There’s a remarkable gap in the conversation between parents and their kids regarding money. These days, more than ever, parents find it necessary to talk with their kids about drugs, sex, music, even politics. Yet the subject of money still remains alarmingly low on the list of topics.
Sure, I know many of you will talk to your kids about budgeting. You might even discuss credit cards. But what about discussing family wealth, family income, and estate plans?
Some parents have shared with me that they are embarrassed to talk with their kids about their net worth. They don’t want to set them up with expectations of a certain inheritance, only for that amount to fall through or change. Other parents fear that if their children knew what they were inheriting, they might not work. So, parents avoid the subject. This avoidance leaves children to guess at their parents’ level of wealth based on the quality of cars, size of house, or the location of their vacations. Unfortunately, this can lead to unrealistic expectations, too.
Parents need to talk about family wealth and estates with their children. But as I’ve addressed this issue with families, I’ve found that it’s not a lack of willingness as much as a lack of knowledge. They’re at a loss in knowing how to bring up the conversation with their children. Obviously, their aim is not to whip out a financial statement and let their children peruse their holdings.
There is a simpler way that I recommend to start the conversation: giving. Kids of all ages can be engaged in the subject of charitable giving. They can all be encouraged to look outside of themselves to support ministries. The discussion about charitable giving is a great primer to discuss things like:
- The value of money
- What money can be used for saving, investing, giving, taxes, etc.
- How money is a tool
- How we can be responsible stewards
- When to recognize that you have enough money
You can come up with your own list of questions and topics. Discussing giving with your kids prepares the way for discussing the larger questions of wealth, net worth, and estate planning.