Are we too late? That was the question asked casually by an acquaintance. Too late for what? Too late for one of the most important conversations you can have with your adult children.
I understand late. Most days I practice stretching time: I ignore the clock, stretching every minute to fit my schedule. Of course, time is fixed and constantly in motion. The clock is ticking for everyone. So, it’s always later than we think.
I am frequently late to events, meetings, gatherings and the like. But, of course, I have a good excuse; I am trying to accomplish one more thing before I leave. I am embarrassed to report that I am late even when I can arrive on time. If I have fifteen minutes to spare, I will work in twenty-five minutes of activities.
My husband suffers the results of my behavior many mornings as I dash out the door like the White Rabbit, “I’m late! I’m late! For a very important date! No time to say hello, goodbye! I’m late! I’m late! I’m late!”
Maybe you can relate to Alice In Wonderland’s White Rabbit, too busy for hello or goodbye. Fortunately, you still have time for that hello and the one conversation about your enduring legacy. Don’t wait until the goodbye, for those left behind after our passing.
My acquaintance admitted to the White Rabbit syndrome when she said, “We need to talk to our kids about our philanthropy decisions, but we’ve never had those talks before. It’s all in our will, but we haven’t shared it with them. I think we’re late, but when is late too late? We don’t know where to start.”
Where to start is at the beginning. When to start is sooner than later because such conversations take time and shouldn’t be rushed. It might even be more than one conversation.
Why to start is because we all make assumptions about what our children or parents are thinking. We each have a built-in “assumption meter” that reinforces the belief there is still time for later.
Don’t trust it. Know that time is shorter than we think. Here are a few good reasons to talk about money, wealth, legacy, and philanthropy, what I call The Talk.
Short List of Reasons for The Talk
- Creates the opportunity to share your dreams and the legacy you wish to leave.
- Helps family members understand your purpose and clarify directions and plans.
- Sets an example of how to have conversations about money, wealth, legacy, and philanthropy.
- Knowledge and understanding increase the value of planning.
- Allows adult children to prepare for the future.
- Continues the legacy you started or begins a new family legacy.
The Talk has one more important benefit. It helps calibrate everyone’s assumption meter, increasing respect between the generations.
It’s never too late to start the conversation. It doesn’t matter how old the adult children are. The older they are, the sooner it should start.
How it starts is important. Often, it is helpful in conversations of this nature to have an outside trusted facilitator. The first and most crucial step is to discuss how and when to do it. It can be helpful to have the facilitator help you plan The Talk and facilitate it at a gathering of family members.
It may be a conversation that occurs over several different planned gatherings. Of course, every family is different, but there is a right way for your family.
At Your Philanthropy, we help you discover the best way to have The Talk with your family.
The clock is not your friend and shouldn’t control the outcome of one of the most fruitful conversations you might have with your children.
Do you have questions about how to have conversations with your adult children to ensure an enduring legacy? Don’t wait. Let’s talk.
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