One of the things that I observed is that as kids move from middle class to upper middle class, the fire and hunger to achieve comes down. Kids in lower or middle class families have a thirst to learn and achieve that slowly mellows down as the lifestyle improves. Some how I feel they become more complacent.
Take the case of my daughter . I don’t see her putting the kind of effort that some others do. A problem I attribute to our upper middle class lifestyle. My kid plays with a few other neighborhood kids. They all speak in English because that is the common language that everyone understands. Sometimes they are joined by construction worker kids who only know Kannada. We thought it would be a great opportunity for our daughter to learn Kannada since that is the only language those kids understand. Did it go according to plan?
Barriers to learning
Well, it turns our that instead of the kids learning Kannada, the construction worker kids learned English :). It is so nice to see the effort they put in. Because no one can understand them they have a hunger to learn and to be heard. Within weeks they could speak some broken English, enough to make a small conversation. They would say “Hi Aunty”. Or “Sonu playing Ethan house”. That is enough information for us to know where our daughter is playing :).
In all these 6 odd weeks, the amount of Kannada my daughter learned from them is exactly zero. What is the difference? They are about the same age as my kid. They were a minority in the large school going kids. But they did not give up and leave the gang. They wanted to fit in and learn. If my daughter was in a minority group she would just say “I will find another group”.
When you hear stories of how hard some people work to achieve their goals, it makes me wonder how come my kid does not have that hunger. You read about cricketers working hard to make it into the team. Taking long train rides to coaching classes, or moving from a native place to somewhere close to stadium so they can train. All this while supporting their family.
Of course I may be wrong in my assessment that lifestyle has any affect on the drive to learn in kids. But I have seen this in a few different families. Kids who overcame hardships and made something in life go on to become upper middle class families. Then they shower their kids with so much that the kid thinks things come easy and become complacent.
I also belong to this group of parents and that worries me. Once I went past the threshold to upper middle class I am perhaps not teaching the grit, mental toughness and hunger to my kid. The very same things I had to struggle to get when I was a kid, are handed over easily to my daughter. Of course I have no one to blame but myself.
This post is just about my observations. I am comparing my struggles with that of my daughter’s. This new generation may be facing some other challenges unknown to me. Because when I hear stories about my parents, they seem to have struggled quite a bit more. That did not change my perception that I too had to struggle. So may be my daughter feels the same way. When she grows up she may think that she had her fair share of challenges. What do you think?