In chapter five of my book Legacy, I address the question that is on the hearts and minds of parents, especially parents of financially successful families, and that is: How do I prepare my children for the opportunity and responsibility of wealth? Here are four of the ten tips provided in my book.
Principle # 1: Follow the platinum rule, it’s not about you
Let me say this again: It’s not about you! All too often we assume others see the world the way we do. The traditional golden rule says, “Treat others as we would like to be treated.” However, as parents, we need to live more by the platinum rule: “Treat others as they would like to be treated.” Consider how each of your children sees the world before you make important decision for their lives.
To be even more concrete here is my advice, don’t assume that the primary goal of the next generation is to steward your legacy and wealth. It is difficult to take ownership of something one didn’t create oneself, especially if the parental messaging has been, “This is my/our wealth, not yours.” Instead, direct your financial capital to serve your children’s passion and purpose, and ultimately their legacy in the larger family story.
Principle # 2: Be a coach
No two children are the same. We see their unique temperaments emerge in the toddler years, if not sooner. Like great football coaches, create a system for running your offense and defense, and then coach each member of the team differently. Your quarterback will need something different from you than your defensive end, but both need to play the game within your overall system—at least until they create their own.
Principle # 3: Be a storyteller
One of the most powerful ways to teach children is through stories. Tell them stories about your family of origin, how you and your spouse met, the experiences you’ve had and people you’ve known who taught you the most, the start of the family business, and the vision you have for your family and your wealth. Be sure that your stories include both successes and failures, and also reveal the lessons learned from both.
Principle # 4: Be a giver
Whether or not philanthropy is high on your value list, the giving of your time, talent, and treasures will be not only a blessing to others, it also will make you happier. If you want your children to lead happy lives, then modeling a life of giving will increase the chances that they, too, will live generously and feel happier.
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