Don't you want your kids to be better off than you were? That seems to be the question that people use to measure their success. My answer to that question is heck no! If you ask me, I had it too darn easy. I never went hungry. I was never cold at night. I always had shoes on my feet and a coat on my back. Beyond that, I never had to worry about much. I knew my parents loved me, and that didn't mean that they bought me endless piles of junk to try to keep me entertained. One of the most common phrases I can remember whining, like most kids growing up, was "I'm booorrrreeeddd". To which my mom's response was always, "Find something to do. You don't need to be entertained every minute of the day".
Having everything a kid wants isn't good for them anyway. There comes a point when it's a waste to buy another toy, another video game, another set of clothes, and on and on and on. When a person is given more than they need on a wasteful scale, they become lazy at least, greedy at worst. Why would I want to do that to my kids? This is also true for our family when it comes to t.v. watching in my house. Too much sitting, staring blindly at what is rarely a redeeming program leads to a lack of attention span and attitude problems.
Having more than they need and not having to earn anything is not what I consider better than I had it. How many times do we hear troubled kids blame their parents for the way they've turned out? To quote Jeff Foxworthy, "Just once I wanna hear a kid say, 'My mom was great, my dad was great, I'm just a shit head.'"
So how do I want my kids to turn out compared to me? Watching my oldest son is like taking a walk with the ghost of Christmas past to see myself at 7. Why was I so loud? Why did I talk first and think last, if ever? I want my kids to learn to be still. To not seek out attention. And to look around themselves and listen first and then be thoughtful in their response to others.
I want them to be confident. I don't want them to shy away from opportunities to make the world around them better because they think they are lacking some magical talent that the rest of the world possesses but somehow skipped them. I want them to learn to walk with their heads high, not hide from the chance to right a wrong, to fix an injustice that makes them angry.
I also want them to learn that hard work, and smart work, for that matter, is what makes a job worth doing. And that whether that job was a success or not is measured by how many people it helped.
I don't want my kids to have more than I did. I don't want them to have it better than I did. I don't even care if they are more successful than I am. I just want them to be better than me.