Have you been confronted with this question yet? My son just turned 10 last week and I cringe at the thought of him asking me these questions. Sure, I have explained to Ethan that some of his friends may be gay or have gay parents, but does a 10 year old truly understand the concept of heterosexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality, and everything in between? How do we, as parents, address these questions to our children?
When you picture a “normal” family, what do you see? Is it the traditional notion of one male parent and one female parent, two kids, and a family pet? Or do you see something different? Or perhaps you reject the notion of a “normal” family altogether?
Recent court and legislative activity have opened the institution of marriage to same-gender couples. Regardless of your political position or whether you think this is a wise move, it is happening. Today 1 in 4 children under the age of 18 are being raised by single mothers without a father in the picture at all. And nearly 30% of all families today are single parent families. 5% of children aren’t living with a “traditional” parent at all, but with grandparents or other family members.
Simply put, mainstream society is changing in our country.
Sometimes, with affluence comes reinforcement of our personal norms. We often attend institutions – like churches and schools, for example—where most of the people look and think like we do.
While we may feel most comfortable in these arenas, we need to push the boundaries with our kids for their sake. Regardless of our politics, visible American culture is changing. We cannot expect voluntary segregation of our society—by race, socioeconomic status, or any other factor—to continue.
But how do we expose our children to other cultures and ideas, when we are not personally involved in them? Education is always key! Be frank and upfront when answering the question. We should not resort to the traditional “the birds and the bees” dialogue because lets face it – if your child is not convinced with your response, there are a million other straight forward and not so kid-friendly responses just a few clicks away. So before your child resorts to google searching an adequate answer, wouldn’t you prefer to explain it to him in a way that conforms to your notions of right and wrong. Whatever notions those may be – I would much rather explain things to my children my way, in my voice, with my morals and values, as opposed to some stranger on the internet.
So how can we help our kids be open to cultural and familial differences and to embrace the complexities therein?
Children are best prepared through modeling and practice. This is the true inheritance we leave behind.
Be cognizant of the cultural norms you promote without saying a word, through your choice of neighborhoods, entertainment, institutions, and even the company you keep. It is critical that our children remain open to differences and complexities, to enable them to work and play with those who may be different from them as our society moves forward to keep in step with the ever evolving nature of our world.
Ultimately, estate planning isn’t just about passing on your money. It’s about passing on your whole family wealth, which includes your values, insights, stories and experience, most of which is passed on without awareness. When you can bring awareness to this planning, beyond just the financial pieces, you are giving your children a true gift that doesn’t just last a lifetime, but many generations.
Parents experiencing our planning process repeatedly tell us that the process itself guides you to see many of the parts of true inheritance that you are likely overlooking, and the process itself has them feel better about themselves as parents as well as adult children of their own parents.
This article is a service of Wake Law, LLC, who develops trusting relationships with families for life. That’s why we offer complimentary estate planning sessions where we can help identify the best strategies for you and your family for now and in the future. You can begin by calling our office today to schedule a time for us to sit down and talk because this planning is so important.
What legacy will you leave behind for your children?
Call us today at (813) 252-8667 to discuss our unique legacy interview which will leave a legacy for your children far beyond your retirement accounts and a few assets. A legacy interview will provide your children with the invaluable lessons you would have loved to teach them had you had the time to answer all of their questions.