Wednesday, December 15, 2010

What Do You Want for Your Children?

I am a 36 year old disabled woman who has been variously labeled "fat", "crazy", and "a hippie weirdo." I now try to embrace labels that others use in an attempt to "shame" me into being someone more "acceptable". I am passionate about issues of race/racism, criminal (in)justice, fat acceptance, and mental health advocacy. I blog at My Name Is JuJuBe and I am on the team at The Intersection of Madness and Reality

Almost any time you ask a parent what they want for their children, their answer includes "I want my children to do better than me." It is usually left at that. People typically understand that statement in terms of material goods... "I want my child to have a bigger house than me" or "I want my child to make more money than me" or "I want my child to have a more prestigious career than me" Parents want monetary success for their children. They want their children to go to the "right" schools, marry the "right" spouse, live in the "right" house and have the "right" career. What often gets overlooked is the idea of wanting their children to do the "right" thing.

I do not yet have children, but when I dream of my children, I DO want them to be better than me. I want them to be better PEOPLE than me. I want them to CARE MORE about others than me. I want them to BE MORE OPEN MINDED than me. I want them to SMILE more than me. And I want them to MAKE A DIFFERENCE more than I have. I want them to be HAPPIER than me. And I do not believe that monetary and material gains will bring about that happiness.


I am one of those people who sees making a difference in someone  else's life as a source of happiness. I see making the right choice when the wrong choice would be so much easier as a source of happiness. I see being openminded and accepting of others to be a source of happiness. And I see being kind to the world around me (and all the people in it) as a source of happiness.

Does a man who works as a plumber from 9 to 5, makes an income that is just enough to get by, but gets the chance to spend a lot of quality time with his children REALLY think that having his son grow up to be a lawyer who works 80 hours a week and never spends time with his family is progress?? Probably, because economic status is used as a measure of success in our society, often as the ONLY measure of success. But for me, I do not consider that "making it". Putting the needs of a job above the needs of a family is not MY "American Dream".Working 16 hours a day at a job that is a drudgery, so that you can buy the most expensive car and the biggest house seems a hollow victory to me. I would rather have just enough to get by and live a life rich in family time, rich in good deeds, rich in doing the "right" thing.

It seems like I am an anomaly in this society. What about you? What do YOU want for YOUR children???