You Asked: I Just Want a Better Life For Them


Dear Sugar,

I am the first member of my family to attend and graduate from college. Even though I did it all on my own, I never brag about it. I have quite a few younger nieces and nephews, and I had hoped they would see that I was able to go to college and continue on to have a happy life, despite our family's low-income circumstances (among other things). Unfortunately, none of the four who are out of high school decided to pursue anything other than working a low-paying job close to home, and one got pregnant when she was 17. Of course I was disappointed, but I support the life they want to live and as long as they are happy.

However, I was quite surprised to hear my oldest niece say she actually resented my success! I guess, to her, every time she heard me say "Why don't you take a class for that?" she heard "My life is better than yours," which I did not intend at all! I simply wanted to show them that it is possible to get out of a rut. How should I politely go about suggesting college classes without seeming rude or condescending? Or should I not say anything at all? — Looking Out Lorena

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Dear Looking Out Lorena,

While you should absolutely be proud of your accomplishments, pushing your nieces and nephews to follow in your footsteps might not be what's best for them. Since you're the only one who has experienced college and the benefits of being a college graduate, I can see why it's frustrating to you that they chose the other path. But that's just the thing, it's their life — not yours. Of course it would be ideal for them to have higher goals, but after you've suggested college once or twice, I think you just need to accept the choices they are making for themselves. You're right, if they are happy, than you should be happy for them too.

If your family is reading your intentions incorrectly, try not to take it personally — jealously is probably what's behind it. That said, you shouldn't let their lack of support take away from your accomplishments. I hope I was able to help.

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