Sometimes I feel like we lie to the next generation. By trying to encourage our students and children, we inadvertently romanticize life. I get why we do this. Clichés are so much easier to swallow than reality.
Every cloud has a silver lining.
Time heals all hurts.
When life hands you lemons, make lemonade.
Some people have deep hurts they carry for a lifetime. Silver linings often exist but don’t make the storm any less harsh. I make Crystal Light lemonade, so I’m not even sure I can speak to this cliché.
One cliché I think we have taught to our kids without totally being truthful is “you can have it all.” I’ve thought about this over and over as I have had numerous conversations about being all things to all people. In reality, no matter how many movies or television shows we watch where someone has a successful and lucrative career, perfect family, time to go to the gym, all of the essays graded (this is my having it all), and a clean house (I would take this as well), I’ve never known someone who does this all at once.
I think a better way to teach this cliché is to say, “You can have it all but not all at once.” Life is all about balance not only in day to day living but in recognizing seasons of life. People often ask me how I have time to teach, write, workout, and clean me house (okay, no one asks me about cleaning my house). The people who ask me this are usually those with young children, and my answer is my youngest is a teenager. I no longer have to get up every two minutes to get a drink for someone, change a diaper, fix a snack, or play trains. I have time in my schedule to do things young parents don’t have time to do. When I did have young children, I wasn’t blogging, working out, or cleaning the house (some things stay the same no matter what the season); I was reading books over and over, refining my skills as a short-order chef, and taking my son to the ER to have objects pulled out of his nose (I could not make stuff like this up if I tried).
Yes, our children and students can have stringent academic pursuits, great family relationships, a highly successful career, meaningful friendships, extensive church involvement, or volunteer frequently in the community, but they may not be able to do all of these things at the same time in their life.
Lean heavily into whatever season of life you are in and make no apologies for this.
How can you encourage your students or children to be realistic about having it all?
- Be honest about the amount of time and sacrifice a family requires.
- Be honest about the amount of time and sacrifice a job requires.
- Be honest about your struggles through different stages in your life.
- Encourage and empower your children or students to make wise decisions concerning balance in life.