If you, too, could write an eye-popping check to buy your kid’s admission to a prestigious college for which he or she was otherwise unfit, would you do it?

Wanting to help your kids, wanting nothing but the best for them, is not all that hard to understand if you’re a parent.

Yes, you’d be swiping a seat that might otherwise have gone to a deserving kid who worked for that opportunity, making him or her the collateral damage of your greed.

But that’s an ethical dilemma, and as TV’s villainous J.R. Ewing pointed out, once we get past conscience the rest is easy.

What you’d be buying, however, might be a lot more costly than what you’d be denying because there’s something to be said for climbing off the canvas after life has knocked you onto the floor.

“When we long for life without difficulties,” Peter Marshall, the erstwhile Presbyterian chaplain of the U.S. Senate, prayed, “remind us that oaks grow strong in contrary winds and diamonds are made under pressure.”

Something earned is so much sweeter than something given.

A few years back, on Oscar night, the Hollywood community gave a lifetime achievement award to Kirk Douglas, a box office giant during the industry’s Golden Age.

Then in his 80s, seriously impaired by a stroke, Douglas wrapped his arms around his sons, Michael and Joel, and flashed that legendary smile as he patiently waited for a tumultuous ovation to subside.

He was savoring the moment, waiting to deliver a boffo opening line.

“I had a great advantage over my sons,” he said, pulling them closer. “I was born into poverty.”

Indeed, his parents were impoverished Jewish immigrants — his father was a ragman — and he clearly brought those memories to the microphone that night.

Money? Who doesn’t want it? But on this St. Patrick’s weekend an Irish adage comes to mind: Wise is the man who has wealth without silver or gold.

Have you ever seen a framed dollar bill hanging near the cash register in a mom-and-pop grocery store, reminding Mom and Pop of how that first earned dollar opened the door to success?

It’s only in looking back that we can fully see how overcoming difficulties made the journey all the sweeter.

Nobody wants to see their kids fail, yet there’s much to be learned from having to deal with the consequences of our actions.

It’s an invaluable lesson life teaches every day, but it’s one that can’t be bought by an over-indulgent parent because it’s simply not for sale.


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