I’m most impressed when I meet adult children of ultra high net worth families who are down to earth, articulate, purposeful and happy. It demonstrates that their parents (or village) deserve even greater accolades for raising well-rounded children of privilege when the odds are stacked against them.
These kids often grow up in staffed households, fly private, enjoy multiple holiday homes and have more than most could ever dream of. All of these trappings of success however are just that - traps.
The gift of wealth robs children of motivation, determination and self-esteem. Many turn to alcohol, drugs and conspicuous consumption to suppress feelings of guilt, bordem and inadequacy.
If you don’t ever have to work, what’s your life’s purpose? How do you feel challenged and fulfilled? How do you live up to your parents or grandparents legacy?
For many adult children of wealth, it’s a life-long struggle for meaning and self-identity.
How do you raise successful children of wealth?
Fortunately however, there are examples of highly successful children of wealth who offer some insight into the parenting that makes all the difference.
I can think of 3 such people I know, all in their 20’s and 30’s who are pursuing excellence in their respective fields of non-profits, entrepreneurship and medicine. When I think of them and their families, I recognise strong family values, involved parents and a disciplined approach to “deservability”; not taking their advantages for granted.
For responsible kids of wealth, there’s a respect for the privileges they enjoy without an expectation that it will always be there.
“The family stories you told us helped us understand that our family didn’t always have this money, we easily might not have it again, and in the meantime we should be focused in our own lives on making sure we will be able to thrive in either circumstance.” (Coventry Edwards-Pitt, Raised Healthy, Wealthy & Wise)
There is an abundance of texts available opining about how wealth creates spoiled brats and Rich Kids of Instagram
. There are fewer available on how to raise happy and successful kids with significant wealth.
Great parenting will always require hard work, sacrifices and discipline, however studies show that it’s even harder for wealthy parents to raise responsible children.
“Ironically, at a certain level of wealth, money makes parenting harder, not easier. In his new book, David and Goliath, Malcolm Gladwell discusses this phenomenon with Dr. James Grubman, using the concept of an inverted U-curve to explain that money makes parenting easier up to a certain income level, at which point it begins to make it harder.
They have to be proactive, consistent, and engaged when it’s all too easy and tempting to be just the opposite.” (Coventry Edwards-Pitt, Raised Healthy, Wealthy & Wise)
It’s impossible to offer a definitive ‘how-to’ list, however here’s 7 things I’ve learned from my research into this subject.
Raising Responsible Children of Wealth:
Set limits - don’t always give children everything they want, even if it’s available. Set firm limits and manage expectations.
Let them fail - it’s all too easy to protect children from avoidable pain, particularly when it’s as easy as picking up the phone to your vast network.
Teach goal setting - how do you teach kids to strive when they’ve never had to strive before? Impose limits, set goals and measure progress toward rewards.
Be transparent about finances - and explain that it’s “ours and not yours”. “There money is there, hopefully you’ll never need it.”
Teach the value of hard work and celebrating accomplishments. Start with academics, part time jobs and earning their own money.
Make them work for someone else first - even if the goal is have children succeed you in the family business, have them build experience working for others first - preferably overseas.
Encourage independent travel - not an all-expenses-paid gap year but utilising their savings to travel overseas and learn from other cultures, perspectives and experiences without the safety net of their parents ready to swoop in and save them.
What else should be on this list? What is your experience?
I welcome your referrals of books, articles, businesses and families that I can study or interview as part of this project.
I hope you enjoy sharing this Business of Family learning journey with me. Please hit “Reply” at any time or send me a DM on Twitter @MikeBoyd
, I’d love to hear from you.
All the best,