Nobody can deny it, there are many advantages to being wealthy when raising a family; having kids is an expensive business!

If our family is lucky enough to be financially well off it means we CAN CHOOSE education and neighbourhood and the environment they are raised in. We can treat our kids to lovely holidays, they can explore any activities or sports they want to and get the equipment needed. There may be less stress around running the home if we can afford to hire domestic help. Less stress around drop off and pick up as we may have someone to do that for us such as a nanny or driver, and lots more perks where being well off makes life just that bit easier. Maybe one or both of the parents can afford to stay at home to look after the family instead of going out to work.

And while we might agree that money doesn’t necessarily bring happiness, it certainly gives us more choice and convenience.

But everything comes with a cost

Being an affluent parent can also be a challenge when it comes to raising resilient children who grow up to become confident, independent and well-adjusted adults. It’s hard for a number of reasons.

● We don’t NEED them to help around the house.
● We might never HAVE to say NO to the things they want.
● Maybe we have a busy life working to maintain that level of affluence, which often means less time with our kids, less of a family life and more guilt.
● We might have to live far away from our own family and country which can alienate us from our support network.
● And sometimes affluent guilt really affects the way we parent:

We might start overcompensating for not living near our families, feel we have to do everything for our children if we are the one at home (doing ‘nothing’) while the other parent works, or when we don’t get to be with our kids on a daily basis.

We might feel guilty because our kids are brought up so differently from the way our friends or family are raising their children, with a totally different lifestyle and environment. This can be alienating and hard to manage.

We may also worry that they are not growing up in the “real world” but are torn between wanting to give them everything we have worked so hard for (that perhaps we didn’t have), and wanting them to understand the wider world and appreciate that others may not be so privileged.

So, Let’s explore how we raise individual, unique children who grow up to be kind, helpful, resourceful, hardworking and respectful while benefitting from all the wonderful experiences that being well off brings, such as living overseas, having a private education, and so on. But also how we keep them with a foot in the real world so they can thrive, function and respect people from all walks of life.

Following are some key areas we can work on to develop a positive and predictable parenting style which will help our children develop in a healthy and positive way.

1. Parenting from your long-term goal

Too often we parent from our short-term goal; ‘peace, quiet, guilt free, an easy life and happy kids in the here and now’. But by doing this we risk raising kids who grow up to be lazy, dependent and who might find it hard to function across all levels of society. So, let’s start with the end in mind:
● Ask youself: What kind of men or women do yI want to raise? Kind, respectful, independent, resilient, adaptable?

It all comes down to your core values

Often these goals are related to your values, what is important to you in life. For me, respect, self-belief, individualism and curiosity are a really big thing. I have always raised my kids to not be afraid to ask questions and explore different cultures. But also, to respect all different cultures, societies and people’s lifestyles and choices without judging. I have raised them from an early age to be OK with who they are even if they are different, and to believe that they are good enough just as they are.

So think about your core values around parenting and then align your everyday parenting actions and behaviour accordingly. For example:

● If your long-term goal is to raise independent children then every time you are about to do too much for your kids, or allow others to do it for them (because it is easier, quicker and more convenient) or give them what they want without having to work towards it –  then STOP and remind yourself of your long term goal. Suddenly you are not in doubt about what you need to do or say, or not.
● If your long term goal is resilient kids, then every time you are about to fix your child’s daily challenges and issues (which can often be done by throwing money at it) then STOP and THINK and maybe take a different path.
● If your long-term goal is confidence, make sure that your child’s emotional wellbeing is well cared for. Spend positive time with your kids as often as you can and involve them in helping around the house and maybe get a job. this way they feel valued, resourceful and needed.

Everything start with a good plan

Now that you have set your long-term goal then make a plan about your new parenting actions. Don’t just switch everything overnight though – your children will most likely rebel and try to push back on any sudden changes.

• The plan needs small steps that you can implement slowly so you and your family can get used to doing things a bit differently. Small achievable actions will help you to feel that it is manageable and you are more likely to stick to it and be predictable with your parenting style.
• Your family needs to be involved in the plan; it’s not just something you change – you are all part of the family and need to be involved. So if you feel that your child needs to be more helpful around the house or do more for themselves, get a job  – sit with them and talk about WHY and HOW things can be done. Create a plan together.

2. Connect with micro-dosing

Long working hours often means less time at home to connect and get to know your child which can cause emotional disconnection. But it doesn’t have to be like that.

Do you feel that your busy life means it just isn’t possible to spend time with each one of your kids?

Well it IS, and you CAN make time. The good news is that it doesn’t need to be hours of time (or even every day depending on your family set up – you may be travelling, or divorced and live separately from your kids etc.) as long as you are fully there, and fully present, when you ARE there.

It can be as little as 10 minutes a day (or when possible), yes 10 minutes of the day when you are with them, and here are a few options to make this possible and make the time count:
● Plan it: have a think about your days. When can you spend time with each child alone? Bath time, in the car, bedtime, early morning, late night, picking up kids from school/activities, weekend etc? You will see there are ‘possibilities’, we just need to look for them, find them, and then commit that you will spend that time with your child, focused on them.
● Seize the moment: you can also start looking for opportunities throughout the day or week where you can leave what you are doing (chores, phone or work) and enter their world and join in their activities. Just sit there and give them your physical and mental time – when you simply show a real interest in them and what they are doing, feeling and saying!
● Start a traditions: sit with your child at night when possible, in the dark and chat about everything – make it your little moment to connect. Cook together. Take an afternoon or evening walk around the block with them and so on.
● Love bombing: this is where you spend a bigger chunk of time together i.e. going on a trip, cinema, bike ride, to a café etc.
● Be present: this is the most important point. When you have chosen to be with your child try to 100% present where you are creating a mindful bubble around you and your child where nothing else matters. Try not to control the time you have together, just go with the flow with what your child likes or is doing. If you find it ‘boring’ just remind yourself that actually you don’t have to DO anything – you just need to BE there, breathe the same air and show that you care and enjoy this time together.
● Learn to listen: we don’t even need to talk that much – less is more. Listen to understand, not to talk. When we really listen then our child feels important and that you are emotionally available. It boosts their confidence and creates a connection between you and your child. Also, when they feel listened to, understood, respected they are more likely to tell you things when they need advice or a shoulder to cry on.

3. Connect with your family

We agreed that we need to spend time alone with each of our kids but we also need to connect as a family – no matter what our family set up looks like.

It might be that you don’t have the time you wish you had to spend with your family and eat together etc., but having family meetings can really connect you with what is going on in the home. Plan a family meeting/get together once a week or when time allows but do make them a regular thing.

Why do we have family meetings:
● They are a time to connect and talk about everyone’s week. Also a time to plan the week ahead, check in on what’s going on in everyone’s lives.
● They help you to always have a foot in your family life no matter how busy you all are.
● Knowing there is a time and place where you connect regularly can ease parental guilt.
● They can become a place to talk about how to run the family so everyone feels respected and loved.
● They are a forum for making important decisions together such as getting a family pet, planning a big holiday, relocating etc., where everyone gets to contribute.

How to run a family meeting:

When: plan a time that suits all of you i.e. Sunday afternoon, or a weekday evening after dinner etc.
Where: it can be over a meal, after a meal, on the couch, in fact anywhere where you all feel comfortable and present. Some parents also go for ‘seize the moment’, so when they see that now is a good time to create a family time they just get in there. This is fine too!
How: make sure you are open to listening and don’t use it as a space to tell them what to do, or not to do. Make sure everyone gets a say even if one is more dominating than the other. If it turns a bit negative you can stop the meeting straight away and say ‘thank you it was great to chat – I look forward to next week’ and regroup next time. Try to end on a positive.
Set rules: as you get into the swing of family meetings you can use this time to make agreements, work on how you can all be happy at home (house rules, chores, routines etc).
Make plans: use the space to plan holidays together, create a weekly meal planner where you all choose and help with the cooking. You can fill in a family calendar where you put in important dates, what everyone is doing next week, your travel schedule etc. You can talk about everything that is important to you and YOUR family.

Frequency: the most important thing is that this is not a one off. It might take some time for you all to get used to them, but keep going and the more you have the easier and more fun they will become.

4. Academic/sport expectations

I would now like to touch on parental expectations. I know we all want the best for our kids and will do anything to achieve this. But sometimes it is this ‘everything’ that holds us back from being the parent our kids need and allowing them to have a childhood with fun.

Looking back I clearly remember the pressure to get As and be the best sports person that my three kids all experienced in a private school in Shanghai. It was really hard for us as parents to step back, be realistic and fair, and see our kids as individuals and align our expectations accordingly.

So see them as the individuals they are and really have a think about what you expect from them and why, and also what the environment they live in expects from them.

And it is not just about what they are capable of achieving academically: If you have a child with any special needs, physical or emotional, or with anxiety etc. then the pressure of aiming for an A might just be too much. Focus on the process, the effort they put into their schoolwork, everyday life and behaviour towards others, their kindness, helpfulness etc.

And remember that fun and enjoyment matter too. When they at tend an activity or sporting event try to focus more on how they feel than what team they are on or how they perform. They have enough pressure heaped on them on a daily basis and they need a place where they can just have fun and be themselves. CLICK here to read more about ‘Sport should be fun’

Words to use to support the above:
● How do you feel about the grade you got? (Maybe they are happy with what they got)
● You should be proud of yourself (instead of ‘I am proud of you’ – you want them to study and improve for their own sake not for others)
● Did you have fun at football today? (instead of ‘did you score’)
● I enjoyed watching you play today and being here with you (instead of ‘you were the best, you did so well’ etc.)

Don’t dominate, control and put pressure on your child’s future:

● They are individuals and need to make their own decisions; they need to find their OWN identity and values.
A study published in the Journal of Child and Family Studies found that children of rich families often struggle with identity formation; the children had a difficult time developing a sense of self and often felt disconnected from their parents and their communities. Let’s not be another number in that study.

How can we help with identity forming:
● A good place to start is spending focused time with your kids. Where you listen to them (even though you don’t agree with what they say) and accept their opinions (again, even though you might not agree) – get to know them, their personality and values (even if they are different to yours).
● Ask questions about them and their thoughts and values: ‘what do you think about X’ or ‘do you agree with the politician saying Y’, show them that their thoughts matter and that you are interested.
● Accept that they might not agree with your values and lifestyle. You don’t have to do anything here, just listen and say something like ‘that sounds interesting, tell me more’. And remember: listening and accepting is NOT the same as agreeing.

It is important that our children know that they don’t have to become what we are, have our lifestyle. If they want to be something else and live differently that is ok, as long as they do it to their best, are happy and independent. It might be hard to accept that your child is not playing game when it comes to choosing THEIR future. But trust them that they can make decisions about themself, that they know who they are and then back them up with the support they need. If they ‘fail’, get it wrong, don’t say ‘I told you’. Praise them for trying and find a solution together. 

5. Manage your work stress

● You control the atmosphere and set the scene at home.
If you come home stressed and out of balance your kids will most likely tune into that, maybe take it personally (that you don’t want to be there) or start avoiding you.
If you spend more time on your work (on your laptop or on your phone) they will feel less important.
So, agree with yourself when you will be working and when you are with your family and stick to that agreement.
CLICK here to read a tip about how to enter home after a busy day.

And talk to your team! If you are feeling stressed, overloaded or worried about work, tell your team, your family. This way they know it is not them, they will be more helpful and understand how you feel. This is when a family meeting comes in handy!

6. Have connections and engagement with school, activities, and their friends

● We might be busy but make sure that one way or another you always have a foot in their life. Stay tuned into what is going on with them.
Just be engaged in their life, know what’s going on, i.e. when they have a sports game, you might not be able to go but ask about it and be aware of how important it is to them.

If you can, try to attend their activities, school events, parent’s evenings and talks etc. Show that you really do care even though you might have long working hours or a busy day.

If you can’t make it, talk about it at the family meetings, ask your child or school about how it went and what you missed.

But also, be interested in who your child hangs out with, plays with or spends time with, in school and outside. Does your child’s peers make them feel great, connected and happy? Or are they there because of group pressure and just want to be seen to be with the right people, to fit in. Are they bullied, are they the bully? Stay tuned and connected with their social life both in real life and online.

How can you do that? Well if you follow the points in tip 2, where you connect with your child and family as much as you can, they are more likely to involve you in their life, tell you about their friends, and come to you if and when they need support or advice.

7. Teach them to create their own future and wealth

It took my kids some time to accept this phrase: ‘yes I may be well off, but you are poor until you get your own money’. Today, they really appreciate being taught to work hard, save and make their own wealth since this also means independence and that their life and future successes are THEIRS to be proud of.

● Pocket money: I am a big fan of making it clear to our kids how much money they get from us and what we expect them to use it for, but also what we are prepared to buy for them. I will buy you what you need for i.e. sport and education and seasonal cloth but any additional you can ‘wish for’, save up for or work towards.  It might be hard to have to limit the budge and what we buy for them but keep your long-term goal in mind. CLICK here to re ad more on why kids need pocket money and how to set this up.
● Work: they might not NEED to get a job financially, but for their independence, confidence and resilience it’s a good idea that they do. Depending on their age, talk to friends or the school about safe job options. Maybe they can do paid jobs at home on top of the everyday agreed chores. Talk to them about saving up for what they are wishing for instead of just giving it to them. Believe me, they will thank you later on for supporting them to have their own finances and feeling more independent. And the joy of seeing them buying what they want with their own hard-earned money! Suddenly things mean more to them and they will look after them and respect them more.
● Say NO to what they ask for, sometimes: this can be really hard when you don’t have to say no because you have the means to give them what they want whenever they want it. But ask yourself, does that match your long-term goal of who you hope your child will grow up to become?
● Chores and responsibilities: now this can be a tough one when I work with affluent parents but a very vital one to get right – we need to teach our kids that when they are living in any society, community or home they need to do their bit. Having agreed, realistic and fair jobs will not only boost their self-esteem – they will feel needed and valued – but will also make them feel more connected to the home that they help to maintain. Start small with their private responsibilities, i.e. tidying their room, making their bed, packing their bag, bringing down their laundry etc. Once they are used to these personal jobs then you can add social chores, i.e. help setting the table, clean up, empty the dishwasher – maybe even help with cooking family dinners. As mentioned in the link to pocket money, they do not get money to do any of these jobs, they get a nice place to live, clothes, food and a home.
● Helpers: we used to have au pairs, nannies and cleaners and it was very important for us that they knew our long-term goal, values and boundaries around raising our kids. Talk to them about your expectations and how you want your kids to be raised according to YOUR values. I used to say to my kids: ‘yes I have a cleaning lady, you don’t, so please go and clean your room as agreed’.

8. Get them involved in ‘real life’:

● A huge learning opportunity in life is helping your children to be active volunteers, to care for others.
You can talk about what topics are close to their hearts and see what is available for your child’s age group. Also, most schools have some collaboration with volunteering.

It can even be something you set up yourself: supporting an elderly neighbour with their shopping, cleaning, their garden, making extra food for them or socialising with them, or it could be simply sponsoring a child by sending letters, money, seasonal gifts etc.

Depending on what country you live in, there will be places where you and your family can support the locals with food, support, transport, clothing etc.

Volunteering helps children think outside themselves. Your child will learn that others need their help, that they can be useful for the less fortunate. It can be a huge self confidence booster to help others feel just a little bit better.

Last but not least, be the role model: show your kids how you can have wealth and still be a respectful and kind person who cares about others. And also be someone who is not afraid to stick to their values when challenged by the environment they live in.

Best wishes
Mette Theilmann – Founder Predictable Parenting and creator or the Parenting Community App