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December 3, 2018
During a conversation with a friend of mine, she mentioned she wanted her children to be “hungry for living a productive life.” She was concerned her family’s wealth might lead her children to feel entitled, not work hard and expect everything to go their way. As a parent, you likely share these same aspirations and concerns.
So how can you raise your children to have a healthy perspective about money, work and society?
To start, think about the traits and values you want them to possess. Anand Sanwal, CEO and Co-Founder of CB Insights, has identified four essential characteristics that he seeks and nurtures in employees, which are also important for children. He refers to them as the 4 Hs:
Happy and helpful are pretty straightforward. But what does it mean to be hungry and humble? According to Sanwal, hunger is “ambition, resourcefulness, scrappiness, having a get-stuff-done attitude.” Humbleness is recognizing that “no matter how many nice things people say about us, we’re still only 0.1% of the way towards what we could build” or be. Beyond that, you likely want your children to be productive and compassionate. Compassion helps keep them grounded. Without it, productive and hungry individuals may not fully appreciate or acknowledge the other people in the world, especially those who may be less productive or less fortunate.
Next, engage your children in activities and conversations that will help them appreciate and value what they have—and hopefully ward off the less-desirable characteristics sometimes associated with wealth. Ideally, this engagement should occur throughout their childhood and even into adulthood. It’s not a one-time event.
As you review the suggested actions below, keep in mind there is no “right” way to raise children. There is no better guide than your own instincts, and there is no value in comparing your child to another. Your situation and the factors influencing your family are unique, which warrants a unique approach to raising your children. There is no perfect result and no upbringing without challenges and mistakes.
With that, let’s look at some actions you can take with children of all ages:
One final thought: emphasize to your children that the wealth they inherit is not entirely theirs. Many multigenerational wealthy individuals want to ensure their legacy remains for future generations. This means wise use of the money today, and continuing to grow an inheritance, so it lasts. Give your children the capabilities to use the wealth you may leave them to make more. As American poet Richard Armour wrote: “That money talks, I’ll not deny, I heard it once: It said, ‘Goodbye’.” It’s doubtful Armour wrote the poem for wealthy parents, but it surely provides an appropriate and memorable message for anyone raising children into wealth.
Our experienced wealth and investment advisors can work with you to help ensure your children develop a healthy perspective about money and wealth. Among other things, they can teach your children investment basics and help them become more comfortable seeking professional financial advice. Contact Cerity Partners to learn more.
Please read important disclosures here.
Pierre is a Partner at Cerity Partners based in the firm’s New York City office. He is passionate about helping clients live wisely with their...
Partner & Practice Leader
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