Survival Game

After work, I was talking to a friend who regaled me with enchanting tales of his investment portfolio. Basically the (young) dude made a handsome little chunk on the stock-market before the whole thing fell apart a year ago. He gradually reinvested tends of thousands of US dollars into a comfortable nest egg for him to coast on while he spends some money to get into the career of his dreams over the next decade. 

After talking to him for a while, I realized the reason I was drooling in a blind rage was not because I didn’t do that, or didn’t understand or was dumb. It was because his parents had actually raised him with survival skills whereas mine had given me… what exactly?

Let’s see, my parents did not teach me:

(A) how to fight
(B) how to talk to or appeal to girls (in a sleazy or non-sleazy way)
(C) how to cook, farm, etc. 
(D) how to organize one’s finances or investments

In other words, all of the important survival skills on the physical, mental and material planes were not prepped by my parents. All of the other impending necessary survival skills of my life were left out of that list because they still haven’t even popped up on my radar. Well, that’s nice and comforting. Don’t mind me, I’m just groping around blindly in the dark with my ethical radar to lead the way into the jaws of misery.

Who are these genetically deficient parents that don’t care enough about raising their kids to even have their bloodline advanced? If you don’t teach your kids survival skills, what do you expect to happen, besides victimization, depression, solitude, or *shudder* mediocrity? In some ways I think that’s why I’m terrible with kids — I’m not harsh enough in what I teach, because that’s the kind of emotional response I’m trying to exorcise from myself. 

Ah, but at the same time, the utter amount of total narcissism that most people invest in their kids’ personalities really creeps me out and never ends or ceases to amaze. So maybe empathy isn’t a bad trait to bequeath after all.

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2 Responses to “Survival Game”

  1. Yeah, I know what you mean. My mother is a really, really nice person and she tried to raise me to be the same. As a consequence I’ve had to learn to say “no” to people and I still feel bad whenever I have to. My dad worked so much that I never learned anything useful like how to change the oil in the car or diversify my investment porfolio. Ah well… Like the Starbucks cup told me, responsibility means saying “my parents made some mistakes, but now it’s up to me.” Or something like that.

    PS. I like your blog and am glad to see you’re posting again!

  2. Thanks for the kind words and for sharing your experiences, James.

    I was talking to another friend who is naturally smart, aggressive, and less emotional and more systematic in thought than myself. He told me that he thinks the most important aspect of raising a child is teaching them empathy. It made me think that I might overlook the things my parents did ingrain in my character. Maybe it’s just a case of idealizing traits we don’t have.

    I guess survival skills are extremely important for people who do have a lot of empathy, and vice-versa. Hence, if a naturally aggressive friend asks for advice on practicing a martial art, I play up how powerful yoga or meditation can be. Stuff that at least discourages the most blatant forms of aggression (but not passive-aggressiveness, har har).

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