Filed under: Comment
So I was talking to a colleague of mine about parenthood.
Neither of us are parents, but we had watched a documentary about parents trying to get their pre-schoolers into daycare and were shocked at how competitive it was.
Listening to the parents talk, they were saying the kindergarten their child entered had an implication on what school … university … and ultimately, job, they would have in later life.
Admittedly, the parents were wealthy wannabe’s in Manhattan, but still … it all seemed a bit extreme to me.
Of course, the problem I have is that my frame of reference is my own upbringing.
Pre-school for me was the church down the road … where I got to play with my oldest and dearest friend Paul.
Then infant school was the school around the corner from our house … where I got to play with my oldest and dearest friend Paul.
Then comprehensive school was the school attached to the infant school which was around the corner from our house … where I got to play with my oldest and dearest friend Paul.
And college was the building attached to the comprehensive school, which was attached to the infant school, which was around the corner from our house … where I got to play with my oldest and dearest friend Paul.
And then, instead of going to university, I had a dodgy music career before going into adland and while many would regard that as being lower than a traffic warden, it’s not too bad of a job and I earn a good salary … which lets me go back to England fairly regular where I get to play with my oldest and dearest friend Paul.
Now a lot of this is because my parents actively encouraged me to follow what I was passionate, excited and interested in.
Sure, they would have loved me to go into law or medicine or even the Royal Academy of Music … but they were far more focused on me living a life of fulfilment than contentment.
And only in the last 10 years or so have I realised what an act of love that is.
Despite the risks of a music career [ie: no cash, no achievement, no success] they knew it was something I adored and – having discussed the possibilities and implications with me – backed me wholeheartedly to see where it took me.
And I did OK with it.
Not what I dreamed of happening, but OK.
And even when I went into advertising – a career that was like kryptonite to my Father – they still supported me as despite the high potential for failure, redundancy and low pay, they could see it was something I found interesting, exciting and challenged by all at the same time.
In short, while they never wanted me to have a life of hardship, they also didn’t want me to have a life of regret and for that I am so truly, truly grateful as it set the foundation for me to do and try all manner of things … of which I still have a couple in the pipeline and a hell of a lot in my head.
But that was all 30-40 years ago.
A totally different generation.
Nowadays, competition for employment is even harder.
Academic qualifications are even more important, and yet have seemingly less value.
The arts even more difficult to break into.
And while I would like to think that talent and persistence will still find a way to ‘get through’, I know the sad reality that isn’t always the case.
Which leads me back to the discussion with my colleague.
If we had children, would we support their passion or would we encourage them to follow a path that increases the chances of them being able to live a more comfortable and stable life.
After all, comfort and stability doesn’t mean boring.
It doesn’t even mean it can’t be fulfilling.
But what would we do. Encourage or protect.
I know what I’d like to think I’d do … but I’d love to hear what the parents who check this blog out think about this dilemma.
Is it a dilemma?
Have you worked out what you’re going to do?
Was it something that has challenged you and your values?
Of course, few parents come on here and the ones who do are probably not the sort of parent that would be held up as being a ‘role model’, but if you are and you don’t mind explaining your perspective on this, I’d be fascinated to hear it.
And finally, to my parents, thank you. I always knew you were wonderful but I hold you both in even higher regard, if that is at all possible.
27 Comments so far
Leave a comment