The ‘My Kids Have No Idea About Our Wealth’ Dilemma - Susan Schoenfeld

Picture by Alexander Mils for Unsplash

Growing up in a family of wealth is often filled with challenges. Parenting children in this environment to become competent and confident stewards of wealth presents its own challenges. When is a good time to start preparing your children? What are some age-appropriate tools for young children? The questions are endless and there isn’t always one right answer. Each situation is unique and often, expert help is required.

Susan Schoenfeld, an expert advisor to families of wealth, spoke at the virtual Family Office Winter Forum. She discusses when and how to have the tough conversation about family wealth.

“It's scary to have that money talk with the kids, I get it. I often say that the money talk is scarier than the birds and bees talk. But parents who say to me that their kids have no idea their family is wealthy - they are just fooling themselves. The money is the elephant in the room. There is this wonderful thing called the internet… Kids Google their parents, they ‘Zillow’ their house to see what it's worth, they see how you live, they see how you travel. If you are pretending that wealth doesn't exist you are really doing your children a disservice.

“There is no magic age for when to have this conversation. My three keys to raising competent and confident stewards of wealth:

  1. Start while they're young and continue throughout.
  2. Model behavior — as we know, children watch what you do more than they listen to what you say. So model the behavior you want them to follow.
  3. Find teachable moments — they come at the least expected times, but that is when they are most receptive. Take those moments and run with them. This could be teaching them if something is ‘worth it’, teaching them not to buy something unnecessary.”

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