CASE STUDY : Family Dynamics

Come to Own and “Live” Your Values

With the recent passing of her father, Cathy wanted to begin the conversations around wealth with her three daughters. The mother let her daughters know that even though the inheritance was hers to spend and invest as she pleased, she wanted her daughters to be engaged in the process.

Outwardly, the mother’s purpose was to educate her daughters about the meaning and impact of wealth. It soon became clear, however, that her real purpose was to find a way to “engage” with her daughters, using the money as a medium.

Although unspoken, it also became clear that she hoped to accomplish this in a hastily put-together, half-day family meeting, which would be squeezed in between an already packed schedule.

As the process began, it was discovered that the biggest block was the issue of trust. How could they even continue when one of the daughters did not “trust” her mother? While the daughter was willing and excited about engaging in the process, she had difficulty agreeing to “trust” as one of the family’s core values as she felt trust was literally missing in action.

Solution (Step 1)

Before moving forward, the family acknowledged that they needed to have the deeper and more difficult conversation around the value of integrity. The family members explored what it meant for them, and the need for all of the family members to commit to living and acting an integrity-filled life. As a result of this family meeting, the family dynamics improved as family members came to own and “live” their values. They held each other accountable, thus ensuring that their actions were in the best interest of the family, and helped move the family’s vision and mission forward. It also helped guide the mother in her expenditure, investment, and philanthropic decisions.

The daughters came to believe that their mother truly did want and value their input and wisdom. As opposed to wondering how they had been born into this family, they came to see each other through new eyes. After accepting and viewing each other’s quirks through a lens of admiration and respect, they were ready to begin Step 2 of the process.