It’s not uncommon for ultra-affluent parents to be concerned about the impact that wealth will have on their kids. And yet, these same parents aren’t sure how to approach the topic of their family’s wealth and often struggle to talk to their children about money. Their anxiety and hesitance to initiate such conversations is not surprising. We often hear the wealthy talk about money, but rarely do we hear ultra-affluent parents discuss their personal feelings about wealth, or how money affects their parenting.
That parents worry how wealth will affect their kids is understandable. They want to raise appreciative, generous, and empathetic kids. They don’t want their children to grow up ungrateful, or to feel entitled.
Holding deliberate conversations with your kids about the responsibilities associated with wealth will help your children understand the value of money, and how to appreciate and confidently manage their own inheritance. Ideally, (and so long as the conversations are age-appropriate) you can start having these dialogues while your kids are young. Depending on your family’s values, the conversations will touch upon the value of working, or you family’s obligation to help those who are less fortunate.
Discussing wealth is complicated. That money can function as a tool to do good, a source of greed, or as an unhealthy psychological defense is a sophisticated concept for kids to learn. That said, teaching your kids how to perceive and relate to wealth in a financially and emotionally responsible way is essential.
For younger kids, these conversations need not be formal. Some parents like to incorporate money-related talks while playing a game, for instance. Consider the basic lessons offered by these classic board games:
Monopoly is a good game for conveying the perils of “putting your eggs in one basket.” For older kids, the game can also distill more sophisticated concepts, like generating passive income and the advantages of diversifying an investment portfolio.
The Settlers of Catan
Catan is useful for teaching kids about the value of commodities that lack monetary worth (such as interpersonal relationships). After all, people prefer to do business with people they trust and those who treat them well.
The Game of Life
The Game Of Life is useful for parents who are looking for a hands-on way of teaching their kids how to perform a cost-benefit analysis before making major life decisions. This game also demonstrates why it is wise to prepare for potential setbacks (such as buying insurance before a natural disaster or health emergency).
For younger kids, PayDay provides a pretty solid introduction to calculating interest.
Although discussing money can feel awkward, delaying these conversations — or worse, avoiding them altogether — does a disservice to your kids. Having open, age-appropriate conversations about money with our children will help them develop a healthy perspective about their place in the world.