How many of us grew up hearing from our parent(s), "When you have your own kids, you'll understand."? It was the rationale used for almost anything. It's why we couldn't have the ridiculously expensive brand name clothes all of the time. It's why you had to finish dinner. It's the reason why our parents got to have the final word in every argument.
Basically, until you grow up and have kids of your own... you know nothing. Then, maybe someday, you'll see the light and understand the secrets of the universe.
I'm probably the exception to the rule - but now "that I have kids of my own", it's only reaffirming the belief I had at 16 that I wouldn't ever really understand the reasons my parents did/do the things they do. The path I've taken in my early years as a Mom, and the perspective I view my role as a parent, are not the same.
In fact, my experiences have made me even more confused about why some parents think they've got it all figured out. These are the parents that can't ever muster up an apology to their kids (because they are obviously never wrong and have never made mistakes). We aren't living in ancient China where you respect your elders no matter what happens or you won't achieve enlightenment. These are parents that use their authority to manipulate, confuse and belittle their kids. These are the parents that involve their kids in their adult problems (at young ages), but still lord over them when the kids try to act like adults themselves.
What I know is that having children means something different to each person. Maybe we can all come to understand a deeply-rooted animal instinct to protect, love and find everything our kids do to be amazingly unique and special. Those are the strongest things I feel. I feel rooted to the earth, invested in the future like never before AND a weight on my conscience to be a better person. That's what I get - now that I have kids of my own.
But I don't get the perspective that kids can be used as excuses, crutches or a means to fulfill my own shattered ambitions. I chose to be a parent - my kids didn't choose me. I have to remember to respect that. I want to grow with them, learn from mistakes, be realistic, apologize if I act like an ass and never, ever make my problems their responsibility. That, to me, is a true display of love.