You’re making good money. You’re saving. You’re investing. You’ve bought those personal finance books that tell you how to manage your finances. You’ve worked extra hard, taken risks, done everything you have to do to create a better life for your kids. Maybe you’ve even taken some time to do some estate planning so that what you have accumulated can be passed on with minimal taxes and maximum efficiency for your family.
But is that really prioritizing the right thing? Parents will spend hours—billable hours with lawyers—trying to design a trust fund for their kids that doles money out slowly, because they don’t want to corrupt their kids. They’ll pore over the language in their will to minimize disputes between their children and their surviving spouse. What they seem to forget is what they have the most control over right now, while they’re alive: raising good children.
“Men,” Socrates once asked, “whither is your course taking you, who give all possible attention to the acquiring of money but give small thought to your sons who you are to leave it?”
Look, you can spend all your time and money trying to provide for your kids financially. You can focus on creating a financial and legal legacy for them. Or you can spend your time—the time you have with them today—making them self-sufficient, making them good, making them the kind of people who can be trusted. We’ve talked before about the humble legacy that Truman gave to his daughter. What matters is that you create, raise and cultivate the kind of children worth leaving something to, who can handle whatever it is they’re able to inherit.
The best part of that? It’s free. And they’ll remember and cherish it far longer, too.