Author Topic: It's unfortunate that our family cares about what others think of us  (Read 18914 times)

Astromarine

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Re: It's unfortunate that our family cares about what others think of us
« Reply #50 on: August 05, 2014, 05:37:38 PM »
having a very high (>30%) savings rate at the expense of children's development might be equally foolish.

30% is very high? Don't take this the wrong way, but... did you *read* this site? :D

Scandium

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Re: It's unfortunate that our family cares about what others think of us
« Reply #51 on: August 06, 2014, 11:48:28 AM »
Thanks for all of the responses

We thought long and hard about the choices we made, and what we found is that once we were in a certain circle socially (e.g. the private school crowd) the lifestyle creep became an issue.

All of a sudden, certain extracurricular activities became very important and certain lessons became essential - what started out as doing the best for our kids by sending them to private school (because we are not in a good school district for public education) became a gradual change in perspective as to what is considered 'ideal' for kids in terms of enrichment and development.

Btw, I wholeheartedly agree with the fact that some of the changes we made are the most ideal for our kids - but it just begs the question what the right equilibrium is in the grand scheme of things.

So whilst having a ton of consumer debt or flat to low savings rate is obviously falling too far along the spectrum towards frivolous activities for the kids at the expense of financial independence, we came to the conclusion that having a very high (>30%) savings rate at the expense of children's development might be equally foolish.  It's just not worth it to us to 'retire' a years earlier if our we felt that, at the end of our lives, we didn't do all we could to help our children succeed.  This is obviously very subjective, but the reality is we feel our kids do actually have a leg up on life from the extra amount we spend - saving another 10-20% of our income, while giving us a faster retirement, we feel would shortchange their potential.  To each his own.
Sure, if you feel that's best then do it. Just look into the research on child development and which factors influence "success". (Since you spends 10s of thousands a year on your kids I assume you've done this..?)

It seems like you weight; music/sports = better kids, but cost money vs spending less and "worse kids". As the research show that's pretty much not true. You kids can be as (or more) happy/successful without all this. So maybe you're kids become enriched and amazing from all these activities, or maybe you're stressing them out and suppressing their creativity. Keep in mind that more of this stuff is not necessarily better for your kids.

A recent issue of the Economist had some good articles on parenting, and the research on what matters. (The best school, violin classes etc not so much. Caring parents and good genes do.). Also the value of unstructured play over organized futzing around.
I also recently started reading this which has some intesting points
http://www.amazon.com/How-Children-Succeed-Curiosity-Character/dp/0544104404/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1407347390&sr=8-1&keywords=How+Children+Succeedkeywords=how+kids+succeed
(yes I'm about to become a parent..)

« Last Edit: August 06, 2014, 11:50:10 AM by Scandium »

FIRE_HELP!

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Re: It's unfortunate that our family cares about what others think of us
« Reply #52 on: August 06, 2014, 12:11:27 PM »
Thanks for all of the responses

We thought long and hard about the choices we made, and what we found is that once we were in a certain circle socially (e.g. the private school crowd) the lifestyle creep became an issue.

All of a sudden, certain extracurricular activities became very important and certain lessons became essential - what started out as doing the best for our kids by sending them to private school (because we are not in a good school district for public education) became a gradual change in perspective as to what is considered 'ideal' for kids in terms of enrichment and development.

Btw, I wholeheartedly agree with the fact that some of the changes we made are the most ideal for our kids - but it just begs the question what the right equilibrium is in the grand scheme of things.

So whilst having a ton of consumer debt or flat to low savings rate is obviously falling too far along the spectrum towards frivolous activities for the kids at the expense of financial independence, we came to the conclusion that having a very high (>30%) savings rate at the expense of children's development might be equally foolish.  It's just not worth it to us to 'retire' a years earlier if our we felt that, at the end of our lives, we didn't do all we could to help our children succeed.  This is obviously very subjective, but the reality is we feel our kids do actually have a leg up on life from the extra amount we spend - saving another 10-20% of our income, while giving us a faster retirement, we feel would shortchange their potential.  To each his own.
Sure, if you feel that's best then do it. Just look into the research on child development and which factors influence "success". (Since you spends 10s of thousands a year on your kids I assume you've done this..?)

It seems like you weight; music/sports = better kids, but cost money vs spending less and "worse kids". As the research show that's pretty much not true. You kids can be as (or more) happy/successful without all this. So maybe you're kids become enriched and amazing from all these activities, or maybe you're stressing them out and suppressing their creativity. Keep in mind that more of this stuff is not necessarily better for your kids.

A recent issue of the Economist had some good articles on parenting, and the research on what matters. (The best school, violin classes etc not so much. Caring parents and good genes do.). Also the value of unstructured play over organized futzing around.
I also recently started reading this which has some intesting points
http://www.amazon.com/How-Children-Succeed-Curiosity-Character/dp/0544104404/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1407347390&sr=8-1&keywords=How+Children+Succeedkeywords=how+kids+succeed
(yes I'm about to become a parent..)

I did read the Economist article(s) on parenting

In particular I'd like to address this one: http://www.economist.com/news/united-states/21608793-helicopter-moms-and-dads-will-not-harm-their-kids-if-they-relax-bit-cancel-violin

"What about academic success? Surely the possibility of getting into Harvard justifies any amount of driving junior from violin lesson to calculus tutor?

Bryan Caplan, an economist at George Mason University, says it does not. In “Selfish Reasons To Have More Kids”, he points to evidence that genes matter far more than parenting. A Minnesota study found that identical twins grow up to be similarly clever regardless of whether they are raised in the same household or in separate ones. Studies in Texas and Colorado found that children adopted by high-IQ families were no smarter than those adopted by average families. A Dutch study found that if you are smarter than 80% of the population, you should expect your identical twin raised in another home to be smarter than 76% but your adopted sibling to be average. Other twin and adopted studies find that genes have a huge influence on academic and financial success, while parenting has only a modest effect."

That blurb had a pretty big effect on me, mainly because I went to a university that is considered top-tier (ranked one of the top 3 consistently up there with Harvard) and so did my spouse, so we already feel that our children have the genes needed to be able to succeed.

But is that enough?  Can we now just simply kick back and let chance play itself out, in the name of saving a few bucks (when we will retire much earlier than normal anyway) or in the fear that our kids don't have enough time to play outside and be creative (they have plenty of opportunities for that - and if anything we worry if they are falling behind as they don't have much of a schedule compared to peers)?  What about many other Ivy League couples, whose children are, in reality, the ones who our children will be competing against for the top schools, jobs, etc. - are they doing the same thing in raising their kids, just sitting back and letting nature play out with a laissez faire attitude?  Most certainly not, which is why there is an academic/activity/sports/enrichment arms race going on among highly educated couples in getting the best for their children.

Granted, we are trying to differentiate our children from among the top 5-10% (assuming that they are in that category genetically - who knows but I think they probably are).  In order to do so, getting A's, decent test scores and a couple of extracurricular activities at a mediocre level are simply not enough to stand out amongst the best - you have to be *really* good at something.  That is why parents are killing themselves shuttling their kids around: in order to help them find that one thing they can be really good at (in addition to having a high GPA and stellar SATs).

I'm sure this will get a lot of ridicule and rude comments among readers of this forum, but hopefully it resonates with others who are in the same situation.  And it is the advice from the latter group that I would find most helpful and take to heart.

Scandium

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Re: It's unfortunate that our family cares about what others think of us
« Reply #53 on: August 06, 2014, 12:39:00 PM »
Well you're clearly playing in a different league that I am. I've never been top tier (barely scraped in a MSc in engineering at a state school) so don't think I can't really offer helpful advice.

You kids are genetically in the top 5%, maybe one more activity will push them into the top 4% which will change their lives..? My feeling is that it won't, and it probably won't matter, but you do. That's probably the reason I'm not top tier; I'm fine with not being top 5%. If you think going to Harvard instead of some crummy school is required for your kids to be successful and happy then yes you probably need to do all these things, on the off chance that it will be the thing that makes the difference. There are far worse things to spend your time and money on.
« Last Edit: August 06, 2014, 12:42:09 PM by Scandium »

sobezen

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Re: It's unfortunate that our family cares about what others think of us
« Reply #54 on: August 06, 2014, 12:56:08 PM »
This...

'The minute I stopped caring about what other people thought and started doing what I wanted to do is the minute I finally felt FREE.'

I use to feel the same as you and genuinely cared what my extended family, friends and even neighbors thought.  Then after many years of struggling it dawned on me after the passing of a loved one, who cares?!  Really!  At the end of the day, I do not answer to others.  In the end, I made the best decisions possible at the time based on my situation and limited resources.  I have no regrets because I chose them; so I own my choices.  I often wondered when I have a child will send them to private school and the answer I was shocked to learn was, no.  I want more time to spend with my child, to teach, share and most importantly become actively involved with their growth and development.  These are some of the top reasons why Mustachianism and financial independence both resonate so deeply within me.  So I chose to go without in certain areas such as eating out, vacationing to exotic locals, buying a new car, and most importantly, deciding the life I want to live is created each day and it is not dependent on how much I spend to make me happy or fulfilled.  If I can reduce excess in my life, I can find creative alternatives to save, invest and make my monies work harder for me.  In the end, financially speaking I will have the freedom to dedicate more time with my family.  To me this freedom is priceless and I feel it can only be achieved by saving more and making sure it grows, neither of these actions are tied to spending more.

FIRE_HELP! I hope you find greater life balance.  It is wonderful you want to offer more opportunities to your family, but I am often reminded of the question should parents save for their children's college or their own retirement.  Well, to me the answer to this question is the same as yours.  It is all about balance and making sure your decisions are aligned with your greater life goals.  I would be saddened if I gave everything to my child's education/development and neglected my health and retirement.  To me, extremes are not healthy and simply end up causing more work to correct later on. 

I feel balancing your limited time, resources and life goals, can help you eliminate the "noise" others create around you.  Good luck.
« Last Edit: August 06, 2014, 01:07:46 PM by sobezen »

pagoconcheques

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Re: It's unfortunate that our family cares about what others think of us
« Reply #55 on: August 06, 2014, 05:26:31 PM »
Partly due to both of us coming from families with large numbers of relatives living in other countries, we traveled a great deal with our kids while raising them.  Yes, it's expensive, but it's worth it and there are ways to minimize costs.  Most years we were able to defray most of the airfare with frequent flyer miles.  We stayed with relatives when we could (they stay with us when they come to visit).  When we travel places we have no relatives, we rent apartments (VRBO) that are well located so we don't need to rent a car and we save tons of money over hotels.  We would prepare two-thirds of our meals in the apartment from food we buy at local markets.  Our kids have been in over 20+ countries and 35+ states.  The are completely bilingual which has been a boon to them in the job market. 

Still, my favorite vacation was probably the cheapest.  We took a road trip and went minivan camping.  We put the kids in charge of making camp since we were doing the driving.  We hiked. We swam. We stayed within a 10-hour driving radius of home.  We set a goal of swimming in all five great lakes, and we did--today, many years later, I've only met one other person who has done this. 

We seriously considered private schools.  Our calculation was that K-12 would cost as much or more as 4 years of high-end university tuition.  We bought a modest house in one of the nation's best school districts and put that private-school tuition money into our mortgage and the kids' 529 plans.  I agree with other posters that only the top tier private schools are worth the money unless the public schools in your area are truly dire and your money is simply buying avoidance rather than excellence.  We intensely researched the local private schools, interviewing teachers and administrators, sitting in on classes, and talking with parents and students.  We both have experience as teachers and it was easy to conclude that the local private schools were at best equal to the public schools and most were noticeably worse. 

I regret to admit that our kids were over scheduled and that we spent a lot of money and time on stuff they often disliked after a short time--there are whole industries set up around separating anxious parents from their money in exchange for themed supervision. 

mm1970

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Re: It's unfortunate that our family cares about what others think of us
« Reply #56 on: August 07, 2014, 09:56:50 AM »
Could you give some examples of things that are excess spending to provide a better life for your children, but would generate ridicule here?  I'm not sure I understand what types of things you're talking about.

I really hesitate to do so, but here goes:

- private schools for kids (the public schools we are zoned for are not very good based on 'generally accepted measures')
- lessons in sports/music
- club membership that allow kids to participate in certain sports that would not be available to them otherwise (while the parents make use of it too sometimes, it really is mainly for the kids as we wouldn't have joined otherwise)
- enrichment classes/camps
- taking at least one nice vacation a year that gives our kids an ability to see things firsthand and experience a world they would not if they simply stayed at home (i.e. requires airplane travel)
1-4 are all the same.  So, you don't really need to do all of them.

Meaning - you are giving them more opportunities by putting them in private school.  So you don't really NEED enrichment classes and camps if you are already paying for private school.  (We are in a mediocre public school, but pay for enrichment).

You don't need sports lessons AND a club membership for sports.  Pick one.

You don't need an annual vacation that requires plane travel.  We have cut our plane travel to every other year.

CarDude

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Re: It's unfortunate that our family cares about what others think of us
« Reply #57 on: August 07, 2014, 09:59:25 AM »
Thanks for all of the responses

We thought long and hard about the choices we made, and what we found is that once we were in a certain circle socially (e.g. the private school crowd) the lifestyle creep became an issue.

All of a sudden, certain extracurricular activities became very important and certain lessons became essential - what started out as doing the best for our kids by sending them to private school (because we are not in a good school district for public education) became a gradual change in perspective as to what is considered 'ideal' for kids in terms of enrichment and development.

Btw, I wholeheartedly agree with the fact that some of the changes we made are the most ideal for our kids - but it just begs the question what the right equilibrium is in the grand scheme of things.

So whilst having a ton of consumer debt or flat to low savings rate is obviously falling too far along the spectrum towards frivolous activities for the kids at the expense of financial independence, we came to the conclusion that having a very high (>30%) savings rate at the expense of children's development might be equally foolish.  It's just not worth it to us to 'retire' a years earlier if our we felt that, at the end of our lives, we didn't do all we could to help our children succeed.  This is obviously very subjective, but the reality is we feel our kids do actually have a leg up on life from the extra amount we spend - saving another 10-20% of our income, while giving us a faster retirement, we feel would shortchange their potential.  To each his own.
Sure, if you feel that's best then do it. Just look into the research on child development and which factors influence "success". (Since you spends 10s of thousands a year on your kids I assume you've done this..?)

It seems like you weight; music/sports = better kids, but cost money vs spending less and "worse kids". As the research show that's pretty much not true. You kids can be as (or more) happy/successful without all this. So maybe you're kids become enriched and amazing from all these activities, or maybe you're stressing them out and suppressing their creativity. Keep in mind that more of this stuff is not necessarily better for your kids.

A recent issue of the Economist had some good articles on parenting, and the research on what matters. (The best school, violin classes etc not so much. Caring parents and good genes do.). Also the value of unstructured play over organized futzing around.
I also recently started reading this which has some intesting points
http://www.amazon.com/How-Children-Succeed-Curiosity-Character/dp/0544104404/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1407347390&sr=8-1&keywords=How+Children+Succeedkeywords=how+kids+succeed
(yes I'm about to become a parent..)

I did read the Economist article(s) on parenting

In particular I'd like to address this one: http://www.economist.com/news/united-states/21608793-helicopter-moms-and-dads-will-not-harm-their-kids-if-they-relax-bit-cancel-violin

"What about academic success? Surely the possibility of getting into Harvard justifies any amount of driving junior from violin lesson to calculus tutor?

Bryan Caplan, an economist at George Mason University, says it does not. In “Selfish Reasons To Have More Kids”, he points to evidence that genes matter far more than parenting. A Minnesota study found that identical twins grow up to be similarly clever regardless of whether they are raised in the same household or in separate ones. Studies in Texas and Colorado found that children adopted by high-IQ families were no smarter than those adopted by average families. A Dutch study found that if you are smarter than 80% of the population, you should expect your identical twin raised in another home to be smarter than 76% but your adopted sibling to be average. Other twin and adopted studies find that genes have a huge influence on academic and financial success, while parenting has only a modest effect."

That blurb had a pretty big effect on me, mainly because I went to a university that is considered top-tier (ranked one of the top 3 consistently up there with Harvard) and so did my spouse, so we already feel that our children have the genes needed to be able to succeed.

But is that enough?  Can we now just simply kick back and let chance play itself out, in the name of saving a few bucks (when we will retire much earlier than normal anyway) or in the fear that our kids don't have enough time to play outside and be creative (they have plenty of opportunities for that - and if anything we worry if they are falling behind as they don't have much of a schedule compared to peers)?  What about many other Ivy League couples, whose children are, in reality, the ones who our children will be competing against for the top schools, jobs, etc. - are they doing the same thing in raising their kids, just sitting back and letting nature play out with a laissez faire attitude?  Most certainly not, which is why there is an academic/activity/sports/enrichment arms race going on among highly educated couples in getting the best for their children.

Granted, we are trying to differentiate our children from among the top 5-10% (assuming that they are in that category genetically - who knows but I think they probably are).  In order to do so, getting A's, decent test scores and a couple of extracurricular activities at a mediocre level are simply not enough to stand out amongst the best - you have to be *really* good at something.  That is why parents are killing themselves shuttling their kids around: in order to help them find that one thing they can be really good at (in addition to having a high GPA and stellar SATs).

I'm sure this will get a lot of ridicule and rude comments among readers of this forum, but hopefully it resonates with others who are in the same situation.  And it is the advice from the latter group that I would find most helpful and take to heart.

As a fellow highly educated person married to a highly educated spouse (we have more degrees than hands), I've got to say that I don't buy the "genes, genes, genes" perspective. Academic science tends to oscillate every 50 years between attributing intelligence to hereditary factors vs. environmental factors, and right now, I think we're in another era of inheritance dogma. I don't think our kids are going to be smart just because we are; I think they're going to be smart because we were fortunate enough to have the education and dedication to provide them with a nurturing environment, and I'm not talking about the super-busy-extracurricular kind. I think that matters much, much more than intelligence, and furthermore, I think happiness matters much, much more than intelligence. In the end, you're trying to do what every other mentally healthy parent is trying to do for their children: provide them with a good start so they can live a good life. The issue I see is that you might be equating a good life with a number of things that aren't necessarily related to happiness, which I believe is what we're all after in the end. It's a forest / tree perspective that I think most people miss throughout their lives.

You talk about success and competition and opportunities, but you (should) know that there are people who have all of those things and grow up to be desperately unhappy. They drink, use drugs, cheat on spouses, abuse their children, partners, coworkers, and themselves. They commit murders and suicides and do all kinds of terrible things to themselves and others. They die young of heart disease and strokes. Money and power, by themselves, aren't necessary nor sufficient for happiness, and believing that they are is the downfall of many otherwise-intelligent people.

My advice for you, and for any parent, would be to focus on cultivating happiness. And, despite what the hereditary hawkers would say about that too, I don't believe it has that much to do with what we're born with, but with how we're raised to see the world and ourselves.

gimp

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Re: It's unfortunate that our family cares about what others think of us
« Reply #58 on: August 07, 2014, 11:30:06 AM »
I did read the Economist article(s) on parenting

In particular I'd like to address this one: http://www.economist.com/news/united-states/21608793-helicopter-moms-and-dads-will-not-harm-their-kids-if-they-relax-bit-cancel-violin

"What about academic success? Surely the possibility of getting into Harvard justifies any amount of driving junior from violin lesson to calculus tutor?

Bryan Caplan, an economist at George Mason University, says it does not. In “Selfish Reasons To Have More Kids”, he points to evidence that genes matter far more than parenting. A Minnesota study found that identical twins grow up to be similarly clever regardless of whether they are raised in the same household or in separate ones. Studies in Texas and Colorado found that children adopted by high-IQ families were no smarter than those adopted by average families. A Dutch study found that if you are smarter than 80% of the population, you should expect your identical twin raised in another home to be smarter than 76% but your adopted sibling to be average. Other twin and adopted studies find that genes have a huge influence on academic and financial success, while parenting has only a modest effect."

That blurb had a pretty big effect on me, mainly because I went to a university that is considered top-tier (ranked one of the top 3 consistently up there with Harvard) and so did my spouse, so we already feel that our children have the genes needed to be able to succeed.

But is that enough?  Can we now just simply kick back and let chance play itself out, in the name of saving a few bucks (when we will retire much earlier than normal anyway) or in the fear that our kids don't have enough time to play outside and be creative (they have plenty of opportunities for that - and if anything we worry if they are falling behind as they don't have much of a schedule compared to peers)?  What about many other Ivy League couples, whose children are, in reality, the ones who our children will be competing against for the top schools, jobs, etc. - are they doing the same thing in raising their kids, just sitting back and letting nature play out with a laissez faire attitude?  Most certainly not, which is why there is an academic/activity/sports/enrichment arms race going on among highly educated couples in getting the best for their children.

Granted, we are trying to differentiate our children from among the top 5-10% (assuming that they are in that category genetically - who knows but I think they probably are).  In order to do so, getting A's, decent test scores and a couple of extracurricular activities at a mediocre level are simply not enough to stand out amongst the best - you have to be *really* good at something.  That is why parents are killing themselves shuttling their kids around: in order to help them find that one thing they can be really good at (in addition to having a high GPA and stellar SATs).

I'm sure this will get a lot of ridicule and rude comments among readers of this forum, but hopefully it resonates with others who are in the same situation.  And it is the advice from the latter group that I would find most helpful and take to heart.

You're in a different league from most people here who choose state school for their kids just because it's cheaper. You've actually graduated from a top school and you know the differences, the subtle points, that most people don't.

I do think you're on the right track, with the caveat I stated before. Nothing wrong with spending a shitload to get your kids into all of these 'extras' (which to you are not really extras, and won't be to them) - as long as these 'extras' are done for the right reason. If your entire reason for putting them into x activity is because it looks good on a college application, fuck that. If it's because you're trying to make them better people, then do it. But remember that it's unlikely that the stereotypical set of musical instruments, sports, and languages make your kids into better people - the stereotypical set is there because it's good for college admissions and no other reason.

mm1970

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Re: It's unfortunate that our family cares about what others think of us
« Reply #59 on: August 07, 2014, 12:03:45 PM »
Agreed.  We traveled a lot when I was a kid.  Just US and Canada...but I have friends who had never been outside the 6 counties surrounding our tiny farm community.  Travel helped to form who I am today.

Your friends are living what used to be called "normal life".  Travel, especially air travel, is a new form of conspicuous consumption -- a way wealthy/prospering people set themselves apart from the poor.  I guarantee you there are enough new places, experiences, and people to meet to keep your kids busy, all within a couple hours driving distance from your home.  And also, there's the internet.
I didn't fly until I was 18 and in the Navy.  My sister has still never flown.

I can definitely see how travel has affected by many siblings, some who have never traveled anywhere by plane, much less a foreign country, and some who have traveled.

But traveling as a child internationally or by plane, isn't so much a necessity.  At least, not every year.  I traveled quite a bit with my older child when he is small, but we've taken the opposite tack with the younger.  Because: expensive (we travel every other year to the East Coast to visit family.  Otherwise, our vacations are short drives, within 6 hours mostly).  And, he's two and a PITA.

I hope to travel more with my children as they get older, but honestly, I have to think that my younger child would have to be around 5 or 6 (and the older would be 11 or 12) before it makes sense to attempt something international. 

mm1970

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Re: It's unfortunate that our family cares about what others think of us
« Reply #60 on: August 07, 2014, 12:17:57 PM »
Quote
But is that enough?  Can we now just simply kick back and let chance play itself out, in the name of saving a few bucks (when we will retire much earlier than normal anyway) or in the fear that our kids don't have enough time to play outside and be creative (they have plenty of opportunities for that - and if anything we worry if they are falling behind as they don't have much of a schedule compared to peers)?  What about many other Ivy League couples, whose children are, in reality, the ones who our children will be competing against for the top schools, jobs, etc. - are they doing the same thing in raising their kids, just sitting back and letting nature play out with a laissez faire attitude?  Most certainly not, which is why there is an academic/activity/sports/enrichment arms race going on among highly educated couples in getting the best for their children.

Granted, we are trying to differentiate our children from among the top 5-10% (assuming that they are in that category genetically - who knows but I think they probably are).  In order to do so, getting A's, decent test scores and a couple of extracurricular activities at a mediocre level are simply not enough to stand out amongst the best - you have to be *really* good at something.  That is why parents are killing themselves shuttling their kids around: in order to help them find that one thing they can be really good at (in addition to having a high GPA and stellar SATs).

It's interesting.  What is your ultimate goal??  So my husband and I went to private, top-10 engineering schools. We were both consistently top of our class in HS, college.  We succeeded despite being from middle-class (him) and lower-class (me) families.  Of course, things have changed now.  More kids going to college.  More competition for the top schools.  So what?

Will going to a top school give your kid a leg up over the state school?  Sure.  So?  I would expect that, long term - your kid's own intelligence, motivation, and work ethic is going to get them where they need to go.  I've been working hard my whole life.  So has my husband.  We get things DONE.  My old boss has a BS in engineering from a state school and he's accomplished FAR more than a lot of people I know with PhDs from top-tier schools.  It's his own work ethic, abilities, and motivation.

So why is your goal to have your kid stand out among the best?

I admit, we're a bit laissez faire.  We transferred from a failing public school (score 1 out of 10) to a mediocre one (scores 3-4).  We didn't bother trying to get him into the top school.  We figured he could always get into GATE, but he didn't (maybe next year).  You know, he's a smart, hardworking kid.  He likes to learn.  That's what we want to emphasize.  He's not into organized sports.  So?  I didn't play a sport until HS, my husband not until senior year.  He's plenty athletic.  He doesn't play an instrument.  So?

My goal is to turn him into a fully functioning member of society who knows the value of working hard.  Who can think critically and get along with others.  Who can make smart decisions about - where to go to college (if to go at all), how to support himself when he's an adult, how to learn to cook and care for himself.  Why does he have to have the BEST job.  He doesn't!  He can get a decent job and work up.

My husband went Ivy because it was a good engineering school, but so?  Do I care if my son goes Ivy?  No.  In fact, if he wants to be an engineer, I'm hoping he chooses a state school because I've got two kids to pay for now.

Ynari

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Re: It's unfortunate that our family cares about what others think of us
« Reply #61 on: August 07, 2014, 12:48:43 PM »
Overscheduling kids is not the way to get them into an Ivy...  sorry. 

You might benefit from reading anything by Cal Newport. http://calnewport.com/blog/about/ Try a few of these blog posts.  He looks at successful students and people - and finds happy, successful people who don't come from backgrounds of lessons and tutors and money thrown at their extracurriculars.  I could talk more about this point, but the Study Hacks blog really has it covered.

rocksinmyhead

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Re: It's unfortunate that our family cares about what others think of us
« Reply #62 on: August 07, 2014, 12:53:58 PM »
Quote
All of a sudden, certain extracurricular activities became very important and certain lessons became essential

Yeah, they do, if your goal is to get the kids into college. Too many people conflate "get into college" with "be a better person." It may lead to that, but it's no guarantee. No path is considered evil if it gets you higher up the mountain, closer to enlightenment.

+100000000000000

having a very high (>30%) savings rate at the expense of children's development might be equally foolish.

30% is very high? Don't take this the wrong way, but... did you *read* this site? :D

ha! you beat me to it.

But is that enough?  Can we now just simply kick back and let chance play itself out, in the name of saving a few bucks (when we will retire much earlier than normal anyway) or in the fear that our kids don't have enough time to play outside and be creative (they have plenty of opportunities for that - and if anything we worry if they are falling behind as they don't have much of a schedule compared to peers)?  What about many other Ivy League couples, whose children are, in reality, the ones who our children will be competing against for the top schools, jobs, etc. - are they doing the same thing in raising their kids, just sitting back and letting nature play out with a laissez faire attitude?  Most certainly not, which is why there is an academic/activity/sports/enrichment arms race going on among highly educated couples in getting the best for their children.

Granted, we are trying to differentiate our children from among the top 5-10% (assuming that they are in that category genetically - who knows but I think they probably are).  In order to do so, getting A's, decent test scores and a couple of extracurricular activities at a mediocre level are simply not enough to stand out amongst the best - you have to be *really* good at something.  That is why parents are killing themselves shuttling their kids around: in order to help them find that one thing they can be really good at (in addition to having a high GPA and stellar SATs).

I'm sure this will get a lot of ridicule and rude comments among readers of this forum, but hopefully it resonates with others who are in the same situation.  And it is the advice from the latter group that I would find most helpful and take to heart.

I think others have raised a good question. what are they "standing out amongst the best" for? what's the point? what's the end goal? Ivy League school, job on Wall Street or with a prestigious law firm? is that a goal they'll want, or a goal that you want for them?

my opinion is probably irrelevant since I got my BS at a mediocre regional private university and my MS at a state school (top 3 in my field, but, you know, not Ivy), but I grew up middle class with average levels of opportunity--decent suburban public school, piano lessons K-5 and then my mom let me quit until 9th grade when I personally decided to take them again for four years, three seasons of sports at my public high school on teams that don't cut people (e.g. cross country) because I'm a terrible athlete, church camp--and I think I turned out great! I have a job that I like and that pays very well, I'm in a healthy, happy relationship, I have friends, I get along great with my family, I run marathons, I have lots of hobbies... I mean, that's basically exactly what I want for my kids, just to be well-rounded and happy. you might want something different for yours, which is going to make your spending priorities different.

mm1970 pretty much nailed it with the last post, IMO.

alibean

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Re: It's unfortunate that our family cares about what others think of us
« Reply #63 on: August 07, 2014, 02:05:55 PM »
Is all of this increasing your child's happiness (both immediate and future)?  It can just add pressure and stress for your child to think that you are spending all of this money and time on him/her so they can be not just one of the top 5% but one of the TOP of the top 5%.  That's a lot of pressure! Your kids could end up resenting you or spend their entire life trying to please you.  Some of the worst health and mental health problems are a direct result of stress and not knowing how to handle it. 

This quote pains me: "That is why parents are killing themselves shuttling their kids around: in order to help them find that one thing they can be really good at (in addition to having a high GPA and stellar SATs). "

I think because your measure of success is in having your child be the "best" at something- anything at the expense of everything else.  The chance of this is so low.  You're never going to be happy/successful when that requires comparing yourself to everyone else.  Because at some point, there is almost always going to be somebody better, richer, better looking, more well-traveled, etc.... and if not right now, there soon will be.  Being the "best" is not required for happiness.   And in forcing that upon your kids, you may have the opposite effect.

Trudie

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Re: It's unfortunate that our family cares about what others think of us
« Reply #64 on: August 07, 2014, 05:47:13 PM »
I wouldn't eliminate travel, because I think it can be a valuable experience for kids.  I have many great memories of traveling with my parents when I was a kid -- lots of car trips where we saw some pretty historic parts of the U.S.  Boston was a favorite trip that I recall.  On the other hand, my sister's family of 4 goes skiing in Colorado (from the midwest). It's very expensive.  The kids want to take girlfriends (when I was a kid we didn't take friends on family vacations.)  Also popular now are school-organized  choir, orchestra, and band international trips.  I asked my nephew what he was going to see in Italy and he said, "Not much, really.  We're stopping there for lunch."  So I take the middle of the road approach.  Get them out.  See how other people live.  Explore history.  For me as a pretty sheltered kid it was good to see that things weren't "always this way."  It was good to understand history and experience other cultures.

God or Mammon?

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Re: It's unfortunate that our family cares about what others think of us
« Reply #65 on: August 08, 2014, 06:04:50 AM »
Overscheduling kids is not the way to get them into an Ivy...  sorry. 

You might benefit from reading anything by Cal Newport. http://calnewport.com/blog/about/ Try a few of these blog posts.  He looks at successful students and people - and finds happy, successful people who don't come from backgrounds of lessons and tutors and money thrown at their extracurriculars.  I could talk more about this point, but the Study Hacks blog really has it covered.

what's your definition of 'overscheduled'?

seems everyone has a completely arbitrary and probably irrelevant definition wrt anyone else's family life situation

God or Mammon?

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Re: It's unfortunate that our family cares about what others think of us
« Reply #66 on: August 08, 2014, 06:31:41 AM »

having a very high (>30%) savings rate at the expense of children's development might be equally foolish.

30% is very high? Don't take this the wrong way, but... did you *read* this site? :D

ha! you beat me to it.

I can't tell whether these types of comments are due to ignorance or just to incite a response (the definition of being a troll).

I have no idea what the OP's income is, but they live in a high cost area where taxes eat up a large % of one's gross income (which is what I am assuming everyone is basing their savings rate % off of)

Maybe most of the people on this forum who talk about really big savings rates make a relatively modest income where the really high % tax brackets don't come into effect (even if your adjusted gross income is $100k married filing jointly, you pay < 17% in federal income tax)?  The reality is, for the really high earners it becomes *impossible* to save more than 50%

I used to live in NYC, and a dual income household earning $1mm (there are *A LOT* of them in Manhattan) would pay almost 45% in federal/state/city income tax combined, so the absolute max they could save if they spent $0 would be 55%.  A $2mm couple would pay 49% of AGI (max 51% savings rate).  You get the idea.

rocksinmyhead

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Re: It's unfortunate that our family cares about what others think of us
« Reply #67 on: August 08, 2014, 06:46:03 AM »

having a very high (>30%) savings rate at the expense of children's development might be equally foolish.

30% is very high? Don't take this the wrong way, but... did you *read* this site? :D

ha! you beat me to it.

I can't tell whether these types of comments are due to ignorance or just to incite a response (the definition of being a troll).

yep, those are definitely the only two options. not sure if also trolling?

I have no idea what the OP's income is, but they live in a high cost area where taxes eat up a large % of one's gross income (which is what I am assuming everyone is basing their savings rate % off of)

see, I assumed savings rate would be calculated off post-tax income, since as long as you are minimizing your tax burden the rest of it is pretty much out of your control and in the hands of legislators. I don't think there's a right or a wrong way to do it, as long as you are doing it consistently for yourself, we just made different assumptions.