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What we want for our children

We want the best for our children, but we don't always think about what this means.  I think Amil Niazi ("Why Do Kids Need Ambition?" in The Cut) says it well.

Before having kids, I’d imagined I’d want to be involved in their career success in ways my own parents weren’t. I thought fixating on a certain kind of achievement would make their lives easier than mine was. In the years since having them, it really doesn’t matter to me what they want to do or accomplish when they’re older. I’m more focused on the kind of person they want to be. Are they empathetic and aware of others’ feelings? Do they take care of the environment around them and understand that they’re connected to a community bigger than just themselves and their family? Do they feel safe expressing themselves wholly and sharing that with the people around them? Are they kind?
... It’s not that I don’t want the best for my kids — it’s just that I have a new understanding of what “the best” looks like. It’s not about raising the ideal employee with an overstuffed resume thanks to an overstuffed schedule, but a loving, aware person, who understands there are many ways to feel fulfilled and successful.


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  • Who we are is to me more important than what we do.  I cannot claim to have been a great influence on my children, I have many regrets.  However I take great pride in the fact that some of my values, empathy, care, intelligent thought and resilience appear to have manefested to some degree, although I cannot claim any responsibility for that!  As parents we try to do our best, and we can only give what we have. I suppose I am most proud of the fact that both of my children do seem to feel save expressing themselves fully and living their lives as they want to. Neither are conformists, which I love.  It would be nice to share more of their lives, passions and interests, but perhaps because they have developed their own it means they didn't feel presurised to follow in their parents' footsteps.  Which is a good thing.  I would love to have had grandchildren, but would never pressurise or make my children feel they owe that to me or anyone else. The most important thing is that children know their parents are supporting them and their life decisions, especially when those decisions are different from their parents.
    Shaping our children is a really delicate line between advising/guiding in early years, but allowing them to fly the nest and find their own way, this best done as a process rather than an overnight experience!

  •  Paul - yes, I probably would regret, or at least have a sense of dissatisfaction, about my life if all I had done was make rich people richer. But if I had made myself very rich in the process I would also be thankful for that (or self-satisfied if I put it down to how clever I had been).  In reality, I want to be very clear that I do not regret my decision to spend my main career in the NHS; its just that life would in some respects be easier now, for instance since I retired from the NHS I have been doing another part-time job which I will have to do at least until I get my state pension. And at least some of my current lifestyle is funded by inherited wealth! So what I have been saying to my children is, basically, count the cost of your decisions and find a balance. 

  • Adrian - as you say, there needs to be balance.  But, many 'successful' people, when they come to the end of their lives, regret the balance they chose.  I do identify with the cost of choosing to do something worthwhile rather than doing something to make lots of money.  And, yes, that choice brings some regrets.  But if you had spent your life helping to make rich people even richer, is it possible that you might be looking back now and regretting how you spent your life, more than you do right now?

  •  This is great as an ideal.  But there needs to be a balance. Money is useful stuff to have around. In my twenties I was idealistic and believed that money wasn't important (I was still single at the time!).  I chose a career which I loved, but it was about helping sick and mainly poor people (in the NHS). Consequently I have spent the rest of my life worrying about money, and I sometimes think that I should have had a career making rich people richer or helping them spend their money, as that would have made me richer. To be fair, I have always had enough money for my needs and for many of my wants. But for instance, one of my brothers emigrated to Australia about twenty years ago, and when my niece got married out there last month, my other brother and my sister went out there for the wedding, but I wasn't able to afford to go without wiping out most of my savings. I can't say that I was hugely bothered. But I am telling my children who are now in their twenties to think about their career choices, as well as being kind and connected to their community. 

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