Considering what’s best for children

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Considering what’s best for children

Recently, my wife told me about a dinner conversation she had with some friends, who are all approaching 40. The topics ranged from the old days to politics and celebrities, but the focus of the conversation was about their kids.

One of her friends recounted a story in which fifth graders in an elementary school were discussing what they would like to be when they grow up. Many of them wanted to work in the entertainment industry and some wanted to be government employees. But one said that he wanted to be a landlord.

Why? It’s strange that an elementary school student would want to be a landlord. But the mothers said it was reasonable. Parents with tiring jobs who are worried about their children’s education often think, “Wouldn’t it be nice to own a building and just live off the rent?” It is a classic fantasy for salaried workers, and we may have said it in front of the children.

The kid who said his dream was to be a landlord is smart and curious. He may have asked, “What does rent mean?” Or he may have looked it up on the Internet. Then he must have realized that owning a building, renting out unites and receiving payments from tenants is a great thing. And it became his dream.

But there is little possibility that my child will become a landlord. After all, I don’t own a building that my child can inherit. So what can I leave to my children? In fact, I’ve never really given it serious thought. But a friend who also does not own real estate went abroad to look for something else to pass on.

The mother of two works for a major corporation, and she applied to be posted in China, which she thought would be less competitive than in the United States or Europe. She claimed that she wanted to experience international business, but more importantly, she wanted to sent her children to an international school in China.

She is now experiencing an interesting new world. A father of her child’s friend recently resigned when he was called back to the headquarters in Korea. Staying another year abroad would qualify the child to apply for special admission to prestigious universities in Seoul. The parents thought that if they returned, the child would have slim chance of getting into a top school. This type of admission is the only way to get her child into a good school.

If my child dreams of becoming a landlord, it is because of what I’ve said. If my child does not qualify for the overseas special admission, it is also because of me.

*The author is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.

JoongAng Ilbo, Feb. 13, Page 31


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