My colleague Barbara Spector, Editor-In-Chief at Family Business Magazine, recently interviewed me about children from financially successful families and situations they face with their peers around the family business and, in particular, money. Click here to read the article, “Help Your Kids Parry Classmates’ Comments About Wealth.”
I’ve been interested for some time in wealth and identity and how “wealthism” – bias against the wealthy – can be internalized by family members in a family wealth context giving them a sense of embarrassment and shame. Many wealthy people choose to be highly secretive about their wealth and rarely or never reveal their true situation even to very close friends; this can exacerbate the sense of isolation.
(My friend and colleague Kristen Heaney and I facilitated a workshop on these ideas this past summer at the Purposeful Planning Institute’s Annual Rendezvous in Colorado and will do so again this Fall at the Family Firm Institute’s Global Conference in Chicago.)
As I discuss in the article, there are many ways for children to handle the assumptions, comments, entitlements and insensitivity of their peers directly, leaving them with a sense of confidence and pride. It is important for parents to prepare their children for these possibilities and to give them tools to manage them.
A family does not need to be ultra-wealthy for these situations to occur. They can arise between working-class and middle-class, or middle-class and upper-class children/families. Whenever there is a disparity of assets jealousy and envy can lead to uncomfortable interactions. However, the wealthier a family becomes, the more likely it is they will have assets far greater than those around them. This depends in part on where they live, making this more challenging for families who achieve significant wealth and want to live in more modest settings.
Please read the Family Business Magazine article, entitled, “Help Your Kids Parry Classmates’ Comments About Wealth,” and please share your reactions and ideas.