This is Life, Based on a True Story  

Dirty, little secret

Every once in a while, I get kid-envy.

I’m not the only parent who does, but I may be one of few parents who will admit to it — publicly.

So what exactly is kid-envy, you ask?

It’s that feeling you get when you think your own kids aren’t measuring up to other people’s kids. This can be related to school, jobs, sports, sibling rivalry and even material possessions.

I never tell my kids I have these thoughts. It’s my own dirty, little secret. But I will admit to comparing them to my peers’ kids. I know it's not right, but I also know I'm not alone.

I’m not proud of these moments. I love both my children dearly. I tell myself that because I love them so much, it causes me to worry for and about them.

But if I’m telling myself this, maybe I need to look within myself and decide if this worry is really for them or is it more about me?

I think so many of us, as parents, attach our kids’ success to how we raised them. Which in our minds, is a direct reflection of who we are.

Here’s the thing though, our kids have their own minds. And up until a certain point, we can sway them in a preferred direction, but they eventually end up using their own free will to do what they want.

Sometimes it’s a reflection on us as parents, other times, not so much.

My latest bout of kid-envy came when I heard some friends talking about how their children know what they plan to do after they graduate school.

This topic has been brought up numerous times in my house in recent months; my daughter graduates next year, and my son is only a couple of years behind her. In my head, that’s not a lot of time to decide what you want to do with your life.

And that’s exactly where I’m going wrong. Why am I so worried about what they want to do with the rest of their lives? They’re only 16 and 14.

When I was that age, my biggest worry was making sure my slouch socks matched my rolled-up T-shirt sleeves.

Yet, as parents we have these expectations that our kids should know what they want to do for the majority of their lives.

That realization forced me to re-evaluate what’s more important to me in raising my children. My evaluation led me to make a pact with myself.

I’m making a pact to focus on their immediate happiness and fulfillment. To make sure they’re armed with the knowledge and materials they’ll need to make important, life-altering decisions when the time comes.

Quite honestly, when I think about it, I really don’t want either of them to rush into more education right out of school.

I want them to experience life first.

  • To travel.
  • To work.
  • To see what the world is really like outside the protection of mandatory schooling.

Once you decide to go to school for what you hope will be a lifelong career, you’re committed. Then, as if that’s not enough, it’s often followed by marriage and mortgages and babies and picket fences.

I think their best decisions will come from experiencing life as a young adult. As we all know, it ain’t easy, but it’s very formative to your life as an “established” adult.

So what other things have I had kid-envy over? Well, to be honest, it’s all typical stuff — grades and homework and the overall motivation factor to get off their phones – all of which could be improved in my household.

On occasion, I wish one of them had a desire to be the class president or something (do they even still have that?) but that may be more me wanting to live vicariously through them.

Ironically, not long after I had the bout of kid-envy over the whole college thing, my daughter announced she now has a definitive plan for what she wants to do after graduation.

She is so sure in her decision that she even spoke with her school counsellor about changing some courses and electives in Grade 12 to be more in line with her chosen career path.

My son decided a while ago what he wants to do. But just recently, he decided where he wants to go to school to do it.

I’m extremely proud of them for giving the time and thought needed to make these types of decisions.

And for me. it was lesson well learned.  I can kid-envy all I want. But the only person it stresses out is me. And that’s just pointless.

The kids are fine. Their dad and I have equipped them with what they need to move forward independently and confidently.

And who knows, maybe someone else has kid-envy over my kids. I hope not. But if so, all I can say is don’t.

Put the energy of that kid-envy into ensuring they’re happy now. It’s worth far more in the end.

Thanks for reading.


Comments are pre-moderated to ensure they meet our guidelines. Approval times will vary. Keep it civil, and stay on topic. If you see an inappropriate comment, please use the ‘flag’ feature. Comments are the opinions of the comment writer, not of Castanet. Comments remain open for one day after a story is published and are closed on weekends. Visit Castanet’s Forums to start or join a discussion about this story.

More This is Life, Based on a True Story articles

About the Author

Tanya Gunderson has been writing for the heck of it for many years. Her inspiration comes from her kids, their friends and the craziness of life. She takes great pleasure in exposing life for what it really is and has an open-book approach to her writing.

Her formal education and background include a blink-and-you miss-it stint in the radio and television industry, but it gave her an opportunity to write professionally on a few different occasions.

Email: [email protected]



The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

Previous Stories