I want my children to lead a comfortable life. What parent doesn’t? When they have important decisions to make over subject choices at school; when they are mulling over career options that they may wish to aim for; I am there offering boringly sensible advice that basically boils down to looking at how they can earn a substantial amount of money.
In my experience, even the most creative and imaginative people struggle to achieve contentment in life if they are struggling to pay the bills. Money may not buy happiness but a lack of money can stymy dreams. It is not necessary to be rich but it is necessary to have enough to get by. These days it seems to cost rather a lot to just get by.
And then I see the slightly older kids who have made use of their abilities, worked hard, made the sensible choices, had the luck to get into the good universities on the sought after courses, graduated with impressive results, yet still ended up back at their parent’s home unable to find a job. They took the advice to aim for the well paid job but cannot now make the leap onto the first rung of the ladder.
I remember my mother trying to persuade my siblings and I to aim for the careers that she saw as safe and respected. She wanted us to be teachers or to join a bank; to get a job for life that paid a comfortable wage and would lead to a good pension. She could not have imagined how the world would change in the course of our working lives.
I look at the world around me and I feel so old; I do not know how best to advise my children. They have their dreams and aspirations yet I find myself telling them to save their creativity for a hobby; to put their ideas of working for a better world aside because it may make life tough for them. And I hate that I am sounding just like my mother.
Do not get me wrong, I know that my mother loved us and wanted only the best for us (and still does). She was offering us her wisdom based on the experiences that she had been through. It is how I now look back on that advise and how I am glad that I did not do as she wished that makes me realise that I must let my children find their own way. I should encourage them to take risks if that is what they want to do.
Who am I to offer advise anyway; what do I know of the future world that my children will have to deal with? Perhaps the cynicism, energy and desire that they display could make a difference; perhaps the dreams and creativity could lead to success. Just because I know people who tried, failed and subsequently struggled does not mean that this will happen to them. Working hard and making all the sensible choices is no guarantee that they will find success and happiness.
I have become the older generation. My children are growing into the people who will have the chance to shape the world. When I look at how they talk and dream and live I am given huge hope for the future. I must not allow myself to quash their idealism for the sake of a life that may no longer exist in the years through which they must live.
It angers me when I read of employers berating the youth of today for having unrealistic expectations when they enter the world of work. It is the young people who have dreams and ambition who will work hard and come up with the innovative ideas that may just lead to a better world. I want to see improvement and change. I do not like the way things are now with the selfishness, nepotism and corruption endemic in the higher echelons of power.
If my children are to make a success of their lives then they must do so through their own efforts; I cannot do it for them. I had my chance with my own life, now it is their turn to make their mark in whatever way they can.
I will never stop hoping that their lives may be comfortable and happy; I will continue to offer the best advise I can. What I must remember is that they have options and must be free to explore even those that seem so risky to me. I want them to be able to enter the adult world with passion, enthusiasm and belief. I would be doing them a huge disservice if I were to quash their dreams because the world as I knew it demanded skills that they are capable of developing, but which may not be the key to the life that they wish to live.
Each generation enters a world that is different to the one before and must find their own way; I cannot tell my children how it will be. The best I can do is to encourage and love them, whatever choices they make. Their lives are their own. They will fly their own course with or without my encouragement. It is the parent who finds it hard to let go.