Money Born rich; Lessons from death

Finweek English Edition - - INSIDE -

There is a per­cep­tion that the chil­dren of the very wealthy are so in­dulged that those who do be­come suc­cess­ful, do it on the backs of their par­ent’s wealth while the rest are just happy to live off the fruits of their par­ents’ ef­forts.

New World Wealth re­ports that Jo­han­nes­burg, with over 23 000 mil­lion­aires as at 2013, is ranked as the city hav­ing the high­est num­ber of mil­lion­aires* in Africa, a drop in the ocean com­pared to Lon­don, which re­port­edly has nearly 340 000. This could po­ten­tially mean that if one takes the av­er­age of 2.25 chil­dren per house­hold, over 57 000 chil­dren have been, or could be, born into a wealthy fam­ily in Jo­han­nes­burg alone!

While the pres­ence of money in a fam­ily grounded in solid val­ues and ethics can al­low for, broaden and en­er­gise in­ter­ests, one of the main con­cerns that psy­chol­o­gists have is that chil­dren in very af­flu­ent fam­i­lies are very of­ten handed ev­ery­thing on a sil­ver plat­ter. These young­sters are there­fore more at risk of not be­ing mo­ti­vated to f ind di­rec­tion and work to achieve goals and suc­cess on their own.

So, while pam­pered and priv­i­leged kids are iron­i­cally of­ten dis­ad­van­taged by wealth that can some­times im­pede them from mak­ing their own mark on the world, there are also those young­sters who, de­spite an in­dulged and for­tu­nate back­ground, are firmly rooted in strong core ethics and val­ues and strike out alone to suc­cess. Find­ing a healthy bal­ance, guard­ing against ex­cess as well as in­still­ing sound val­ues, morals and ethics to these priv­i­leged young­sters can be a chal­lenge, es­pe­cially for wealthy par­ents.

Too much of a good thing – in this case money – can be bad. But, be­ing born into a wealthy fam­ily does not nec­es­sar­ily mean that you are en­ti­tled to that wealth. There are some par­ents who strongly be­lieve that overindul­gence and leav­ing their vast wealth to their off­spring is detri­men­tal, and there are plenty of rea­sons why they should be con­cerned. The rea­son­ing, it seems, is that foist­ing so much wealth upon young shoul­ders could ul­ti­mately dis­tort morals and val­ues as well as se­verely im­pair their work ethic. It’s not dif­fi­cult to see why. A myr­iad of Louis Vuitton ac­ces­sories, fast cars, par­ties and ex­otic va­ca­tions is likely to have a pro­found im­pact on even the most well brought up young­ster, po­ten­tially caus­ing them to be im­mune to, or un­car­ing about, life in the real world.

Su­per-rich par­ents Warren Buf­fett, Bill Gates and the late Steve Jobs recog­nised the po­ten­tial ill ef­fects that hand­ing over an enor­mous amount of wealth to their off­spring might have. They, to­gether with many other af­flu­ent in­di­vid­u­als who de­cide to leave the ma­jor por­tion of their wealth to char­i­ties, ap­pear to be guard­ing against the po­ten­tial neg­a­tive ef­fects of overindul­gence – ef­fects such as lazi­ness and lack of mo­ti­va­tion to work, ma­te­ri­al­ism, con­ceit, snob­bery, a sense of en­ti­tle­ment, pre­oc­cu­pa­tion with self, and dis­torted val­ues and morals.

These wealthy phi­lan­thropists have sent a clear mes­sage. They are en­cour­ag­ing and, more im­por­tantly, en­abling their off­spring to re­main grounded while mak-

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