face value, you must prove yourself before I will accept your sales pitch.


Marry a good man or stay single

I knew there were good men out there because both of my grandfathers were good. Just because my mother only picked bad boyfriends and husbands didn’t mean they were all evil.

I would not settle for less. They had to be a good father as well as husband or I would stay single and childless. I was lucky and found a wonderful man who is both a great husband and father.


Last and most important lesson

I learned how to be a good parent and wife by learning from my parent’s mistakes. I am not perfect but it has worked for me so far. While raising our kids I did the opposite of what my own mother and father did and put my kids and husband first.

So you see, having a messed up childhood in some ways made me a stronger and better person because I don’t look at the world as a fairytale full of happy thoughts and princes who save damsels in distress. I don’t expect to have anything handed to me on a silver platter and most of all if people don’t show up or do what they say I don’t have a meltdown because life is full of disappointments.

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    • profile image

      marellen 5 years ago

      Hi Pamela....what insight you have gained from your childhood. I'm sorry that you had bad parents, unfortunately not everyone should be parents but you survived. I'm in awe of you because most kids don't have that intellectually insight that you process.

    • jainismus profile image

      Mahaveer Sanglikar 5 years ago from Pune, India

      Many parents do not know anything of child psychology. So in many cases parents treat their children in an unacceptable way.

    • VendettaVixen profile image

      VendettaVixen 5 years ago from Ireland

      Pamela, this was quite sad, but I think it's more than great that you haven't let a bad childhood negatively shape your entire life. I imagine that's all too easy to do.

      This hub definatly reflects just how mature and strong you are - you seem a wonderful person, dear. I'm so gllad you found a husband who loves you for who you are, and your kids are the luckiest ducks with you as their mum.

    • Made profile image

      Madeleine Salin 5 years ago from Finland

      You seem to be a strong and wise woman and parent, Pamela. Thanks for sharing this story.

    • Leah Helensdottr profile image

      Leah Helensdottr 5 years ago from Colorado

      Brava, Pamela! Not everyone can emerge from a bad childhood with the strength and wisdom to make wise choices about the future people in their lives. I admire you for it. I'll bet your children do, too. Thanks for this excellent hub.

    • Pamela N Red profile image
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      Pamela N Red 5 years ago from Oklahoma

      Thanks everyone for reading. I tend to look at the glass half full and try to find positive in all life's experiences.

    • homesteadpatch profile image

      homesteadpatch 5 years ago from Michigan

      That which does not kill me only makes me stronger. ~Friedrich Nietzsche Voted up!

    • Galadriel Arwen profile image

      Galadriel Arwen 5 years ago from USA

      Hello Pamela, You are a survivor. Children exposed to an unhappy childhood whether it be abusive verbally, physically, or environmentally make a choice. They accept and recoil or run away into themselves; some develop multiple personalities. Some fight back, get inner strength to withstand the pain they feel like you did. You survived and became stronger because of your situation. Child abuse like all abuse is not excusable but in the throw away generation we live in it is a sign of the times. This type of behavior has been going on for centuries. There have been books about it, television shows, and the courts today and yesterday have mounds of cases. Even in the Holly Books incidents of abuse and neglect are mentioned. We the human animals have the ability to control our thoughts, our actions, and our behavior; but we are not superior in this land. Even today those in powerful spots turn their heads when abuse happens. Some religions support abusive behavior toward children and women. The Darwin Theory prevails despite what happens. The strong will out last the weak. Hopefully your life will continue to be better. The way to help yourself is to identify your weakness and once identified you can change your world for the better. P.S. This type of Catharsis is a good remedy to get past the hold of an abusive past. And lastly, I agree it isn't funny. Slap stick comedy is the lowest form of humor. Consider the source and remember you are a survivor.

    • Pamela N Red profile image
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      Pamela N Red 5 years ago from Oklahoma

      Galadriel Arwen we do live in a throw away society. Just last night on the news I saw a story about a woman who dropped her 3 year old son off in the country like an unwanted dog. He's alright and she's in jail where she belongs.

      Homesteadpatch, I love that quote.

    • Twilight Lawns profile image

      Twilight Lawns 5 years ago from Norbury-sur-Mer, Surrey, England. U.K.

      Pamela, what a wonderful, yet very sad hub. You are obviously a survivor, and it is wonderful see and read your words, There are so many people who maintain that because they were treated negatively or abused, that that is their only way of surviving and treating others.

      I loved this hub and have marked up and useful... also posting it on FaceBook because it is so worthwhile.

    • Twilight Lawns profile image

      Twilight Lawns 5 years ago from Norbury-sur-Mer, Surrey, England. U.K.

      I wrote this on my FaceBook page, Pamela.

      "Really, really worth reading. It negates the philosophy of all those people who maintain that they have suffered at the hands of others and therefore should not be held responsible for their actions."

      Thank you again.

    • Movie Master profile image

      Movie Master 5 years ago from United Kingdom

      I'm so sorry you had bad parents, through them though you learnt so much, you are a strong person and a wonderful caring parent.

      Thank you for sharing your story and voting up

    • Pamela N Red profile image
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      Pamela N Red 5 years ago from Oklahoma

      Movie Master life is a learning experience and it makes us who we are.

      Thanks, Twilight Lawns for the advertisement and kind words. I try not to be a victim because it serves me no purpose.

    • wetnosedogs profile image

      wetnosedogs 5 years ago from Alabama

      Hurray for you to have the strength to go beyond and help your family to be loved and loving human beings.

    • Pamela N Red profile image
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      Pamela N Red 5 years ago from Oklahoma

      Thanks for reading wetnosedogs.

    • profile image

      kelleyward 5 years ago

      Wow! From one Okie to another I say great hub! I'm sorry you had such a difficult childhood but mothering without a map is a way to overcome some of those losses. Thanks so much and I hope the best for you and your family!

    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 5 years ago from Florida

      I was very fortunate to have good, caring parents who always set a good example for me. I have tried to do the same with my children, and I try to influence my Grandchildren as best I can. I have seen children who come from parents who are alcholics and they say they'll never drink because of the embarrassment caused by their parents, so like your Hub, they have learned from their parents to survive and live better. Excellent Hub. I voted it UP, etc.etc.

    • Angie Jardine profile image

      Angie Jardine 5 years ago from Cornwall, land of the eternally youthful mind ...

      Pam, you are obviously an exceptional woman.

      You have taken the lousy hand dealt out to you as a child and turned it to your advantage as an adult. The lessons you pass on to your children will enable them to grow up with an optimistic and balanced outlook on life. What a reward that will be for all your positivity and hard work.

      You have my utmost respect for not allowing yourself to become a victim.

    • Pamela N Red profile image
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      Pamela N Red 5 years ago from Oklahoma

      Kelleyward, I used television shows with good wholesome families as role models since I didn't have that at home.

      Mary615, I think that is why alcoholism skips a generation. The kids see what it does to the family and vows not to repeat those mistakes.

      Thanks you Angie, I have tried to be a good example and hopefully have succeeded.

    • WillStarr profile image

      WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      I was lucky to have two fine parents. Most of my childhood tribulations were of my own making.

      Great Hub, and look how great you turned out!

    • Pamela N Red profile image
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      Pamela N Red 5 years ago from Oklahoma

      Glad you had good parents, Will. Thanks, I don't feel great but glad I am keeping up appearances.

    • gmwilliams profile image

      Grace Marguerite Williams 5 years ago from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York

      To Pamela N Red: You are indeed a strong and spiritual person who have much to share and give to all of us. You are truly an inspiration to us all! God bless!

    • suzettenaples profile image

      Suzette Walker 5 years ago from Taos, NM

      Pamela: Very interesting and wise hub! I enjoyed reading this. I feel for you, but you have a great attitude, which has gotten you far in life. Yes, we can learn from our parent's mistakes. I know I have. Not every dysfunctional family means failure and tragedy. You have risen above it all and are a success! Congratulations on a life well lived!

    • roxanne459 profile image

      Roxanne Lewis 5 years ago from Washington

      Thank you for writing this Hub. It sounds like you and I had very similar childhoods. I fully appreciate your hard earned wisdom and dedication not to repeat any negative cycles. Your family is very lucky to have you! ;)

    • Pamela N Red profile image
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      Pamela N Red 5 years ago from Oklahoma

      Thanks, GMWilliams, SuzetteNaples and Roxanne459 for the kind words. I appreciate you taking time to read.

    • AEvans profile image

      Julianna 5 years ago from SomeWhere Out There

      So many lessons learned from experiences growing up. I thank God everyday for the parents I had, my mom was from a dysfunctional family so she was a lot like you. She kept us away from her family dynamics and became her own person. That has rubbed off on me, but your wisdom has made you who you are today. What a wonderful hub! Thumbs up!

    • Pamela N Red profile image
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      Pamela N Red 5 years ago from Oklahoma

      Thanks, AEvans. I am glad to hear your mom was able to change her life and make a good one for her children. We can break the chain of abuse and neglect if we put forth the effort. Thanks for reading.

    • rlaha profile image

      rlaha 5 years ago from Spartanburg, SC

      Hi Pamela.

      It is so sad that some parents just should not be allowed to have children. I am so sorry that you had parents like that. I am just glad to know that you are a strong woman who grew up and learned from your parents' mistakes so that you would never do those things to your own kids. This should be a lesson to all the current bad parents out there. Great hub. Voted up and interesting.

    • Pamela N Red profile image
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      Pamela N Red 5 years ago from Oklahoma

      Riaha, unfortunately many people choose a man or woman over their children and the kids are left to fend for themselves. I've tried to move forward and hopefully I've done a decent job. Thanks for reading.

    • rlaha profile image

      rlaha 5 years ago from Spartanburg, SC

      Hi Pamela.

      Yes, it is sad. I wish they would choose to protect their children from any kind of violence instead of thinking with their hearts instead of their minds. I am sure you have, especially if you have learned from their mistakes.

    • nifwlseirff profile image

      Kymberly Fergusson 5 years ago from Villingen Schwenningen, Germany

      One more thing I learnt from being a survivor, is that you can't 'fix' anyone other than yourself. Sounds like you've done a great job of being pro-active in protecting your kids - they are lucky to have you!

    • Pamela N Red profile image
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      Pamela N Red 5 years ago from Oklahoma

      Nlfwlseirff, no, unfortunately we cannot fix other people especially when they don't want to be fixed. It's a shame but that is how life is.

    • Express10 profile image

      H C Palting 5 years ago from East Coast

      Awesome hub. I can relate to your story. It is a great thing to know that there are good parents out there!

    • Paulie profile image

      Paulie 5 years ago

      Wow my parents were decent people but divorced when I was nine. I was never abused, but I feel the same way as you do. It's always been a mystery to me why I don't trust people or expect much from them. I do believe its because even as a child I "got" people. I could see through the words to the actions. Although now I tell myself when people do certain things that they are just being "people" and its, unfortunately, the "norm". I don't know if that's a sad commentary on humanity or what.

    • annescripts profile image

      annescripts 5 years ago from Gilbert, AZ

      What a gift you give your own children by not following in the footsteps of those who raised you. They are blessed, and now so are you. Beauty from ashes. I wish you all the best!

    • Pamela N Red profile image
      Author

      Pamela N Red 5 years ago from Oklahoma

      Express, growing up I thought I was the only one living like that but now realize there are many who have had the same experiences.

      Paulie, not being gullible is a good trait to have.

      Annescripts, I do my best. Thanks for reading.

    • Gemini Fox profile image

      Gemini Fox 5 years ago

      Really liked your hub!

      Reminds me of a "story" I heard once: a man in jail had two sons. A reporter interviewed both of them. The first son was also in jail. The reporter asked why it was that he had ended up just like his father. The first son said, "Well, look at my father!". The reporter interviewed the second son, a successful business man, and asked him how it was that he had ended up so successful. The second son said, "Well, look at my father!".

      Glad to see you're doing well. :)

    • Pamela N Red profile image
      Author

      Pamela N Red 5 years ago from Oklahoma

      Gemini Fox, I like that story and it is very true. I've seen some kids turn out great because they decide not to be like their parents. Thanks for reading.

    • PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

      Justin W Price 5 years ago from Juneau, Alaska

      excellent, pamela. I applaud you rising above your less then stellar childhood to become a good and loving parent. So many people these days use a poor upbringing as an excuse to be a bad person.

    • Pamela N Red profile image
      Author

      Pamela N Red 5 years ago from Oklahoma

      It's easy to blame others for our behavior but I prefer to do the best I can.

    • profile image

      Y Battle-Felton 4 years ago

      Thank you for sharing your experiences. You're right; we can learn from our pasts even when the past isn't always happy.

      It takes great strength to not be defined by the past. It's great that you learned from it and are happy, safe, and able to love.

    • Pamela N Red profile image
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      Pamela N Red 4 years ago from Oklahoma

      Thanks for reading, Y Battle-Felton. I try to do my best and not use my past as an excuse to not try.

    • profile image

      MomentInTime 4 years ago

      Hi Pamela,

      I'm happy to find someone with a bad past, who ended up with a great family. It provides me with some sense of relief.

      My father was nasty, ill-tempered liar who left my mother for a woman he was having a secret protracted affair with. During childhood, he constantly belittled us, physically pushed us around, cursed at us and bugged all our computers. My mother never had a life, because of my father's career, we moved every year or two. After graduating college, I went directly into the workforce to try to help her, it was the same year of the divorce. She left the country with a two-week notice leaving me in an expensive apartment with a barely above minimum wage job.

      Over a two year period, I taught myself computer programming and convinced firms to hire me on technical skill alone. Financially, I'm highly successful (developer), but I never really recovered emotionally. I tried dating for three years, but gave up. Just never got over the abandonment issues. Every date felt painful and I would split it off before it got serious often facing an extremely sad face. I finally gave up, because I didn't want to hurt anyone anymore. People deserve to be loved and trusted, I couldn't provide that to them.

      Just nice to find someone that learned to love and commit in spite of a bad upbringing. hopefully, I too one-day will feel a deep sense of trust and love for someone like you have found.

      Sincerely,

      MomentInTime

    • Pamela N Red profile image
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      Pamela N Red 4 years ago from Oklahoma

      Momentin Time, not all men are bad, once you realize that you will find someone you can be happy with. Try simply being a friend first and you might be surprised. Sometimes love comes in unexpected places.

    • profile image

      MomentInTime 4 years ago

      Thanks Pamela!

    • Galadriel Arwen profile image

      Galadriel Arwen 4 years ago from USA

      Glad the child was dropped off and located. If he had remained in a place where he was not loved who knows what would have happened to him. God works in misterious ways and in the end He helped that child find a new home; hopefully he will be happy and safe there!

    • Efficient Admin profile image

      Efficient Admin 4 years ago from Charlotte, NC

      You also sound like you didn't grow bitter or resentful (from having the bad family) and that is a blessing as well. Thanks for sharing. Voted up.

    • Pamela N Red profile image
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      Pamela N Red 4 years ago from Oklahoma

      Thanks for reading, Efficient Admin. Being bitter and blaming the world doesn't get us anywhere. My life is what I make of it and I choose to make it the best I can.

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