THESE are my ambitions for my children.
I hope they will be healthy. I would like them to be well-enough off to pay their bills without worrying all the time. I'd be pleased if they were able to afford their own homes.
I don't think I'm unusual. Most parents would say something similar. Their list might be in a different order. Some might put happiness at the top, as might I, though the three I've mentioned all contribute in one way or another to happiness, to a feeling of well-being.
Do most parents wish their children to have better lives than they have led themselves? Yes, I think they do. In fact, many parents make sacrifice after sacrifice for their children. Isn't that the deal, one generation giving the next the best possible chance?
The trouble is that deal has broken down. This generation of children will make history. They will be the first for a century to be less well-off materially than their parents, according to a report to be published later this week by The Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission..
Some highlights have been leaked. Middle-class children will have a worse standard of living than their parents in adulthood. They will find it harder to get on in life.
A perfect storm awaits averagely-accomplished children of above-average earners. Many will leave university with £50,000 of debt, possibly to join the rising number of unemployed 18-24-year-olds and thence to reach their mid-thirties without owning a home of their own.
How should parents react? Should we feel guilty at the dreadful inheritance we are leaving, a nation up to its eyeballs in debt?
I have to confess it disturbs me. Like other parents, I have consoled myself by thinking I had done my inadequate best for my children. Now I discover I have left them with an almighty mess, but it has also made me wonder what exactly each generation owes to the next.
It can't be as simple as money and materialism. After all our children also stand to inherit advances in science and technology. They will live longer. They will be healthier. They will benefit from ever more extraordinary advances in medical research.
There is the prospect of breakthroughs in some of the conditions that remain most intractable, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and MS among them.
Nano-technology may revolutionise the way they live for the better.
They will also inherit a democracy founded on free speech and tolerance. They will live lives more free of prejudice and discrimination than any that have gone before. They will benefit from a legal framework which entrenches human rights.
Isn't this wealth too? Could you put a value on it? I know I couldn't. It's beyond price.
Perhaps this generation of children will learn to judge their lives by a different standard to the one their parents have too often used as their measures: the rise or fall of property prices, the number of foreign holidays, whether there are two cars parked outside our front doors. We, the baby boomers, have too often equated success with material affluence.
Will our children be worse off if they don't?
It interests me that those who have achieved great wealth and know its dangers often decide to keep most of it from their children.
Warren Buffet, the US billionaire, says he will give his "just enough so they feel they could do anything but not so much they would feel like doing nothing". Nigella Lawson is determined her children will have no financial security: "It ruins people not having to earn money."
I might not be quite so tough but I do believe that it is the duty of every parent to raise children with drive and an independent spirit. If that is the case, then education is of greater value than money.
My parents' generation emerged from the war with a national debt that was 250% of GDP. They climbed a mountain to bring it down. But by the time I was starting my career things were bad again. Britain was in the grip of the three-day week.
Life was dismal. There were national strikes, the rubbish wasn't collected and if you did have a chance to go abroad you couldn't take more than £50 with you. The stock market tanked and property prices slumped.
So every generation faces its own challenge. For our children it's a soaring national debt of 60% of GDP (less than it was post-war, you will note). But they're also growing up in a world of extraordinary opportunity and innovation. Look at how the internet has revolutionised our lives in so short a time.
I do sympathise with the struggles young people face. But I maintain that the greatest thing we inherited was peace, along with freedom of thought, deed and word, and a civilised democracy. They will inherit that too.
If we succeed in fighting incursions into our privacy to hand that on intact, we'll have secured for them what is most valuable. Since they also have advanced technology, a world-wide job market, access to life-long learning and copious encouragement for entrepreneurship, I feel the rest is up to them.
The report says that those most at risk of falling below the living standards of their parents are what it terms "low-attaining children" who are not poor enough to qualify for welfare but are not rich enough to be insulated from failure. They're talking about children who score below an A to C grade in English and Maths.
The Princes Trust discovered that youngsters with poor exam results expect to fail in life. They're convinced they will end up on benefit and might as well abandon ambition because their results will hold them back.
It's that attitude that will really scupper them. Some people are good at exams, others have different skills. It might enthuse them to realise that former school under-performers include John Lennon, Damian Hirst, Gordon Ramsay, Richard Branson, Tom Cruise, Winston Churchill and Albert Einstein. Shakespeare is thought to have left school at 13. Charles Dickens was working before he was 12. And those titans Steve Jobs and Bill Gates both dropped out of college.
Of course only a few will become celebrities but grit and determination will carry many more to the everyday sort of achievement enjoyed by most of us.
Have we failed our children? I don't think so. My job - our job - was to prepare and educate them or the challenges they will face. We weren't contracted to provide them with a wealthier lifestyle than the one we enjoyed; just the tools to create one.
I hope they will do better than that. I hope the wealth they pursue will be about values not valuables. For the rest, they can be grateful that many of them enjoyed a childhood free from want.
I know things aren't so easy now but it was ever thus. We're all on the wheel of fortune, one moment up, the next down and most of the time somewhere in between. Life isn't about where we are when the spinning stops but about how well we survive the ride. That is their responsibility.
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