We all have a family tree. We all have a different history, one that led us to where we find ourselves today. As Financial Planners, and when see new clients, part of establishing a deeper understanding with them is finding out who they are and what their own tree looks like. There are many financial implications and consequences of this. Everyone has a story. We need to listen carefully.
I enjoy helping parents with kids, and one thing parents love talking about is their own children – no matter how old they are. Having kids with medical issues, and particularly those living with cancer takes these discussions to another level again. As planners we are lucky we can have these conversations as part of our job as it’s pretty meaningful and rewarding stuff.
As a dad, I’ve also recently discovered what it is like to have a teenager. Our eldest son Adam turned 13 not long ago. A while ago I started reading a couple of books, one called ‘The Making of Men’ (by Arne Rubinstein) and the other, ‘Raising Boys’, written by Steve Biddulph.
These books enlightened me, but also scared me half to death. Our children have a big financial say in our lives. They also have a big impact in our emotional lives – and as they get older the ‘whats most important to you’ question often comes back to the kids and what is going on in their lives (and their partners) and how to be a part of it.
I found an amazing statistic from one of these books, and I was talking to a client about this other day. She’s a divorcee and has a 14 year old boy. He is suffering from depression, sadly something that is becoming more common in teenagers.
Take a look at this chart below. It’s showing how satisfied we are (men and boys that is) throughout our lives.
Now I’m not going to get technical here about the source and where the stats come from and how reliable they are, but what is seems to be saying is that its all downhill from age 12. Think about it for a minute. As a 12 year old everything is perfect. Birthdays are fun. You are ‘top’ of the pecking order at school. Mum and Dad do everything (and anything) for you. You get to play xbox to your hearts content, homework is sporadic, girls don’t exist (for the most part), food is placed in front of you and clothes are washed and ironed. Everything is laid out on a plate, you don’t even really have to put the bin out (your older brother does that).
Then it all heads south at 13. High school, pimples, self consciousness, assignments. Throw in the pressure of exams, and now Social Media – Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat etc. How is a 13 year old supposed to work all that out and get it right all the time. If you were a shy kid in school in the 80’s you could simply avoid stuff (and you’d no doubt have a pen pal). Now that kind of thing is impossible.
Then at 16 a teenage boys’ life satisfaction hits rock bottom . This is an important point to take home for parents of teenagers. I’d recommend to have a read of the books. The good news is things appear to get better after 16, but nothing beats being 12 it seems.
What is the point of this post? Are there any 12 year olds reading this? I doubt it. If you were really at your most satisfied in life would you really be reading a Linkedin post written by some guy who talks about cancer all the time? I think not.
Sometimes I wonder if my posts are too depressing but there is an important message here. Be the best parent you can, listen to them, be there for them. Ask them questions (while also checking their Instagram posts and followers without them knowing). Tell them you love them and that they are appreciated. If you are not a parent, be a great mentor – kids need them! As an oncology dad I always come back to these simple points as you never know what’s around the corner. Don’t take anything for granted, and make time for your teenagers. Think 16 is hard? I’ve seen a few 16 year olds boys with cancer. Now that really sucks (and messes with their already confused heads).
And keep asking your clients about their family. Once you get two generations down they won’t stop talking about their grandkids. It’s pretty special…and they love them unconditionally, even if they do end up in the psychologists office every now and then like our friend Calvin…..