We recommend parents articulate and model the behaviors they wish to see in their children. Joline Godfrey, a consultant who provides financial education to youth, is quoted in an article by writer Joanna Krotz as saying, “The culture speaks with a boom. The sounds of parents are much softer.” Parents play critical roles in helping their children develop self-esteem and awareness of the needs of others. Congruence between what parents say and how they act is important; children tend to adopt the behaviors of their parents even when those behaviors are contrary to what the parents say. Heischman affirms these points and emphasizes that young people require positive adult role models in order to gain self-confidence and to develop appropriate degrees of independence. According to Heischman, “Parents need to go beyond merely setting boundaries to demonstrating consistently positive behaviors for their children to follow.”

Younger generations must feel they have a stake in decisions. According to Herz Brown and Jaffe, “offering a young person a specific opportunity to contribute, have a voice and then vote in the family a airs is important. If a person is not involved by being informed or making decisions about family wealth, then that wealth becomes passive and in the background, not active and needing tending.” In cases in which inheritors are indulged, malaise may take hold, eroding motivation while nurturing feelings of helplessness. Some express it more strongly: “Malaise is a soft word for it,” says Soniya Luthar, a psychologist at Columbia Teachers College, in an article by Jennifer Senior. Luthar continues, “Anomie, alienation, anguish—this is what happens when we’re robbed of that sense of efficacy.”

Read the full article about developing responsible adults by Sam Davis and Allison Sole at the National Center for Family Philanthropy.