What you achieve in your lifetime may not necessarily be achievable for your kids

I find it interesting when I hear amazing stories about people arriving in a new country with only $10 or $50 bucks in their pocket, no job and no prospects for the future, only to make it to millionaire status by the time they’re seniors.

Or just to become middle-class, like my mom who grew up with literally nothing but a starving belly.

She owned one pair socks for the whole year to go to school with. She used to wash her feet each and every morning, then put them on carefully in the morning, go to school, come back, carefully remove them. She would hand wash them gently once a week to preserve them.

They were one of her most precious possessions. The other, was a school book with the alphabet, some pictures and stories in English.

It’s inspirational, really. I am always amazed at the tenacity of people who fight beyond their status and situation.

I like hearing the stories, but I always have this cautionary grain of salt in the back of my mind:

What that person achieved in their generation, may not necessarily be achievable for later generations

I say this, because things change, so it bothers me slightly when I hear parents say things like:

  • They have to become a doctor/lawyer/CEO/engineer because there’s no other job
  • If I managed to make so much money in my lifetime, my kids will too
  • If I reached this level of success, my kids should surpass me
  • If I have a house and 2 cars, my kids should have double that
I feel like we have to become more realistic with our expectations and do our best. This of course, is pure speculation coming from someone who doesn’t have kids yet, but wants to be prepared 🙂


In the past, most people didn’t go to college, so the ones who did, had a huge advantage over the rest.

Now, thanks to Conan O’Brien, we all know that 92% of people get college degrees these days. Only 8% don’t go to college, so it isn’t such a major advantage as it used to be.

It has become a necessity to have a degree, even if it isn’t necessary to use the degree for your job.

Most employers look for a degree, even if it has nothing to do with your work, and without one… you may not be allowed the chance to rise in the ranks.


Just look around you — not all adults are wealthy, so how can you expect that every child will become successful?

It isn’t true even for adults!

I am not saying kids are stupid, but we have to be realistic with what they can achieve amongst their peers who are also competing for the same jobs.

The majority of people have what I think are pretty average jobs. Those who have exceptional ones like being lawyers or engineers, are not the majority of society.

I think the trap many parents fall into, is if they have good jobs and they assume or expect their children to reach their level, or surpass them.

It’s easy to surpass your parents when they only had a high school degree or none at all like my parents, or were farmers like BF’s parents.

It is far harder to surpass your parents when they are already considered to be in the top 5% of the most wealthy in your country. There’s not much space to move up.

I agree that richer parents can give their kids more opportunities than poorer parents, but as some kids move up the ladder, some … move down.

But I don’t even think it’s a bad thing at all!

My cousin is an engineer and he wants to become a farmer because he’s sick of the life. He wants a simple one with honest, hard work where he wakes up at 5 a.m. and doesn’t sleep until 7 p.m., working the land.

We focus so much on white collar jobs that we forget that blue collar jobs like being a plumber can also be a very good job.


Those who managed to hit a boom at the right time, being in the right place, are simply lucky.

Sometime it’s just luck that they got the right boss who could spot their potential even without a formal college education.

You can work really hard and make it nowhere if you aren’t lucky. I hear just as many stories of parents and grandparents who worked like dogs their whole life but couldn’t catch a break.

Sometimes I look back on my life and compared to my parents, I am extremely lucky. I grew up with food and shelter. My parents had neither as kids.

The best meal my mom ever had, was when her sister brought home leftovers from a company dinner.

It was all of the plate scrapings people left behind, the food left in the pots, all mixed together into a HUGE POT.

My mom says she was so hungry, that to this day, she remembers not the fancy dishes we make for her as the best meals she’s ever had, but that huge potluck of leftover scrapings and food.

I am lucky because I’ve never felt that kind of desperation and hunger to want to eat half-eaten food off strangers’ plates.

Have you ever thought about your accomplishments so far, compared to your parents or grandparents?

About the Author

Just a girl trying to find a balance between being a Shopaholic and a Saver. I cleared $60,000 in 18 months earning $65,000 gross/year. Now I am self-employed, and you can read more about my story here, or visit my other blog: The Everyday Minimalist.