Wealthy people often wonder if they give their kids money, do they take away their incentive to be productive? If they don't have to work to make a living, what will prevent them from living a life of leisure, without ambition, without gratefulness, without a sense of value, or worse? Is there a middle ground, where they can share the benefits of wealth without these risks? How can I assure their happiness?
Personally, I don't think money has anything to do with it. Wordsworth is right - the child is the father of the man. The environment within which a child is raised forever affects their perceptions and their sense of self. If Mom or Dad is so busy making money they have no time to connect with their children, then those children will always have difficulty connecting with others. If money is used to incentivize behavior, then the withholding of money will always generate misbehavior. As these behavior modified children age, they sense their disconnection with the less fortunate world and act out in exaggerated ways. Excessive consumption of everything - from possessions to drugs and alcohol, or worse, the consumption of people. Not happy? Change your spouse. Still not happy, buy another house. Still not happy, take drugs, get plastic surgery, remodel, get new friends and travel. They were raised addicted to wealth, and while they may somehow learn to deny themselves, they often don't have an internal gyroscope to keep them balanced and connected to others. Happiness is a symptom, not a result.
We all see the divorces, the lawsuits, the misbehavior within wealthy families, and we all ask how can they behave that way? They have so much, how can this be happening? I'm here to say its not the money. Dan Pink has shown the world in his exceptional book, A Whole New Mind, that in thought based businesses more money does not incentivize better results. If families aren't thought based organizations, what are they?
More or less money is not the issue. What really matters is are you really, honestly, connected to your kids? Do they know that happiness and personal peace are symptoms, not results? Their source is not from within us, but from outside of us. Happiness and peace are not something to own or control. They are un-own-able and uncontrollable. They come to us from doing what is right for others without concern for ourselves. When we attend to life as a matter of the soul, happiness is near. When recognized as symptoms of life properly cared for, we will almost supernaturally provide for our family and others because it feeds us where we need it most. Its a reflection of God in our lives when we deny ourselves and live for others; true happiness finds us in the process.
In my life I have had the benefit of observing from a close and personal position the lives of the most fortunate and the most unfortunate. From billionaires to adolescent victims of human trafficking; from the most powerful to the most insignificant in a variety of cultures; and I have come to this one important conclusion: life is a matter of the soul, when we submerge that fact in being busy, when we allow our conscience to be distracted or mollified, when we disconnect from God’s best advice for how we should live, misfortune is upon us.
Money has nothing to do with it. The child is the father of the man.