There is a common saying in the States that goes on about keeping up with the Joneses. It refers to doing things for the sake of impressions and pleasing everybody but yourself. People have a tendency to reflect their lives onto others. A classic example are the countless Asian immigrant parent wanting their kids to go to college. Many of these parents grew up in poverty and never had a shot at higher education. So it is only natural to give to your children what you could not have yourself.
In that sense, it is living your life, the things you wish you had done, through their eyes. There in lies the conflict of interest, satisfying your own unfulfilled aspirations vs. what is best for your child. Truth of the matter is that it is far easier to think about ourselves then about others based on our primitive survival mechanisms of needing to feed, house and protect ourselves first before being capable of helping others. The true mark of maturity, the true mark of love, is being able to see past you and focus on what the other person needs.
Reflecting your life on others inevitably leads to comparisons (ie. “If I had your opportunity…, “You’re so lucky, when I was your age….”) and as Teddy Roosevelt put it, “comparison is the thief of joy.” Your life is different, another way to put it, what I wanted to say to my late father before I left America was, “You had your shot at life, now I’m going to take mine.” Live for your sake first, as it is you against you.”
Kingston S. Lim
March 13, 2020