I’m intrigued by relationships. The interactions between people. Why do some relationships flourish and others flounder? There are always lessons to be learned and passed on.
You may recall this quote from the December issue of Gowdie Family Wealth:
‘Watch your thoughts; they become words.
‘Watch your words; they become actions.
‘Watch your actions; they become habit.
‘Watch your habits; they become character.
‘Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.’
Your words, actions and habits are not isolated to the work environment and/or your social circle. They also carry over to your family.
As fate would have it, I bumped into one of my former acquaintance’s adult children. I knew from previous discussions that the children received substantial (six-figure) annual distributions from the family trust. The son was aware of our falling out. He opened up to me about the pressures within the family.
‘You know my father has to always be right. Our sister’s been cut out of the family for challenging him. We know a legal stoush is coming. If we side with her, then the money stops. Family life is complicated when money is involved.’
After this chance encounter, my thoughts turned towards the subject of creating a family culture of dependence or independence.
From the outside looking in, a culture of dependence is at play in that family. The father’s ego is dependent upon his children obeying him without question, and the children are dependent upon their father for an annual payment to fund a lifestyle they would not otherwise be able to afford.
Neither dependency makes for a healthy and constructive relationship.
The strings attached to the annual payment have turned the children into puppets. They have sold their souls. I suspect that’s why the daughter pushed back…to regain her self-respect.
In giving money to your family, are you buying peace, love, respect, obedience, control, access, power, influence, or massaging away guilt?
Vern has been involved in financial planning for almost 30 years and has been recognized as one of Australia’s Top 50 financial planners. He currently publishes Gowdie Family Wealth, The Gowdie Letter, and contributes to many others.
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