Don’t be like your parents. Be better than your parents.
Every generation is, on the average, better than the one before it. I say “on the average” because not all children exceed their parents’ abilities and understanding, although some parents are more conscious and reason-able than their parents were—in a word, better.
To be “better” means to function closer to your potential, and even to advance in some way beyond your ancestors’ ability to perform well the act of living. The average child can grow up to outperform his or her parents in some way. Loving parents want their kids to. Our parents are our springboard.
To show this, more young people go to college now than ever. World records are continually broken in many fields of endeavor, from athletics to other amazing feats of human ability. We are getting better, all of us, on the average—better than our parents and grandparents. (Ideally, we get better because of our parents and grandparents, who pass life and love on to us, teaching us how to avoid their painful mistakes and live better.)
This brings to mind the legendary Richard Petty, who won more NASCAR races than anybody. He was better (at racing) than his kids or grandkids—but, then again, he was better than everybody else, too. Nobody will outrace the King!
We are advancing, on the whole, not declining. Our societies improve over time (on the average) because we are getting better.
Even as we improve, we can honor our parents and the long-standing traditions and genetic lines that led to us. We can celebrate the lives of the people responsible for who we are—and still resolve to do better than they did. We can be better than they were, and our children can be better than we are—especially if we teach them to be.