The first time you discovered that you would be receiving a significant amount of money … enough money to change your life … how did you feel? Did it make you pause? Did you suddenly feel different and isolated from your friends? What did you want to know? What did you want to learn? How did you learn to talk about this very private topic?

What about the time you … as a parent … realized that the amount of inheritance you would be leaving your kids could dramatically impact their lives? Were you afraid to talk with them about the money for fear it would rob them of motivation and inspiration? Was it easier to be silent given all the horrifying stories we have all heard about the negative impact of money?

Unfortunately, silence about something so obvious leaves heirs trying to figure it out on their own. The biblical story about the prodigal son is really a story about a son who wasn’t prepared, which is the same challenge many experience today.

Initial conversations around money and responsibility are often left for the trustees, financial advisors, and legal advisors to hold with young heirs. While the conversation re: investments and assets are important, the bigger (sometimes more embarrassing) issues around the emotional and psychological impact on one’s life are often sidestepped.

So how do you get your parents to start talking about this touchy issue, when it’s always been treated as a very private, “impolite­-to­-talk­-about” subject?

Without question, family work on identifying individual and family values, vision and purpose are crucial.

Everyone, however, can begin the enlightening and inspiration process by sharing stories. Stories of what it took to make the money (the passion and the hardships). Stories of how they learned how to discern between a good and bad investment. Stories about how they dealt with situations that were fair, but not equal. Stories about grand mistakes and lessons learned. Stories of how they dealt with the shamefully, emotional issues around impact, squelched curiosity, and isolation.

The opportunity to hear about your family’s experiences around money is a phenomenal growth/learning experience.