One of the favorite topics for wealth managers to talk about is how philanthropy can help teach great money skills to your children. Other wealth managers might talk about doing a family bank account to fund business activities. Still others might want you to put together funds that will provide education for your children and grandchildren.
All three of these activities have a lot of merit. There’s one big problem: The ideas for these projects and impetus either come from the senior generation or their advisors.
Let’s assume that your children are out of college.
When your children are younger they haven’t had a chance to know what they’re passionate about. You’ll want to expose them to all sorts of activities. You’ll want them to see and experience different areas they might be interested in.
I find that most of the time the question of money skills appears after children are out of college. It’s the time that parents want to bring their children into activities parents care deeply about. Sometimes children might just not be interested. Your children might like philanthropy that’s different from what you want to support. Sometimes they want to focus on only career and their goals just aren’t your goals.
Ask your children what they’re interested in.
You shouldn’t assume that because you want to support a particular activity your children also want to support it. You should have a conversation with them and find out. You don’t want to sell them on what you think is important you want to ask and find out what’s important to them.
When you ask you might find out that your children have very different interests than you. It’s OK if your children have different interests. We might want your children to be involved in activities that are outside them. This will happen when it’s their passion.
Find ways to merge your dreams with your children’s dreams.
The challenge you might have is merging your dreams with those of your children. I recommend using a family communication consultant to help with this activity. If done properly your family will get stronger and you’ll be creating room for each to be an individual and to have their own passions. This is what makes an interesting and rich family.
Have regular conversations about what’s important.
You can’t just have one conversation and move on. It takes work to merge various dreams into a common thread. You also might find that as time goes on what was once a passion becomes less so. New experiences often are breeding grounds for new interests and places where people want to spend lots of time.
What has made your life rich and full might not be what interests your children. After all they have their life. If you’re fortunate enough to have put together personal wealth being I hope you think being a good steward is part of the deal. Finding a way to merge your interests with your children is part of the process of stewardship.
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