While I’m just now enjoying my son’s first sentences and days of school, I am plagued by the same concerns. You want your children to feel financially secure and not want for anything, but where is the invisible threshold into creating an entitled, materialist, sheltered child? I look to an excellent book called Silver Spoon Kids by Eileen Gallo, PhD and Jon Gallo, JD who discuss the positive and negative aspects to affluence when it comes to child rearing.
The Gallo’s discuss how important it is to have a shared money philosophy that expresses your family values around wealth. This shared philosophy could save you and your spouse future battles too! For instance,would you buy your child a new BMW when they turn 16, provide an allowance for them to buy their own car or encourage them to work and save for their first car? Should you establish an educational trust with stipulations like your child needs to maintain a C-average or above and can only attend undergraduate schools for a maximum of six years?
While no one can answer these questions for you but you, The Gallo’s also recommend some ideas to engage your family in philanthropy. Some may bring their children to a Habitat for Humanity project to help build a home for the poor in their local community. Others might sign-up to serve at a soup kitchen Thanksgiving morning. One client of mine has her children contribute 1% of their allowance to the charity of their choice.
While not every wealthy family has a private foundation of Donor Advised Fund for their children to participate in, it’s certainly an excellent option. The children at younger ages can donate a small percentage of their allowance to the foundation or volunteer and eventually, when old-enough, participate in governing the organization and selecting grant recipients.
A few of the resources the Gallo’s recommend and I endorse include:
- The Chronicle of Philanthropy – an online magazine to help introduce your family into the non-profit world.
- Philanthropy News Digest, published by the Foundation Center, often highlights those making a big difference in the community.
- The Funding Exchange is a network of community foundations interested in making greater change by pulling resources together.
- Bolder Giving, is an online forum “to inspire people to give to their full lifetime potential.” Through personal stories, community and support, you can show your family how giving changes the lives of the people doing the giving.
While it may be too soon to have lengthy conversations with my son about what it means to be a philanthropist, I’m starting with the simple concept of no as the precursor to teaching him the difference between wants and needs. And I bring him to all possible Los Angeles Social Venture Partner events, where I am a partner and board member, figuring the values of the organization and people involved are a great influence!