Thursday, April 15, 2010

A Gift of Opportunity

When I was a child, our family didn't have much. My dad was a graduate student and mom worked part time. Simply, our family couldn't afford much. I didn't have many toys, do many activities, or go to many places. However, I now know I received something that was much more valuable: opportunity. It's the same gift that I hope to give to our daughter, even though she has much more than I ever had. Here are the great opportunities my parents gave me:

  • Sports. I got involved with organized football and baseball when I was about 8 years old. Our community had a number of ex-minor league/semi-pro baseball and football players who volunteered to coach. I was a stellar little league football player, earning MVP lineman honors the first two years I played.

    Even though my dad never played football, he took the time to learn about and buy me good protective equipment. Years later, when our team was high school state champions, I asked whether they had put me in football or if I had asked. My dad's answer was that I wanted to play football and they supported my interest.

  • Education. I was a mediocre student until 8th grade, after which I somehow became a stellar student. I managed to get straight As in from 9-12 and graduate as one of four valedictorians. I was accepted to Princeton, Harvard, Duke, Johns Hopkins and Northwestern. My parents offered to pay for college, for any of my choices.

  • Travel. After graduating from college, a friend a I backpacked for eight weeks in Europe. Prior to that, the I had only been away for 12 weeks between my college junior and senior for an engineering internship I traveled with a friend that I met during the internship. He and I lived on $25 per day and a Eurail pass for that summer. It was a great experience I'll never forget.
  • Although I didn't realized it then, experiencing these opportunities have had a tremendous influence on my life. I learned a lot, met lots of great people, and experienced some great successes. I also learned about hard work, failure and recovering from tough experiences. I hope we will be able to give our daughter the same opportunities that our parents gave us. It would be a gift that lasts a lifetime.

    For more on Crossing Generations, check back every Thursday for a new segment.

    This is not financial or parenting advice. Please consult a professional advisor.

    Copyright © 2010 Achievement Catalyst, LLC

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