If you are like most parents, your primary objective is to support your children to be prepared to handle the pressures of adulthood. And if there is a single human trait which helps to navigate all of life’s stages, it is resilience. Resilience is the ability to bounce back, move forward, and learn from the setbacks in life. As a parent, one of the greatest gifts you can give your child is the gift of learning how to make mistakes, learn from them, and grow as a result.
The foundation for developing resilience in your child is threefold: 1) to develop resilience in your own life; 2) to allow your child the freedom to make mistakes, the security to learn from them and the opportunity to move forward with a clean slate; and 3) to let your children see you make mistakes and role model resilience for them with vulnerable power.
Here’s an example: imagine you face a situation at work that creates adversity for you. You could come home and complain about your coworkers, your boss and your team, or you could take full responsibility for your part in creating the stressful situation and share with your child what you are going to do to face the challenge head on and make it better. And, wherever you notice that you made a mistake or could have done something better, tell your child about it and what you learned as a result.
And of course when your child makes a mistake, celebrate the opportunity to learn, rather than reinforcing the negativity of the experience. Remember, some of the most successful people on the planet failed first. What made them an ultimate success? They had the resilience and support to recognize that failure was simply part of the journey and to keep going.
So how does estate planning fit into developing resilience in your children? First and foremost, resilience comes when your children know that no matter what happens, you love and accept them and will always be there for them. It is having that deep knowing that creates the security that allows your children to take the risks that others can’t or won’t. And I believe that’s the ultimate foundation of true success in life.
When you’ve handled your estate planning and talked with your kids about what you’ve set up (if they are old enough), they get the clear message that you’ve done everything possible to be there for them, even if you cannot be there physically.
And by including them in the process when they are old enough, they began to see that you trust them, that you are working with them to design a future that is positive for your whole family and that you value and respect their input.