Most of us wish we could bottle up the sense of joy and family harmony we feel over the holidays and retrieve it during stressful times. In fact, we would like to keep family peace, even when we are gone. When it comes to the issues of dividing family wealth among heirs, many of us would like to preserve family harmony above all else.
How do parents work toward the goal of knowing children will be kind and considerate toward one another at the reading of a parent’s will? Besides thoughtful estate planning and transparent estate settlement, the best preparation to avoid estate disputes starts early. Instill in each of your children respect for others and good, healthy financial habits in tune with your family value system.
Start by teaching your children self-sufficiency, gratefulness, self-fulfillment and how to be a loving and happy person. Children can start to gain these traits by doing chores and having responsibility around the house. “Chores help children learn to take pride in their work and gain self-respect.” said University of Missouri human development specialist, Kris Jenkins. You may let children choose a new responsibility as they grow older. These might include setting or clearing the table, cleaning their room, watching a younger sibling, or making a meal once a week for the family.
Then, help your child learn to be responsible with money by giving them money responsibilities. Giving a small allowance regularly or at the beginning of a vacation can help them learn how to distinguish between needs and wants and make thoughtful choices. Allow children to use the money for any souvenir of their choice and remember to keep your personal judgement out of the selection. Children can learn the value of their purchase and you will be saved from the constant questions in airports and gift shops of “I want that” or “I love that.” You will be giving them the gift of learning to make valuable decisions and find it easier to retain a friendly rapport with your child.
Allow your children to develop their own judgment and learn from mistakes. Mistakes made when they are young are much less consequential than when they are on their own. Have a non-judgmental conversation with your child and help them think through options and solutions.
With this good foundation, family harmony is a value that can last from generation to generation. You will leave a lasting legacy true to your core family values.