More Than Money
Issue #9

Money and Children

Table of Contents

“What Will We Pass On?”

Before our son was born we revised our wills. We hadn't yet met this little person--and already we had to decide how much of our inheritance would become his inheritance!

Now that he is old enough to buy coloring books for himself, even more questions dance before us. What level of consumption do we want to feel normal to our boy? How much allowance will we give him, and with what ground rules for guidance? Shall we send him down the block to the neighborhood elementary school, or pay seven thousand a year--no problem!--for a more exclusive education? Most challenging of all, how can we make real, both to him and to ourselves, our connection to children who don't have even basics?

Clearly, a More than Money issue about money and children could cover a lot of ground, so we debated what focus might be uniquely useful to our readers. We discovered that some topics--for instance, how to teach children about money and tips on estate planning--have been well-covered in other publications. (Check out the resources listed on pages 8 and 15.) Other important topics--for instance, the role of family foundations in teaching children about giving--we decided to reserve for future issues.

We focus this issue on a particularly fundamental question, one that underlies all the "how-to's" of helping children deal with money: how much of our money should we pass to our kids? We parents face this question again and again: when our children are small and we need to make plans in case we die, when they are teens and young adults starting independent lives, when grandchildren come onto the scene, and as we grow old. Each stage brings forth different considerations.

All parents want their children to be prosperous--that is, to be filled with abundant love, security, self-confidence, meaningful work, and purpose in life. Most of us are grateful for the ways affluence can help our children build these qualities. We are also aware that money can undermine them. How much money is "enough" for our children but not too much?

Many parents who read More than Money are not only wealthy, but are also seeking to build a more just and sustainable world. Is it congruent with that desire to leave sizable assets to our kids? Why or why not? This question becomes particularly poignant if we judge that reserving wealth for our children's future withholds it from groups working today for a future that will be better for all children.

With or without hesitations, many of our children will be receiving substantial gifts or trusts once they are young adults (either from us, or from their grandparents.) How then can we prepare our young people to deal well with these assets? While some of us had strong financial education growing up, many of us wish to teach our young people far more than we were taught.

Through a potpourri of stories, interviews and articles, this issue of More than Money explores these topics. From this compilation, we, the editors, distill some practical advice for sorting through these demanding questions. We offer this issue as an invitation to our fellow parents (and their friends) to question compassionately how well the traditional models of giving money to children has served our generation. May we risk thinking freshly about how money can best serve not only our own beloved children, but the next generation of our global family.

--from the editors, Christopher Mogil and Anne Slepian


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