Research shows higher childhood socioeconomic status (SES) tends to be associated with positive physical health later in life. There is even some research that many believe demonstrates that high SES (i.e., significant wealth and high social class) can take the place of warm parent-child bonds.  If correct, this means that even without close, healthy parent-child relationships, a high SES will lead to positive health later in life.

However, research done last year by Matthew A. Andersson at Baylor University, shows that poor-quality parent-child relationships during childhood can negate the positive effects of high SES in terms of health over the lifespan.

Basically, “money ain’t everything” –  or stated another way, high-quality parent-child bonds are extremely important, and this supports the work I’ve been doing with parents in multigenerational wealthy families.

Across the board my clients who are parents want to ensure that the advantages of wealth do not stifle their children and lead to a lack of motivation and selfishness. This is a stereotype of family wealth, for sure, and one that exists too often. Starting early with these parents – ideally beginning to think through the issues, challenges and opportunities before they have children – is important.  Focusing on the quality of parent-child relationships is the best leverage against the potential negative effects of wealth.  Families can harness both the potential of high SES AND healthy relationships; the result is close families and mature, selfless stewards.

Last week I presented a workshop on “Raising Family Business Children” for NYCFEC (New York City Family Enterprise Center). Attendees had kids ranging in age from a year or two up through early 20’s and were active and enlightened participants, though I was particularly encouraged by the participation of parents mid-pregnancy and who were still planning for their first child in the future.

A solid emotional/relational foundation is the most powerful first step in raising family business children, stewards of generational wealth, and, honestly, everyone else.