What do you want for your family? What do you want for your children or your grandchildren? If you don’t have children or plan to have children, then what do you want for yourself? Do you know the life that you want to live? Have you got a vision in your head – whether you’ve shared it with your children or not – about what you want for them? Speaking as a parent, I think one of the things I think we can all agree we want for our children is for them to be happy and healthy. That goes without saying. But perhaps you also want them to be successful or accomplished, or maybe you just want them to be rich.
If you are unconsciously holding values that have been passed down through your family, or influenced through politics or even societal situations and the environment that you were in at the time history – and you are unaware of that – you could be passing those values unconsciously to your children through the decisions that you make and the words you speak.
Let me give you an example. Let’s say Parent X want their children to do well and to be successful; maybe they want them to have a profession. This is a classic occurrence; in our society, and particularly in older generations, certain professions are prized above others because they afford prestige and usually above-average wealth. Imagine Parent X wants their child to be a doctor or an accountant. This wish is filled with love and good intentions, but what they might not be thinking about is the fact that the world has evolved quite a lot in the past 10-20 years.
In 2023, being a lawyer or a doctor or an accountant aren’t the only professions that are out there and they aren’t the only respected careers to have moving forward. Because of a belief that traditional professions are the only important jobs and the only people that are successful or rich or wealthy, Parent X might make some important decisions for their child. They might decide their child’s natural athletic or artistic talent aren’t worth encouraging. They might ignore their child’s temperament (which may be better suited to teaching, or performing, or working with their hands). And Parent X might have them doing tutoring, debate club or advanced classes without asking first what the children are interested in. Many young adults today grew up with the expectation that they would go to university and get at least one degree – without ever making a conscious choice about the matter.
These beliefs come from a time when a university degree meant a high-paying job. But this plan isn’t inexpensive, financially or in terms of opportunity cost. It may be something Parent X can easily afford; it may be something that they rather cleverly planned in, but equally it could be something that is putting a bit of a financial burden on them. And if that decision is well thought out and right for the child and right for Parent X financially and works out – and at the end of it the child gets a job and lifestyle that they are happy with – perfect.
Now, back to you. I want you to think about the path you have envisioned for your child or grandchild (or, again, perhaps for yourself). Is that the path that is going to enable them to make the most of their skills and temperament? Have you asked them what they want or what they’re interested in? I want to share a story to illustrate the importance of this. When I was a university lecturer for 11 years in a row, I would work very closely with a group of about 400 students that entered university to go on a computing degree, among the other classes that I taught.
These students had a profound effect on me. I remember many of them, and there are a few that have stood out along the way. And I remember very clearly speaking to one young girl in tears, because what she wanted to do was to be a poet. And she shared with me this book of poems – and I’m no poetry connoisseur, but my goodness, her words were moving! They were beautiful, and the book was illustrated, as she had drawn alongside her words.
But she was in tears because her parents did not value poetry or becoming a poet, or the thought that being a poet could be a career. What they thought was of value was her getting a computing degree. In a computing degree, there is a degree of creativity, but this was not a match for this young girl; she was doing what her parents wanted. She was standing in a corridor in tears with me, and there was no solution. How could I say to her “give up your degree and be a poet!” That’s not my place, and certainly wouldn’t have got me any credit with the university!
All I could do at the time was suggest that she continue her poetry, continue the degree, and maybe at some point when she comes out the other end, she would find a way that she could do both, or that the job that she got as a computing person would pay for her to have time to write her poetry and maybe even publish her poems. This idea of what you want for your family; this idea of, sometimes imposing our beliefs on other people and shaping their lives, particularly when it comes to children, is no small matter. It’s absolutely crucial, and will affect the child’s life for a very long time.
So, have you taken the opportunity to sit down with your children during the school holidays and ask them what they want? Are you ready to help them create a plan to get what they want – whether it’s something financial that something they want to buy, something they want to experience, a career they find fascinating or a hobby that they are passionate about? As a parent, you are the best person positioned to help them explore, discover and grow. That old cliché is true; we are much more successful doing what we love than doing what others want us to do.
So, this week’s article has been about Clarity – what do you want for your children and what do they want for themselves? How can you both get there by working together? And, in the end, having successful and fulfilled children is about Legacy. Create that legacy that you want to leave your family in the way that best supports them to achieve what they want to achieve. Not only your finances and investments, but your guidance and acceptance will leave a legacy that long outlives you.
If you are interested in learning more about planning for your family’s future and creating a wealth plan, make sure you listen to my podcast A Wealthy Life, and look at the free resources I offer like the Readiness to Retire Wealthy Audit. You greatly influence what works for your family and their long-term success; make sure you have all the information and techniques you need. For more impactful wealthy life tips, please visit my website www.vickiwusche.com, listen to my podcast here and here, or schedule a free call with me.