Which path should your child take: Financial stability or content soul? (Money or Passion)

Formal education or pursue a passion? An argument as old as time itself (or almost). In India, it’s obvious that we’re biased towards education.

I’ve always wondered whether going this route (the safe route) by ensuring their security and stability for the future but ignoring their passions as career options were the right moves. I’ll admit I’m no closer to the answer than I was years ago, both sides have compelling arguments.

Providing the best education possible to our kids is obviously the wise choice, right? It’ll ensure financial stability and social standing, both of which are so dearly important to us. But, and this is the first big but, what if it leaves them unhappy?

Unhappy because they’re now living a life they never wanted. Unhappy because they’re never able to do whatever sets their heart on fire. And what if, this unhappiness turns to regret? We definitely don’t want our kids to regret us.

Alternatively, suppose I let them follow their heart’s desires. They seem so happy and content… for now. But, and here’s the next big but, in a few years will they compare themselves to their classmates and regret that their passion did not provide a life that’s financially stable? Will they regret us for not being sterner with them when they announced their plans to follow their passion and not take the ‘safe route’?

If you’re reading this post hoping to reach a conclusion where I clearly state why one route is better than the other, then you might as well stop reading now. I have not the slightest clue if kids should be nudged towards money or happiness. Both routes offer no guarantees.

The easiest option would be if both routes were to combine: A kid whose heart’s desire is to be a surgeon or an architect. So easy a decision for the parents to support. Knowing full well this kid will be content and well-off if they stick with their dreams.

Then again, how many kids have you met whose passion was something so ‘safe’? Most kids want to be musicians or artists or actors. All of these dreams could also be followed and result in both being content and being rich, it is however extremely competitive and subjective and offers (far) fewer guarantees than the ‘safe route’.

So now what? It’s basically a gamble, isn’t it?

I’d say the best way to choose would be to test it every which way. Does your kid want to be a guitarist? They’re probably very talented. But is that enough?

Only one way to know: get them reviewed by objective judges, all of whom are amazing guitarists themselves. I realize this plan isn’t without its pitfalls: What if the judges decide he isn’t good enough to make it? What if you can’t find objective judges?

On the other hand, if you decide to nudge your kid toward the high-paying stable jobs and they eventually end up despising their job, would the financial stability and security have been worth it? Can you handle your child regretting you?

A solution (sort of)

I read somewhere that the way to decide on a career is to ask yourself 3 questions:

  1. Do you enjoy the work?
  2. Are you interested in the job?
  3. Do you like the lifestyle created by the job?

If the answer to all 3 questions is positive, then that’s a fitting career choice.

So whatever they’re good at, let them have their shot. Just make sure you’ve got one of those stable careers as a safety net in case their passion doesn’t pay as well as it should. You would, however, have to leave it up to them to choose between their passion or stability in the end.

I believe that would be the best way to approach this dilemma ensuring you neither stifle your kid’s dreams nor let them end up at a position they regret.

I know there must be other solutions so if you’ve got one do mention it in the comments.

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