Help your kids build their own personal power

I’ve written a great deal about thinking of your family as a business—not in the money-making sense but doing the tactical things that businesses do to be successful, which I call the Family Treasury ™ Model.   Have a vision, goals, a strategic plan, assign roles and responsibilities, communicate.   A model that takes the best practices from successful business can become a tool of empowerment for generations of your family to come.

The manner in which you support and empower your kids is critical. As in business, there will be times when your kids find themselves at the “bottom of the well” with significant challenges facing them, and no idea how to get themselves out. In these circumstances, I like to use the analogy of “The Rope, Ladder or Elevator” when determining how best to support your kids. You need to decide early on, and be consistent with which approach you will use.

In providing your children a rope, they may get to the top of the well, but when they do, their hands may be bloody and they will likely be pissed off. If instead you provide a ladder to help make their ‘climb out of the well’ a little easier, they still have to do it on their own – but are more likely to develop their personal power to achieve. If we build them an elevator for an easy ride up, they grow up spoiled and disempowered.

I do not advocate building them an elevator. No doubt they will have risen with speed and comfort – but what have you done for them? They didn’t have to discover their own muscle.  In fact, it can be argued that you have taken away their personal power.  They didn’t learn to put one step in front of the other to reach a goal.  It was just handed to them.  They were robbed of the joy and satisfaction of a job well done.

As an example, and to continue the analogy, at some point you will no doubt have to decide how your kids will get around. Will you support them with a bike, a used car, or a brand-new Mercedes-Benz? And how will it be funded—part-time jobs, student loans, matching no-interest loans from you … or blank cheques and credit cards?

As a starting point in determining rope, ladder or elevator, you may want to consider these guidelines:

  • Our impact will be one of empowerment (not disempowerment)
  • We seek to use our resources in a sustainable yet expanding way.
  • Decisions will consider the well-being of the group as well as the individual
  • We will do no harm

Families that help their children develop their own personal power, their own strengths and capabilities, and allow their children to take risks, set goals and work one step at a time to achieve them, in turn create individuals of high esteem. They create leaders.   If children have the confidence within themselves of their own personal power and strengths, they are more likely to live a successful life, appreciate financial opportunities, and therefore conserve. Isn’t that what we want for our children?

Chris Clarke is CEO of First Affiliated Holdings Inc., a family office and author of True Family Wealth-Love, Money & an Inspired Life which can be bought on or Chris is part of a new wave of wealth advisors who are inspiring their clients to look beyond the accumulation of money and to create a home in which every family member thrives.  If you would like to explore how the team at First Affiliated Holdings can assist your family in these matters, please give us a call at 705-445-7444.