Before I found out my wife was pregnant with my son, I was comfortable with my finances. I was saving a good percentage of my relatively small teacher’s salary. However, once I knew that I had a child on the way that I wanted to provide for, I instantly became worried that my teacher’s salary wouldn’t be enough to afford my child the opportunities I wanted to provide him. This started my path to finding ways to increase my income including side hustles and a career change. I’m glad I did, because like all challenges, working to overcome them makes you a better person, and this one motivated a great deal of personal development on my end. The question I want to address in this post is was the extra income necessary?
Do I need to send my child to an ivy league school?
Ivy league schools are overrated. Students perform much better in the real world when they have the confidence of being the top of their class. On average the top students in less prestigious schools perform worse on college entrance exams than middle or even lower scoring students in ivy league schools. However, on average the top students of less prestigious schools are more successful than the middle students at ivy league schools. This shows that developing the confidence of being one of the top students in your class outweighs the prestige of an ivy league school in getting real-world results.
Another factor to consider is the wide availability of ivy league level courses online for free. This access to knowledge allows students to easily make what they want out of their education. A top student at a state school may overcompensate for not being accepted into an ivy league school by supplementing his or her education with additional learning opportunities. Whereas the ivy league student may feel that he or she made it and only do the required work. The state school student not only ends up with a greater education but also develops more resourcefulness that will help him or her in the real world.
What about extracurriculars?
Should I put my child into endless camps and competitive club teams so that he or she can get scholarships and/or become a professional athlete?
I wanted my son to become a teenager that is: smart, straight-A student, athletic, star player in multiple sports, popular, and entrepreneurial—you know, just the basics. Obviously, these are some high expectations for a child. The question is why was any this important to me? When I really reflect on it, the only answer I can come up with is to satisfy my ego. I wanted visible evidence of my superior parenting. I didn’t consciously know this, but it is the only reason that I could come up with. So are these things really important and if so, are they necessary for my son to have a good life?
Is it important for me to have evidence of good parenting? No! As long as I know that I did what was in my control, I can be happy with my effort. Did I research the best practices for raising a healthy, happy child? Did I do my best to implement, what I learned both through research and experience? Did I monitor results for feedback and make adjustments as I go? If so, I can be happy with however my son turns out.
Is it important for my son to excel at everything to have a good life? I believe that as long as I can impart some basic values in desiring to make the world a better place and to have a bias toward happiness he will have a good, fulfilled life. The majority of my original desired outcomes are only distractions to these goals. If he ends up being a star student or athlete great, but neither is a need to have.
The final determination after reflecting on this subject is that the level of spending I will need to spend on my son’s development is far less than I originally envisioned. I have watched documentaries following high-pressure parents and it is not a lifestyle I would want for me or my son. That said, I think that it is highly important for people to have interests and hobbies outside of school and work. This is especially true for children and teenagers as their brains are developing. It keeps them out of trouble and gives them something that can inspire them to work harder and develop their confidence. So we will be spending some money on extracurriculars, but we are not interested in high priced private schools and personal trainers.
What things do you plan on spending for your child’s development? If your kids are grown up, what did you spend on, and how did that turn out for you?