The Secret of Raising ChildrenThere was a time when people said their top priority in saving money was to buy a home. However, such times seem to have ended. According to the article "Education Tops Housing as Savings Goal (IHT-JAI, Feb. 1, 2001), 20.1 percent of the survey participants told the commercial bank H&CB, the survey conductor, that their primary savings goal is their children''s education. In this annual survey of city households, 19.5 percent said they were saving to buy their first home. Although such a shift in goals depends on the changes of awareness about owning houses, it is a positive phenomena that the burden of buying their own home has been reduced. However, it is a deplorable reality that we have to save our money to educate our children.
What are the expenses that Korean parents pay for their children''s education? They include school tuition naturally, but major amounts seem to be spent to send children to private institutions and pay private tutors. According to research by the Ministry of Education in 1999, parents of elementary, middle and high school students in Korea spent 6.77 trillion won ($5.4 billion) for private tutoring on an annual average. This meant that each household paid an average of 1.92 million won for private tutoring. Another survey showed that 43 percent of all housewives are working to pay the educational expenses of their children. In addition to such depressing statistics, an Internet site (www.dstory.net) was launched to help parents calculate effectiveness by comparing the money paid for education that year and grades.
Because of these conditions in Korean society, many parents are moving to the United States and Canada, but it seems that they may still face difficulties. A recent issue of Newsweek said, "Millions of parents around the country say their lives have become a daily frantic rush in the minivan from school to soccer to piano lessons and then hours of homework. These days, raising kids is like competing in a triathlon with no finish line in sight." The article described "parents as agents," in which the role of parent has degraded to stage managers in sending their children to top universities.
Admission to top colleges is considered a success in raising children. Unless this attitude changes, we cannot blame those parents who want to send their kids to private tutors by having side jobs. However, the problem is that money does not guarantee good grades. A female student who recorded a perfect score on the College Scholastic Ability Test a few years ago shocked people by saying, "I only studied next to my father, who always reads books until late at night." There is no secret for raising children except by setting an example and cheering them up with a smile when they feel defeated.