Author Topic: Children and Education Spending - A Sensitive Question!  (Read 6303 times)

God or Mammon?

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Children and Education Spending - A Sensitive Question!
« on: April 17, 2014, 09:49:38 AM »
One of our children seems to have a much higher aptitude than the other (everyone measures this differently, but it's pretty obvious by almost any standard definition).

Is it unfair to disproportionately invest a greater amount in the brighter child's education?

Ottawa

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Re: Children and Education Spending - A Sensitive Question!
« Reply #1 on: April 17, 2014, 09:51:17 AM »
One of our children seems to have a much higher aptitude than the other (everyone measures this differently, but it's pretty obvious by almost any standard definition).

Is it unfair to disproportionately invest a greater amount in the brighter child's education?

I would say quite the opposite.  Children aren't lottery tickets, rather you want them all to be happy (and successful by their own measure).

GuitarStv

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Re: Children and Education Spending - A Sensitive Question!
« Reply #2 on: April 17, 2014, 09:58:20 AM »
Be aware that expectations for a child can dramatically affect the child's performance.  Take two identical children, put one in a class where the teacher thinks of them as dumb and they'll score lower and learn less than in a class where the teacher thinks of them as more capable.

catccc

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Re: Children and Education Spending - A Sensitive Question!
« Reply #3 on: April 17, 2014, 10:00:44 AM »
I don't think it is unfair if you otherwise take measures to nurture your other child's strengths or help them overcome any weaknesses.  It shouldn't be a dollar for dollar parenting equivalent, but a needs based one.  Meet each child's needs to the best of your ability.

On expectations, ever read "nurtureshock?"  If child believes he/she is smart, this can lead to unwillingness to take on challenges...

God or Mammon?

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Re: Children and Education Spending - A Sensitive Question!
« Reply #4 on: April 17, 2014, 10:02:53 AM »
Sometimes people have a gift. My husband was a musical prodigy, which was obvious from when he was a child. I know my in-laws spent more money on his piano than on his brother's education, but he also got far more benefit from his piano training than my BIL ever did from the same program. No amount of training was ever going to transform my BIL into a brilliant pianist.

I think the question is less, "is it fair to spend more on one child than another," than "are you meeting all your children's needs to the best of your ability?"

Also, look into the Davidson Foundation. They have a lot of resources, including cash funding, for profoundly gifted children.

The Davidson Institute website looks really interesting - thanks for the reference!

LucyBIT

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Re: Children and Education Spending - A Sensitive Question!
« Reply #5 on: April 17, 2014, 10:07:08 AM »
If child believes he/she is smart, this can lead to unwillingness to take on challenges...

I got such good grades with so little effort in most subjects that when I hit a challenging one, and ended up with a B (SHOCKING! lol), I was convinced I was "bad" at that subject. That should have been a positive red flag for me, that here was an excellent challenge I should pursue, and it would have served me well, as looking back I gave up on things I now know I would have enjoyed and been really good at with just a little more effort than usual.

God or Mammon?

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Re: Children and Education Spending - A Sensitive Question!
« Reply #6 on: April 17, 2014, 10:09:00 AM »
Yes I am very concerned about pigeon-holing our children - and it goes both ways: tell them they are smart and they may not develop a strong work ethic or ability to persevere (which is part of the problem with red-shirting); and obviously if they feel they are 'lesser' by not being given similar opportunities it might ultimately become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Difficult choices to make and seems hard to find a balance!

On a slightly different angle, and it is not quite applicable yet as our kids are quite young, but would the expected future profession of children impact whether you would help pay more or less for their education (i.e. more or less funding for kids - presumably older ones - who have stated they want to go into high-paying professions vs ones that have stated they want to go into low-paying fields)?


socaso

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Re: Children and Education Spending - A Sensitive Question!
« Reply #7 on: April 17, 2014, 10:54:30 AM »
Perhaps instead of thinking of this in terms of the children's abilities you instead decide what works for you as a family. We decided that for our child we would like to encourage the pursuit of one sport or physical activity and one extracurricular activity such a music or scouting or a club of some sort. We decided this because we want our child to be well rounded but we also don't want to run ourselves ragged driving to every activity in town and we don't want to devote all our resources to kid's activities when we need to be saving for other goals. Perhaps by setting family limits on these things but telling them they can pursue other things if they come up with the money for them you will motivate them to pursue things on their own. You might find that both kids are motivated to pursue things you never considered.

OldDogNewTrick

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Re: Children and Education Spending - A Sensitive Question!
« Reply #8 on: April 17, 2014, 11:24:45 AM »
You need to invest equally in your children, but that doesn't mean you send them both to Harvard.

Plus, careful with that smart gifted child label early in life. In fact, be careful of ALL labels. My daughter tested near-genius, took all AP courses in HS, received a full scholarship to our local state university. My son coasted through his early academic life, quiet kid in the back of the class who did just okay in everything, started community college but dropped out after 3 semesters.

Fast forward a few years. Daughter has a successful career in the arts. (!!) Son is a self taught coder and making a surprising amount of money for a community college drop out. 

I wish I could say I identified and help nurture their growth and development, but the truth is they found their own path and it is not one I imagined for them.

Noodle

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Re: Children and Education Spending - A Sensitive Question!
« Reply #9 on: April 17, 2014, 11:40:36 AM »
Children vary so much that you would need to really take their personalities, age gap, etc into account. In my extended family on one side there is a brother and sister with quite an age gap and very different activities, interests, friends etc. I doubt either would be hurt by one sibling getting something the other didn't as long as each got what he or she most wanted. On the other side, there is a pair of sisters very close in age, and one in particular is REALLY sensitive to fairness. Their parents have to be a lot more thoughtful about who gets what. I do think children would notice time and opportunity much more than money spent, so if one child is getting cheap recreational soccer and the other is getting expensive high-level piano lessons they won't pick up on it...but they will notice if the family spends a lot more time at piano recitals than soccer games.



On a slightly different angle, and it is not quite applicable yet as our kids are quite young, but would the expected future profession of children impact whether you would help pay more or less for their education (i.e. more or less funding for kids - presumably older ones - who have stated they want to go into high-paying professions vs ones that have stated they want to go into low-paying fields)?

This sounds like an idea with a lot of potential for harm. Personally, I would allocate the same amount in saving for each one's future, and let them decide how to spend it. Among other things, a higher salary isn't a guarantee of a job that is better for your child or the world. Fourth grade teachers make a lot less than, say, corporate bankers. You've got many years to brainwash (as my parents used to say) the kids about living within their means, thinking through financial decisions carefully, the power of compound interest, etc. Perhaps you will raise an artist who is so good at living modestly she can support herself on her art!
« Last Edit: April 17, 2014, 11:53:12 AM by Noodle »

La Bibliotecaria Feroz

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Re: Children and Education Spending - A Sensitive Question!
« Reply #10 on: April 17, 2014, 11:45:07 AM »
It seems to me that this is the only fair way to distribute education spending:

1. Kid tells you that they want x amount of money to study y.
2. You discuss with Kid whether there plan is reasonable, realistic, etc.
3. You give them the money or not.

I assume you're talking about college spending, not K-12 spending. Trying to guide your children's education too hard (steering Smarty Pants into medical school and Average Joe into Local Tech) will probably be counterproductive anyway.

rubybeth

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Re: Children and Education Spending - A Sensitive Question!
« Reply #11 on: April 17, 2014, 12:58:24 PM »
I guess I would be careful about this, and what you tell your children about this. If it's a matter of one kid being interested in doing an extracurricular activity (like science club or something) while the other has no interest, I think that's fine. If it's a matter of one kid attending university while the other isn't interested or isn't able for some reason, I think the kid will understand that they don't fit the same mold as the other kid, and that's okay. But the kid who supposedly doesn't have the aptitude... unless they have an actual disability or something, why not assume they could do the same things as your other child? Even kids with learning disabilities end up being adults who want to work and can, with some limited accommodation, have no problems doing so (like my DH who has ADHD but is in grad school). Not sure of the situation, but I guess I'd say, why not assume they will do the same things as the other kid and plan for it, and if they don't, for whatever reason, that's also okay?

My parents (especially my mom) were always very careful about being fair in their spending on me and my younger sister. My mom experienced the brunt of a lot of unfairness (or perceived unfairness) as a child and young woman (complicated family stuff that resulted in an estranged sibling), and so was hyper-sensitive to this. Birthdays/Christmas and school clothes shopping were always budgeted equally, for example. But education is somewhat different. My parents paid for both of our undergraduate degrees at the local university, but I'm sure my sister's cost more, because she started six years after I did. They also helped her move to another state for graduate school, which had related expenses. She stayed on their health insurance longer than I did, but she also has a chronic illness (Type 1 diabetes) and it was necessary. But they also let me live with them during my own grad school stint, so this didn't feel 'unfair.' They were so careful about being fair, and my sister and I never took anything for granted, that I have no problem with the fact that they've probably spent more on her.

Nudelkopf

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Re: Children and Education Spending - A Sensitive Question!
« Reply #12 on: April 17, 2014, 05:47:27 PM »
I think the question is less, "is it fair to spend more on one child than another," than "are you meeting all your children's needs to the best of your ability?"
Fair does not mean Equal.  Encourage the talents of each child.
+1s.

My parents spent a lot on me to travel to sciencey stuff across the globe, and paid for my music lessons. And my brothers got dirt bikes. I always felt guilty that my school stuff was more expensive than theirs, but I'm not sure how my brothers feel about it.

CarDude

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Re: Children and Education Spending - A Sensitive Question!
« Reply #13 on: April 17, 2014, 06:24:45 PM »
Fair does not mean Equal.  Encourage the talents of each child.

I agree with this, but at the same time, unless medical issues are involved, with children, equality has a lot to do with fairness. I wouldn't recommend spending a lot more on one child than on another without ensuring ahead of time that you'd have sufficient funds to do the reverse if the opportunity arose.

Dicot

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Re: Children and Education Spending - A Sensitive Question!
« Reply #14 on: April 17, 2014, 08:09:21 PM »
When I was teaching, my principal once told me: our goal is to make things equitable, not equal  If you had a classroom full of children and one was blind, it would be "equal" to provide them all with a book, but it would be equitable to provide the blind child with Braille or an audio book.  The important thing is to provide each child with the tools to meet his or her needs.

avonlea

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Re: Children and Education Spending - A Sensitive Question!
« Reply #15 on: April 18, 2014, 04:53:27 AM »
Anecdote:  My dad wasn't able to read until he was 13 years old, something he is very ashamed of and didn't reveal to me until his own grandchild was diagnosed with dyslexia.  My father attended tech school after graduating high school and then transferred to a university.  He obtained his B.S.  He surprised his parents and a lot of his elementary school peers.

When I was teaching, my principal once told me: our goal is to make things equitable, not equal  If you had a classroom full of children and one was blind, it would be "equal" to provide them all with a book, but it would be equitable to provide the blind child with Braille or an audio book.  The important thing is to provide each child with the tools to meet his or her needs.


I like this and I think it is critical to help a child with special needs.  In the case of paying more to help the gifted child, I also like the advice from CarSafetyGuy about being prepared to spend the same amount of money for both children if the situation eventually calls for it.
« Last Edit: April 18, 2014, 09:32:54 PM by avonlea »

Bookworm

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Re: Children and Education Spending - A Sensitive Question!
« Reply #16 on: April 18, 2014, 05:23:35 AM »
They will both need SOMETHING, and it will only be unfair if you choose to support the needs of one to a greater degree than you support the needs of the other. They are two different people, so their needs will be unequal, and there's nothing wrong with that.

Our daughter came to us later in her life (7 years) and had emotional and behavioral challenges that required specialized residential care. We got it for her, and it was VERY expensive. When she got to college age, what she needed for growth more than anything was independence. We gave her that, and it cost us nothing. For our son, what he needed was a relationship with his bio-dad, so we chaufferred him 100 miles every week for 14 years to make that happen. It didn't cost a whole lot, but it met his needs 100%. Now, all he needs from us is a place to stay while he works on an engineering degree. College is free for him, so all it costs us is enough food to feed a 19-year-old. We've spent a LOT less on him than we did on our daughter, but their needs have been equally met.

Gray Matter

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Re: Children and Education Spending - A Sensitive Question!
« Reply #17 on: April 18, 2014, 05:34:28 AM »
You ask very good questions.  And of course, there is no easy answer, or you wouldn't be here asking, right?

I am not inclined to spend a whole lot more on a child who is brighter, because I figure he or she already has a significant advantage over a child with less intelligence in terms of being able to get scholarships, select higher-paying occupations, etc.  That said, if my superbright child wanted to go to Harvard and my less bright child wanted to go to the community college (or vice versa), I don't think things have to be equal as long as everybody is happy.  Happiness, health, and fit matter to me.

And sometimes equal is unfair.  In my family, my parents gave the exact same dollar amount to all four of us, which ended up not being "fair" because one of my sisters was smart enough to get a full-ride (including room and board) scholarship and graduated with all that money in the bank.  It wasn't that she was harder working--she was just smarter.  And one of my sisters struggled more in school, and I went to bat for her with my parents to give her more money than they gave me because she wasn't capable of working 20-30 hours a week and keeping her grades up like I was.  It seemed fair that she get more support.  So I think you really have to look at the situation.

One other word of caution, I have seen multiple families devote more resources to a more talented child, to the detriment of other children in the family, and I would strongly caution against it.  One friend spends every single weekend at the rink, every evening at practice, and thousands of dollars every year on their oldest.  Neither of the other two children have that opportunity, because the time and money is already allocated to the oldest child, and they are relegated to being rink-side.

Also, though it's easy to say it's not important to be "equal," to a child time and money are often seen as a proxy for love, and the child who gets more of them is viewed as being more loved.