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AIBU to envy my children’s lives?

(83 Posts)
SussexGirl60 Sat 19-May-18 19:30:58

Does anyone else find that they are envious of their adult children’s lives? I know there’s lots of talk about needing to financially support them as they struggle so much.....but that hasn’t been necessary in our case, except when they were going through university. We’re not a wealthy family but times have changed through the generations and we didn’t have all the opportunities that they seem to have these days....and the disposable income. Their lives just seem to be so full...of holidays, travel, trips out, meals out, and fun...even with bringing up young children. I’m so pleased for them and wouldn’t want it any other way but I feel I’ve always worked hard, struggled to makes ends meet, and not had the same opportunities at all.. we gave up a lot to give our family a good upbringing,as did lots of our friends at the time...and life seems to have just shot by now. I can hear how resentful and miserable this sounds-and I know I should make an effort for myself now but I just can’t seem to find a way forward-and my husband doesn’t feel the same at all.?

driverann Sun 20-May-18 10:52:06

We have and continue to be good parents to our children and grandchildren helping them in any way we can. We have both had long careers in the NHS as well as second jobs to bring extra money into the home. We both still work 6 mornings a week. We have never inherited one penny.
We are considering selling our house and moving into a one bed retirement flat it will mean we will have money in the bank and it will be lovely not having to keep working. Our SIL thinks it a terrible idea. I wonder why???

JanaNana Sun 20-May-18 10:55:33

Our parents lives were different to the way ours is, and their parents lives different again. I think each generation changes as the times move on, not necessarily always for the better, but we generally hope it will be. There are probably certain elements of our lives that we wish did,nt fly by so quickly but we just have to accept that they do. Perhaps you could look at this differently and try and arrange more with your husband. Simple things such as pub meals, cinema trips, inexpensive weekend breaks, once you start there is no end to what you can do and it does,nt have to cost an arm and a leg! Even just packing up a picnic and going out for the day to a local beauty spot gets you out of the house for a while and can lift your mood. Also your local library may have events advertised that are in your area,that might interest you. If your husband is,nt too keen maybe a like-minded friend could join you that summer is just about upon us it's a good time for you to start.

Minerva Sun 20-May-18 10:55:59

The only possible way I ‘envy’ my youngsters is that they are loved by their partners and I was not.
They do live comfortably but the price is having to worry about costs because they don’t seem to be able to save as I did and they have to work extremely hard with far less time for the children than I had.
I remember my mother in her old age telling me that her bad relationship with me all my life was because she was jealous of my youth. Such a shame. I took great joy from watching my children and now my grandchildren turning into beautiful young adults but I don’t envy them what lies ahead.

Alimarb Sun 20-May-18 11:02:34

I think we had more restrictions as young parents. Employers didn't want us and were allowed to say so, we couldn't get credit without husband or fathers signature, I wasn't even able to get contraception without my husband's permission. So yes, I do envy the life our children lead but I'm also thrilled for them.

morethan2 Sun 20-May-18 11:06:34

I envy that they have much more opportunities to travel than we did. It was prohibitively expensive in my younger days (one is in St Lucia, the other is in Spain as we speak) I do know what you mean though. One of my children has achieved much more than we had at his stage in life, but then he’s driven. At the other end of the scale my daughter is dependent on state benefits and she struggles more than her grandmothers generations. I think life is dependent on the choices and risks we take. (My husband was and still is risk adverse) Just yesterday I was talking to my 16 year old grandson and said it’s unfair but we often pay for the bad choices we made when we were his age. (I was trying to encourage him to stay with his apprenticeship) In answer there are some areas of my children’s lives I envy but others that make me thankful for when I was born.

GabriellaG Sun 20-May-18 11:17:56

I don't envy mine one bit. They all work hard in jobs they enjoy but, thankfully, not on the treadmill of all work and little or no play.
I retired at 60 and enjoy my leisure with enough money to have no debt, more than enough savings and a comfortable pension. My ex, post divorce, has been generous with his provision so I have no worries and excellent health for which I'm thankful.
As a family, we're blessed with good health and not having to bust a gut to earn a living, because that defeats the object of having a family and lovely home if you're never in it to enjoy it.
Mine have all worked since they were 16 and that enabled them to buy their own homes and become mortgage free sooner than their contemporaries who went to uni and struggled to get jobs in their 20s. 4 of my 5 have paid off their mortgages and 3 of them sold at a huge profit enabling them to upscale and clear the new mortgages. Three AC have second homes and the youngest at 33 has only 6 years left on her mortgage. Only one of them had parental help to buy. When he was 18 I lent him 50% of the price and he paid me back on his 20th birthday.
IMO it's down to luck and good money management.

knspol Sun 20-May-18 11:30:44

Agree with Jaycee. Don't envy my son at all, wish him everything he wishes for himself but dislike intensely the brigade who say we had it so good when we were young and should now give away what we fought so hard for. DH and I had a very difficult time as newly weds (like so many others) we had next to nothing, second hand furniture, no carpets and a child to care for. We lived in a very damp flat in a multi occupancy house in a dreadful area. We both saved hard and worked hard and only bought essentials and even then only after we had saved for them. The situation has now changed thank goodness but I am very glad my DS has not had the same struggles.

ajanela Sun 20-May-18 11:44:10

No, my DC has had a lot of bad luck including cancer.

Now is the time to make the best of your life. Travel, try the cheap airlines off peak, eat out make use of 60+ offers.

I think most children think us baby boomers are the lucky ones.

nannypiano Sun 20-May-18 11:53:52

Looking back to my happiest time of life, was when my gambling husband decided after two years of marriage decided he wanted to be single again and walked away. This was in the sixties and I was 20 with 2 babies under 2. The relief was so great to have a regular although basic income to live on was wonderful. I had my two lovely boys to devote all my time to, which was bliss. They have grown up to be hard working responsible loving men. Generous to a fault and have good livings each with lovely families. All I ever feel is pride never envy that they have achieved so much from a rocky start to life and lived the lives I could only ever dream about.

Harris27 Sun 20-May-18 11:55:41

No I don't envy them. I've got three sons different incomes different lives and I'm glad when they are doing well and worry when they are not .

quizqueen Sun 20-May-18 12:02:15

Do I envy my two daughters, one with nearly a quarter of a million mortgage on a very small 3 bed terraced house, the other paying half her salary to afford a one bed flat when I was mortgage free in a large detached home by my mid forties? No, I do not.
Am I envious when I see them struggle to juggle motherhood with full time work when I was a laid back stay at home mum? No, I am not.
Am I extremely worried that they live in a country and world which is dangerously overpopulated with a soon to be scarcity of natural resources? Yes, I am extremely worried for their future.
Do I envy them living in a world of increasing violence and lack of moral compass? No, I do not.
Am I very concerned that no one can speak their mind any longer because some minority will be offended? Yes, I am. I was never afraid to walk the streets when I was younger or say what I thought and I never envied anyone, just aspired to have what I thought I would like to have a nice life.
Am I envious of my children's lifestyle? Certainly not. Envy eats away at your soul ( not in a religious sense) and stops people from moving forward and doing things for themselves.
Children of the 50s/60s had the best music, the best education, the availability of plenty of non stressful jobs (not all of course; nothing easy about being down a mine)enough housing and, probably most importantly, a free thinking lifestyle. Nothing to be envious of here!

Rahrah Sun 20-May-18 12:09:26

No, it's not unreasonable but it is unnecessary. Be proud that you have created opportunities for your children and that they have taken full advantage of them. Be proud that they are in turn creating opportunities for your grandchildren and enjoying the most amazing experiences with them. This does not diminish your life in any way. You wanted a better life for your children but you cannot open doors for them and then complain when they actually go through them. Also it is emotionally destructive to try and live your life vicariously through them. Think carefully about yourself and what makes your heart happy, often it's the little things in life that do that. Concentrate on those things and you won't think about what your children are doing and if you do your heart will overflow with pride for them and yourself as you were the one to put them in a position to live an amazing life. I write this from experience and want to share with you that even with children and grandchildren living in USA and Australia, I am very happy and that it is possible to find peace in your heart.

luluaugust Sun 20-May-18 12:29:38

No not envious of their lives now, I would have liked the chance to go to Uni but otherwise I think they have to work very hard, long hours and bring up the DGC in a complicated, fast world. Very proud of them.

Westiegran Sun 20-May-18 12:37:05

I do understand. I was married and had my children very young. I always maintained that I would young enough to live my life once they were independent. I saw 3 out of 4 of them go to university (number 4 is now at uni as a mature student), with part time jobs, which would lead them all to professional careers.
They are all now settled with good, professional careers, their own houses and young children. I have had a LOT of ups and downs throughout my life and life has been a real struggle at times but I was so proud of my children getting opportunities I never had. My dream of living the good life crashed as one year into my 2nd marriage my health took a big dip and has continued to do so. I am now wheelchair bound and have carers coming into me on a daily basis.
Do I envy my children their fancy holidays and their way of life? Yes. Would I want them to have the life I had way! I often have to give myself a darn good kick up the butt. My husband and I are still very much in love and even though he still works full time he is my rock.
I very rarely go on Facebook these days as I don’t want to see my grandchildren doing the things with their various other grandparents I always envisioned I would do would do. I do different, more sedentary things with them
No holidays in a caravan 20 miles down the road for them.
No having to jump to a demanding MIL who when she asked you to jump you asked how high. Because that’s the way things were then.
No wondering how they are going to feed the family, pay the bills and still survive until Friday.
Instead they have holidays abroad and weekends away.
The women quite regularly have girls’ weekends away or nights and quite happily leave their male partners to look after the children. ?
They visit when they can and I never interfere with my grandchildren’s upbringing.
But they all work hard with their children looked after by professional carers.
They had a life before they settled down and travelled the world.
Am I jealous? I would be dishonest if I said I wasn’t but I smile and think to myself
‘well done you. You brought up 4 very responsible and successful adults. All my children and grandchildren are healthy, touch wood.’
I just hope and pray they and their children have healthy and happy lives and that when I am no longer here they will remember me with fondness and love.

My advice to you Sussexgirl is you are human and yes we are all guilty of thinking the grass is greener on the other side. Sometimes it is. But that grass is usually greener because of the hard work that has been put into growing it and tending to it and you were the one that helped sow the seeds for that grass. So give yourself a great big pat on the back and when that wee green monster threatens to rise then just smile and say to yourself ‘didn’t I do well’ and give yourself a great big pat on the back. Usually works for me. ?

micmc47 Sun 20-May-18 12:54:48

I most certainly do not envy my children's lives. As a baby-boomer, I think I've had the best of it, and there's no way I would want to be part of the later generation, with all the many stresses and strains that simply did not exist to the same extent in my day. I feel so sorry for young people these days when I see what society is challenging them with. So no thank you. I'm perfectly happy to have experienced young adult life through the late 60's and 70's. It was a lot of fun. Doesn't seem that there's much of that about now...

Apricity Sun 20-May-18 13:06:20

SussexGirl I agree with Westiegran and other posters that you need to give yourself a pat on the back and say well done. Your children and their families are living good, productive lives and you played a very big part in getting them there.

I believe parenting is like gardening. When our children are little we do our best to provide the soil, the fertiliser, the water, we do some judicious shaping and make sure the sun shines on them and then the time comes when we step back and it's up to them. We work with what we are given and can't turn a rosebush or a bramble into an oak or an elm but we can do our best to ensure that each is a strong healthy plant. Be kind to yourself, sit back and enjoy your "garden." ?

NfkDumpling Sun 20-May-18 13:14:13

That’s lovely Apricity. It’s very apt.

No, I don’t envy any of my DC. Yes, life was a struggle when we were bringing them up, but it is for them now bringing up their own children. Just very different. They do have a lot of things and do a lot of things we never dreamed of.

I do know they rather envy us, as things have worked out well and we’ve had - and have - a pretty good life together and, even though I have told them how tough things were, I don’t think they altogether believe us.

ReadyMeals Sun 20-May-18 13:16:54

One factor I have noticed that contributes to the apparently fuller life is that today's parents tend to take their kids with them more than we did to all sorts of things. I remember being very much constrained by needing babysitters if I wanted to go to the pub or dinner out. These days kids go to all these places and stay up a lot later and babies don't have set routines so they are more flexible to accompany their parents too.

luzdoh Sun 20-May-18 13:21:41

SussexGirl60 I can sympathise. I don't exactly envy my children because we are different people and live in different times. However, I had a hard life raising them and I have a very hard life now. I am glad, as you are, that their lives are good and that they do not have the concerns especially about money that I had and still do have. I think what I feel really sad about is that there is an inevitable distance between us because they will never understand my life, neither in the past nor now. I try not to burden them with my physical pain and disability but I have recently had to reveal my financial situation. To my deep shock I was treated very judgementally, yet I had done so many very difficult things to ensure their lives went well in the past! I feel they have no understanding of what this is like nor realise what I did to protect them as children and to give them the lives and opportunities they had. Their father was cruel to me but they think he was good to them because I protected them from him. Yet he never gave me a penny nor ever paid for anything for them, not clothes or holidays or presents. I also had to pay for his clothes and holidays from what I earned. He was incredibly mean and would not let me have a pension of my own. Then he drew his out and as mine was linked to his I now live on practically nothing. What I find so hard is that the children just think I should try harder and have no idea how hard my life is or how unhappy I am at times. They do seem incredibly wrapped up in their own perfect lives and that can be hard to deal with. I am living in a house with holes in the floor, they are living in large houses and travelling abroad, generally enjoying quite a luxurious life. I felt so left out at Christmas, as if I had nothing in common with them. I actually felt they looked down on me.

I feel you and I have so much in common and am tremendously sorry for you even if we don't feel exactly the same. I think we both are suffering a schism between us and our children and I see no way round it. I think it is a generation gap and their lives and attitudes are just so different. I have to say there is a selfish and rather thick-skinned attitude in their generation which our generation never had, especially towards our elders.
I'm sending you lots of love and suggesting our best hope is our friends in our own generation. Love from L flowers

stella1949 Sun 20-May-18 13:27:07

I'm proud of what my DD has achieved but I don't envy her . She and her husband have high - achieving jobs, and all the material possessions that anyone could want. But they both have to work very hard, and long hours, and both have to keep studying to maintain their qualifications. Their children are in child care every day after school until 6pm .

When I was that age I had a job, nothing special but enough to pay the bills and give me some satisfaction. The children never had to go to child care, and we always had time to just "hang out" and have fun together. We didn't have many material possessions but we were very happy.

Life is different for our children now - I think they are wonderful but I'd never envy their high-powered lives.

Jeannie59 Sun 20-May-18 13:41:21

Both my DDs emigrated to the US and Australia and I do envy them a little, I am still young enough to do something of the same, ie Spain, but my husband is 78 in sept and I am 62. So no chance for me.

luzdoh Sun 20-May-18 13:49:00

Reading the page above it is clear how varied our experiences are, yet how we share our desire to give a better life to our children than the one we had. There is a strong element of concern about the problems of today's world and how difficult it is for young people to buy a home and raise a family. I agree totally that this is an awful worry and a burden we would never have wished upon our children. My children are old enough to have started married life and families just a few years ahead of the terrible money constrictions, with the exception of University fees.

It is very clear that the hardships either we or our children have suffered are the greatest influence on how we feel in our relationship between the generations. Like Westiegran I am in a wheelchair, I do like her advice. GabriellaG has a family of which she is justifiably proud, I would agree that "It's down to luck" and I agree that money management does help, but my life was dire and I worked and worked and never squandered a penny, yet was married to a man who was simply cruel and kept us in poverty as a means of control. So, sometimes even money is out of your control when you are married. I did obtain a Legal Separation, but that did not really help the children, either way it was not good news.

So when you advise people to take a holiday, or say how good it is to be free of a mortgage and have no debts now you are retired, please remember, not everyone's life has been the same as yours. I have had to try and make some adaptations in my house for my wheelchair, for example. The builder took the money and didn't do the work. But he damaged the house. Trading Standards say I have to take him to court. I have no money to do that. My children do not understand. You see? Life is not the same for us all.

Lilyflower Sun 20-May-18 13:51:25

Some things are better for the younger generation, some worse. They never had the freedom to roam independently at will in the countryside or towns as we did and they are tested to destruction with schoolwork and exams.

However, their opportunities are much wider and life is more multifarious and filled with options than our relatively simple lives were. The internet and social media have opened up a world of choices that did not exist in former times.

I think that the only fly in the oinment for me is that, with all their privileges, the young can be ungrateful and complaining without realising how hard things were as a matter of course for their parents and grandparents. Not all young people complain and not all the time. But still, if anyone needs to 'check their privilege' it isn't the postwar generation.

Marianne1953 Sun 20-May-18 14:23:32

I would never be envious of my children’s lives. I’ve always brought them up to excel and have a varied exciting life. That’s my job done because they have and I’ve everything to be proud of.

Grampie Sun 20-May-18 14:54:55

My wife and I delight in the successes of our children.

Our children are our pride and joy.

Envy sounds like a socialist trait so best lost as soon as.