Producer’s note: Someone on Quora asked: What is the most unfair advantage a person can have? Here are some of the best answers that’s been pulled from the thread. Thank you to the team at Quora for making this happen!
Being born to the right parents.
This single coincidence tends to make more of a difference to a persons’ life than any other factor, including whatever efforts the person himself makes to try to improve his lot.
Who your parents happen to be has a tremendous impact on a huge range of things that shape just about everything in your life to a huge degree.
- It determines if you’re born in Sweden or in Somalia
- The genes they gave you determines whether you’ll be tall, intelligent and handsome or short, stupid and ugly.
- The genes also play a big role in whether or not you’ll be healthy, whether or not you’re likely to get a long list of diseases.
- If your parents are kind, compassionate and nurturing your start in life will be very different from if they’re cold, inconsiderate or abusive.
- The hobbies and interests they have in many cases have a lifelong influence on your own hobbies and interests.
- Their wealth and their income determines what material standard of living you’ll have for the first 20 – 25 years of your life, and in fact often for your entire life. (in most cases lazy sons of multimillionaires end up better off than hardworking daughters of slum-dwellers)
- They more or less entirely decide who is important in your life for your first 5 years. Such early formative relationships are very important for a child’s development.
- They determine what quality education you’ll get, this depends on their wealth, where they happen to live, and their priorities. You as a young child have low influence on all of this.
I’m not at all saying that it’s hopeless to get ahead in life if you had a bad start. What I’m saying is that having the right parents means getting to play life on “easy” mode, while having the wrong parents makes everything a whole lot more difficult.
2. Michael Wong
Conventional wisdom suggests that the first few years of one’s life are the most important. These are the formative years and they make us who we are.
Because of this parents play a huge role in our habits, character, and ultimately our destiny.
While certainly money is important for happiness, I wanted to emphasize other things necessary for well-being. Recently I’ve been thinking about this a lot after reading the practitioner’s manual for Schema Therapy by Dr. Jeffrey Young.
Anyway, in a nutshell, the theory posits that as people, especially as children there are things we need and if these needs aren’t met, we grow up incredibly mal-adjusted and if we get these things, well that’s when we grow to be incredibly happy and able to solve our own problems efficiently.
(Sorry I know I am not doing the theory justice)
In a way, it’s like Maslow’s pyramid, but more on a clinical level.
These needs are: Safety, Stability, Nurturing, Attention, Acceptance, Praise, Empathy, Guidance, Protection, Validation of Feelings & Needs, Enforced Limits, etc
Notice that I didn’t put Love as a need because the above needs together constitute love.
These things are more important to a child than a new pair of Nikes or a Sony PS3.
As for wealth, I know a lot of rich parents who are really damaging their children with money as a subsititute for genuine affection.
This is not to say money isn’t important, but above a certain amount, there are other more important factors.
Now you take some parents who really really have their child’s best interest at heart, not using their kid to fulfill unfulfilled aspirations or trying to live the child’s life for them, parents who read to their kids every night and cook them nutritious meals instead of throwing them $20 for pizza, parents who are continually improving themselves mentally, physically, who are rational and logical and considerate and compassionate without forcing religion on their child, parents who realize that who we are is:
and provide the child with every means to think for him or herself, IMO these parents, such parents are the most unfair advantage a person can have.
Sorry for rambling.