Parenting / 21 September, 2021 / My Baba
As a parent, you naturally want to give your child all the advantages you can and invest in your child’s future in the best way possible. However good your childhood was, you want theirs to be better, and so it goes for every stage of their life. Part of being a good parent (the biggest part, really) is simply being there and caring, but that’s surely a low bar to reach. You can do more, and you should do more.
In these times, though, being a good parent has become shockingly confusing. We face so much uncertainty due to living in a world with countless major challenges (COVID-19 being the one that’s most directly changed daily life) that it’s perfectly normal to feel lost. What decisions are best for your child’s future? What exactly can you do today to help them grow? How can you invest in your child’s future?
In this post, we’re going to set out five worthwhile actions you can take. This is far from an exhaustive list (a parent’s duties never end, of course), but it should help. Let’s get started.
Finances are incredibly important, so we need to start out with a few points on the topic. Firstly, while it’s distressing to think about your mortality (no parent wants to imagine leaving their child alone in the world at an early age), it’s utterly vital that you do so. Tomorrow isn’t promised to us, and you need to prepare for the worst so you can relax and focus on more pleasant topics.
That means arranging a life insurance policy that can make life easier for your child (and your family in general) should the nearly unthinkable happen to you. Look into a variable policy like Post Office life cover so you can pay only as much as you want to and make a commitment you can actually stick to. Remember that it’s a cost you’ll have to pay indefinitely, so take it seriously.
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Pension schemes aren’t what they once were. Years back, it was possible for someone to have one pension scheme from one company and have the confidence that it would grant them tremendous financial freedom once they retired. These days, pension payments keep going down while retirement age gets pushed back — but that’s no reason to give up.
The more you can set yourself up for retirement, the better you’ll be positioned to provide the help your child needs in the decades to come. And since you’ll no doubt want to pass what you own to them in your will, it all goes towards them, surely a great way to invest in your child’s future. When you can, pay more into your pensions, and set up new pension pots if that’s possible. Spread the investment so you’re not wholly dependent on one scheme, just in case something should go wrong.
The last point to make about money is that it’s a good idea to also create a savings account directly in your child’s name. You can make it fully accessible to them when they reach adulthood, or simply use it to fund things on their behalf (such as education fees). The other investments will pay off much later, so this is about the nearer future.
You can invest in an account with reasonable interest, but remember that flexibility is important. It’s no help to have money saved if you can’t withdraw any of it when you actually need it, so don’t expect the money you save to massively appreciate. Instead, view it as a fund you can open in the case of an emergency, and do everything you can to keep it going no matter what else happens with your personal financial situation.
It’s often tempting to focus on particular skills such as playing an instrument or speaking a language, and such things are undeniably useful, but you don’t need to be so specific. It’s also true that kids pushed to do such things can end up resenting it. So what can you do to help them develop intellectually and improve their career prospects?
Well, there’s one thing in particular that’s always worth doing, and that’s cultivating their curiosity. Children are naturally curious, but it won’t last if it isn’t supported. Pose them questions whenever you can, encouraging them to critically analyze the world around them. How do systems work? What might they create? You still need to give them structure, but ensure that you leave enough room within that for them to stay engaged.
The move to remote education has made life much harder for children who feed off opportunities to communicate with their peers — and while we can’t yet know what the long-term consequences will be, it’s reasonable to worry that one result will be a generation of young adults who struggle to engage with others and lack fully-formed identities.
Due to this, you should put in extra effort to ensure that your child has something approaching a traditional level of social activity. This will likely include a mixture of virtual get-togethers and real-world events (after all, the repercussions of the pandemic aren’t likely to fade for a long time yet). Verywell Family has some good suggestions here. The more friends they can make early on, the easier they’ll find it to make friends later, so the foundation you help them build now can hugely influence the course of their life.
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