I always heard and still hear or read about this, mostly from parents with a more than decent financial position, mostly, probably, trying to show that they care. If I ever said or wrote about it myself, well, I changed my mind.
Last night I did an important step in my life, which brought me some small revelations. Small step for the world, but a big one for me, personally. I will probably write about it with a later occasion.
So.. investing in a child. In the child’s education. Starting with private kindergarten and ending with college abroad. Sounds fancy, but it’s wrong. You know why? Because an investment implies a certain amount of return. What kind of return are you expecting from your child? A very good job in the future? Will you expect to benefit from this job also, as a parent? Having a decent life after retirement is your job, not theirs.
You know, we Romanian have a saying “make a child to have someone to bring you a glass of water when you are old”. I don’t resonate with this. I don’t expect my daughter to bring me a glass of water when I am old, because she will have her own babies to nurse. I believe is not fair for the kid to add such a big responsibility on their shoulders.
The times have changed. In the developed countries people can decide (more or less) when to have kids. I’m not including here the cases when the child was conceived by accident or without consent. I am talking about a planned and wanted child. Nowadays kids are not made like on a factory line, to be employed from a young age, to help at the farm. Except from cases when parents belong to some movement or cult, in the developed countries the families usually have 1 or 2 kids, enough to have the means to raise them healthy and properly educated.
Anyway, you got the point. So, saying that you invest in your child shows egoism. You can invest in yourself, by taking post-graduate classes or arts or whatever, because it’s you and it’s about you and you are capable enough to understand the responsibility. You know that you expect a promotion after those classes or a change of career. I mean, you can sure put them in private kindergarten, raise them multi-lingual, send them to college abroad, but don’t take it as an investment.
One of the things that left me disturbed from my childhood years is that I never knew (in advance) what are the expectations, but I was qualified as “needs improvement”. In the exceptional cases. In the usual cases I was called plain “not good of anything”. What can this mean? That the investment return was negative? How miserable must be the life of that parent to be capable of calling a child like this..
In conclusion, raising and educating a child should be unconditional. I’m not feeding and entertaining my child as an investment. There might be one small exception on this: health. Especially dental, which is the most expensive to treat. Considering that, until certain age, I will have to pay for the dental care, I might consider an investment a proper hygiene routine and regular preventive checks. But the child will know what is expected from them: to brush their teeth at least 2 times a day, floss at least one time a week, just like their parents do, nowadays.
Also, is much more than egoism to expect from the child more than you expect from yourself, solely because you provided them with much better learning conditions than what you had. Ok, ok, our parents and our grand-parents from the little they had they decided to “invest” in the kids. They did a small mistake. They should have invested in themselves. And let the child decide (age appropriate) if and how much they want to invest in themselves. You, as a parent, except from seeing your child healthy and happy, should not expect anything else.
Just that, too often, parents push kids too much and forget what their job as a parent really is about: just to love them, always, unconditional and no matter what. Everything else is an illusion.