My older son went on a trip with Melissa. It was so exciting to watch them leave because they always do amazing things while they’re together. But I couldn’t help thinking, while I was dropping them off at the airport, that my kids are growing up like rich kids. It’s the last thing I expected after moving to rural Wisconsin.
The reason they are growing up like rich kids is not so much the money (he could have gone on a driving trip with Melissa and had the same advantages,) but because of my mentality that I trust him to be smart and interesting and to make a life from that. And I don’t trust school.
I think a lot about the difference between how rich people think about education and how everyone else thinks about education. So I was interested to read that rich people worry less about their kids getting into dangerous situations online than poor parents do.
I am convinced that, in general, parents who have self-confidence in their own ability to navigate the world display confidence in their children’s abilities as well. This seems like a good thing. Rich parents raise kids to think that being themselves is a great thing to be.
It also seems like a bad thing to assume your child is incapable. Jared Diamond’s book The World Until Yesterday shows that throughout human history families have given kids much more freedom and much more responsibility. Jennifer Senior has collected wide ranging data to show that the more we infantilize teens the more depressed they get. And it stunts their moral and emotional development.
It makes sense to me that people who feel secure financially would feel secure in the world, and would raise their kids to feel secure in the world.
So what can you do? Recognize that how many rich people raise their kids is insightful.
1. Rich parents don’t focus on well-roundedness. We are not in 16th century Italy. Today well roundedness is too easily accessible to everyone. Today specialization is what rich people want for their kids.
2. Rich parents don’t run their lives around school calendars. Rich families go to schools that allow families to put their own schedules first. Certainly it’s for selfish reasons, like film schedules or family vacation but the message this sends to kids is that family time is important for rich kids and secondary for kids who live their lives around a grammar school calendar.
3. Rich parents don’t do academics in the summer. No one ever succeeded in life by doing what everyone else does. Rich people realize that doing more coursework that everyone else is doing is not going to lead to success. Rich kids experience unusual, nonacademic settings in the summer.
4. Rich parents don’t focus on homework. It’s become clear that rich kids will do fine in life if they don’t do homework and poor kids won’t. (This is consistent with research that poor kids need to be taught to read in school and rich kids don’t.) So rich people don’t need to obsess about homework because rich kids will do fine in life without doing well in school.
What I’m trying to tell you is that it’s a poverty mentality to send your kids to school. The values of school are for people who start at a disadvantage. The US school system is about making things equal for everyone. If you start out on the better side of equal, why would you put your kids in a system designed to reduce their advantage?
When you block your kids from working and playing online, it’s out of fear. Fear that they will not learn enough, or that they will be corrupted, or that they will fall behind. Parents should have much bigger fears about telling their kid to do school instead of something else, even video games. In school the danger is that your the kid will become the same as all the others.
That seems much worse to me.
And don’t tell yourself that it costs a lot of money to raise your kid like a rich kid. It just means having a lot of faith in your kid. Melissa and my son didn’t actually need a lot of money for their trip. They spent the majority of their time hanging out together in Melissa’s apartment. And they both liked that just fine.