[Decisions] What’s a mother to do?
A very close friend of mine called me this morning for my input on a major decision. “Do I sell my house and move into an apartment in order to continue sending my two daughters to the best private elementary school in the area?”
My first reaction was, “Of course, nothing is more important than the education of your progeny.” After I answered, I was quiet for a second and thought about another friend whose mother bounced around from apartment to apartment while struggling to keep her in school. Now this friend has a great job, is well educated, and has major security and commitment issues. Her uncertain childhood made her unable to take any risks and crave stability over all else. What’s a mother to do?
Every decision of the parent effects the child in some way. I’ll explain using my own life. My parents grew up very poor but refused to let their children experience the same hardships. Their decisions and ways of thinking have had many unexpected effects on who I am today. The law of cause and effect isn’t always immediately understood but hopefully some of my examples will make it more clear.
My parents were adamant about school and work. Tired or sick was not an excuse to miss class or work. Multitasking is not an option in my family it is the standard. My sister had two jobs in high school and still would have been grounded if she got a “C” or lower. I have taken 3 sick days from work in 4 years and I only missed those days because I thought I might be contagious. I use my vacation days to tend to my other business aspirations. I was taught and still practice the ideal that hard work and education are the only way out of poverty.
Their upbringing in poverty made them survivors. My upbringing in middle class America with only survival skills made me terrible at long-term thinking and unable to enjoy the luxuries of life. People born rich tend to do well not only because of their inherited resources but also from their mindset of “work smarter not harder.” It wasn’t until I read “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” and had a mentor with a different mindset than mine did I understood why I was not getting ahead.
Can you imagine the effect that abusive and/or negligent behavior has on a child? Something you (as a parent) say or do today could follow that child for the rest of his/her life. In the same way, something as simple as enrolling your child in an art class or in Pop Warner football could enhance that child’s life and transform them from mediocre to exemplary.
Most of us float through life unaware of the causes and effects of our actions. We believe that chance and fate control our lives, but chance and fate are just unknown causes and effects. It is impossible to accurately predict the effects of all of our actions but it is possible to mitigate the damages by actively trying to do the best thing.
The original dilemma is whether to forgo short-term happiness for the increased possibility of long term success? Will being highly educated create unimaginable possibilities for the next generation or will it create another generation of educated but unsatisfied adults?
What do you think? What is the best option for my friend?
This situtation has too many variables for me to assert a strong opinion. Is the private school very good or are the public schools very bad?
I find that a private school setting can be a disservice to some children. Smaller class sizes and more individual attention can improve the average child’s performance in either setting and are more often available in private schools. I think some parents don’t consider that this much attention is not readily available when their children progress to college and on into their careers. Beyond that, I received a great education in public schools, both in urban and suburban settings. My nephew attended a private school and completed first grade there. My sister was pleased with his progress until she transferred him to public school and found that he could not perform at the level of the students there. He had to be held back a year to catch up. My advice would be to research the public schools in that area to determine whether or not moving into a smaller home is appropriate. Public schools are not necessarilty bad.
The Public School system in her area is on the decline and the private school that the kids are in is one of the best in the country.
In my opinion obtaining a better education far outweighs the negative effects your friend’s children may experience, regardless of the sacrifice she must make. Of course I don’t agree that it is effective to have unsatisfied adults with commitment issues. However, that is not nearly as bad as having an adult who is not cognizant, capable, and competitive into today’s unforgiving world.
I can use my own upbringing as an example. I grew up in a fairly decent learning environment where I was given all of the resources I needed. My cousin on the other hand was in a system that was failing miserably. My mom urged his father (her brother) to allow him to come stay with us in order to be in a better learning environment. My uncle was so concerned about the effects of him not being with his parents that he failed to think about the long-term effects. He made the decision that he would stay with his parents during his formative years and then move in with us when he was nearly an adult. As a result my cousin is very close to his family (parents), but lacks some of the education that could make him very competitive.
With either decision it is a Catch 22. If you do one thing you may lose something in this area. If you do another thing you may lose in that area. At the end of the day you just have to weight the opportunity costs.
I would choose to sell my home and maintain my child’s education. Stability has very little to do with one’s physical environment. If it did and I kept my home and enrolled my child in the local public school…..would that not contribute to instability? Stability is based on the child’s secure attachment to the parent or caregiver, regardless of environment. It is founded in a trusting relationship and bond between parent and child.
Ask your friend that has commitment and security issues to reflect on the relationship she has with her parents, both now and as a child. The issues that you listed are the result of human interaction, not a physical environment.
The main issue should be the children’s education. It sounds like the mother has her children’s best interests in mind. Regardless of the decision, she needs to ensure that she remains a loving and supportive parent that is active in their lives. We now live in an age where education is a need, not a want. If she is able to improve or maintain the quality of her children’s education, then why not move to an apartment? Would you really sacrifice your child’s future, for home ownership?