In the November 16, 2018 “Wealth Matters” column in the NY Times, Paul Sullivan wrote about his interview with me and one of my family clients. My thanks to Paul and a special thanks to the Buckwald family – David, Jennifer, Jack & Morgan for their openness (and for their hospitality to the Times photographer who became stranded at their home overnight in a snowstorm while David was stranded elsewhere and could not make it home until the next morning!)
So much of the family dynamics facilitation, education and consulting that happens with financially successful families is due to conflicts or anxiety related to money or a family business and the family’s relationship to it. More and more of my work is about helping parents be proactive and thoughtful in how they raise children in a context with more wealth than they themselves had growing up. While many families need help after they encounter the pitfalls, nothing is more satisfying than working with a family in which all is basically OK, and parents are looking to put things in a healthy context for the next generation: instilling motivation, self-directedness values and good character.
Jack and Morgan were 13 and 11 when I worked with them. That’s an ideal age, though I’ve worked with children much younger and older than that. In fact, recently I had the opportunity to work with expectant parents who were members of wealthy families (now THAT is being proactive!) to help them understand the special challenges of raising a child in a wealthy family. There is no such thing as “too soon” when it comes to learning and being thoughtful in this context.
Self-esteem comes, in large part, from having faced and overcome challenges. Wealth can act as a detour around some of those challenges when they are most necessary. With the state of income inequality and the criticisms of the “1%”, it is not uncommon for children growing up with wealth to feel guilty and embarrassed. It is important for all children to experience a sense of pride in their families; through sharing stories about the family history – related to wealth creation and completely apart from it – children come to internalize pride in their family.
Thanks again to the Buckwald family for sharing. I hope it stimulates more families to be proactive and strike while the iron is COLD!