Since even before my daughter was born nearly 3 years ago, I’ve found myself frequently searching google for the best playschools in Bombay, the best boarding schools in England, the best summer camps on the East Coast, the best finishing schools in Switzerland, etc. Given the number of web sites offering this information, I’m sure many other parents are doing the exact same thing. My second child wont be born for at least another 6 months and I find myself already executing investment plans, to ensure he or she can afford the best education in the world (and secretly hoping he or she has my wife’s brains so she gets into these institutions). These things affect the decisions I have taken and the ones I am considering – in terms of the risks I’m prepared to take with my career, the cities where I would consider living, and the proportion of my income I feel the need to save. None of this is premeditated – it comes almost naturally. However, I cannot help but wonder if this is not the right way to deal with the situation.
My parents did the best they could but it was not quite this involved or intense (and to be fair to them, its not like they had google in those days). Purely by accident, I got interested in studying in the US. Knowing full well that there was no way in the world my family could afford such an education, I found a way to secure a full scholarship. Needing to maintain my scholarship forced me to maintain a perfect GPA. I worked nights and weekends to pay for housing, food, tickets back to India, etc. None of this came naturally – deep inside, I am a lazy person – but the lack of choices forced me to think innovatively, work hard and made me who I am. If I plan out exactly how to give my kids the best ‘leg-up’ on life and make it much easier for them to get the best the world has to offer, will I perhaps permanently stunt their chances of developing the ‘survival’ skills that got me to where I find myself today (despite being inherently lazy and far from intelligent)? Equally, by leaving them to figure it out for themselves, am I leaving them seriously disadvantaged vs kids whose parents are prepared to put in the effort to support them through the process. Today’s world is, after all, more competitive than the one where I grew up. There must be a right balance somewhere. I’m not quite sure where to find it…..