Rant: I Hate My Parents - Academic Success & Childhood Neglect

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In summary, Reid W. Barton, Gabriel Carroll, and Daniel Kane are examples of individuals whose parents nurtured their thinking abilities from a young age and therefore have had successful academic careers. In contrast, the speaker had parents who made detrimental choices for them during their childhood, resulting in a lack of focus on learning and self-improvement. Despite this, the speaker acknowledges the importance of taking responsibility for their own actions and making the most of their present circumstances. They also recognize the challenges of parenthood and the vulnerability and imperfection of parents.
  • #1
ehrenfest
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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reid_W._Barton
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gabriel_Carroll
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daniel_Kane

These are examples of people who had parents who were nice enough to nurture their thinking abilities from a young age so that academic success was natural and that is allowing them to have amazing careers. They have an amazing basket of skills that they carry around with them and have all these versatile mental abilities that make doing math and basically anything else supereasy for them.

Compared to their parents, my parents are a complete joke. Between the ages of 0 and 18, my parents had almost complete control over my identity and what activities I participated in and where I went to school. And the choices they made have been detrimental for me. They had tons of resources yet I spent MASSIVE amounts of my childhood just doing nothing (i.e. watching TV, playing video games, trying to be accepted socially, traveling in cars or airplanes, having the most trivial conversations imaginable, eating deadly desert food filled to the brim with saturated fat and trans fat, listening to music in my room (while doing nothing else) for prolonged periods of time, trying to be rebellious, shopping for clothes that were "better" than the ones I currently had, playing with random "for-the-masses" electronic toys like Bop-It or little robots or race cars or whatever,... the list goes on and on)!

My point is that I did everything BUT focus on learning and academics and self-improvement and skill-development and all those good things like the people listed above. And this is TOTALLY my parents fault! Was I supposed to magically develop an interest in esoteric mathematics like combinatorics when no one had ever even explained to me what that word meant!

And now that I have developed an interest in mathematics, it is SO MUCH more difficult for to learn this stuff since the neural connections that I should have developed at a young age are missing. I have trouble with basic things like arithmetic since I just didn't practice them enough when I was younger since my parents didn't motivate me to!

Of course, maybe it is not really fair to blame my parents since they could just throw the blame on their own parents (my grandparents). And iterating that logic I should really blame my greatgrandparents and I guess this is infinitely regressive...

I hate this "family" system where random people are allowed to have kids and do WHATEVER they want to them short of physical abuse or neglect. I think society should send all kids to a place where parents like mine can't inflict irreparable damage on them.

Sorry for this rant but its not fair! :(
 
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  • #2
You'd get a lot more done if you didn't whine so much.
 
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  • #3
Math Is Hard said:
You'd get a lot more done if you didn't whine so much.

LOL...that's definitely true...at least I get practice writing though.
 
  • #4
Although your parents may have played a significant part in your life, they haven't defined you. There are always chances to improve, no matter how your childhood was. Not all that many people are child prodigies, and I'm sure there are a number of successful people who had less than successful and productive childhoods.

It sounds like you are being a little hard on your parents...I'm sure that they didn't force you to eat "deadly" desserts, make you buy new toys, want you to be rebellious, etc...
 
  • #5
Did you ever remember having fun? If so, then quit whining. I like my childhood being carefree. So I'm not ahead of the pack, who cares? You have a good 50 years ahead of you, use them wisely and it won't matter that you didn't start early.

I only regret my parents never really showing me new things and me not caring enough when the did. I love sports like wrestling, Judo, boxing, etc. and I play guitar now. Things I would have never imagined as a kid, because I never tried them, because I never had the chance to.

Hell, even when I went out and bought a weight set some years ago my dad was disappointed because he thought it was wasted money. When I bought a guitar, he told me "If you can't sit in front of the radio and play what they are playing, then there is no hope for you." It's 2 years later and I can play some songs. I'm not good, but I enjoy it. So screw him.

But like I said, it's been my life for some years now and I don't care what he has to say anymore. No more whining about lost time, just make due with what you have now.
 
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  • #6
I once had a female English professor who made the following statement: If you ever plan to start [psychological] therapy, don't bother. It's all you mother's fault.

The point being that childhood and parenthood are both difficult. Parents do make mistakes. And as has often been said, there is no manual. So try to understand that as do we all, parents make choices based on the best information that they have.

It is truly and event in life to realize that even parents are just vulnerable and imperfect people. Most aren't demons or angels, they are individuals with flaws and weaknesses who are struggling to raise a family.
 
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  • #7
I was lucky to have been raised during a period in which the government was trying to place an emphasis on sciences so that the Russians couldn't get a leg up on us. Because of my grades and test scores in early elementary school, the teachers and principal at my school encouraged my parents to buy me tools, not toys. I ended up with an adequate Newtonian telescope, a basic microscope, and a chemistry set, etc, on consecutive Christmases. I have no idea how they managed to afford those, but I'm grateful. I'd get one gift like that, and necessities like socks, underwear, shirts, etc, and the mandatory knit hat, wool socks, and mittens that my mother made every year.
 
  • #8
ehrenfest said:
I hate this "family" system where random people are allowed to have kids and do WHATEVER they want to them short of physical abuse or neglect. I think society should send all kids to a place where parents like mine can't inflict irreparable damage on them.

So, you not planning to have kids .. lol
 
  • #9
Stop bitching...
 
  • #10
I can't believe that you are blaming your parents because you are not a self starter and for your lack of desire to learn on your own.

I would say that most people on this forum had a natural thirst for knowledge and went out of their way to learn more when they were younger.

If you are behind academically, it is not your parent's fault.
 
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  • #11
Well, this is one of the stranger rants...

Sorry Ehrenfest, but the grass is always greener on the other side. My dad used to keep me inside the house and write hundreds of math problems for me to solve over the weekend while all the other neighborhood kids were out playing (granted he only did this every other weekend). Probably contributed to my being good at physics, and it probably also contributed to me not knowing how to throw a football.

Just relax. If your parents didn't hit you on the head with large blunt objects when you were younger, then they probably didn't do all that bad of a job.
 
  • #12
Wow, seems like you just gained a recent interest in science and now face the fact that you didn't do it before. Which in turn leads you to the realisation that your parents hypothetically could have pushed you towards this path long before. And on top of that you use your newfound understanding of neurology and parenting to excuse yourself. First you blame your parents and secondly you make sure to get rid of any responsibility that might still be left by stating that you have not established the right neural patterns during your childhood. Gosh, you certainly are destined to be playing with average toys and watch tv.

Come on, it's great that you found an interest in these kinds of things. And I do believe it's possible to get your head around a thing or two even if you didn't do algebra when you were two years old. Trust me, it might seem impossible to catch up at first, but in a matter of weeks you'll see your mind adapting and getting fluent in the mathematical language. You just have to do the hard work.
 
  • #13
I don't think you should blame your parents for your situation. I am sure that my situation was worse than yours, and I didn't start really training in math until age 18, but now I am excellent. I think that if failing to form neural connections when you were young is the worst thing your parents did to you, then you can completely recover.

But I do want to make a point very loud and clear, which is that I am not impressed by people with good parents. Mathematicians like Terry Tao or Paul Erdos are not impressive to me because they are essentially a reflection of their parents. The same goes for all other child prodigies. Believe it or not I am more impressed by someone who gets out of a single-parent, drug-riddled, gang nightmare of an inner city and goes on to do anything positive at all!
 
  • #14
I think you just need a hug.
 
  • #15
turbo-1 said:
I was lucky to have been raised during a period in which the government was trying to place an emphasis on sciences so that the Russians couldn't get a leg up on us. Because of my grades and test scores in early elementary school, the teachers and principal at my school encouraged my parents to buy me tools, not toys. I ended up with an adequate Newtonian telescope, a basic microscope, and a chemistry set, etc, on consecutive Christmases. I have no idea how they managed to afford those, but I'm grateful. I'd get one gift like that, and necessities like socks, underwear, shirts, etc, and the mandatory knit hat, wool socks, and mittens that my mother made every year.

Hey, that sounds just like my Christmases. And the whole time I thought getting a 101 electronic project kit and a wall size periodic table of the elements was cool... that was until I told the other kids at school what I got.:confused:
 
  • #16
B. Elliott said:
Hey, that sounds just like my Christmases. And the whole time I thought getting a 101 electronic project kit and a wall size periodic table of the elements was cool... that was until I told the other kids at school what I got.:confused:
Yep. The other kids thought I was a geek, too. When I was about 12 or so, my parents bought a set of World Book Encyclopedias. I started at A and read darn near every article through to the end. Some were tedious, but I devoured the ones about history and the sciences.
 
  • #17
ehrenfest, part of being an adult is accepting your parents for what they did or didn't. Now you will watch them grow old, becoming weak, and worrying about you until the day they will pass, as the only people responsible for your life.

Its up to you to make choices. You should be delighted to know that many prominent scientists and mathematicians didn't get a treatment like the kids you posted in the links.
 
  • #18
turbo-1 said:
Yep. The other kids thought I was a geek, too. When I was about 12 or so, my parents bought a set of World Book Encyclopedias. I started at A and read darn near every article through to the end. Some were tedious, but I devoured the ones about history and the sciences.

I can't believe you said that. My grandfather had a set from around 1958 to 1960 or so, and I would read them every time I went over to his house. He ended up giving me the whole set along with all the yearly annuals and bought me an annual subscription!

The kicker is that my younger sister used to play softball and I would always have go to practices and games with my parents. I always had to bring along at least one or two volumes with me to read while I was sitting bored as all get-out. To this day whenever I run into parents of the other player, they mention me sitting quietly on one of the bleachers reading a dang encyclopedia.:-p
 
  • #19
I was prepared to defend you, as I know for a fact a lot of parents are actually very detrimental to their children's learning. For example, I had a lot of problems with my mom yelling about nothing, so I moved out, and now I'm majoring in math. But now that I read your post I agree that you can only blame yourself. I imagine your teachers tried to get you to learn, and if you truly had a talent in language or math, it would have shown in school. But it doesn't look like it did; you didn't even spell "dessert" right in your post.

A lot of child protégés showed their talents from an early age, and then they pursued their own interests without any prodding or pushing from anybody. They didn't need to be "nurtured," although some were. Bertrand Russell, for example, would be someone who developed his own interest in mathematics by discovering Euclid, whereas John Stuart Mill was more guided by his father. You could make the case that Russell was smarter than Mill, and he contributed more to society as well (Stuart was actually Russell's godfather), as Mill's contributions were in the social sciences.

The fact is, one could make the case that it is best to let intelligent kids go at their own pace. In fact, this is the basis of many progressive schools for children who are either particularly bright, or are slow learners. Many geniuses throughout history clearly went at their own pace.

You might be an example of what is called an opsimath - that is, someone who discovers the value of learning later in life. But you give no evidence that your parents ever hindered your learning abilities.
 
  • #20
I haven't read the other posts but I'd like to say that maths and other skills you deem important don't come easy to anyone. Something else you learn too late is that people who are experts and make things look easy dedicate their lives to those things and so of course it looks easy when they do it. If you want to become that good then you will have to dedicate large amounts of time to study. Sure some people have parents that encourage good study techniques from an early age and some don't. What matters is what YOU do now.
 
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  • #21
My dad managed to buy an old run-down house from a widower whose daughter was grown and gone - he gave my folks a great deal. My sisters got pretty large bedrooms, but mine was a walk-in closet. The good part was that in the el of that closet over the stairs, there was a book rack full of classics from a book club. At 10 years old, I'd fall asleep every night reading Dickens, Twain, Hawthorne, Verne, etc, etc. I was a voracious reader, though 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea slowed me down a bit because Verne used the Latin names for all the sea-creatures and I tried to make sense of them.
 
  • #22
ehrenfest, this thread makes me think of an issue of New Scientist that I have on my nightstand. It's the September 16-22 '06 issue and the article is entitled 'How to be a Genius'. It's not very long, three pages at most, but what little is said, says a lot.

In a nut shell, it compares many of the great people we consider geniuses; Einstein, Tiger Woods, Gary Kasparov, ect. Every single one of the great people who are considered geniuses are made, not born. It's true some are born with natural abilities to understand, but if there is not a desire to learn within that persons mindset, a genius will not be made. Work, work, work and pure dedication is the name of the game. If you work hard enough and put fourth enough effort, anything can be attained. Nothing will ever be simply handed to you on a silver platter.

A quote that stuck out to me in the article...

In reference to the book 'Cambridge Handbook of Expertise and Expert Performance (Cambridge University Press, 2006 ISBN 052184097X

The book essentially tells us to forget the notion that "genius", "talent" or any other innate qualities create the greats we call geniuses. Instead, as the great American inventor Thomas Edison said, genius is 99 per cent perspiration -or, to be truer to the data, perhaps 1 per cent inspiration, 29 per cent good instruction and encouragement, and 70 percent perspiration. Examine closely even the most extreme examples - Mozart, Newton, Einstein, Stravinsky - and you find more hard-won mastery than gift. Geniuses are made, not born
- David Dobbs

If you work hard enough, you can overcome any obstacle.
 
  • #23
turbo-1 said:
Yep. The other kids thought I was a geek, too. When I was about 12 or so, my parents bought a set of World Book Encyclopedias. I started at A and read darn near every article through to the end. Some were tedious, but I devoured the ones about history and the sciences.
We couldn't afford a set of encyclopedias, but a neighbor had a set, so I used to visit and spend my time reading the encyclopdias. I did manage to go outside and play football or baseball, but I liked as much to sit and read encyclopedias.

My parents did purchase the Columbia Encyclopedia, 2nd Ed, when I was in 5th grade, and Van Nostrand's Scientific Encyclopedia when I started junior high. The Columbia encyclopedia was great for history articles, and some science, with Van Nostrand's was great for both math and science.

We also had a 6 volume kids encyclopedic dictionary which was rather basic.
 
  • #24
Astronuc said:
We couldn't afford a set of encyclopedias, but a neighbor had a set, so I used to visit and spend my time reading the encyclopdias. I did manage to go outside and play football or baseball, but I liked as much to sit and read encyclopedias.

My parents did purchase the Columbia Encyclopedia, 2nd Ed, when I was in 5th grade, and Van Nostrand's Scientific Encyclopedia when I started junior high. The Columbia encyclopedia was great for history articles, and some science, with Van Nostrand's was great for both math and science.

We also had a 6 volume kids encyclopedic dictionary which was rather basic.

aren't you guys too old to remember all these tiny things?

I am 19, and don't even have a single memory (oo I never really tried hard enough to think about what happened last year) :).
 
  • #25
rootX said:
aren't you guys too old to remember all these tiny things?

I am 19, and don't even have a single memory (oo I never really tried hard enough to think about what happened last year) :).
I'm 56, and getting access to books as a child was HUGE. It opened up the world of a kid living in the woods of north-central Maine with no town library, and few other opportunities to learn outside of public school. How could I forget that?!
 
  • #26
turbo-1 said:
I'm 56, and getting access to books as a child was HUGE. It opened up the world of a kid living in the woods of north-central Maine with no town library, and few other opportunities to learn outside of public school. How could I forget that?!

My access to information wasn't nearly as restricted as yours, but I still remember the early 'obsessive learning days' like they were yesterday. I can't remember specific books names, but I swear I could draw near perfect copies of sketches and pictures that were in the books. I still remember how each book was bound and how the chapters were laid out.

Yet I can't remember the titles.
 
  • #27
turbo-1 said:
I'm 56, and getting access to books as a child was HUGE. It opened up the world of a kid living in the woods of north-central Maine with no town library, and few other opportunities to learn outside of public school. How could I forget that?!

oo yea, right.

I have a big library near me. Each summer I go there and borrow tons of math books!
When I was in high school, I would take those books to my work at Tims and would solve
Calculus problems during breaks or while coming back home on bus ... (I still carry that obsession). People, including my family, think I am crazy to carry my books everywhere I go :smile:
 
  • #28
rootX said:
oo yea, right.

I have a big library near me. Each summer I go there and borrow tons of math books!
When I was in high school, I would take those books to my work at Tims and would solve
Calculus problems during breaks or while coming back home on bus ... (I still carry that obsession). People, including my family, think I am crazy to carry my books everywhere I go :smile:
My mom and dad grew up during the Depression and never had access to books at home. They would never make notations in a book, even in the margins. 2 years ago, I got my father (now 82) hooked on bird-watching, bought him a really nice monocular for Father's Day and gave him one of my field guides. He refuses to make notes in the book! He saves cash register slips and makes notes on them and inserts them into the guide to avoid writing in the book. If he ever drops that damned book and it falls open-side down, years of observations and notes may be lost.
 
  • #29
Astronuc said:
We couldn't afford a set of encyclopedias, but a neighbor had a set, so I used to visit and spend my time reading the encyclopdias. I did manage to go outside and play football or baseball, but I liked as much to sit and read encyclopedias.

My parents did purchase the Columbia Encyclopedia, 2nd Ed, when I was in 5th grade, and Van Nostrand's Scientific Encyclopedia when I started junior high. The Columbia encyclopedia was great for history articles, and some science, with Van Nostrand's was great for both math and science.

We also had a 6 volume kids encyclopedic dictionary which was rather basic.

Hm I'd like to say that I have a set of encyclopedia's too but I don't. I do have a encarta cd encyclopedia and I love browsing the animal topics. (I used to browse it in my free time)
 
  • #30
People still buy encyclopedias? WHY!?

20 years ok, maybe. Today? What for?

The internet is the biggest FREE encyclopedia ever devised.
 
  • #31
Cyrus said:
People still buy encyclopedias? WHY!?

20 years ok, maybe. Today? What for?

The internet is the biggest FREE encyclopedia ever devised.

true but when I got the encyclopedia there was NO wikipedia.
I still like my cd encyclopedia. It has things that books and wiki mostly does not have. If I look up a species of bird, I can play the bird's songs.
 
  • #32
What you choose to do, even as a kid, really ends up being your own choice. If you were self-motivated, you'd have gotten up off your duff all by yourself and done something else with your time.

I spent about 5 1/2 hours driving today with my dept chair for a weekend shindig we've both been invited to, and we had lots of time to chat (he was chattier than usual today). You know what it turns out our parents did to BOTH of us as kids? They yelled at us for reading too much on vacation instead of "doing fun stuff." Mine often complained that I always had my head buried in a book instead of heading out to play. Did that change anything I did? Nope. So, I think you're being rather harsh on your parents when they weren't forcing you to do the things you did with your time. If you were a typical kid, they could have yelled at you until blue in the face, and the only outcome likely would have been resentment that they weren't letting you do what you wanted to do.

Child prodigies don't become that way because their parents force them into it, they become that way because of their own love of whatever they're learning...for them it's fun and they want to do it, so do it.
 
  • #33
Moonbear said:
What you choose to do, even as a kid, really ends up being your own choice. If you were self-motivated, you'd have gotten up off your duff all by yourself and done something else with your time.

I spent about 5 1/2 hours driving today with my dept chair for a weekend shindig we've both been invited to, and we had lots of time to chat (he was chattier than usual today). You know what it turns out our parents did to BOTH of us as kids? They yelled at us for reading too much on vacation instead of "doing fun stuff." Mine often complained that I always had my head buried in a book instead of heading out to play. Did that change anything I did? Nope. So, I think you're being rather harsh on your parents when they weren't forcing you to do the things you did with your time. If you were a typical kid, they could have yelled at you until blue in the face, and the only outcome likely would have been resentment that they weren't letting you do what you wanted to do.

Child prodigies don't become that way because their parents force them into it, they become that way because of their own love of whatever they're learning...for them it's fun and they want to do it, so do it.
My father appreciated my good grades, but he often faulted me for being too "bookish", despite the fact that I loved coursing through the forests and would run for hours at a time on gravel roads.
 
  • #34
rootX said:
aren't you guys too old to remember all these tiny things?

I am 19, and don't even have a single memory (oo I never really tried hard enough to think about what happened last year) :).
I remember things back to my first year of life. I can describe people, places and events in the first town I lived in with my parents 49 years ago now, and my parents are surprised by the details.
 
  • #35
Kalikher said:
My pa wanted to marry a woman to develop his business in Japan,
I like it because he is a smart businessman.

Wtf?:smile::confused::smile:
 

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