Thursday, October 29

Different is OK. Not Better.

The phrase, "I want more for my kids than I had" has always made me uncomfortable. It seems like an excuse, an insult, and a cop out. I think it's fair to say that nearly all parents do the best they can with the resources they have available to them. To say that it wasn't enough, which is what you are saying when you say, "I want more for my kids," is a backhanded criticism of your own parents.

Alexis doesn't have it better than I did. Just different.

My first visit to Disney World was when was for a high school band trip. Alexis has been there twice in three years.

I slept on a fold-out bed in our living room from the time my brother was born until I was seven. Alexis currently has two beds in her room.

I grew up wearing the best Blue Light Specials KMart had to offer. Alexis fell into the Gap the minute she was born.

My mom was more likely to let me go play in traffic than she was to let me squish some Play-Doh. I have chuckled as I cleaned Play-Doh out of Alexis' teeth. Many times.

All of my childhood toys fit in one medium-sized box when I was growing up. Alexis has enough toys to very nearly fill a 15'x15' room.

Perhaps if I had the opportunity to take ballet lessons as a kid, my life would be vastly different. Perhaps I would be more successful. Perhaps I would be better cultured.

But I doubt it.

Alexis doesn't have more. She has it different.


  1. So true.
    I just started following your blog, but i feel completely the same.
    After all, when we were kids, what blog did our mom's respond to??

  2. I like that you've chosen to do things differently without condemning how things were done in your own childhood.

  3. Well said, and I love the pic.

  4. Very well put. She sure is a cutie :)

  5. Well said. Perfectly said. And I agree with you. Completely.

  6. All of the "stuff" is a lot cheaper now so we have more of it. I don't think it is making their lives any better. I've been following for a while - nice blog!

  7. Well said. I had a similar childhood it seems. We lived very poorly, in a tiny tiny urban apartment. My kids have now more than I ever had. And some days, I'm not necessarily sure that's a good thing.

    I'm worried they won't appreciate it sometimes, even though I do my best as a parent to teach them this - that not everyone has it easy, that you have to work hard for the things in life. But by saying that, does it mean I'm saying my mother didn't work hard because she couldn't afford the $150 karate lessons I can for my daughter? No. Not at all.

    Sometimes I talk about how small my house is but I grew up in an apartment half the size of my bottom (of three) floors and I don't remember ever thinking that it wasn't enough.

    Our children only know what THEY know, just as we only knew what we knew. Not more. Not less. Just different.

    Great post.

  8. i think as long as kids understand the meaning of no when a parent says no then it's all good. parents can give to and provide for their children all they want, but it kills me when the kids run the house, when the kids dictate what they receive for doing nothing more than breathing. personally i find it wonderful that we are now adults and can make our own choices...including what we gift the little people in our lives with.
    (did any of that make sense? i might need some coffee.)

  9. p.s. stunning photo of alexis!

  10. I have to say that I think I had it way better than kids today! Sharing beds with older sisters, wearing all their hand-me-downs (b/c I was the youngest), parents going on trips for days and leaving us home with sitters (gasp!), playing SHARK tag with every kid in the neighborhood until it got dark, Devils Night pranks (shhh!), everyone crammed in the back of a station wagon and our vacation was visiting relatives in Detroit?! Wouldn't trade a thing!

  11. @Sheila--Bestest thing we had that kids won't get now: Prank phone calls. Caller ID has completely ruined that (relatively harmless) fun.

  12. Very, very well said. I was always uncomfortable with that saying too.

  13. There are a lot of things about my childhood that I would change but you know what? I can't. So you just move on. And (in the words of Oprah) if you know better, you DO better. A lot of things our parents did (not all, but a lot) were just because they didn't know any better (think car seats/seat belts).

    My husband's family is very spread out (17 year difference from oldest to youngest) and the oldest children tend to gripe about how much better the youngest two had it. This is hard for me to wrap my brain around because when it's someone you love don't you WANT them to have it better? {SIGH} Luckily my kids won't have this problem since they're essentially all growing up at the same time...

  14. @The Mommy--My husband thinks that about his younger brothers and I always argue that there's nothing better about having video games and such. Just different.

  15. Thanks for this. I am in agreement with you, having apparently a very closely related childhood myself. I think my children are blessed with the the lessons I have been taught from my own childhood. I think Their life IS different than mine was.
    But we do learn from the hard lessons our parents learned, and move forward to create a better environment, IF we are able to. My mom did the very best that she could, and I turned out fantastic. :)

  16. My son has a PS3. And a DS. And an iPod. I had an electronic football handheld game with the little red lines. So I respectfully disagree. My son has it better. But the way I look at it, I get to play with his PS3 and other gadgets too. So he wins, I win, it's cool.

  17. Yes it does seem like we have more these days. The only thing that really matters that our children have is LOVE.
    My parents divorced when I was 6 months old. I never felt loved from my Dad, He even once told me that he only had me cause my Mum wanted it. This is the one thing that I never want my son to feel, unwanted or unloved. The rest of it all doesn't really matter.

  18. A big difference is that our kids (well, at least my kids) will never know what it's like to leave in the morning and come home at dark. Playing all day running in the woods, climbing trees, running wild wherever our hearts and feet could carry us.

    Nowadays (blame the media, blame the sick-os) I'm scared to death if I don't know where my kids are at any given second. The world is a scary place. Scary, scary, scary. It's sad that my kids won't experience that reckless sense of freedom I had.

    But, my kids also won't know what it's like to be scared at times like I was - hold on while I stuff these skeletons back into the closet. Anyhow, both are right for me. My kids will have it different AND better.

    Great picture. I can totally see Alexis leading a parade of Disney critters around the dining room.

  19. That's certainly a good way to look at it. Thanks
    for enlightening me on this subject because sometimes I look around and shake my head at all the stuff my kids have...

  20. Amen to this post. Your first paragraph is so true. We all do the best we can with what we have. Kids only know what they're exposed to when they're little and it doesn't have to be quantified or compared. They can have fun whether a toy is new or used, whether an activity is paid or free. I bet some of every adult's favorite memories are very simple things.

    Now that I'm a mom I do some of the exact same things with my son that my parents did with me, because I feel certain limitations contributed to a greater appreciation of having "more" when I became an adult and earned it for myself.

  21. Yes yes yes to everything in this post. YES.

  22. Amen to that!!

    And the children Alexis has will have it different than her.

    I USE to say "I want my kids to have more than I did." And then, I HEARD myself say it one day and slapped myself. It's a HUGE insult to my parents. My parents were great and did what they could when they could.

    It's all a child could ever ask for.

  23. This. 100%.

    I have to reality check myself frequently - am I doing something or buying something or encouraging the kid to do something for the right reasons, and not because *I* wanted to do it loved it or wished I'd had it when I was a kid? Sometimes I wish for a giant Parenting Vacuum so I can parent in the moment, not in response to my own history. *sigh*

  24. And you are BOTH amazing people. [Well, one of you is more of a people-in-progress. Not saying who, though. ;)] Just proves that it's not what you have, it's what you do with it.