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Wanting More for Someone Than They Want for Themselves

March 19, 2011   •   By Master Hobbit

Posted under: Relationships


Wanting More for Someone Than They Want for Themselves

I’ve recently been reminded again of an apparent fact of life, and that being that you cannot learn life’s lessons for someone else.  Sounds rather obvious, I suppose. 


It makes some sense that people need to figure things out for themselves.  The problem with this little insight is that it really slows human learning, whether societal or individual.


I find it most applicable to the parent-child relationship, but it could apply to any relationship.  You know, you try to get your children to do this and not do that, because you think you’ve actually learned a couple of things about life that would be REEEEALLL helpful to your offspring.  But, in the end it seems they choose to do all of the items on the ‘don’t’ list and do none of the items on the ‘do’ list. 


You sit there in utter dismay at such a ridiculous result.  It seems to me that outright neglect of instructing one’s children of anything would have resulted in a better outcome, just by raw statistical probability!  It’s the old child-rearing experience where you tell your kid to go left and they want to go right, right and they go left.


For example, I would tell my kids things like ‘Never buy a new car as you will come to resent the payments long after the joy of having a new car has worn off.  Plus, the interest payments and being in debt for a depreciating asset is just a bad investment idea….blah blah…  I’ve done that and I hated it.’


Now I’ve resigned myself to a monolog like this, ‘Every person should buy a new car at least once.  In this way you can feel the ‘burden’ of the payments and the economic drain on your personal finances.’  It’s as if one cannot learn this lesson by being told – it’s too cognitive or something.  One needs to FEEEEEEL the burden of those merciless payments and the ‘sucking’ sound of money fleeing one’s bank account over an object that you may spend 30 – 60 minutes a day actually using.


My most recent experience with this scenario was when one of my adult children decided that he/she did not want to finish college.  First, I’m an academic and I teach in a university.  So, I am kind of partisan about learning and the role a university degree can play in that.  More importantly though, is the idea that the job market has little sympathy toward one who does not have a degree.


Second, I’m paying for it.  I’m paying for the whole enchilada, and much more.  It is a good deal for this kid, and frankly, not a particularly good deal for me, socially and economically speaking.  I could go on.


It does not matter how good a case I can make to this young person; it’s not going to happen without his/her decision to make it happen.


The real issue here is not about the education, of course.  What can happen in this type of scenario is that we as parents are tempted to resort to manipulation in order to get our desired result.  Is it because we are trying to be mean or self-serving in this somehow?  I don’t think so.  We want it for them.


It is a matter of perspective, for sure, as you see something they apparently don’t see.  But the bottom line is that if you want something for somebody more than they want it for themselves, it is an unhealthy relational scenario.  It reminds me of the quote I’ve written about some time ago that goes like this: “Any relationship is under the control of the person who cares the least.”


If you want an outcome for someone, even a good one, more than that person wants that outcome, you’ll not only be frustrated in the relationship but also hurt in it.  You got to let it go, really let it go, or your hurt and frustration will only damage the relationship.


While I’ve always expressed to my kids that their mother and I always desired for them to stand on our shoulders and grow from there, and not have to start from where we started, I guess that isn’t going to happen.  And I’m okay with it.  It ain’t my life.  And, frankly, the story isn’t over yet.  We’ve just changed chapters…..again.


I just wish they would listen to what I…..  Okay, so I haven’t quite gotten to that ‘let it go’ part.

Read More About: choices children

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About the Author: Master Hobbit

Master Hobbit is the creator of 4060men. After a marriage of over 30 years ended in divorce, he journeyed for over 5 years as a single midlife man. He remarried in 2012. He is also the owner of the blog platform,, and a blog platform review site,

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