If you opened this post with the hope that I will provide you the best investment tip for your child, I’m sorry to disappoint you as it is not about that.
But then, you may want to still read it till the end, because the ‘best investment’ that I’m talking about today is one that your money can’t buy.
Yes, that’s true!
The idea to write this post came from a disturbing article I read in a newspaper day before yesterday.
It was about how parents these days are too busy to talk to their kids. The article laid bare some worrying results from a study, which indeed are reflections of today’s fast-paced, consumption-driven society of ours.
Here are some details that got me disturbed…
- More than 80% mothers feed their babies while watching television so that they eat fast without creating a fuss.
- Fathers spend around 8 minutes a day talking to their children.
- Working mothers spend around 11 minutes a day talking to their children.
- Stay-at-home mothers do not talk to their children for more than 30 minutes a day.
- Stay-at-home mothers are rarely home with the children. And when they are, they are so bored that they keep them engaged in videogames.
- Fathers, many a times, are not even aware of what their child is studying.
All this, for what?
“Why are you running a rat race, dear?” I asked an old friend who was cribbing about his last pay rise, which he thought was peanuts.
“I have no choice Vishal! I want to provide everything to my family…my kids!”
“And what’s that ‘everything’?” I asked.
“Best toys, best clothes, best education, best videogames, etc. etc. etc.”
“Wow! And what about the best time?” I quizzed him. “You don’t want to provide them with their best time?”
“Best time? What’s that? Isn’t all this enough?” he responded, somewhat perplexed.
“You see Ravi, we all are running a race against time to earn more and more money, and invest the same to grow our money even further…just to provide a great life to our children.
“But my point is, and this is what I have realized in the last one year of staying close to my family – the only thing a child requires is your time. Everything else is secondary.”
Not money, not investments…your child needs your time
Indeed, that’s true! I have been working from home over the past one year. And what I have realized staying close to my 7 year old daughter is that the best time she has during the entire day is the time she spends with me, her mother, and her younger brother.
Not any toy, not any visit to the mall, not the cartoon channels, and not even the videogame…all she wants is for her parents to spend some quality time with her.
And believe me, even a child as small as 7 years old understands clearly her priorities in life.
It’s only when we parents flip the priorities to our convenience – first provide them everything that money can buy, and only then give them our time if it’s available – that the child starts to believe that this is the way life is to be lived.
My daughter, who earlier believed that all money that I brought home came from the ATM, now knows the value of money and that it is earned by way of hard work – only because I took out time to explain this to her.
“But you work from home Vishal, and thus have all the time in the world to spend with your child,” you might say. “I don’t have that much time as I work on a job and stay out of home for a large part of my day.”
I understand that, my friend!
But then, not hours or days, what a child needs from her parents are a few minutes of ‘devoted’ time each day. Nothing else would please her!
She won’t need your money or your investments that you are making for her higher education (these are, if at all, bonuses to make her future comfortable).
All she will need is for you to spend some quality time with her – understand what else makes her happy and what makes her sad.
“Vishal is getting philosophical here!” you might wonder. “Why is he telling all this on a platform meant to discuss investing ideas?”
Well, I am writing this because all investment ideas and advice about saving and investing for a child’s future would come to naught if the child’s present is not taken care of well…less financially and more emotionally.
After all, this is what I have learned from my daughter – Children need to know that they are important. They need to know they are loved and they need to know they are secure.
Your pleasure from your new house and your latest pay raise may subside. But the amazing experience you have from the good times you spend with your child will never fade.
Your child needs time with you. She needs your undivided attention. She needs to make happy memories with you. She needs to laugh with you.
Life can pull you in a thousand directions, and you might ignore it especially when your child is little.
But remember – She won’t stay little for long.
So, slow down…take some time…give some time…invest some time.