People are typically better than their parents

I’ve gone down the list and realized that it’s official: I don’t know a single person (who I know well enough to know this) who isn’t better than their parent(s). In each case, the person I know is more reasonable, more competent, more interesting and more constructively self-aware than those that brought them into the world.

(Briefly put, everyone I know well enough to know anything about their parents has parents who do outrageously bitchy and self-centered and relationship-destructive things, both to my friends and to others–yet the friends I’m speaking of simply don’t do these kinds of things. They know how to get along reasonably with people in general. Their folks don’t.)

Are all these people I know doomed to have kids that are better than them? Are they going to get worse with age, or are their kids just going to be even cooler than they are?

Or am I the victim of a massive coincidence of some kind?

Are you better than your parents?

If that’s too close to home, are the people you are good friends with better than their parents?

I put this in IMHO because I fully recognize there can be almost no standard of validity for claims like this due to bias and difficulty of measurement… And because I don’t figure it to be very useful to debate whether people can be “better” than each other or not, and whether the criteria I’ve listed have anything to do with this.

If your theory is true, Nixon’s parents must have been real scumbags. And I hesitate even to think about Hitler’s.

I think it’s rather pleasant to believe this because it reassures us about the progress of human civilization. I am extremely skeptical about the idea, but I have no idea how or even if it could be verified.

My parents were wonderful, responsible people, and I’m…well…not. I’m not a horrible person, but no way would I say I’m better.
My wife’s father is a very nice person, and her mom is kind of a jerk…so she’s probably better than one, but not the other.

Have you asked the children of these people you think are good if they really are good? :slight_smile:
It’s possible that your perception is simply because you’re seeing a different side of your friends than you would if their children were confiding in you. A lot of people who are horrible to their family in private put on a good facade for the public.

I don’t think there’s anyone who’d say I’m better than my parents. My mom is hella smart, organized and efficient. My dad is empathetic, personable and caring. I’m a cranky sarcastic ass who’s angrily kicked more than one hole in a wall when he was old enough to know better.

What is the nature of your experience with your friends’ parents? Do you only hear about their parents as filtered through your friends’ retellings? Or do you notice their parents’ flaws through direct experience?

Also, note, you are specifically comparing your friends with people who aren’t your friends. Do you notice the same pattern among acquaintances who aren’t your friends?

ETA: lavenderviolet already said much of what I was trying to say.

That’s an excellent point that I should have thought of. People outside the family thought my dad was this funny, rather charming guy. To us, he was a terrifying bully.

I know plenty of lovely people who have total screw-ups for children. Mostly it’s just one out of a bunch, of course.

That has occured to me… I imagine it’s a real possibility. (Not that I’d actually ask but ftr the kids involved are way too young to even understand the question.)

I hate to think it’s possible. But it could be, I suppose.

But all my friends seem so awesome.

But hey well… I am a little more gruff and impatient with my own kids in private than in public… so something like that but worse could be happening with these other guys too I suppose.

But I’m not just talking about how parents treat kids. I’m talking about the character of the parents in general. For more on that, see below.

Boy, you’re really putting the next poster on the spot here…

My dad was an alcoholic, violent at times so to be “better” than him pretty much requires just being sober and not slapping around my spouse.

My mother was smarter than me, but I’m much more grounded/stable than she was. She died thinking her daughter was a better person than she was - I know the truth, though - she was a better person than I could ever hope to be. (Not trying to romanticize the dead here – just sayin’.)
ETA: gee thanks,** Frylock**!


So of course a lot of the information I have comes through the friends, but I (like to think I) am pretty okay at filtering out the bias/spin.

But it’s not only stories–the verifiable facts include things like messy melodramatic divorces, witnessed instances of people insisting on interpreting ever event as being somehow intentionally shaped to be against them, a willingness to be drunk to the point of absence in front of the child and his friends (that’s from a while ago though), an utter inability to stay financially afloat despite being in the top 20 percent of income earners, verbal abuse of girls on the basis of their failure to match a consumerist vision of beauty, things like these.

I’m in an epistemological bind there because it’d only be people I know as “friends” who I’d know anything about what their parents are like in a sense that allows comparison between parent and offspring.


Perhaps this is because you have chosen people that you like to be your friends.

I don’t expect you know many of the parents of the people you avoid associating with, or even of people you are indifferent to.

My parents are brilliant, hardworking, generous, and loved by everyone they meet. Their kids, including me, try hard, but just don’t measure up.

Are you getting the information on the parents from your personal interaction with them, or from their kids? Kids see their parents at their best and their worst, and tend to remember the worst. I know how great my parents are because of objective things I see them do as well as being frequently told by others how wonderful my parents are and how lucky I am to have them. While I recognize all of this, I also know that my parents have flaws, some of which I have experienced up close and personal.

Finally, your friends are your friends because you think they are good people. At least I hope you wouldn’t choose bad people as your friends. So you tend to focus on their good qualities. Are you sure that an objective person would judge your friends as good and their parents as less so? Maybe it’s just that you choose friends with the qualities you value, qualities their parents may not have.

And on preview I see mention of “consumerist vision of beauty.” While that’s certainly not something I value, I have friends who do. I think there’s something to the idea that you like your friends because you like your friends. Their parents may have friends who share their values, and think that their kids are impossible brats.

If I ended up being as good a man as my father was, I’d be very very pleased.

And surprised.

FTR I think my parents are damned awesome.


Better in what?

I’m better off financially than my folks were. My dad died too young.

I’m better educated than my mother was, but I made a lot of the same mistakes she did. Which, of course I swore I’d never do.

My father was much smarter than I am, and my mother was much nicer than I am.

On the other hand, I am probably nicer than my father and smarter than my mother, so I guess it all evens out.

It’s like you’ve met my brother or something.