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Children as retirement plan? Huge mistake

By Joel Pablo Salud Published Dec 09, 2022 5:29 pm

I’m a father of three lovely children. Raised the first two on my own and on a skimpy journalist’s salary. Decades of being subjected to a virtual rollercoaster ride as they were growing up was anything but fun at times, more than ever on days when resources were hard to come by, and all I could do was stare into the ceiling, wishing God was within whispering distance. 

Whatever sacrifices I’ve had to face raising my kids were well worth it all. Both are now adults, serious gamers all, and professionally write as game-guide writers for a foreign content provider. My eldest daughter in the first relationship already has a family of her own, making me the proud grandfather soon after the wedding. 

My third child, an eight-year-old, I have the honor and pleasure of raising together with my second wife. And I am glad my first two kids help their little sister in the best way they can – in part tuition, but more on snacks, pizza, chocolates, you name it. 

At one year shy of 60, life hasn’t changed that much. Money remains scarce, and scarcer still the opportunities for me to get rich. Life would’ve been so much easier if I were greedy and corrupt, but then I wouldn’t have been able to live with myself, more so the curious, penetrating stares of my children.

I’m no saint, that I can assure you. However, the only treasure I can leave my kids is my name, hence to safeguard it for dear life is never simply an option. It is necessary if obligatory. The road less traveled by may be harsh, oftentimes unforgiving, but a path to peaceful to a fault can be boring. I hate boring. 

I continue to work despite all the physical and intellectual challenges resulting from aging, never once requiring my children for any steady financial subsidy. My books and cigarettes and all my needs are mine to look after.

I have been taught by my grandmother Elisea that generosity is the path to joy. I taught my kids the same principle, but with a tad more pizzazz. I taught them that generosity is not, and should never be, an obligation. Nor should it ever be the upshot of a sense of indebtedness to me as their parent. It must always be heartfelt, genuine, honest. Free of the rigors of duty, even gratitude.

More so, one should never hand over to another more than his or her share or ability to give. That always – always! – leave some for yourself. The joy you should willingly give the other must never put at risk the happiness that must be yours to have. 

No, it never crossed my mind to treat my children as my retirement plan. I’m much too proud to be someone else’s charity ward. All the more in relation to my wife and children. 

I’ve always been of the opinion that it is my duty to be generous to them, to love them unconditionally being their caretaker, not the other way around. As a matter of principle, charity is not an idea I adhere to. I’m the guy who’d write about solidarity, never charity. Generosity, yes, but never as an obligation or duty. What I preach in my writings, I carry out in real time. 

So far as I’m concerned, my children owe me nothing. I am forever grateful of the great honor I have been given as their custodian. All I could ever wish is if I had done the right thing while they were growing up.

It is my duty to be generous to them, to love them unconditionally being their caretaker, not the other way around.

Some Filipino parents may find this absolutely strange if not absurd. More so those who treat their children as their ticket to the good life. As a child I have heard it said, time and again, that birthing more children offers better chances for the family to succeed – parents, in particular. While I may understand where most people who think like this are coming from, it rings of enslavement to me.

It also tells me how inadequate, if not downright deficient, the government’s benefits are to the elderly. We must rethink how society treats its elders just as we must change how we treat our children. The two go hand-in-hand.

Life can be no more than the confusing array of sharp turns, of dips and snags, of rises and falls. We all know life can be a bitch. Parents should know this more than anyone. Regardless of challenges, the elders of the household must break the cycle of treating children as one’s escape from poverty. 

Easier said than done, I admit. Living conditions don’t go exactly the way we plan it, more so if you have crackpots in government running the show. But more than being slaves to their parents’ botched dreams, children must be taught and encouraged to pursue their own.

Our children deserve their freedom.