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In the Family

Don’t Tell Kids This Is The Best Time of Their Lives!

I’m no psychologist and I am far from a perfect mother. I strongly believe in gray areas so I’m not the biggest rule enforcer. My kids have eaten cereal for dinner. Sometimes when I’m grouchy or busy I send them upstairs or outside, or give them a screen. Only time will tell how many of my kids will end up in counseling. I try to be a good parent though and help them navigate their way in this world.

Recently in two separate circumstances I heard about an adult telling a child that the child is now living the best years of his life. The first time the parent was on the phone with the child and it went right over my (boggled, busy) head.

The second time, I was stuck in a small waiting room. A woman was pontificating loudly to another woman (and everyone in the building) all about her kids. She said she told them how easy they have it and they “should be happy because these are the best years of their lives.” She expressed how she misses her teenage years. I really wanted to speak up but no one could get a word in between her loud, long-winded monologue. And technically, it was a private conversation. Had I responded, it would have been very public because everyone must have been listening. It was soon time to leave anyway, but those words have bothered me. I’m offering my response, my opinion, here. I’m not sure if this comes off as a loud, long-winded monologue as well, but I’m hoping it can be a conversation, and if you don’t like it, you are lucky enough to be able to just “leave the room” (close the website).

Don’t tell kids they’re currently living their best years!

Personally, I was lucky to have had a great childhood and a normally, pleasantly, awkward teenage experience. Although happy and carefree, they were not the best times of my life! And honestly, I’m still very hopefully working toward the best years! I know I’ve had good years, and I have had bad years. Though I can’t specifically name a year or an age that was “the best” I would say that the best time of my life has definitely been since I’ve been married and probably since I have been a mother.

Not all people have wonderful childhoods or teenage experiences. You don’t even know for sure if your child is as happy as possible right now. If someone thinks that being told what to do, being told when to do it, and having to do homework is better than making your own decisions, going where you want when you want, and being able to eat cake for dinner, he or she should not be an adult and especially not have children!
But seriously, kids are impressionable. By telling them “this is the best time” you’re essentially saying, “this is as good as it gets” and giving them nothing to look forward to. One of the greatest gifts my parents gave me was optimism. They always encouraged me to have (or create!) something to look forward to, and in the hard times, that’s what keeps me going: faith that things will get better.

I searched online to see what people think is the happiest age. Of course studies have been done and the results vary widely. You would expect that, because everyone is an individual with his or her own life experiences! But, not one study said that any year under age 20 was the happiest part of anyone’s life. I truly believe that the best is yet to come and I would never take that hope away from anyone, especially a child. Please, choose your words carefully!

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