A very interesting piece came out today on Babble.
Essentially, the author (who has five children) says that she will not pay for her childrens' education largely because she knows she will not be able to afford it, but also because she believes in some kind of bootstrap mentality where children appreciate it more if they earn it.
After reading the piece I have a lot of thoughts. Probably the first is gratitude. Because honestly, it never even occurred to me that there WAS another option beyond paying for my kids' education. So just the opportunity to consider this has opened my eyes quite a bit. for instance, my friend A said that her parents made her and her brother pay for the first year and then they covered the rest. Seems like that offers the best of both worlds.
R paid for his own school (almost) entirely. I will not speak for him, but let's just say that his philosophy is that he wants his children to have what he did not. He wants to pay for their education entirely. It has been hard for him to start life with so much debt.
My parents paid for my school and then they paid for grad school. During the time, I will absolutely admit I was not grateful at all. All of my friends were in the same boat, so the idea that I would thank my dad for all the hours he logged that paid my 160k*** "little Ivy" education was preposterous. It is only now, a decade later, that I am grateful for what his generosity afforded me: a debt free start to my life, the room to explore my interests and find my niche without the burden of debt and yes, a massive sense of entitlement.
I could not be honest without admitting that I was and have been spoiled by my upbringing. It is good for me to open my eyes to other thoughts and listen. This is one of the reasons R and I are so good for eachother. He challenges my expectations.
All that said, I expect my kids to go to college. And then grad school. I expect them to be lawyers/doctors/PhD academics/successful writers, etc. I don't even think I realized how pushy/upper middle class my expectations were until today. The idea that they would do anything other than college/gradschool seemed insane. I can't say that I have been awakened and now hope they will learn a trade and skip college, but I am considering some of my expectations of a toddler and a baby and wondering if they are too pushy.
Could I have created the life I have and love--the job, the family--by bootstrapping it? Maybe. R certainly did. But where I have an idealistic, "our kids can major in whatever strikes their fancy b/c they will go to grad school anyway" philosophy, he is much more, "what can they do to maximize their earning potential?"
Two schools of thought, both equally valid.
I have no answers today. I will say I want kids who are grateful and know what they have, not spoiled like I was. But I also want children who feel they can do anything they want, attend Ivy League schools and not have the pressure of finances holding back their dreams and ambitions. In the end, I am not sure what to think, but I am grateful for the opportunity to ponder it. So, thanks Babble and Meagan Francis.