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Hope for our kids

 We all hope our children do better than we did.  That they are more successful, better looking, have more money, better behaved children, and overall a fuller life; well, maybe.  Our definition of success may differ from our parents, and our children. 

Some people have specific educational, job or financial goals for their kids.  They have to go to the best school, to escape the shame of attending a – (gasp) - in state college.  They have to be a doctor, and not just a doctor, but a specialist, preferably a specialty that not only pays big bucks, but does not require any of that “on call” nonsense.  Or a lawyer; not just any kind of a lawyer, but a big time corporate lawyer with a big office and hefty bonuses. Oh, and certainly not the kind of lawyer that deals with criminals.    And of course they have to make money; lots of money; preferably hundreds of thousands of dollars per year.

My definition of a child’s success is a bit different.  First and foremost is that I don’t have to worry about them.  By extension that means that they are self-sufficient, don’t have burdensome debt, are in stable relationships, and their family is healthy.  Additionally they ought to be doing something they enjoy.  Being self-sufficient and not being heavily in debt sometimes makes folks toil in jobs they dislike.  They do it for their families.  But we all know that the wrong job dynamics can destroy a family.

Many years ago a friend lost his job, with few prospects for an equivalent position.  He was philosophical about the situation.  He said “maybe what this family needs is a good dose of being poor”.  I don’t think I agree with him.  Someone famous once said “I’ve been rich and I’ve been poor: rich is better”.  But that’s not always true either.  We all know people who because they have money let their kids slide.  Not requiring them to have a job, covering for their mistakes, buying their way out of trouble, buying them fancy cars and elaborate vacations.  Even with all these benefits, many of them end up floundering.

However; if you expect your children to fare better than you, they better have better job skills than you do; better ambition; better performance.  The days of earning a decent living without marketable job skills is over.  The path to financial freedom, which drives so much of our lives,  will not be navigated by youth whose skill set, can be replaced by a kiosk or a robot.  Gone is the time when a factory job would take you to the Promised Land of a nice house, nice car, a good pension, money in the bank, and financial freedom.  We can whine about why, but those days are gone.

Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with working in a factory, or any other job that requires hard work; but unless the job rewards hard work with promotion potential, or additional compensation; ultimately you can be replaced by technology.

And in spite of everything we do to try to prepare our kids, to instill a work ethic, to teach them respect, to set good examples, sometimes we fail.  Sometimes they just don’t get it.  You have to give it your best effort and turn them loose into the world.

In my personal situation, I am very lucky.  My son and his family are all that I can hope for.  The depth of their understanding of what is important, and what constitutes success was summed up by Sophia, my soon to be 8 year old granddaughter.  For doing some chores in the house, she receives the sum of $.75 per week.  She explained to me that she can spend $.25, she has to save $.25, and she is to give away $.25.  How better to understand the importance of earning, thrift, and generosity.