I’ve seen quite a bit in my work with families who share complex assets across generations (businesses, real estate, investments, trusts, foundations…) And I continue to find support, from families and professionals who serve them, for my ideas and creative strategies for developing stewards at the youngest of ages – before they are born and during the first few years of life.

Before birth? Yes. Couples can clarify the meaning of wealth and how they hope it will serve future generations. By approaching parenting, the guided development of a young human, with intentionality, so many of the painful outcomes around wealth and inheriting can be avoided, shifted into lives of purpose, meaning and social impact.

During the first two or three years of life children learn so much about how the world works and does not (should not?) work. Parents and caretakers deeply involved in their lives create and support these messages (or contradict them unwittingly). The key is for parents and other caretakers to be clear about what makes a fruitful life, what makes a healthy family, which life values are true guideposts for how a life should be lived – and then back into parenting behaviors which support those lessons.

I came across this video of a 24-month-old on Facebook and it exemplifies the power of intentional parenting. Please take a look and ask yourself:

• Does she look like she is having fun?
• Is she learning to be independent? Responsible? A problem-solver?
• How hard would it be to get a 15-year-old to start doing these same things?
• Is she contributing to a household? To her family?
• Do you think this experience will contribute to the character and skills needed to be a steward of family wealth one day?
• Again, is she having fun? (Fun is crucial in instilling life values).