What if our children never had to work!

Published: October 10, 2016 at 12:11 pm

Last Updated on

The other day, my 6.5 year old asked my wife, “mama when will I get married?”. Surprised, she quickly collected herself and said, “first, you need to finish school, get a college degree (or two or ahem .. three!), get a job and then you can get married”. To this, he replied, “Okay, then I will get a child and makes sure s/he does not go to school”!.

Ah! The penny drops. The reason he asked the question in the first place is because he hates school. Just hates it. All he wants to do is sit and home, play with toys, watch videos on his computer (he has never seen TV) and dream away his life. Since we force him to go to school against his will, he has sworn (as of now) that he will never send his children to school!

Photo credit: Jar (flickr)

I will never tell him this, but his ideal way of life sounds like heaven to me! 🙂 I wish I could do that.  I cannot because I have to earn to put food (among other things) on the table.

He has to go to school because I do not enough net worth to ensure he can dream away his life. The day my son asked the above question,  I decided that at least my grandchildren (assuming he has some) should not be in the same position as us (me and him).

Now, that might sound stupid to you, but I am passionate about dreaming – fill your minds with stray thoughts and see what gives.

I am now at the threshold of (notional) financial independence but it took me 10 years of employment and another 14 years of education after school. Soon I may be able to dream away my time, but I do not have the means for my son to do so. If we (my son and I) join forces, we might be able to gift that the next gen.

All I can afford to do (God willing) is to offer a year off to my son after his 12th standard  to “find himself” – inspired by actor Nandita Das’s father, Jain Das (a painter and sculptor).

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Forget just for a moment, the idea that kids should be independent, receive a formal education, pay for their education, earn and stand on their own legs etc. I agree with all that.

My point is, if ‘to dream’ is their dream, why not let them do it if we can afford to and if they are worthy of it? Naturally not every child would want to do this or should do this. However, when we see tiny sparks of creativity in a child (in any field), why not encourage it by offering them time and space? Without the shackles of school or a job.

It is not impossible. All it takes is some disciplined investing and risk management. Perhaps our children may not benefit from this, but with some luck, and more disicpline, their children might. See, there is an optimist in me 🙂 .

If you thought I was a bit strange before, with this post I have perhaps proved that I need to get my head checked 🙂

Do listen to this fantastic song. It reminds the importance of the Art of idling!

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Pattabiraman editor freefincalM. Pattabiraman(PhD) is the founder, managing editor and primary author of freefincal. He is an associate professor at the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras. since Aug 2006. Connect with him via Twitter or Linkedin Pattabiraman has co-authored two print-books, You can be rich too with goal-based investing (CNBC TV18) and Gamechanger and seven other free e-books on various topics of money management. He is a patron and co-founder of “Fee-only India” an organisation to promote unbiased, commission-free investment advice.
He conducts free money management sessions for corporates and associations on the basis of money management. Previous engagements include World Bank, RBI, BHEL, Asian Paints, Cognizant, Madras Atomic Power Station, Honeywell, Tamil Nadu Investors Association. For speaking engagements write to pattu [at] freefincal [dot] com

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  1. this is a ridiculous idea and quite irresponsible coming from someone your standing. if a child is promised or even remotely hinted, that he doesn’t need to work, then there is a risk of them becoming lethargic and possibly even a burden on society.

    why do rich businessmen put their kids ‘on the job’ at an early age. why do they push them for ivy league degrees and bluechip pedigrees?

    the best thing to teach your kid is the importance of being financially responsible and the method to become financially independent. if they do this by pursuing something of their passion then well and good! if not you may give a helping hand if you can afford but should never promise it upfront. once they earn their independence they are free to do whatever they wish.

    1. lol! I can assure you that I have no standing other than the fact that I choose to write what I want in my blog. I am used to the fact that many of my ideas are met with disagreement, often due to a lack of understanding. Never stopped me before.

  2. Well to be honest, most kids hate going to school but that doesn’t mean they don’t need the education. There are billionaires in India who have enough money to feed 14 generations but does that mean none of their future generations should go to school or try to earn money on their own? We should create a platform for our kids so that they have the right tools to create their own legacy in life. But at no point should we aspire to hand them everything on a silver platter so they never have to work for anything. That’s just wrong.

  3. Hi Pattu,
    I concur with Ram’s comment above .. I think you should use your incisive sharp analysis which separates the wheat from the chaff of financial stuff to this issue also ..
    The thing is that we see schools and creativity as opposite things ..!! what needs to be done is to create an environment where creativity can blossom .. This requires the hard work .. but kids will sit and learn about geography for 3 hrs at a stretch also if they are inspired.. I can say this by experience .. we have pulled our kids out of formal school and doing some kind of joint homeschooling with a group of like minded parents ! .. It is working out well until now ( 3 yrs since ) ..
    Also we have seen is that when they(kids and their facilitators) are completely involved in their work , is when they are most creative!! like one girl wrote a poetry about geometry .. another 2 painted as others sang a sanskrit song etc ..
    So I concur with you that U can “gift” financial independence to your grandkids .. but what they do with it requires a lot of guidance..!!

  4. I suspect that children of very rich parents suffer from excessive boredom that arises from a lack of purpose. When everything is paid for, any struggle seems meaningless and not worth the effort thus exacerbating the existential void. Drugs, alcohol and sex fill that void for a while. Then what? Back to square one.

  5. I agree with Pattu here. If one can warn enough to ensure that his/her child doesn’t have to seek employment to make ends meet than that will be a wonderful position for both the parent(s) & the child to be in. The child can study what he/she wants to study and work in the field this is of interest to him/her. This for me is complete financial independence!

  6. Pattu Sir, Once you become financial independant, take a break for an year and relax and allow your thoughts and dreams.. i strongly believe we will do lot more things than the current things that we do.. Same to your son.. In this generation we dont have to literally preach them the only way to earn money is education.. rather education is needed and allow his free flow thoughts and dreams to grow.. that would make wonders..

  7. Pattu sir, one more thing.. i keep asking my 5 year old daughter to think free and tell me ideas.. she asked me once.. appa if car crashes we have airbag to save us,, what if your phone falls wont it break why cannot some airbag can be in phone to save phone..I googled and i am surprised.. amazon dont manufacture phones, but this patent is hold by the CEO.. My daughter does not know what is patent.. but they can think of lot of ideas.. we have to just stimulate them…

  8. I think this is the first time I have seen in a blog where the hilarity quotient kept on exponentially increasing from the main article ; from the first comment to the comment above

    LMAO ROFL do not do adequate justice to express it

  9. Pattu,

    Yeah it happens Kids ask strange things. Last week my son, about the same age as your son was asking me what will happen to him if I die. It took a lot to explain him.

    Was really surprised when you mentioned that your Son does not watch TV. TV is life for more or less all kids at this age. Hats off to you for that.


  10. An off-beat but very interesting post … . 🙂 .. Financial freedom for grandchild from the day-1 itself….!! Deciding merits of the same is one issue …. earning the capability to provide the same is another one.

    Would not have been much surprised to see a calculator in the post ……:)…!!

  11. Pattu not too many parents have the guts to think like this. A friend’s son wanted to be a football coach – his father paid tons of money and put him in an engineering school and an ivy league school – if u pay fees admission in US is not difficult. Sad. My daughter will have financial freedom – but I have said she has to earn her luxuries..but I guess she will be traumatized if I ask her to take a break after her studies…peer pressure I guess..

  12. Off Late, i have started enjoying the “non-calculator” posts of yours. this one was no different. i like the idea of having a year off after school . hopefully with robots taking many people off their jobs, it would be interesting to revisit this post after a couple of decades 🙂

  13. I like this article, who knows they do wonders if they do not work solely for money provided that if they understand values of money and passion. Every one thinking like kids misuse the money if parents earn enough for them but not true always.

  14. I agree. What you wish your child becomes, you can hardly control even with the best intentions and the strictest training and discipline, but what your child wishes to become and can potentially become, you can influence that in a major way. Hard work is a natural outcome of _LOVE_ for that particular work, but the reverse is not true. Drudgery can be sustained for just so long. When a person is free from the thought of putting the next day’s dinner on the table, that is when creativity, originality blossom.

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