I Want You To Have A Better Life Than Me
"I want you to have a better life than me."
Have you ever said that to your kids? What does that even mean??? And there are so many versions of it!!!
“I want you to have a better life than I did.”
"I just want better for you."
“I want you to be better than me.”
“You deserve so much more.”
I can go on, and I hope that your own similar statements are starting to pop in your head, because I really, really want you to recognize them.
Why? So you can STOP!!!! Stop saying things like that!!
My guess is that you mean well. You really do want them to have a better life than you, isn’t that one reason we work so hard? So that we can provide more opportunities for our kids than we had? I won’t lie, I love watching my two adult kids living their best life. Are they living a much grander life than I lived at that age? Yep, they sure are. And that is totally okay.
But what I want you to stop doing immediately, is comparing your life to theirs. Pause there for a second. You didn’t realize you were doing it, did you? Yep, you are causing them to constantly compare their own life and their own goals and dreams, to yours. I hope that wasn’t your intention.
One of my favorite quotes is
“Comparison Is The Thief Of Joy.” I have said it at least a thousand times. And it is so true! When you are comparing yourself to someone else, you are chipping away at your joy and excitement and replacing it with self-doubt and feelings of lack. You may even recognize this and catch yourself from comparing yourself to others. But did you realize that when you constantly tell your kids that you want them to be better or have more than you, that you are causing them to compare themselves to you?
How fair is that?? You are asking teens or young adults to compare their 18 some odd years to your 45 years. What a horrible comparison! You are telling them to compare their chapter 7 to your chapter 32 in the books of life.
You are zapping them of their own right to dream and find joy in what makes them happy!!
You know what else you are doing? You are teaching them that your life isn’t good enough, that your life isn’t fulfilling enough, that the life you are living wouldn’t be adequate for them. And the thing is, you have likely created a life around them and what makes them happy. Go full circle with that. They are such a huge part of your life, but you aren’t happy with your life, and so you want them to have a better life than you. You may need a minute to unpack that. I’ve taken about 5 days to unpack it.
This weekend my stepdaughter told me that her mom had said “I just want you and your sister to be better than me” and my smarty pants 14-year-old stepdaughter replied “How can we be better than you if we don’t even know the full truth about how you were when you were our age? You just keep a lot of secrets.” That is what started my wheels turning. My first thought was, how can the girls exceed your expectations, when they don’t even know what the real expectation is?
And now 5 days later I have over thought it to the point of this. It is hugely unfair for us to create a comparison between our lives and our kid’s life.
So, can we agree to just stop?
Let’s encourage our kids to chase their own dreams, not dreams we didn’t reach and not dreams we think they should have. Just their dreams, just what makes them happy. How about we don’t worry what major they choose? Because if you are being honest, you want them to choose a major that you think will allow them to make the most money. But what if we let them focus on being happy and making the money they need to feed themselves and keep a roof over their head. Who knows what the world will look like in 30 years, when they are the age, we are now? What is important to us may not even be attractive to them. So just let them be happy! Cheer them on! Encourage them to figure out a passion or two or three.
But for the love of all things holy, stop telling them they should be better than you! Teach them to be better than they were yesterday.