Promote a rock-solid emotional backbone
The second rule is the promotion of a rock-solid emotional backbone6. It is reflected in a high level of self-confidence and self-esteem. Providing a child with this life asset is firmly in the hands of parents and is a result of many factors, including the frequent expression of unconditional love, acceptance of the child as s/he is, and creating a sense of personal security.
Provide sound education inside and outside institutions of learning
The third rule is to provide children with a sound education inside and outside institutions of learning. Outside of academia (i.e. at home) parents should promote / encourage:
- Achievable personal standards: encourage achievements to the best of the child's abilities, and not beyond. Do not compare the child to other children.
- A strong sense of self-reliance and responsibility.
- A balanced life: exposure to sport and art, in addition to academics.
- A sound moral compass.
The latter is imperative, and includes the sound values of integrity and honesty. From a young age the child should know that integrity moulds ones personal brand, and that only the truth can be recalled (lies cannot).
Programme the child's mind to be an inquiring one
The fourth rule is to encourage children to have a life-long enquiring mind. Children need frequent parental contact and stimulation from birth. In the preoperational stage (2-7years), usually at ages 3-5, a child's mind is developed to a stage where s/he is highly stimulated by his/her environment, as reflected in the rapid-fire numerous questions put to parents.
A life-influencing, crucial error made by many parents is to discourage the questioning (a result of possible irritation) or to provide meaningless answers. It is critical to answer questions well, to consult encyclopedias when one does not know the answer (which must be done with the assistance of the child), and to encourage further questions.
Reading from an early age is to be strongly encouraged. It helps them to develop important language and communications skills, logical thinking, gain new ideas and concepts, and creates a predisposition for further learning.
Promote an ethos of sound money management
In the formal operational stage (11-15+ years), in the context of pocket money at this stage, begin to promote an ethos of sound money management, particularly I > E = +S, and that S means delayed consumption, creates possibilities, and gives one peace of mind.
Drive home the philosophy that wealth has two legs: monetary and non-monetary
The sixth rule is to drive home the philosophy that wealth has two legs: monetary and non-monetary. Monetary wealth is obviously important, but so is its non-monetary companion. Non-monetary wealth is manifested in having close family and friends and in good general interpersonal relationships. This feeds into a successful career, which feeds into financial security (provided sound money management is in place) and this is an important input in the emotion happiness (aka subjective wellbeing).
As the reader of this text is most likely a young adult, who had limited or no control of phase one, why do we mention the above here? The reasons are:
- You are partly in control. You decide on your education and the extent to which you prepare yourself in this regard for the next phases. Interpersonal relationships are also in your ambit of control. Also, you do have an "income" (usually a parental allowance), which enables you to get going on the ethos of sound money management (/ > E = +S).
- You will most likely have children one day; in fact you are hard-wired to procreate, i.e. to propagate yourself and your partner. It is difficult to resist the urge despite the hardship and expense involved in raising children.
- Your success in your career and your personal finances in later life reflect your self-confidence and self-esteem built in this phase. If this life asset was not properly established in this phase, it is advisable to seek professional help from a psychologist.
A wealth management company, Citadel, recently undertook substantive life-phase research amongst their clients. The outcome was that all the clients taken on had been good-parented. Many of them grew up in financially modest circumstances, but were imbued with emotional security.