They made many mistakes but as a non-perfect parent myself, I don't hold them accountable for the damage that was done while they thought they were doing the right thing.
When my father told me to lie on my bed with my pants off and wait for him to come in with the belt, I was as frightened as any 7 year old would be. He would eventually come in and spank me with the belt and even today, I remember that my feelings were hurt much more than my naked backside. When my mother took a $1,000 scholarship check that I had earned and kept it, I never said a word although, I could have used the money while I was in college as a single mother.
I was very young when I realized that my mother didn't like me very much and that thought kept me up at night crying into my pillow. I can't even describe the feeling that I had when my friends would say how sweet my mother was. On a camping trip, she was a parent chaperon in a different cabin than I. The next morning, all the kids told me how great my mom was. I asked her once why she was so nice to my friends and so mean to me, her answer was, "You aren't my friend, you're my daughter. When she would be cooking, I would go into the kitchen and ask her if I could help. Her response was always, "No, it would take too long if you helped."
She called me names I would never repeat here but I'll never forget them. But, as an adult, I realize that she honestly thought what she was doing was right. She was a product of her life experiences, as are we all. Today I would give anything to have a cup of coffee with her for an hour or two.
My father is still alive so I'll keep some of the worst things to myself but suffice it to say that he never, once, said a nice thing about me. I surely knew what my faults were but for all I knew, I was the sum total of those faults.
My friends always asked me why my parents treated me to badly and until they did that, I didn't know how bad it was. I visited friends homes and was envious of the way their parents were so good to them. I tried to learn parenting skills from the parents of my friends.
My grandparents, aunts and uncles always told me that they felt badly for me because they could see what I knew, I was the kid in the family who did all the work, cared for the babies and took the blame for any "crime" committed in my house. I didn't realize until I was an adult that my entire extended family felt sorry for me. It would have been nice if they had said anything to my parents about the way I was treated.
As bad as growing up in a house where I was treated more like Cinderella than Marcia Brady, that was nothing when it came to what my siblings learned from my parents. They realized early that it was OK to treat me like dirt. That's another generation of family members who felt comfortable treating me like the red-headed step-child. They taught my nieces how "evil" I was so none of them have anything to do with me.
My siblings even treated my kids badly until they were old enough to listen to their father and step-mother as they took over the roll of teaching my kids that their mother was not deserving of respect. I must admit that, at this time, they have stopped telling my kids how bad I am but it's too late. My kids already know that I am the only family member who can do no right, deserves no forgiveness and is not worthy of a Happy Mother's Day, Happy Birthday or a Merry Christmas, much less an occasional phone call.
Now, the saddest thing in my life...my kids are teaching another generation (my grandchildren) that Grandma isn't worth having in their lives. Since I can't get a response on the phone from any of my kids when all I want is to speak to my grandchildren, I have decided that I will NOT allow those kids to go through life believing their parents. So, I am going to start writing to my grandchildren online and someday, when they Google their own name (or a friend tells them about it) they will learn what has happened in my life and why they don't see me. I'd rather speak to them or visit them, but if that is not allowed, I will use the Internet to tell them how much I love them and why I haven't been around to see them grow up.