Hugh, What Do you Really Want?

Does money ruin the kids? Let’s take a look.

Just the other day I read a comment from Hugh Grant. I was surprised by what he said and wanted to know if I was reading the comment out of context. I looked for the article with the interview that included his quote and I found it online. As I read the comment in its broader context I was still surprised but not shocked by his comment. What he said is too familiar. I’ve heard it many times in my life.  I share it with you here, as taken from an interview Hugh Grant gave on March 16, 2012 with the British newspaper The Guardian.: “…there are few things in life I believe in 100% – but another one is not giving your children money. I see nothing but f***-ups among my trust-fund friends. It’s like 99% f***-ups. So I would not want to do that to my children, no.” 

I see a disturbing, and yet, I am sure, unintended consequence in this remark. I am going to assume and it has been my experience that Hugh Grant and others with great wealth do not live in a cramped apartment or a modest first home in a neighborhood where others are struggling to get by. They don’t experience those kinds of struggles. They arent’ talking about money in the same way as those struggling to get by are talking about money.

What’s important about this is that your surroundings influence you.  I am not saying they control you necessarily, but they certainly influence you. It’s all you know when you are little.

So what you might ask?  Well, the so what is this: children of the wealthy do not live in modest surroundings; children of the wealthy do not participate in the same vacation opportunities as those in more modest neighborhoods; children of the wealthy are not exposed to the same conditions or even the same perspectives as those living in modest conditions. As a result their views and perspectives are different.  

While the kids are living surrounded by wealth, their parents are planning to cut them off without providing the tools for their children to build the muscle of dealing with wealth and money responsibly. Instead of the children learning how to fish, they are told to go off and fish without ever having been close to doing so all their developing years.    

Many parents, and rightfully so, don’t want to see their children or grandchildren feel entitled. They don’t want their children or grandchildren to become lazy and/or rudderless. What parent does?  So, while the children are being brought up around the lifestyle their parents’ money brings, they are told: “this money you live around, well it’s not yours.  Touch it and enjoy it but don’t think it’s yours. You have to figure it out on your own. But hey, let’s go down the rivers of South America on the family yacht. 

I call this the ghetto wealth syndrome.  These children aren’t taught about the meaning of money; these children aren’t taught about the value of money in their lives. These children are surrounded by the conveniences and opportunities money can provide yet these children are not given the tools to know how to respectfully “stay above the trappings” and craft their own lives with the wealth. They experience the “having” of money. They experience all the benefits to financial wealth. While they are enjoying its benefits growing up, they are also told, at some point in their young lives:  “That’s it. You are on your own. I had nothing, now you go do it.”   It’s like telling the family cat to go from the couch to the alley-good luck. I’m not saying it can’t be done.  I am saying the odds are against that family cat whose claws have been clipped on a regular basis, who saunters from the living room to its water and food, which has a litter box to use.  The alley isn’t that easy.

It is critical, that instead of fostering an experience and outcome that don’t pair up, your children be brought up to understand the culture of the family for their (your children’s) reasons. What I mean by this is that it is critical that your kids create and build their own life within the context of what they have been given and the responsibility of the family culture they are in.  This is not meant as a handcuff measure but rather as a tool to foster responsibility, leadership, and shared eventual partnership in the family purpose to this great wealth. You just have to use the right tools to make it happen.

It is critical that your children be brought up prepared for the passing of the baton from you to them. It is critical that your children learn about what money means to the family, that yes, it doesn’t grow on trees, that yes, they must discover and learn what money means to them to respect it and harness it for themselves.

Isn’t THAT what you want Hugh?

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