Teaching Your Family’s Values to Your Kids
Family conversations about wealth should start with conversations about values.
What makes up a family? How does it go from a collection of relatives to a cohesive group united around shared values and experiences?
These questions can especially resonate when you’re a parent. You want your children to grow into capable, independent adults who make their own choices – but you also want them to adopt the family’s values and, in instances like a family business, the family’s responsibilities. How can you reconcile these feelings?
Put Yourself in Their Shoes
Younger adults are often caught between independence and interdependence. You might remember feeling both at the same time at their age – the push to break away, the pull of a familiar, supportive family. Acknowledging that tension and sharing your own experiences from your maturation into adulthood might help foster deeper connections.
Find Common Ground
Values, like other family assets, can be inherited, and kids pick up much of their parents’ understanding of how the world works. (Just ask any baby boomer whose parents lived through the Great Depression.) As children grow and take in new experiences, their understandings change, and they might challenge the values they grew up with.
Undergoing a values exercise, where family members can discuss their personal beliefs in the context of their family history, can make it easier to identify individual values in an open, nonthreatening way. As a parent, your job isn’t to judge – it’s to listen and to find the common ground among the family.
Create Your Family’s Values – Together
When you establish a dialogue, be honest about your own principles and expectations, and listen to what your children are telling you. Any common ground you stake out can inform a family mission statement – a declaration of the principles your family stands for. But don’t shy away from differences in values: There aren’t right or wrong answers, and those differences can be opportunities for all sides to grow.
If you’re interested in a family dialogue and activities involving family values but don’t know how to begin, reach out to your Baird Financial Advisor. They can work with you on how to open a conversation on values in a way that brings your family together.