An Investment in Children

Someone close to me said recently, “I don’t think my mom raised a son; she raised an investment.” That statement struck me as a sad and profound realization.

I can understand why this man feels the way he does. His parents pushed academics his entire life. They cut him off from almost all social interaction. As an adolescent he had one friend, not because his parents thought he should, but because he insisted, and his parents were afraid he’d rebel through neglecting his academics if they didn’t give in.

He thought he was going to get a reprieve from his mother’s overbearing presence by going away to college. Unfortunately she still called him several times a day and drove a couple hours every week to deliver his groceries. She justified her intrusion into his life, saying that since it was she and his father paying for him to go to college, she had every right to dictate how he did so. She even threatened to pull him out if he did not do things her way.

Eventually he graduated–Summa Cum Laude. Does this mean that the approach his mother took was the right one? I mean, he obviously succeeded. He graduated at the top of his class and is now one of the best in his field. She must have done something right, but at what cost?

This man had absolutely no social skills as a child. He had no idea how to interact with others because his mother ensured that he had no contact with others. He did not go to social gatherings, nor did he date, have girlfriends or any other normal social activities in high school. He didn’t even date in college. By this point he had become aware that there was an issue, but was unaware of how to approach it. He tried different ways of interacting with people which all turned out awkward because he didn’t have any experience. Fortunately he connected with his college roommates (which did not please his mother at all) who helped to integrate him into society a bit more. Being a very intelligent man, he was able to learn to adapt himself into social situations.

Other people who are not as intelligent, adaptable and naturally stable may not have been able to recover from such a socially isolated upbringing.

According to my friend, the reason his mother cut him off from everyone else is because she wanted him to form bonds with her and no one else. That way, once he became successful, she could be guaranteed that he would care for her.

As parents the only thing we can possibly invest in our children is love. It is our responsibility to ensure their survival and the  success of the next generation. It is not their responsibility to care for us in our old age. The irony here is, if we show our children enough love, if we are there for them when they need us, if we do our duty as parents, they will want to care for us. People never want to do the things others try to force them to do.

You cannot invest money into a child and expect a monetary return, but if you put all of your love, all of your passion, everything you are into your child, your child will reflect that.


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